The Perfect Weekend In Austin (2023 Edition)
Sure, there are plenty of “best of” lists floating around the Web. But what are the “perfect” things to do on a weekend in Austin in 2022?
Austin Texas: one of the top travel destinations in the United States. It's perfect for bachelorette parties, family trips, girls' weekend getaways, and romantic vacations with your significant other. But if you're going to visit Austin for a long weekend, how should you spend your time? From brunch to bbq, east Austin to South Congress, cowboy boots to rooftop pools, here's how you can create the perfect weekend itinerary in ATX.
How Many Days Do You Need in Austin?
A good 72-hour trip to Austin will give you a nice taste of the city! If it's your first time visiting Austin, 2 days/1 nights in Austin is probably not enough. You'll definitely want to spend an entire 3-day weekend in Austin.
What Should You Not Miss in Austin?
The breakfast tacos, the barbecue, Barton Springs pool, West Sixth street, live music at the Moody Amphitheater, wandering South Congress.
Of course, there are LOTS more to do in Austin, which is included in detail below.
Austin Quick Facts:
Founded in: 1839
Number of sunny days per year: 228
Number of days over 100 degrees: 68 days
A Brief History of Austin:
Texas gained its own independence in 1835-36 and became its own country for a few years. The VP at the time selected a spot for a new capital: the area by the Colorado river because of the rolling Texas Hill Country terrain, waterways, etc. It's definitely a really beautiful area and he wasn't wrong about that! It was originally named the city of "Waterloo" but was quickly changed to "Austin" (in honor of Stephen F Austin, the father of Texas.)
Edwin Waller created the city grid (which is now downtown Austin), Texas joined the Union, the University of Texas held its first classes in 1883, and the city grew and grew, yada yada... (Actually, there's a lot of really interesting history about the city of Austin that's worth knowing. If you have time during your trip, stop by the Bob Bullock museum for a deep dive into the story of Texas.)
The 1970s were big for Austin! That's when it emerged as a musical center of the country and the University of Texas became one of the top universities in the United States. And obviously, the big tech in the past few years have cause HUGE amounts of major businesses and lots of residents to move to Austin, expanding the city limits and the cost of living exponentially.
But as Austin evolves and changes, a few things remain the same: Barton Springs is still the best place to go swimming, there are still some absolutely amazing breakfast tacos and barbecue here, and the bats under the Congress Avenue bridge are just as fun to view as ever.
Traveling To Austin
If you're flying into Austin, lucky you! You get to go to the Austin Bergstrom International Airport. It's full of fantastic local food options, craft beer, and live music. It's a really fun gateway into the city.
It's a short uber ride from downtown Austin, so you don't really need to rent a car for the weekend trip. In fact, it's easier if you don't - downtown parking is really expensive.
The Best Months To Visit Austin
If you can, avoid the months of August and September. They're SO hot.
March - June and October/Nov are the most popular times to visit Austin because they're also the most beautiful weather.
Not to mention that SXSW is in March and Austin City Limits music festival and F1 Weekend are in October. Keep in mind that March and October are definitely the most expensive months to travel to Austin.
Things To Do in Austin:
You could fill a month with things to do in Austin! But To get you started, here are a few helpful guides to some fun things to do in Austin:
Toddler-Friendly Activities In Austin
101 Free Things To Do In Austin
Where to Eat in Austin
It's not hard to find good food in Austin (Franklin BBQ, Veracruz All Natural tacos, endless places to find a good outdoor patio or beer garden...) but the hard part is narrowing it down to a few top choices! Here are some guides to help you find the best places to eat in Austin:
The Best Food Trucks In Austin
Where to Stay in Austin
Downtown and South Congress are the two best options. Hotels in these areas are slightly more expensive, but you'll be local to all the action and just a short ride share away from pretty much anything you'll want to do!
A Weekend Guide to Austin Texas
You're probably flying in on Friday afternoon, so you'll want to check in to your accommodations and get ready for a night out. If you want a pick-me-up, check out a fun Austin coffee shop for some caffeine.
Downtown: Red Ash (Italian), ATX Cocina (Mexican), or Lamberts (BBQ)
South Congress: Perlas (seafood), June's All Day (American wine bar), or Aba (Mediterranean)
Friday Night Out on the Town:
Head out for a fun night on Rainey Street or West Sixth street! Here's the rundown on the Austin bar scene:
Dirty 6th Street is the area of Sixth Street that's to the west of I35. Note that this is technically also part of West Sixth, but when people say they're going out on "West Sixth" they are definitely NOT talking about dirty sixth! Dirty Sixth is...well, dirty. It's where frat bros and super touristy tourists hang out. There's a time and place for Dirty Sixth, but it's definitely not the best of the best as far as Austin bars are concerned.
So Rainey Street is the next best option. It was REALLY cool about 10 years ago when it was a line of little bungalow houses that had been transformed into bars. But over the past 3 years, most of the unique spots have been bought out by bigger nationally-owned bars, and the scene isn't as much fun. However, there are still a few good places to go (Banger's for beer and Half Step for a mixed drink for sure!) and it's still a fun spot to go out and get a cocktail.
