Austin Travel Guide
See where Watson ate, drank, shopped, stayed and which murals he found in Austin, Texas!
For the longest time I've thought that LA was the most dog friendly city in the US. I was wrong. Austin is. It would probably be easier for me to mark what ISN'T dog friendly in this doc, but I'll keep it consistent ;).
WHERE TO STAY:
- Airbnb: I'm sure you've heard me rave about Airbnb before, and this trip was no different. Here is where we ended up! Despite wanting the Hotel San Jose originally, our Airbnb turned out really great. We had a nice big backyard and were walking distance to the South Congress area. I would highly recommend staying near this area, as there was a lot to eat, drink and see just a short walk away!
- Hotel San Jose: if you remember my amazing trip to Todos Santos, Mexico earlier this year (catalogued here), you may remember we chose that part of Mexico solely for the Hotel San Cristobal. This is that hotel’s Austin sister, brought to you by the same management company. So it’s got all the same unique charm and amazing bath products (helloooo Malin + Goetz), but this version is Austinified! We did manage to get here for one drink and I still stand by needing to stay here
- Omni Downtown: I stayed here the first few days of our trip in Austin, and this is a great spot as well. On the edge of downtown but a 10 minute walk to anything you need! It’s huge with a sundry shop, communal work space, sit down restaurant and to-go breakfast bar (with TACOS). Also a rooftop pool which was..interesting..haha. The best part about this hotel was how great they treated Watson. As part of their policy if there’s open space they’ll move you to a room far from other guests with a dog, which meant I got upgraded to a huge corner room! I honestly think it was bigger than our Venice apartment. They also offer free dog walking and watching services as they hope you don’t leave your pet alone in the room.
WHAT TO DO:
- Go out on 6th St: what a bizarre sight! So many drunk people flooding the streets and the cops just stand there and watch, until 2am when they promptly start guiding drunk people home. How is this normal outside of Vegas?!? I loved it 😂
- “Hike” Mount Bonnell: the word hike is in quotes because I think this is a whopping 170 stair climb, but it has a beautiful view at the top! There's a foot path to go between a few lookout points and benches. Highly recommend packing a picnic and heading here for sunset! [dog friendly]
- South Congress Shopping: okay first off, can we talk about how freaking cool this website for South Congress is?! Whoever did this, I applaud you. So helpful! But the most important thing to discuss is the shopping. A few of my favorites are listed a little lower in this blog post, but you really can't go wrong just walking along the main drag! Tons of restaurants, shops and street fairs if you're lucky. When we were there, there was a dog event and an artisan markers mart within 2 blocks of each other! [dog friendly]
- Mural hunt!: I'm a little partial to this, but of course go on a mural hunt! There are SO many murals in Austin, definitely close to the amount in LA if not more, and most of them are marked properly on Google Maps. [dog friendly]
- We didn't make it to these stops, but they're on the list!
WHERE TO EAT:
- Jacoby's: Farm to table AMAZING Jaocoby's is Austin meets California. The decor is Southwestern at its best with a store so you can take the feeling home. We had a delicious salad with tons of veggies & the mac n cheese which you must get! The yeast rolls are also to die for.
- June’s: we really enjoyed this brunch place with Gio & Ryder. Bellini's and breakfast fare galore! Really cute joint with outdoor seating in South Congress. [dog friendly]
- La Barbecue: SOOOO worth the hype!! Best brisket I've ever had. Zomg. [dog friendly - okay so maybe not supposed to be, but we brought Watson in and nobody said anything..😂😂]
- Gourdoughs: everything is bigger in Texas and in this case better too. I will forever be dreaming of these donuts!! A must have. [dog friendly]
- Veracruz: this is one of many trucks in a trailer park in Austin. As you progress through town you see little groupings of these all over the place. Veracruz tacos is in seemingly the middle of nowhere (i.e. up-and-coming East Austin) and is in a literal school bus, but absolutely a necessary stop! I hear their breakfast tacos are extra bomb, but we opted for lunch. Mexican Coke and lots of good Agua Fresca's too! [dog friendly]
- Bangers: when I think of Southern BBQ, Banger's is exactly the type of place I think of. Lots of long tables where everyone sits family style, live super loud music, a long wait and enormous portions! They offer the "manmosa" which is a Das Boot full of mimosa, and they won't let you order it unless you've already put in a food order, and you only get one! Rahim tried it and we learned why! [dog friendly]
- Torchy’s: if you talk to people who live in Austin they are pretty blah on Torchy's (it's a chain out there), I thought it was cheap, delicious & fast though - which is a pretty good combo! They have really unique taco options that include fried avocado so definitely a win in my book. And you can find them multiple places! Ha
- Freedman’s: I thought this was the best BBQ I had ever had until La Barbecue of course.. haha.. Freedman's stands on its own though! Great setting and beer selection over by UT. [dog friendly]
- Voodoo Donuts: technically a Portland staple, but if you don't find yourself near Gourdough's this is a good bet! Lots of really fun and funky flavors and shapes. I had both, because donuts always.
