Top College Towns: 24 hours in Austin, Texas

Home of the Texas Longhorns and known as the Live Music Capital of the World, Austin, TX boasts of its unique local culture. Its delicious BBQ and Tex-Mex cuisine, lively clubs, and diverse music regularly attract flocks of people from around the country.

With its rolling hills and proximity to water, as well as its entrepreneurial and innovative spirit, many describe Austin as a “mini California.” No wonder it is one of the fastest growing cities in the US! If you’re visiting the area and wondering what to do, here’s how to spend 24 hours in Austin. 

Morning in Austin: 

Get your morning coffee fix from one of the many neighborhood coffee shops in Austin. Whether you want a hot brewed coffee, iced matcha latte, or cold brew, these coffee shops have it all. I highly recommend Jo’s Coffee for a well-known local chain, Merit Coffee for a smaller sit-down vibe, or Freddo ATX for a homey experience of an old house turned cafe. While you sip on your coffee, take this time to explore Austin’s distinct neighborhoods, like Hyde Park, Cherrywood, or Mueller. 

Downtown Austin and a field

Noontime in Austin:   

Stop by a local food truck (I recommend Veracruz Tacos) and grab some lunch before heading to Zilker Park. Zilker is one of the largest parks in Austin and has a beautiful view of the Austin skyline. Bring a picnic blanket and relax as you spend some time dog-watching and soaking in the sun.

Alternatively, if you’re feeling BBQ and have the afternoon to spare, consider Franklin BBQ – the best BBQ restaurant in Austin. Beware of the lines that go out the doors and take up to 1-2 hours (most say it’s worth the wait though)!

From there, it’s time to hit the lake! Kayaking or paddle boarding at Ladybird Lake is a great way  to spend a hot afternoon. You get perfect views of downtown and can see many locals and tourists out on the water. Parallel to the lake is a walking trail and open field, called Arboretum Shores – this area is a must see!

A plate of street tacos

Evening in Austin: 

For dinner, hit up some local Austin chains, like Homeslice for pizza or Hopdoddy for burgers. You also can’t go wrong with more Tex-Mex in Austin, such as Trudy’s, El Mercado, or Maudie’s

After dinner, check out the sunset from 360 Overlook (Pennybacker Bridge), an iconic landmark. Just a short hike up a cliff, this scenic view of the Colorado River and surroundings is beautiful and picturesque. 

Cars drive over the Pennybacker bridge during rush hour with a view of the Austin skyline

Nighttime in Austin:

Is it really a trip to Austin without a night out on the town? Experiencing Austin nightlife is a must if you’re in the city. If you want to go clubbing with a younger crowd, head to Sixth Street for a night of drinks and dancing (similar to Bourbon Street in New Orleans).

For a more laid back setting, you can visit one of the many large hotels in Austin that have rooftop bars. Upstairs at Caroline, The Edge, Azul, or Zanzibar are popular spots for yummy cocktails against a stunning backdrop of downtown at night.



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