One Day in Austin Itinerary – Top things to do in Austin, Texas

Austin. A blue dot in a Republican state. It’s the capital of Texas, but people would rather vote a country singer for president than any actual politician. This is where the city motto is literally “Keep Austin weird.” Where there’s a public celebration for Eeyore’s birthday (yes, from the cartoon Winnie the Pooh). Where the entire city mourned when Leslie “The Thong Guy” passed away. (He made his mark by running around town in a leopard thong and high-heeled shoes advocating for tolerance. He ran for mayor 3 times, actually getting 2nd place.) As you can see, Austin is a place where everyone is welcome, and the stranger you are the better.

One day in Austin Itinerary

GUEST POST BY KIONA
BLOG: How Not To Travel Like A Basic Bitch


What’s the best time to visit?

There are a few major events in Austin: Austin City Limits, Formula One Race, South by Southwest, and Texas Relays. Unless you’re attending these events, avoid the city completely. This is when Austinites get out of town because the traffic congestion is insane.

Austin Skyline
Austin Skyline, Author: nornnyweb, Source: Flickr

While Austin’s weather is wholly unpredictable, the most bankable times to come are spring and fall. Summer is incredibly hot, and if you’re not used to the Texas sun, you may feel like it’s similar to being in a microwave. However, summer is the time for Blues on the Green, an outdoor free concert series where the entire city comes out for a giant picnic in Zilker Park. And after that, you can catch a free outdoor movie with summer series Movies in the Park right outside of the symphony center. The winters aren’t terrible, but you’ll subject yourself to dead trees and gray skies. Austin is 100% an outdoors city where most of our cafes, restaurants, bars, and shopping malls are, so it is best to come when the weather is nice.

If you’re a football fan, football season is always a good time should you be in town for a Texas Longhorn win.

Keep Austin Weird
Keep Austin Weird, Author: Kiona

A few facts about Austin

Store your luggage: LuggageHero allows you to store your luggage for as long as you want to. If you are there only for a day, or waiting for a check-in, this sounds like a perfect option!

– The entirety of Eastern Europe can fit inside the state of Texas. It takes 24 hours to drive from the tip of the panhandle to the border of Mexico. The point of telling you this is: you’re going to need a car. The sites of Austin, as with everything in Texas, are spread out. But if you don’t believe me, below you’ll find an itinerary for one day with a car and one day without a car.

– If you insist on not renting a car (since you only have one day after all), it is good to know that Uber and Lyft are once again permitted to operate in Austin after being banned in May 2016. As an Austin-exclusive option, you can download the app RideShareAustin, which subs as our alternative to a ridesharing service. Use code gyxlvyb4 for $20 off your first ride.

– The FBI has rated Austin the second-safest major city, so like, if you commit a crime in Austin, you are actually basic. It was rated the #1 place to live in the United States in 2017 by the U.S. News & World Report. In addition to its safety, Austin is a strict no-smoking city, so you may not smoke in any public spaces. Austinites like to breathe fresh air ‘round here. In addition, it’s home to a multitude of headquarters such as Whole Foods, IBM, Dell, and many more!

Austin, Texas
Austin, Texas, Author: Kiona

One day in Austin Itinerary

Follow this guide and make the most of your trip even if you’re short on time. These are the top sights and things to do during your one day in Austin.

Go on a tour: Experience Austin like a local with this customized guided tour!

Mornings in Austin

Start your morning off with a cup o’ joe at the Blue Dahlia or any other boutique brunch restaurant on 11th street. These restaurants are transformed vintage homes and pharmacies. You’ll feel like you’re in a time warp. To make things more homegrown, all of the ingredients are made with local, organic, farm-raised everything, with gluten-free, vegan, GMO-free, and whatever other health nut options available. (Austin is really into that whole health thing.)

After breakfast, go ahead and check out Texas State Capitol. A replica of Washington’s Capitol, this one is actually slightly bigger. Take that, D.C.! Like we said earlier, Austin is this great state’s capital city, which means you can learn a whole lot about its intriguing history here. The capitol building is located in the city centre, so you shouldn’t have any problems finding it – its architecture makes it quite prominent (another reason to check it out). Another big plus is that you can get free guided tours when you get there, so if you want to make your one day in Austin educational, this place is a must.

To the north of the state capitol, on the grounds of The University of Texas, is Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum. Tickets for this are fairly affordable (no more than 10 dollars), and there really is a lot to see in this presidential library. Johnson was the 36th president of the United States and the one who succeeded JFK. A visit to this place is especially interesting if you know that Johnson was the president during the Vietnam War, plus there are plenty of powerful photos on social justice and civil rights. A special attraction is the replica of the Oval Office, but you can take a look at the president’s limo, too.

