I can’t believe I’ve already lived in Austin for 5 years. With the variety of things to do, the 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 find Austin hard not to love. Here is how to have a perfect summer day in Austin, Texas.
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One Perfect Day in Austin
Where To Eat in Austin
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.
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.
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.
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
Things To Do In Austin
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.
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.
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 he 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!
If you liked this article about the 52 best things to do in Austin, you’ll love Texas Hospitality: Massages, BBQ, Wine Tasting and the Kimber Modern
6 Indispensable Items to Pack for Austin
- Get the guide: 20 Cool Things to do during your Trip to Austin
- 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. Cross body bags prevent theft and are much easier to access.
- 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.
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Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.
Dan Bagby is passionate about food and travel and enjoys writing about it on his blog, HoneymoonAlways, a couples site dedicated to helping couple travel more to stay in or reconnect to their honeymoon phase.