I recently escaped to Austin, Texas for the weekend and I owe it all to the interwebs. Have you heard of the Seeker Project by Le Club Accor Hotels? I hadn’t. But when I did hear about it, I was excited to learn of an online quiz that utilized biometry and technology to determine my heart’s travel desires. This sounded way more advanced than your typical online Buzzfeed quiz—so of course I was down to try it! It used my reactions to a series of imagery to determine where I should go next.
After I was done, I scrolled down to the results and was in shock to be honest! It said in all caps “TEXAS” – and I thought, surely this can’t be right; what’s there to do in TEXAS? So I took the quiz again hoping for a different result, but once again, it said the same thing. I said okay…let me keep an open mind and at least read what it says:
“They say everything’s bigger in Texas – be it breakfast tacos, hiking trails, line dancing, mezcal, or even BBQ. Here you can ride into the sunset or get weird in Austin.”
Well I wasn’t interested in the BBQ part, but everything else sure sounded like me. I do like getting weird, so I exhaled a sigh of relief and said alriiiight, Austin it is! Let’s see exactly what it is about this city that makes it a good match for me—and that’s exactly what I did.
I’m so happy I gave it a chance, because I didn’t regret it. In fact, I downright loved my weekend getaway to this wonderfully weird city and equally enjoyed my stay at Fairmont Austin. I could totally go back for more and probably will in the near future. Here’s my weekend guide to exploring Austin in 48 hours.
1. BAR HOP
Austin has an insanely amazing nightlife! When I tell you there’s something for every flavor of personality, I mean it. I spoke to a few different locals to try and understand the vibes of the different party spots in Austin. Here are the 5 main areas that were recommended to me:
Rainey Street: Recent college grads and lots of craft beers.
While I was on Rainey Street, I saw an eclectic mix of everything! I went inside The Parlour Room, a small club with a DJ bumping modern hip hop hits and then went next door to Unbarlievable, a large circus-themed venue with an adult slide, hoola-hoops, and a cowboy belting out country tunes. Afterwards, we ducked into Container Bar, a dope post-industrial two story structure made out of multicolored stacked shipping containers. The design was pretty wild. Rainey Street might be my favorite spot for a pub crawl in Austin, but it could also be because it’s where I made new friends who barhopped with me for the rest of the night! S/O to Jacqui, Jamie, and Chelsea!
East Austin – Hipster vibe.
Craftsman, the venue I went to in East Austin with my new friends did indeed have a hipster vibe, which I adored. There was a live band doing rock covers of R&B and Pop songs that sounded incredible. The covers they did of TLC’s “No Scrub” and Backstreet Boys’ “Everybody” gave me so much life.
6th Street – Extremely cheap college bars.
Perhaps one of Austin’s most recognized streets for nightlife is 6th street. It 100% lived up to the hype too. It reminded me of Bourbon Street but dominated by college kids harmlessly running amok. The street was completely blocked off from cars and the energy was on another level!
Red River District – Edgy and musically diverse.
The Red River District is located just northeast of 6th Street, but has developed its own character. If you love music, then this will be your scene. You’ll find a variety of big-name stars and local newbies here.
I went to Cheer Up Charlies, a vegan lesbian-owned bar that welcomes everybody. They had an 80s theme that night, and they switch up themes all the time. Vegans can further rejoice because you can satisfy your late-night bar hopping cravings at Arlo’s Truck – which is 100% vegan and open until 2am.
South Congress: Bougie barhoppers.
I only explored South Congress during the afternoon, but by the time the sun started to set, I could see it starting to light up and come alive. If the nightlife crowd here mirrors the daytime crowd, then I’d safely guess this has a slightly older crowd than the typical college students in the area.
Side note: No matter where you go though, don’t go bar hopping without giving Tito’s Handmade Vodka a taste. This vodka is produced in Austin at Texas’ oldest legal distillery. It’s a local fave!
2. HIKE MOUNT BONNELL
If you’re a real G, set out for a sunrise hike the morning after your pub crawl. There’s no better way to reset after a long, semi-debaucherous night than by reconnecting with the sweet sounds and smells of nature.
Don’t worry – it’s totally doable. The hike is all of 10 minutes and it’s FREE! Free is always good. You’ll appreciate free after a night of swiping your credit card at all those bars you hopped through. Another new friend I made, Tanya from Turn it Up World, scooped me up in her Tesla Model S and took me here.
I’ll be honest – when I reached the peak I was a bit awestruck. It just really reinforced how wrong I was about Texas. I love nature, but whenever I’d think of Texas…mountains, rivers, and lakes never came to mind. Happy to say Austin changed that perspective for me.
