Austin sits on the edge of a growing urban center and the serene Texas Hill Country. Each year, the area attracts visitors looking for history, technology, natural landscape and of course, “weirdness”. The capital has a lot to offer, and makes a great destination for a staycation for all travelers. But, with so many things to do in Austin, you may not know where to start planning. Let us help you plan your ideal Austin staycation.
Downtown Austin Staycation
You’ll find the epicenter of Austin’s off-beat culture in the city center. From top attractions to quirky shops and restaurants, you’ll find an Instagram-worthy spot on nearly every corner.
Brush Up on Texas History
Start your Austin staycation awing at the larger-than-life Texas State Capitol. Holding the title as the largest capitol in the United States (yes, including the U.S. Capitol), its granite exterior shines in the Texas sun. Inside, you can learn about the history of the building through a 30-minute free tour. If you’re looking for more Texas history, visit the nearby Bullock Museum. The museum, founded through the efforts of former state representative, Bob Bullock, honors the great history of Texas. These popular historical attractions and many more are great for families.
Find Some Local “Weirdness”
Across the Congress Avenue Bridge, home to the world’s largest urban bat colony, you’ll find the trendy district SoCo. When you think Austin, you’re likely imagining this neighborhood’s iconic restaurants, quirky vintage shops and endless live music. Hunt down the “I love you so much” mural on the side of Jo’s Coffee, enjoy lunch and dessert with a slice of Home Slice Pizza and a scoop of Amy’s Ice Cream. Or take in the local Tex-Mex cuisine at Torchy’s Tacos and the original Chuy’s Mexican Cuisine. Wrap up the afternoon at one of the city’s 50 breweries. Or try something more fruity at Austin Eastciders cidery.
Don’t Forget to Catch a Film
Austin fosters creative outlets in music, arts and technology, but did you know about Austin’s predominate film scene? Experience it by checking out film events at the city’s many local theaters. Alamo Drafthouse, a local movie tavern, features special movie nights, food and beer. And, the Blue Starlite Mini Urban Drive In plays drive-in classics and pop culture favorite films. Be sure to book tickets in advance for both venues as parking and seating may be limited.
For Your Stay
For a convenient location and luxurious amenities, the newly renovated Omni Austin Hotel Downtown is ideal. From here, you’re minutes from Austin’s best attractions, including Sixth Street, plus enjoy the rooftop pool and on-site dining. Alternatively, Omni Austin Hotel Southpark offers accommodations conveniently on the Southside of Lady Bird Lake.
Austin Staycation in the Hill Country
If your idea of an Austin staycation includes more hills than hip, you’ll want to head out west to experience a different side of Texas culture. Just minutes from the city center, away from the skyscrapers, you’ll still find history, restaurants and entertainment, with plenty of nature to explore.
Natural History to Explore
Take advantage of the mild Texas weather to enjoy year-round opportunities to explore the Texas Hill Country. The Barton Creek Greenbelt, one of Austin’s most popular outdoor destinations and on the list of Austin’s best hikes, spans seven miles of forests, limestone cliffs and – pending rainfall – swimming holes! For easy access to the trails, start at Zilker Park. Venture further west to one of the most popular natural springs in the area. The thousand-year-old Hamilton Pool Preserve is one of over three thousand natural springs in Texas. A short hike leads you to a stunning jade pool. You can cool off under the cliffs or diving in – when permitted. Plus, the pool is never crowded as reservations are required.
Heaping Helpings of Texas Eats
You’ve got to eat during your Austin staycation, don’t you? While driving through the hills, you may notice the smell of smoked meats luring you to a tray of authentic Texas barbecue. Of the renowned Texas BBQ joints, the most well-known is The Original Salt Lick BBQ in Driftwood, Texas. Since the late 1960s, Salt Lick BBQ has been serving up meats and sides while gaining popularity only by word-of-mouth. It didn’t take long for Salt Like to earn its spot on BBQ rankings across the state.
The Hill Country is also home to over 50 wineries, breweries and distilleries. There are tour services available. However, you can create your own trail down the well-traveled Highway 290 or meandering smaller highways. Most wineries offer tastings, outdoor seating, light bites and live music. But we recommend, checking availability, offerings and hours prior to going.
Cultivate Some Texas Culture
Other seasonal attractions tucked away in the Hill Country include fruit orchards, lavender farms, olive groves and more. The area cultivates local produce, and many farms welcome visitors for tours and tastings. You can also pull off and purchase fresh and local peaches or pecans at roadside stands.
Finally, another favorite Texas pastime that embodies cowboy culture is live country music. Spurring from the European settlers, dance halls served as the heartbeat of small towns across Texas. These days, locals enjoy their Texas Country music in more modern venues like the Nutty Brown Amphitheater. However, the city of Luckenbach, Texas (Population: 3) hosts live music daily. The whole town-turned-music venue is a must-do in Texas.
For Your Stay
For the ultimate Austin staycation accommodations, the newly renovated Omni Barton Springs Resort & Spa combines unmatched views, four swimming pools, a new Mokara Spa and four premier golf courses. From here, you’re just minutes to the highways through the Texas Hill Country.
If you’re a city dweller or an outdoor enthusiast, an Austin staycation has exactly what you need. Start planning your stay today.