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A Perfect Summer Day in Austin, Texas

Austin has a great variety of things to do, an evolving food scene anchored with top-notch Tex-Mex and barbecue, and the quirky vibes that give the city its motto, Keep Austin Weird. I’ve lived in Austin for over 5 years and find the city hard not to love. Here is how to have a perfect summer day in Austin, Texas.

Below I’ve included my favorite restaurants, things to do in Austin and of course recommendations for nightlife.

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Summer in Austin

One Perfect Day in Austin

Where To Eat in Austin

taco deli in Austin
CC Image courtesy of Krista on Flickr

For a perfect summer day in Austin, start off with breakfast tacos. Head to one of Taco Deli’s locations for the best breakfast tacos in town. I recommend the Otto, with refried black beans, bacon, avocado and Monterrey Jack cheese, and the Sirloin, Egg & Cheese. They also have the best queso in town in my opinion.

You can’t visit Austin without trying some barbecue. Definitely, make a stop for lunch to enjoy the best barbecue brisket you will ever eat. You may have heard of Franklins, the place where waiting in line at 7am is normal to get some lunch when it opens at 11.  It’s a fun experience and the food is amazing, but there are other places with amazing barbecue.

Salt Lick Barbecue Pit
CC Image courtesy of I’ll Never Grow Up on Flickr

Le Barbeque is located on the south side and is very close to downtown.  It is one of my top picks and is very similar in quality to Franklins. If you want a very Texas experience, you can make your way south about 25 minutes from downtown to the Salt Lick. 

They have the best atmosphere, a mustard-based barbecue sauce and have an option to have unlimited brisket, ribs, and sausage you won’t find anywhere else. It is not as consistently amazing as other places but is still pretty good.

Whole Foods Market on Lamar and 6th Street also has a barbecue place inside with an impressively good brisket.  You may want to visit anyway since it is their flagship store. Last, I would recommend Rudy’s.  They are all built with gas stations and you are served with wax paper instead of plates.  Rudy’s has a consistent quality barbecue with a great sauce and has the best sides like creamed corn, new potatoes, and potato salad.

View from The Oasis in Austin
CC Image courtesy of Anthony Quintano on Flickr

For dinner, eat some Tex-Mex.  If you can make it up north, the Oasis is situated on Lake Travis about 30 minutes from Downtown. Plan to arrive at least 30-minutes before sunset and ask for a seat with a view of the lake and watch the sun go down while enjoying dinner and a few drinks. 

If that is too far out of the way, check out Hula Hut.  Another Austin staple, Hula Hut is on Town Lake and has great enchiladas and the fried stuffed avocado that is on the appetizer menu but can be ordered as an entrée as well is a crowd pleaser. For a downtown option, Iron Cactus has seating on their deck overlooking 6th street.

Razzel Dazzle at Gourdoughs
CC Image courtesy of Kimberly Vardeman on Flickr

For a sweet treat, make your way to Gourdough’s donuts.  These donuts are huge and great for splitting and are piled high with amazing toppings with great combinations like Fat Elvis with grilled bananas, bacon topped with peanut butter icing and honey or Razzle Dazzle with raspberry filling and chocolate Icing

Save Big on Your Austin Vacation

Check out the Top Tours & Day Trips from Austin

Read Reviews of the Best Hotels in Austin, Texas on TripAdvisor 

Things To Do In Austin

Texas Capitol Building

During the day there are plenty of things to do, but you will likely want to be in the A/C or near the water.  Stay indoors by taking a tour of the capital building, the largest state capitol in America. Free tours are given every 30 or 45 minutes depending on the day. The explain the architecture of the building, its current usage and the history of Texas.

Barton Springs Pool in Austin
CC Image courtesy of Outdoor Craziness via Panoramio

During the heat of the day, head to Zilker Park to enjoy the most popular place to swim in Austin, Barton Springs.  Filled by damming up a natural spring, the outdoor swimming pool is a constant 68°F and gets up to eighteen feet deep. On a busy summer day, the main parking lot can be a hassle to park in, but there is a less know back entrance and parking lot you can find here.

Kayaking in Austin

Another favorite Austin activity is going Kayaking.  Renting kayaks from the Texas Rowing Center you can easily make your way down Lady Bird Lake downtown.  You can take in the skyline and cool off at the same time.  Technically you aren’t supposed to swim, but sometimes I fall out of my kayak for an extended period of time.

If you are lucky to be here on the right day, about once a month you can enjoy a moonlight serenade making for a perfect date night if you are traveling as a couple.  A mariachi band will float down the river on a raft while you kayak around it.  Dancing on their small platform is also encouraged.

As the afternoon turns to evening, make your way to the Congress Bridge where you will witness millions of bats leaving the bottom of the bridge to go out and eat during the night.  It is quite a sight to see the stream of black going through the air.

If you are still going strong after dinner, 6th street is notorious for the nightlife and live music. Once you have found parking, make your way down 6th street and enjoy bar hopping and the live music many of the bars have each night.

I can not think of a better way to spend a hot summer day in Austin. Did I miss any of your favorite things to do? Please share in the comments!

6 Indispensable Items to Pack for Austin

Get a great travel guide: Moon’s 52 Things to Do in Austin: Local Spots, Outdoor Recreation, Getaways

Bring a good quality mirrorless camera for getting those beautiful city shots of Austin. I use the Sony Alpha a6000 .

Summers are hot in Austin, so make sure to bring Neutrogena Sunscreen, Broad Spectrum Spf 45

A great cross body travel bag. These purses are theft-free and perfect for travel.

Don’t forget sunglasses for the beautiful sunny days in Austin. A.J. Morgan Unisex Sunglasses are a great choice and very affordable!

You are heading to Texas, so you just might want a cool pair of boots! Click here for a great pair of men’s cowboy boots and here for women’s cowboy boots.

Read More About Texas

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Summer in Austin

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One Comment

  1. Awesome list! I also love the chips and queso from Torchy’s Tacos. For a little bit nicer sit-down place, I love to check out the Driskell hotel’s historic decor and grab dessert at their little cafe. Still dreaming about their banana split. And it’s nice that it’s right on 6th, in the middle of the action.

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