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One stroll through the colorful streets of Austin, Texas and you’ll find the city’s slogan “Keep Austin Weird” plastered just about everywhere. While the saying was coined by the Austin Independent Business Alliance to promote small businesses, it’s become a full-blown lifestyle for natives and visitors alike. Of course, Austin is weird in the best way, with an eclectic assortment of bars and restaurants, kitschy stores and shopping malls, and a renowned live music scene. Although Austin is a walking city, ELLE.com got the chance to tour the Texas capital in Honda’s new 2022 Civic Hatchback—complete with luxe features like touch navigation, a charging pad, Bose sound system, and sunroof—to experience the best places to see, eat, drink, and stay. We’ve compiled these hotspots in a guide to having fun—and keeping it weird—in the heart of the South. Enjoy!
Austin City Limits Live at The Moody Theater
There’s a reason why Austin is known as the “Live Music Capital of the World.” You can catch performances from local talent and major artists at the city’s premier live music venue, Austin City Limits Live at The Moody Theater. ACL is better known for it’s Austin City Limits music festival (this year’s lineup included stars like Billie Eilish, Megan Thee Stallion, Doja Cat, and Miley Cyrus), but the institution has been around for 43 years, supporting artists and shining a light on Texas music.
Lady Bird Lake
“The big thing in Austin is to go SUP boarding or kayaking on Town Lake,” says ELLE.com Staff Writer and Texas native Rose Minutaglio. Once known as Town Lake, Lady Bird Lake is a hotspot for outdoor activities like paddling, rowing, fishing, and hike and bike trails.
South Congress Avenue
South of Lady Bird Lake is South Congress Avenue, a buzzy neighborhood better known as SoCo to locals. A walk through this neighborhood is a must for some of the best shopping, live music, and sight-seeing Austin has to offer. Snap a photo in front of the iconic “I Love You So Much” mural, catch performances at Guero’s Oak Garden, or indulge in some retail therapy at stores like Alo Yoga, Reformation, and Le Labo.
You’ll find modern Mexican fare and delicious cocktails at this upscale restaurant in downtown Austin. At ATX Cocina, munch on authentic corn tortillas paired with mains like roasted beef short rib, pollo asada, and pescado enojado. Once your plates are polished off, finish with a mezcal from the extensive drinks menu.
Clark’s Oyster Bar
A chic nautical interior and fairy light-adorned patio makes Clark’s a must-see dinner attraction. Located in West Austin, the seafood restaurant is known for it’s raw bar, decadent lobster rolls, and crispy red snapper. We recommend stopping in during happy hour from 3 to 5 p.m. to beat the evening crowd and cash in on deals (half-off martinis and burgers and $5 oyster shooters!).
Iron Works BBQ
If you’re looking for some of best barbecue in Texas, look no further than this Austin staple. Iron Works used to be an ornamental iron workshop owned by the Weigl family of construction pioneers until it was converted into a restaurant in 1978. The property is registered as a historical site for its significance, but also serves up some mean ribs, chicken, and sliced beef. Get a sampler plate for a full tasting.
The Milonga Room
Velvet couches and lush greenery will transport you to South America in this intimate bar tucked underneath the Buenos Aires Café in downtown Austin. Specializing in amaro and Argentine-influenced cocktails, The Milonga Room will have you sampling liquor from around the world while taking in the vintage (and IG-worthy) ambiance.
Located on the nightlife mecca that is Rainey Street, Container Bar is Austin’s first-ever green establishment made of four-ton metal shipping containers. Equipped with outdoor patios and an open upper deck, you’ll have more than enough space for dancing to live music and DJs every Thursday through Saturday night.
If you’re looking for decadent craft cocktails in an opulent setting, stop by Goldie’s in the Austin Proper Hotel. Maybe it’s the sunken marble bar and velvet chairs talking, but something about it screams fancy.
Austin Proper Hotel
Proper Hotels are known for impeccable design and state-of-the-art amenities, making this Austin location perfect for a luxurious stay. Soak up some sun by the roof deck pool, grab brunch or dinner in restaurants La Piscina and The Peacock, or enjoy a relaxing treatment at the hotel’s brand-new Verbena Spa. But what really sells the Austin Proper? The friendly and attentive hotel staff, who are more than ready to accommodate your dream vacation.
The Driskill is an iconic Austin landmark famous for its Southern elegance and cowhide-clad bar. Check into one of their spacious and airy rooms and you’ll be transported to old-world Texas, complete with plush bedding, marble bathrooms, and custom Austin décor.
The Line Hotel
Located at the crossroads of Lady Bird Lake and downtown, this fun and trendy hotel attracts young crowds for its poolside DJ and bustling brunch spot P6. Suites feature lakeside views and a stacked mini bar. For more to munch on, stop by Veracruz All Natural for authentic tacos and queso.