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Austin Travel Guide: Where To Stay, What To Do + Packing Tips


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Arleyne Rubino



Welcome to the Lone Star State! Texas is a land of rich history, vast landscapes, and warm-hearted people. And within the heart of Texas, you’ll find the vibrant city of Austin. With its thriving music scene, eclectic culture, and stunning outdoors, Austin is a must-visit destination for travelers of all kinds.


Nicknamed the “Live Music Capital of the World,” Austin is known for its live performances spanning every genre imaginable. From iconic venues such as the Broken Spoke and the Continental Club to the annual South by Southwest (SXSW) festival, music lovers will find themselves in a melodic wonderland.


But Austin offers much more than just music. Get ready to delve into a myriad of activities, from exploring the beautiful parks and trails to immersing yourself in the city’s vibrant food scene. With a mix of food trucks, renowned barbecue joints, and upscale restaurants, Austin caters to all taste buds.


When it comes to accommodations, Austin has a wide range of options to suit every budget and preference. Whether you prefer to stay in the heart of downtown, surrounded by skyscrapers and bustling nightlife, or in a more laid-back neighborhood with a local feel, Austin has you covered.


So, get ready to experience true Texas hospitality, savor mouth-watering cuisine, and immerse yourself in the local culture. In this Austin travel guide, we’ll provide you with an insider’s view on where to stay, what to do, and even share some packing tips to ensure you have an unforgettable visit to the capital of the Lone Star State.


Where to Stay

Austin offers a plethora of accommodation options, ranging from luxury hotels to cozy bed and breakfasts. The best area to stay in Austin largely depends on your preferences and the kind of experience you’re looking for. Here are a few key neighborhoods to consider:

  1. Downtown: If you want to be in the heart of the action, downtown Austin is the place to be. Here you’ll find upscale hotels, trendy restaurants, and a vibrant nightlife scene. The iconic 6th Street is known for its live music venues, bars, and clubs. Plus, you’ll be within walking distance of popular attractions like the State Capitol and the Austin City Limits Moody Theater.
  2. South Congress (SoCo): For a more eclectic and bohemian vibe, South Congress is a great choice. This neighborhood is known for its quirky shops, vintage boutiques, and lively food truck scene. You can soak in the local culture while staying at unique boutique hotels and enjoy live music at venues like the Continental Club.
  3. Zilker Park: Nature lovers will enjoy staying near Zilker Park, a 350-acre green oasis in the heart of Austin. With the Barton Springs Pool, trails, and the popular Austin City Limits Music Festival, there’s always something happening here. There are a variety of accommodations available, from hotels to vacation rentals.
  4. East Austin: If you’re looking for a hip and artistic neighborhood, consider staying in East Austin. This area is known for its vibrant street art, trendy coffee shops, and unique dining experiences. You’ll find a mix of boutique hotels and Airbnb rentals that reflect the local charm.

Remember, Austin is a sprawling city, so it’s essential to consider transportation options when choosing your accommodation. If you plan on exploring beyond your neighborhood, renting a car or utilizing ride-sharing services will make it easier to navigate the city.


Ultimately, the best place to stay in Austin depends on your interests and the atmosphere you’re seeking. Whether you prefer a bustling downtown experience or a more laid-back and bohemian vibe, Austin offers a range of neighborhoods to suit your taste.


What to Do

Austin is a city that knows how to keep visitors entertained. With its vibrant arts scene, outdoor adventures, and unique attractions, there’s never a dull moment in the Live Music Capital of the World. Here are some top things to do in Austin:

  1. Explore the Outdoors: Austin is blessed with beautiful natural landscapes, so be sure to spend time outdoors. Take a dip in the Barton Springs Pool, a natural spring-fed pool in Zilker Park. Enjoy a hike or bike ride along the Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail, which offers breathtaking views of the downtown skyline and Lady Bird Lake.
  2. Immerse Yourself in Live Music: Austin’s music scene is renowned worldwide. Catch a live performance at iconic venues like the Mohawk or Antone’s, where you can experience the energy and talent of local and international musicians. Don’t miss the opportunity to attend one of the city’s many festivals, such as SXSW or Austin City Limits Music Festival.
  3. Visit the State Capitol: Take a tour of the Texas State Capitol, a stunning building that stands as a symbol of Texas history and politics. Explore the grounds and learn about the state’s fascinating past. The Capitol is free to visit and offers guided tours for those looking for an in-depth experience.
  4. Indulge in Texan Cuisine: Austin’s food scene is a delightful mix of Tex-Mex, barbecue, and international flavors. Feast on mouth-watering brisket at Franklin Barbecue or satisfy your taco cravings at Torchy’s Tacos. Don’t forget to try out some locally brewed craft beer or sip a refreshing margarita at one of the city’s many bars and breweries.
  5. Discover the City’s Art and Culture: Austin is home to a thriving arts community. Explore the vibrant street art in East Austin or visit the Blanton Museum of Art to immerse yourself in contemporary and classical works. Don’t miss the Mexic-Arte Museum, the Texas State History Museum, or catch a performance at the historic Paramount Theatre.

These are just a few highlights of the countless activities and attractions Austin has to offer. The city is bursting with creativity, energy, and a laid-back spirit, making it a perfect destination for those looking for a unique and memorable experience.


Packing Tips

When preparing for your trip to Austin, it’s essential to pack wisely to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable stay. Here are some packing tips to consider:

  1. Weather-Appropriate Clothing: Austin’s weather can be quite unpredictable, so it’s a good idea to pack layers. The city is known for its scorching hot summers, so pack lightweight and breathable clothing like shorts, t-shirts, and sundresses. However, it’s also important to have a few lightweight jackets or sweaters for the cooler evenings or unexpected temperature drops.
  2. Comfortable Shoes: With plenty to explore in Austin, comfortable shoes are a must. Whether you’re strolling along South Congress Avenue or hiking the beautiful trails, comfortable footwear will keep your feet happy throughout your adventures.
  3. Sun Protection: Austin’s sunny weather means you’ll want to protect yourself from the sun’s rays. Pack sunscreen, sunglasses, and a wide-brimmed hat to shield yourself during outdoor activities.
  4. Reusable Water Bottle: Staying hydrated is crucial, especially in the Texas heat. Bring a reusable water bottle to keep yourself refreshed and to minimize waste.
  5. Bug Spray: Austin’s outdoor spaces are teeming with nature, including mosquitos. Be prepared and pack insect repellent to ward off any unwanted bites.
  6. Adapter/Converter: If you’re traveling from outside of the United States, remember to bring a power adapter or converter to ensure your electronic devices can be used and charged.
  7. Camera or Smartphone: Austin is a visually stunning city, so don’t forget to capture those memories. Whether you prefer a dedicated camera or your smartphone, be sure to have a way to document your experiences.
  8. Reusable Shopping Bag: Austin has a strong eco-conscious culture, and many places encourage the use of reusable bags. Pack a foldable tote bag for any impromptu shopping trips.

Remember to pack any necessary medications, toiletries, and travel documents, and always check the weather forecast before your trip to adjust your packing accordingly. It’s also helpful to leave some extra space in your luggage for souvenirs or items you may acquire during your visit.


By following these packing tips, you’ll be well-prepared to enjoy all that Austin has to offer without any unnecessary stress or discomfort.