Every year, more than 22 million people visit Austin, Texas– known for live beats, barbecue and bats. If you’re traveling here for a visit, here is a travel guide of Austin to help make your stay memorable.

Staying in Austin

For a taste of the city’s hip environment, make your way over to South Congress, or SoCo, an area rich with quirky boutiques and eateries. If you want to stay where the action is, check out Hotel San José, a boutique hotel that was formerly a motor lodge in the 1930s. 

If you are traveling with furry companions, the Westin Austin Downtown not only welcomes pets at no extra charge, but also lavishes them with amenities such as gourmet treats and a “Heavenly Dog Bed”. For their human companions, the Westin boasts the highest rooftop pool in the city, (grab a drink from Bar Azul), plus wellness packages and programs, including a running concierge who can lead you through the best trails in the city.

Another cool Austin hotel, Hotel Van Zandt, is located downtown on historic Rainey Street and includes complimentary loaner bikes, a hosted evening wine hour, two restaurants and gorgeous views of the city skyline—some even from an oversized soaking tub.

Exploring Austin’s Food Scene

The flavors of Austin are an eclectic mix—barbecue, Tex-Mex and a big helping of whatever the nearest food truck has on special.

For barbecue, head over to Franklin Barbecue, which is legendary for its melt-in-your-mouth brisket, as well as the long lines of fans that wait outside, sometimes starting in pre-dawn hours. If you want to try some of the best BBQ in the city, head here with a folding chair and make a day of it, tailgate style.

Historic Rainey Street is worth checking out for an eclectic collection of bars and brunch spots that are emblematic of the “Keep Austin Weird” spirit. Check out Banger’s Sausage House & Beer Garden,No Va Kitchen & Bar or G’Raj Mahal Cafe & Lounge while you’re there.

Food trucks are legendary in ATX and can be found in all corners of the city. They’re a great way to sample another Austin staple: the breakfast taco. The Picnic at 1720 Barton Springs Rd. has a wide variety of food trucks.

Well Known Austin Attractions

Live music is woven into the fabric of Austin and can be celebrated at more than 250 venues, plus at music festivals such as SXSW and Austin City Limits Music Festival. Some of the most legendary venues include the Continental Club, the Broken Spoke, the Elephant Room and Antone’s Nightclub.

One thing that makes Austin unique is its large amount of greenery. There are 251 parks and 360 acres of undeveloped land right in the middle of the city at Zilker Park. Enjoy a picnic here, a 10-mile hike or bike around Lady Bird Lake, (rental bikes are available throughout the city), or a refreshing dip in Barton Springs Pool.

Want to enjoy a truly “weird” night in Austin? Take an evening bat cruise on Lady Bird Lake. From March to November, a sizeable colony of Mexican free-tailed bats makes its home in Austin under the Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge. At dusk, the bats fly out from under the bridge. Your best bet for watching them is to book a cruise through Capital Cruises or Lone Star Riverboat.

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