When our trip to Israel got cancelled, we tossed around ideas for what to do instead, since Adam had already taken off the time (and I realized I should have truly taken off the time!), and we ended up deciding to spend five days in Austin. We’re only ever there for holidays or family events, so I rarely get to experience the city and we usually can’t fit in seeing Adam’s high school friends when we’re in and out so quickly over Thanksgiving. This gave us the chance to go to restaurants, explore, and spend time in a city that doesn’t exactly look like where Adam grew up.
Five Days in Austin
We loosely planned our five days in Austin. We had a few restaurant recommendations and friends we planned to meet up with, but, otherwise, tried to leave an open schedule. It felt like five days was perfect and the only thing I didn’t get to was exploring more of East Austin. There are a few shops over there I wanted to check out, so those will be on my radar for next time. We also happened to get a beautiful week there where the temperature barely topped 80 — this is not the norm and I was here for it.
Rather than walk you step-by-step through our trip, I’m just going to dump a bunch of photos here so you can get the vibe, and you’ll find my recs from this trip at the bottom. I’ve also written about Austin recs in this post and this post.
Where to Eat in Austin
Lou’s Barton Springs: The primary reason for me to go here is that it’s a less than 5-minute walk from my in-laws, which makes it a great spot to sit and work for a few hours while grabbing lunch. They’re open all day but I love the coffee and donuts in the morning.
Wanderlust Wine Co.: Another favorite based on proximity, this is giving me a place nearby to get my latte fix. The lavender latte was excellent, and you can grab breakfast tacos from…
Birria Tacos: This truck is set up outside Wanderlust and you can bring your tacos up to their outdoor seating. I didn’t try the actual birria tacos, but the chorizo breakfast taco is one I’ll get again and again.
Nixta Taqueria: This was a highlight of the entire trip. An outdoor spot in East Austin, it has a great vibe and incredible tacos. Don’t miss the duck carnitas taco.
Bar Peached: I’m still dreaming about the chili crab toast, bahn mi tacos, and the Korean chicken wings at this charming spot that blends Korean and Mexican.
Este: This was hit and miss with our group. Adam was meh on it. I thought the smoked trout salad and the ceviche were both delicious.
Aba: Originally out of Chicago, Aba is a hot spot along South Congress with a great outdoor space. But, honestly, the food was underwhelming. Granted, I’m comparing it to Maydan in DC, which has some menu similarities, but the flavors felt lacking. I’d skip unless it’s just to sit outside and watch the scene.
Neighborhood Vitner: You’re probably not going to go here unless you have a reason to be in the more suburban part of Austin, but my sister-in-law and brother-in-law live in Westlake, so this is super convenient to them. It’s so, so cute and has a great setup.
Sandy’s: Y’all probably know I love fast food, and I finally insisted on a stop by this staple for a root beer float and a hot dog. 100% recommend.
Mozart Coffee: While it was slammed, the location on Lake Austin is super charming and is a great place to meet a friend for a coffee in the morning.
What to Do in Austin
Blanton Museum of Art: The University of Texas’ art museum has the best mix of modern and classic pieces. We wandered around here for several hours.
Hike and Bike Trail: My plan every morning was to walk along the hike and bike. It happened once, but, y’all, that humidity is too much for me.
Shopping on South Congress: I have mixed feelings on this. It feels a little like every store you can get in every fancy shopping area in a big city — and it wasn’t like that when I first came to Austin even just 7 years ago. But I did check out Le Labo, so being there gave me an excuse to do that. A local highlight was ByGeorge, where I fell in love with a diamond bangle and immediately added it to my wish list.
The Contemporary Austin and Laguna Gloria: While I had higher hopes for Laguna Gloria given my love of historic homes, The Contemporary Austin is an impressive sculpture garden and a delightful way to spend a few hours on a nice day.
Day Trips to Take if You’ve Got Five Days in Austin
I’m going to do two more blog posts on these, but we did day trips to San Antonio (this would be a skip for me in the future) and Fredericksburg (definitely recommend). Stat tuned!