Earlier this summer, my college besties and I took a much-needed girls trip to Austin, Texas for a long weekend. We really love to eat, love going out, are nuts about live music, and were looking for a pretty inexpensive destination (ya girls are ballin’ on a budget!). After searching Pinterest for potential US cities and checking flights, we settled on Austin. This trip was mean to be more about bonding with each other than the city itself, but after 4 short days, we each fell in love with Austin! In this guide, I will outline how we built the perfect girls weekend in this incredible city.
When we were looking at potential places to stay, we knew we wanted to stay near 6th Street, as it is famous for being THE place to hear live music. After searching Expedia, we settled on Aloft Downtown Austin. It ended up being better than we could have ever hoped! Our room had an amazing view of the Texas State Capital and University of Texas Football Stadium. Additionally, the hotel was home to Upstairs at Caroline, an amazing rooftop bar that serves up delicious cocktails, bites, and fun lawn games! The location meant that we could walk just about everywhere in the city and was super safe. I cannot recommend Aloft Downtown Austin enough!
If the Aloft is full for the dates where you’re hoping to travel, I recommend staying in the downtown area! The Westin is farther from 6th Street, but has an incredible rooftop pool. The Driskill is one of the coolest hotels I’ve ever walked in and features decor that can only be described as “cowboy chic”. The Driskill is in the heart of downtown and has an awesome happy hour, but is said to be haunted and is more on the expensive side.
If you’re going to Austin with a larger group of people, AirBnb may be a better option. Before we went to Austin, we had NO idea how many bachelor and bachelorette parties make it their destination. There were almost as many as Nashville! The amount of these parties means that there are tons of AirBnb options in Austin for larger groups.
While we were in Austin, I feel like we never stopped eating! Between sit down places and food trucks, we ate from sun up to sun down. I’d argue that there really is no bad place in Austin to grab a meal after this trip. Here are some of my favorite spots!
First is Torchy’s Tacos, which may just be the single greatest meal I’ve had in my life. The tacos are a pretty good size – I recommend ordering two. The queso was a work of art, and I would go back just for it! There are multiple Torchy’s locations in Austin and you’ll likely have to wait in line for a few minutes.
Next, I’d like to talk about a Texas staple – BBQ. Coopers BBQ has a variety of meats and sides that are ordered at a counter (I recommend the brisket!). Seats are at big tables, so be prepared to make some friends. The storefront of Coopers BBQ is kind of tucked away off Congress Street, so be sure to keep an eye out for it.
Food Trucks are abundant in Austin! We found ourselves frequenting the food truck court off Rainey Street, particularly Glory Hole Hot Dogs. The food truck court also has a variety of international foods that were all delicious. While not in the food truck court, Little Lucy’s is an adorable donut truck that serves up sweet treats late into the night.
Speaking of sweet treats, Voodoo Doughnuts has a location off of 6th Street that is busiest late into the night! We went for breakfast and tried cereal doughnuts and the iconic voodoo man doughnut and were not disappointed.
Head to the Moonshine Grill for more traditional southern eats and popcorn for the table. TRACE was a great brunch spot with a patio that is perfect for people watching. Frank’s serves up a variety of hot dogs and a great breakfast! Finally, Happy Chicks is home to delicious mac n cheese and flavored chicken tenders.
While in Austin, our nightlife experience was mostly limited to 6th Street and Rainey Street, as it was graduation weekend and we did not want to venture into the craziness that were the bars near campus. That being said, we had the time of our lives!
The first area we went out in was Rainey Street. The majority of the bars on this street are converted from older homes, which was super cool! A few of the bars really commit to their themes. Unbarlievable is a circus themed bar complete with stage under a big top, slide, hula-hoops on the lawn, and clown decor. Container Bar is made of shipping containers and is a great place to dance! Rainey Street also has a ton of bars with phenomenal lawns, like Bungalow, Clive Bar, and Banger’s, which also has great food. Finally, there’s the Parlor Room, where each room is themed and built for taking cool pictures!
The other area we went out to was 6th Street. Austin’s 6th Street is famous for its rowdy atmosphere, which is probably why it’s called the “Dirty Sixth”. 6th Street reminded me a lot of Nashville’s Lower Broadway, but raunchier. We started our 6th Street experience on the rooftop of The Blind Pig, which ended up being a perfect place for watching the street below. We eventually made our way downstairs, where a great solo act was performing older songs. Maggie Mae’s is nextdoor to the Blind Pig and features a great rooftop and live music. Finally, the Easy Tiger has a fantastic beer garden, is on a creek, and has a bakery on property.
Austin is such a interesting city and there truly is something for everyone! Aside from the seemingly endless live music venues, Austin has great shopping, a fantastic art scene, and a some super cool traditions. Austin is also the capital of Texas, so be sure to swing by the gorgeous capital grounds and take a tour of the building!
One of the things I was looking forward to most in Austin was shopping the vintage stores on South Congress! The stores were, surprisingly, more “hipster chic” than truly vintage, and the prices reflected that mentality. We ended up browsing through these stores and didn’t purchase anything.
A store that we fell in love with was Tesoros Trading Company, which sells folk art and traditional items from 20 different countries, mostly Latin America. We spent so much time browsing through this store and found some really cool decor!
Another cool shop was the To The Moon Bus, a mobile store that is housed in a converted school bus. To The Moon Bus has tons of decor, crafts, soaps, toys, and jewelry. All of it was totally gorgeous and instagrammable. You can find To The Moon Bus on instagram to find out where they are!
Austin is FULL of art! You can’t walk down a single street in the downtown area without seeing at least one mural. The highlight of art in Austin, in my opinion, is a Castle Hill Graffiti, a constantly evolving outdoor art exhibit. While at the park, you can literally watch it change as artists add their work to the site. The HOPE Campaign, who runs this space, stresses the importance of only allowing those with approved work to paint. Unfortunately, there are a few people selling spray cans on property for anyone to add their social media @’s to the walls (*eye roll*). Make sure to wear shoes built for rough terrain, as the view from the top of Castle Hill is one of the best in the city.
I am a sucker for city traditions, and Austin has one that has topped the list. The Congress Avenue Bridge downtown is home to over 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats who (almost) every day emerge at sunset! The bats eat tons of bugs each night, which controls the city’s bug population. About an hour before sunset, viewers start to gather on the bridge and hillside beside it to see the bats. The bats are an incredible sight to behold and seeing them is an experience that shouldn’t be missed! Even if the bats don’t fly, the area is a great place to watch the sunset.
I fell head over heels in love with Austin after a few days, and I’m sure you will to! Have you visited Austin? Let me know your “must-dos” in the comments below!
Looking for another fun “girls weekend” destination? Check out my weekend guide to Savannah, GA!