Perhaps you’ve heard the tagline “Keep Austin Weird?” It’s fitting – Texas’s cultural and political capital boasts offbeat appeal in the form of eclectic food, music and shopping scenes. You’ll also find lots of outdoor space, including 351-acre Zilker Metropolitan Park, and places to nerd out on history, like the LBJ Presidential Library. So, put on some cowboy boots and get exploring.
Start with an urban hike through Zilker Park, or, if it’s warm enough, a splash in the park’s Barton Springs natural swimming pool. Then, spend some time learning about the 36th president at the LBJ Presidential Library. Artifacts include a reproduction of Lyndon B. Johnson’s Oval Office, recordings of historic conversations passing the presidency on to him in the wake of John F. Kennedy’s death, and even the presidential limousine. Southwest of Austin, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is also worth the trip. Founded in 1982 with help from the former first lady, it features a display garden with every type of flower and plant that grows in Texas. Austin is also a vintage shopping mecca. Explore North Loop, which has a high concentration of clothing and furniture shops all in one area. At night, take in a show at The Continental Club.
Turn in for the night at the design-oriented Archer Hotel Austin. The Texas-chic hotel has an outdoor pool complete with a lone star on the bottom of it, in-house restaurant, and a convenient location near the Rock Rose entertainment district. Meanwhile, the regal, 194-room Hotel Granduca is reminiscent of an Italian villa. Amenities include an aperitivo happy hour with live music and a chauffeur who will drive you to nearby attractions.
Begin your trip with lunch at Franklin Barbecue. The James Beard Award-winning spot is famous for its smoke-kissed brisket, ribs and pulled pork. If you don’t want to wait in line – and there will be a line – you can preorder online, pick it up and have a picnic. Exemplifying Austin’s quirky nature, the Peached Tortilla serves Asian comfort food with a Southern twist, like banh mi tacos and brisket bowls. For a splurge, head to Tyson Cole’s creative Japanese restaurant Uchi for sea bream sashimi and yellowtail sushi rolls.
Check out more buzzworthy destinations at AAA.com/CityScape.