Morning is also perfect for experiencing Austin like the locals do. If you want to find out how it would be to live here, this tour will definitely help you with that.

Afternoons in Austin

Should you not have a car, rent a bike at any local bike shop or at the bicycle stands scattered throughout the city. You’re bound to find one around Town Lake.

While you’re at Town Lake, go for a run around the 2, 3, 4 or 8-mile loops around the lake, and then cool off by renting a canoe or paddleboard at one of the many shops along the waterfront. If lakes aren’t your thing, ride your bicycle to Barton Springs, a natural made pool famous for topless sunbathing in the ’70s.

Town Lake Austin Texas
Town Lake Austin Texas, Author: Kiona

Should you have a car, you’re in luck! Who said Texas was flat? You’ll drive through rolling hills of green and look up at the limestone mountains as you make your way to the Oasis on Lake Travis for the most stunning cliff-side views overlooking the lake. The food here is actually awful. People come here mostly for the views.

If you do not care about the lake and would rather go see some down-home Texas things, take a drive out to Salt Lick BBQ in Driftwood, Texas about 45 minutes away to see cows and an authentic smoke-grill where you can have all you can eat BBQ. If you’re just dying to go the rodeo, the Austin Rodeo takes place in March and you can plan your trip around that. Otherwise, that is as “Texas” as Austinites get.

Should you want some peace and quiet after that, taking a stroll in the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is the way to go. Dedicated to President Lyndon Johnson’s wife, this botanical garden houses loads of native plants and wildlife. It really is a soothing and enjoyable place far enough (but not too far) from the city center. You can learn a lot, enjoy some beautiful sights and let your kids run loose a bit if you have them with you. If not, this can be a very romantic place to visit nevertheless.

As the sun sets, make sure you get to Mount Bonnell to get a 360-degree view of the entire city. This is an absolute must-see and arguably the most famous thing to do in Austin. However, if you’re into bats, you can also get to Congress Bridge and see thousands of bats fly out at dusk.

Nightlife in Austin

For an early night, walk along the bridge to South Congress and check out some live music at Continental Club or salsa the night away at Guero’s Taco Bar.

South Congress Austin Texas
South Congress Austin Texas, Author: Kiona

The most infamous street for nightlife is 6th street. 6th street is split into 3 parts: West 6th, Dirty 6th, and East 6th. East 6th is where you’ll feel like you’re back in high school crashing someone’s house party. You’ll be dancing to 90’s jams in someone’s living room or converted garage. Walk out to the backyard and chow down on some munchies being served out of a food truck like Chilantros, a Korean-Mexican fusion. Try the kimchi fries, you won’t regret it.

Food Trucks, Austin
Food Trucks, Austin, Author: Kiona

Dirty 6th is where all of the under-aged college kids go to party. It’s safe to say they probably have not learned their alcohol limit yet, hence the name “dirty.” From the spilled drinks, to the awful outfits, to the vomit, it is definitely college heaven.

TIP: If you have time, definitely consider going on a City Mural Tour which includes food from the very best food trucks!

West 6th is where young professionals go to let loose from a week of work. Bars get creative with free arcade games (Kung Fu), Capri-suns filled with vodka (Greenlight Social), and even a beer stock market (Brew Exchange) where once a beer gets bought too often, the stock crashes and beer drops to $0.

Rainey Street is a neighborhood of day-drinking and brunch, a trailer park of food trucks, and on Sunday’s a live cover band at Icenhauers.

Rock Rose is a street of hookah bars, clubs, and restaurants in the middle of an outdoor shopping mall where people go to party away from the 6th street crowd.

Where to stay in Austin?

TIP: Click here to find the best accommodation deals in Austin.
Also, book with LockTrip if you’d like to find a hotel and save up to 30%. To learn more about it, read this article.

The most “Austin” place to stay in is South Congress. Here you’ll find all the original hotels that celebrate Austin’s quirkiness.

Austin Motel

Austin Motel

1220 S Congress Ave, Austin

Austin Motel. Now this is a real festival of colors right here, with a very pretty seating area outside and a nice pool. But the interior design is what makes this place special, so do check it out. 

BOOK A ROOM HERE

Hotel San Jose, Austin

Hotel San Jose

1316 South Congress Avenue, Austin

Hotel San Jose is another quirky Austin hotel that will serve you continental breakfast and has an outdoor pool. The location is excellent, away but not too far from the city center. I loved the old-school telephones in the rooms! 