West Sixth is the newest trendy bar scene in Austin. It's a really fun street in east Austin! There are lots of local breweries, restaurants, bars, and coffee shops.
Wherever you choose to go on your Friday night Austin itinerary, you're bound to have a great time!
Saturday Morning: Lady Bird Lake
Caffeinate, grab some breakfast tacos (Veracruz All-Natural is a great option), and then head out on the water!
Lady Bird Lake is a central part of Austin for many reasons. First, it's literally central in the city (it's a dammed-up portion of the Colorado river just south of downtown, so when you're paddle boarding in the lake you get a perfect view of the Austin skyline). Also, it's a huge public park space where you can enjoy the beautiful sunny Austin weather!
You can rent paddle boards or kayaks from vendors around the lake (or bring your own!), run or hike on the beautiful Roy Butler hike and bike trail, bring your dog to the off-leash park at Auditorium Shores, or just lounge in the many grassy areas.
Whether you like to be active or still, the beauty of Lady Bird Lake is a must-do event in Austin Texas.
Barbecue! LeRoy and Lewis, La Barbecue, Franklin Barbecue, and Terry Black are all great options. Note that Terry Black's is closest to the next activity...
Saturday Afternoon: Barton Springs Pool
Barton Springs Pool is one of the most popular Austin activities among both locals and tourists! It's a 3-acre pool that's naturally spring-fed from Barton Springs, the fourth largest spring in Texas. This pool remains about 68 degrees years around, so it feels really good on a hot summer day!
Admission is really cheap and you can fill the lazy afternoon jumping in the water and lounging on the grassy banks of the water. Or, if you don't want to jump in the water (or you're visiting Austin in the winter), just hang out in Zilker Park, which is really close to Barton Springs.
Saturday Evening: Dinner and Music
Plan a fun dinner spot (top picks for first-timers? Emmer & Rye, Surete, and Fresa's are all great options if it's your first time in Austin!) and then get tickets to hear some music.
Moody Amphitheater (pictured above) is a really fun venue because it's a pretty small space so you can get close to the performing artist, and you have a clear view of the state capitol building behind the stage.
Another fun venue is the Moody Theater (not to be confused with the Moody Amphitheater, which we just mentioned, or the Moody Center, which is the big arena at the University of Texas.) The Moody Theater is in downtown Austin, near the South Congress bridge, and it's where ACL Live is recorded.
You can always just search for some free live music in Austin, too! ABGB (a really fun brewery) typically has free music on the weekends, as does Meanwhile Brewing.
PS: if you're eating dinner near the Congress Bridge, be sure to stop by and watch the Mexican free-tailed bats emerge at dusk. It's a really cool site to see!
Sunday Morning: Yoga and Brunch
What is there to do on a Sunday morning in Austin? You can't visit Austin without doing an epic Sunday morning brunch!
But before that, if you want to move your body a bit, Black Swan Yoga is one of the most iconic old-school Austin yoga studios in Austin. There's a location near downtown just off 5th street.
For brunch, there are SO many great options! Here's a big guide + map to the best brunch in Austin, because there are too many good ideas to list here. Use the map and your taste buds to choose the one that sounds best to you.
Sunday Afternoon: Happy Hour and Shopping at South Congress
South Congress Avenue...a very debatable subject among Austinites at this point.
Back in the day, it was full of small independently owned shops. They were all weird and quirky. There were a few fun places to find a hidden mural or two, and you could pop into Lucy In Disguise with Diamonds or Allens Boots or Uncommon Objects for all sorts of weird Austin vibes.
Now it's home to a Hermés store, a Lululemon, and a bunch of other big national stores. It still has a fun Austin energy to it (some local restaurants, a bunch of fun street art, and the Continental Club), but it's also littered with scooters and big chain stores and things that definitely make it feel quite different from the South Congress of small Austin. (Which makes sense...Austin isn't a small city anymore!)
Nevertheless, it's worth walking up and down SOCO and enjoying the shopping.
There are lots of great places to eat on SOCO, but June's All Day is great if you want a delicious burger and a glass of rosé, Otoko is an intimate sushi counter where it's impossible to get reservations but you can sometimes walk into the little speakeasy Japanese whisky bar (the entrance is located in the South Congress Hotel courtyard at the top of a flight of unmarked stairs), and Little Brother is a fun walkup window for coffee.
If you have any extra time on Sunday, it's always fun to go on a hike in Austin, check out another famous pool (Deep Eddy!), or head to a distillery tour at Still Austin.
Of course, if you just want to lounge for a bit, Alamo Drafthouse is our famous movie theater chain where servers bring you craft beer and delicious food.
Another Sunday afternoon idea: the Austin brewery scene is pretty epic and it's always fun to check out one or two of those. Meanwhile, Brewing and Live Oak Brewery are really close to the Austin airport, so you can kill a bit of time there before your flight home.
101 Free Things To Do In Austin (2023!)
Austin, Texas isn’t cheap, but there are still plenty of free things to do in…Read More
Hiking In Austin: The 15 Best Trails (With Maps!)
When you’re ready to lace up your hiking shoes and get out to enjoy nature,…Read More
What Is There To Do In April In Austin?
Sure, it’s not quite the crazy month of march when SXSW hits Austin. And it’s…Read More
Leave a Comment