WHERE TO DRINK:
- Mañana: this place was my JAM. Not only was Watson allowed inside the shop, but he was welcomed with open arms. I had a delicious almond milk cortado and they really seemed to know what they were doing here. Not to mention the super cute tile!
- Houndstooth: cute spot, quality beans & knowledgeable baristas. Who could ask for more?
- Jo’s: we didn’t make it to this coffee shop, but it’s smack dab in the middle of South Congress and a true Austin staple!
- Ginger Man: cute little saloon style bar with an outdoor courtyard. Really good finger food too like the pretzel and hummus. Really nice vibes here!
- Empire Control Room: we saw Griffyn at this venue and boy was it a treat! This place is what I think of when I think of “where bands get started.” Small stage and intimate crowd with an outdoor bar & merch area. As a short person I will say, this is not my favorite venue - I had to be on Rahim’s 6’2 shoulders to see anything - but it sure sounded good!
- Anywhere on Rainey St, but especially... Parlor Room! It’s hard to pick just one, but if I had to pick, this was my favorite spot we visited in all of Austin. $2 mimosas!! + Jenga, that ring and hook game, arcade games including original Pacman, pool, a photo booth, and it’s all in this adorable converted house. I want to live here, can I?
- Lustre Pearl: we saw the Houston Astro’s win the World Series here, so I think we got the best showing possible! Lustre Pearl has good drinks and delicious bar food (hellooo loaded tots). This bar was a first on Rainey St. and then the owner picked up the house and physically moved it to it’s new East location. And then they opened another spot on Rainey. Go figure!
- Central Standard: we happened upon here from shopping fatigue in SoCo (so. much. to. see!) and it was a pleasant experience. Hip outdoor patio and really airy well decorated inside as well. We only drank here hence putting it in the drinks column, but I assume they have good food too.
- The Liberty: The Liberty is that bar you go to at the end of the night, and that’s what we did! A bus out back with drunk munch and cheap beer, with a few arcade games.
- Whisler’s: I’m really happy we sauntered upon this bar in East Austin. Two stories of craft cocktails and dim lounge seating, with a huge outdoor patio. This place was packed the entire time we were there
- We didn’t make it to either Easy Tiger or HandleBar, but both come highly recommended as well. The former is a bakery / outdoor brewery / game spot, and the latter is a rooftop bar with other assorted bar games (pool etc.).
WHERE TO SHOP:
- Triple Z Threadz: what a crazy funky store! This place has every printed item you could dream of from tee shirts to belts to coasters. They had really raunchy phrases and downright hilarious merch. Not to mention the ridiculous laser cat cut out in the window!
- Parts & Labour: really cute boutique with a ton to offer! Unique gifts and home goods for any sort of person, and some unique to Austin crafts. Definitely worth sauntering in! There’s a gallery in the back too. Oh yeah and lots of belly rubs given out here.
- Outdoor Voices: I was so excited to hear that Outdoor Voices HQ was in Austin!! I've been following this brand for months without making a purchase, so it was nice to be able to try things on. The store is adorable and they gave our dudes beer - definite win!
- TOMS: by now I believe everyone knows the brand, but their store in Austin is adorable! Coffee shop inside and patio out back with a JGoldcrown Love mural.
- Revival Cycles: my boyfriend makes a point to visit a bike shop in every city we visit, so this was our pick for Austin. It's small but has a lot of good merch for those bike & motorcycle enthusiasts.
- by George: this store reminded me of Abbot Kinney because it's very posh, which I love! High end designer clothes in a beautiful shop. They were having a "read your aura" event when we were there so a teepee was set up where someone was inside reading said aura, and they were serving rose outside of said teepee. Marvelous, dear ;)
- Big Top: last but absolutely not least, the epic candy store of Austin! This place would fulfill any child's dream. Sugar rush!!
BRINGING YOUR DOG TO AUSTIN:
All you need to do is:
- Make sure you have a good airline carrier (we use this one from Sleepypod and could not recommend this carrier more)
- Get a nice piece of luggage that's comfortable to travel with as well, it'll make traveling with a pup easier. I swear by Away - just ordered myself the new Rashida Jones teal! - because Watson hooks right onto the handles and I can roll him flat (plus it fits all my stuffs, and I pack a lot of stuffs).
- Call your airline beforehand and add a pet to your reservation. All airline fees are different, Southwest is the cheapest at $95.
- Arrange pet friendly lodging beforehand! Airbnb worked well for us here.
- Wear your dog out before you head to the airport! We normally play in the yard and go for a really long walk, I shoot for an hour if I can spare it. Play date is the best.
- Bring treats with you and hand them liberally to your dog before, during and after the flight 😉
- Watson looOooooOoves bully sticks, so I also pop one of those in his Sleepypod for the trip. He normally carries a toy in with him too!
Total cost: $250 for his roundtrip Delta flight and a lifetime of memories