Directions to Mount Bonnell:
- Take 35th Street past Camp Mabry
- Go left at the fork onto Old Bull Creek Road
- Right on Mount Bonnell Road (you’ll see parking on your left)
3. GET A MASSAGE AT FAIRMONT SPA
In an Instagram poll I posted on one of my Austin stories, I inquired about the last time you pampered yourself. A whopping 70% of you voted for “It’s Been Awhile” and several of you DMed me to further explain why it’s been so long. Whelp. Isn’t it about time you treated yo’self?
If you’re in Austin, schedule a spa day (or at least part of the day) at Fairmont Spa. Y’all…this was the best spa experience I’ve had in awhile. A foot bath, followed by a body scrub, followed by a full body massage. Ya girl needed this!
4. EXPLORE BY ELECTRIC SCOOTER
Oh scooters. They truly are taking over the planet. Or at least urban cities around the nation. Depending on your experience with scooters, you either see the beauty in riding them around town or you find them to be an absolute nuisance. As a smart tech travel blogger and EV lover, I see the beauty.
I support electric transportation and the companies who make them possible. Companies like Tesla (which you know I’m a huge fan of) and Bird are helping accelerate the world’s transition to a more sustainable lifestyle. I’m surprised Tesla hasn’t made a scooter yet, but maybe Elon will surprise us one day. Electric scooters help make cities more livable by reducing car usage, traffic, and carbon emissions. So support the electric revolution and hop on a scooter!
They really are everywhere in Austin, so the temptation will be real throughout the duration of your trip. The weather is fantastic here year round, so why not take advantage and explore the city by way of scooter? You have options too. Choose from Bird, Lime, or even Lyft! Wait, Lyft has scooters now?? Yeeahhhp.
5. Go Food Truck Hopping
Austin is known for being one of the country’s top foodie cities. And if you’re vegan, you’re in luck! I wasn’t expecting Texas to be so vegan-friendly and was pleasantly surprised to see how many options I had.
The food truck scene is huge here and adds to the unique character of Austin. I enjoyed hunting for vegan-friendly food trucks and they weren’t hard at all to come across. One that I highly recommend is Conscious Cravings, a food truck with modern vegan cuisine that makes wraps infused with a mouthwatering blend of herbs and spices from around the world.
I tasted two different wraps off the menu. First I tried the CC Diner, which consists of housemade wheat protein nuggets, pickled relish, lettuce, grilled onions, tomatoes, dijon, and vegan mayo. Then I tried the Bella, a wrap filled with portabella mushrooms, tomatoes, grilled onions, and herbed vegan mayo. Both are delicious—if I had to pick a fave, it’s the CC Diner which is packed with flavor.
6. Gaze at Lady Bird Lake
Lady Bird Lake is an important part of Austin, and you likely won’t be able to avoid at least seeing it while you’re visiting. Probably the first thing that captured my attention in Austin was the picturesque vista of Lady Bird Lake I saw from my hotel window at Fairmont Austin. Scenic nature views don’t often come to my mind when I think of Texas, so it immediately showed me how limited my view of this state actually was up until this point.
7. Get Weird on South Congress Street
When I was looking up hashtags for Austin, one that came up was #KeepAustinWeird – it’s a phrase that accurately matches Austin’s zany reputation. Austin is weird. And it’s part of what makes Austin the kind of city you want to come back to over and over again.
After the slogan got popular, local businesses began to take notice and encourage both tourists and Austinites alike to “buy local.” Sustainability is always at the forefront of my mind, so I’m all about supporting the local economy. My favorite area in Austin for doing just that is South Congress Street, where you’ll find all kinds of weird local shops and charming landmarks.
I twirled around in front of the “I Love You So Much” mural located on the side of Jo’s Hot Coffee, stared a little too hard at the phallic Austin Motel sign (seriously, was it purposely designed to look like a penis–I need answers), felt like a kid in a retro candy store at Big Top Candy Shop, and browsed Parts & Labour where I laughed at the “Be Kind to Animals or I’ll Kill You” type messages I saw all throughout the quirky craft store, which has proudly supported Texas based crafters and artists since 2004.
With local charm and homespun character oozing from every crevice of SoCo, this adorably weird neighborhood is a must for your 48-hour Austin visit.
Who am I kidding? Everything on this list is a must for your visit to Austin. With that being said, time to stop reading and start exploring. So bookmark this, close your browser, and go forth and get weird!
* This adventure was made possible by Le Club Accor Hotels and Travel Mindset, but please believe all opinions are ALL me. In other words, I legit had fun on this trip and believe you will too.