BOOK A ROOM HERE

South Congress Hotel Austin Texas

South Congress Hotel

1603 South Congress Avenue, Austin

My favorite, however, is the South Congress Hotel that just opened up and throws DJ parties on the first Thursday of every month. Not to mention that it also has a beautiful pool that is open all year round and a great restaurant. Really a fantastic place!

BOOK A ROOM HERE

HI - Austin Hostel

HI – Austin Hostel

2200 South Lakeshore Boulevard, Austin

For the traveler who prefers to interact with other travelers, HI Austin Hostel is the cheapest hostel in the city with free wifi, breakfast, and parking. Spacious, with great design and plenty of activities, this is a great place for backpackers.

BOOK A ROOM HERE

Extra tips for visiting Austin

  • To make sure nothing can surprise you, you may want to buy travel insurance, just to be on the safe side. World Nomads is a fantastic site for that because you can get insured no matter which country in the world you’re traveling to in a matter of seconds with them. These guys are themselves passionate travelers, so they know exactly what you need and how to keep you safe throughout your trip. Apart from that, however, they have loads of great tips and very interesting perks to offer you. Check them out and make sure your trip is as carefree as possible.
  • One-day isn’t a lot, but a weekend is enough in Austin. You’ll be sure to either love it or feel lukewarm about it. But there’s no way you won’t feel free. “There’s a freedom you begin to feel the closer you get to Austin, Texas” –Willie Nelson. So enjoy your day of freedom in the Live Music Capital of the world!
  • Be sure to check best day trips from Austin article if you are planning to stay longer

DISCLAIMER: Through our articles we link out to recommended hotels/tours/products/services. If you happen to purchase anything through these links, we will receive a commission. It won’t cost you anything extra, but it will help us running the site in the best possible way. Thank you!

Willie Nelson, Austin
Willie Nelson, Austin, Author: Kiona

Pin for later!

Austin Texas One day itineraryAustin Texas Top things to do

If you have any other propositions for this One Day in Austin itinerary feel free to share it in the comments below!

Logistical Tips and Tricks

Organize your trip in five easy steps!

BOOK A FLIGHT!

Obviously, if you’re going on a trip somewhere far a way, you’ll need to book a flight. There is absolutely no need to worry about this, though, because with Skyscanner, you will be able to find a cheap flight anywhere in the world. And their website is extremely easy to use, so you will have your seat on a plane in no time at all!

BOOK A ROOM!

To easily find the best possible room in the city you’re visiting, just head to Booking.com. They have quite literally thousands of options, a reliable rating system and will always get you a great deal. On top of that, you can learn a lot from the comments people leave there, too. No matter if you’re looking for an apartment or an elite hotel, you’ll find what you need here.

GET A CAR!

If you want the ultimate sense of freedom while on your trip, a car is a must. Fortunately, there is a simple way to get one – just visit Booking’s Rentalcars and they’ll have your vehicle ready in a jiffy. Now you’ll be able to explore the new city thoroughly and, who knows, maybe even make a trip outside it.

INSURE YOURSELF FOR PEACE OF MIND!

Accidents, mishaps and other troubles happen to everyone. The key is to be prepared. That’s why getting a travel insurance is such a great idea: it can help you deal with any health issues, theft and even cancelled flights. World Nomads know full well about the problems that can arise on a trip because they are passionate travelers themselves. That’s why they can offer you the very best deals.

FIND SOMEONE TO HELP YOU GET AROUND!

Want to have some company as soon as you land? Through Welcomepickups.com, you can find a local to meet you at the airport and help you find your way around the new city. They can also set things up for you, give you some useful tips and be helpful in general. The whole project is a great idea and very well executed, so do go and see how these people can make your trip a more pleasant one.

MAKE SURE YOU HAVE EVERYTHING YOU NEED

Here are some of the top travel items you must bring to your next trip. These items will make your trip a lot more relaxing and you’ll surely get rid of some extra hassle.

Make sure to travel light, safe and stylish following our travel item guide for 2019.

Kiona How now to travel like a basic bitch

Kiona

Kiona from How Not To Travel Like A Basic Bitch is a PhD candidate exploring the world on her school breaks. Her blog concentrates on exploring the life and culture of countries, believing that if more people traveled, the more humans would have mutual respect for each other and a greater appreciation for the things they have at home; making the world more about love and less about hate.

10 comments

  1. Hi Kiona, your blogs are fantastic, well thought and very informative.Congratulation. For sure, you will guide your Tante through Austin in a few months. Looking forward to it. Greetings from Austria.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *