I recently helped my best friend move from Charlotte, NC to outside of Austin, TX. We had many unforgettable experiences during our travels across the Deep South, but I have to say Austin comes close to topping the list of my favorite cities we saw along the way. We were fortunate enough to stay with my childhood friend who helped us get a unique experience of Austin. Here are some of our favorites:
1. Texas State Capitol
As an ex-Washingtonian, I have to say I dig the sandstone color of this capitol building, perhaps better than the iconic white capitol building in our nation’s capital.
2. 6th Street “Dirty Six”
A necessary evil when you got the Texas capital. Kind of like Bourbon St in New Orleans, you just gotta see it to believe it. We stopped in the Dizzy Rooster on a rainy afternoon exploring the city to catch some impressive live music – I don’t think it’s possible to find bad live music in this town – and to grab some Shiner Ruby Redbirds. The bartenders were incredibly friendly and even gave us some jello shots with lids on them as a treat for later.
3. Rainey Street
One of my favorite blocks in Austin is that of the historic Rainey St. Over the past year that I was here last, a lot has already changed. What I thought was one of Austin’s best-kept secrets has become a bit more well-known, and with that a few condos and hotels have started moving in on the area. Still – if you haven’t been, definitely get yourself over here to check out Bangers Sausage House and Beer Garden – they have over 100 beers on tap and the bartender looks exactly like Gunnar from Nashville 🙂
4. South Congress
South Congress (SO-CO) is a cute neighborhood south of the Colorado River that runs through Austin that offers incredible views of the city, outdoor art markets, upcycle vintage stores, and a variety of different restaurants and bars. Some of our favorite stops were Amy’s Ice Cream (Strawpeach was out of this world!), Parts and Labor, Uncommon Objects and Hopdoddy.
5. Baylor Street Art Wall (Castle Hill Graffiti Park)
For those street art fans, make sure to check out the Baylor Street Art Wall. Also known as the HOPE Outdoor Gallery, the park is comprised of a three-story educational art project to provide muralists and graffiti artists a place to present art driven by inspirational, positive and educational messaging.
6. Mount Bonnell
One of my favorite things about Austin is being in the heart of nature and all of the endless opportunities for outdoor recreation you can find within the city. One of the coolest views of the city we got was from hiking to the top of Mount Bonnell – it’s worth the long winding staircase to the top I promise. It is the highest point in Austin City Limits at 785 feet tall.
7. Mayfield Park
At the bottom of Mount Bonnell, make sure to check out Mayfield Park. The park has nearly two dozen peacocks wandering around the gardens in the park that make for a cool view after climbing all the way to the top of Mount Bonnell. They also tend to make some strange noises and move pretty quickly as we found out the hard way..
8. Congress Ave Bridge Bats
One of the things I’ll have to come back to Austin for is seeing the bats leave the Congress Ave bridge at sunset. We waited for over two hours to see the nightly flight of over 1.5 million bats (the bat population under the bridge has grown to be the largest urban bat colony in North America) but we weren’t lucky enough to see them when we were in town. Better luck to you in your travels if you’re able to time it to see the South Congress Bridge Bats!