Where To Eat and What To Do In Austin, Texas
Austin, Texas is known for a lot of things: a thriving music scene, year-round outdoor activities, eclectic and local shops, and a mix of trendy and authentic dining experiences. In a typical year, more than 30 million visitors travel to Austin, and the city continues to be one of the fastest-growing in the country. Whether you’re vacationing in Austin or just a local who wants to explore their own city, the options for things to do are endless.
Founded in Austin, we at Hopdoddy love our local culture and are excited to share a few of our favorite spots in the city with you. Of course, no day in the Texas capital is complete without a full stomach, so we’ll start there…
Best Places to Eat in Austin
Though the COVID-19 pandemic has substantially changed the face of Austin’s dining scene, many restaurants have risen to the occasion, offering more extensive takeout options, ensuring social distancing within their dining rooms, and even selling booze to-go.
Here’s a list of some of the best restaurants still providing Austin with delicious food in 2021.
Best Burgers in Austin
Best Asian Cuisine
Best Mexican and Tex-Mex Food
Things to Do In Austin, Texas (even during Covid-19)
Even during the pandemic, there are still many things you can do around Austin that involve social distancing. Here are a few of the best things to do in Austin right now.
Paddleboard or kayak on Lady Bird Lake
Lady Bird Lake is situated between the South Congress area and downtown, making for some of the most epic city views that Austin has to offer. Though there are many warm days here (even some in the winter) hanging out on the water is best during the Texas heat of summer.
There are access points to the lake where you can bring your own gear, or you can rent paddleboards or kayaks from the following places:
Take a dip at Barton Springs Pool
Barton Springs Pool, located in Zilker Park, is fed from underground springs that keep the water at an average temperature of 68-70 degrees. Many Austinites take a dip in the pool during the summer as a reprieve from the extreme summer heat, but quite a few people enjoy the thrill of swimming there even in the winter. A true watering hole, the Barton Pool attracts an eclectic crowd, making for fun people watching and communal relaxation.
During COVID-19, capacity is limited and hours are slightly more restricted. View the latest hours and visiting information here.
Hike the Greenbelt
The Barton Creek Greenbelt (known to locals simply as “the Greenbelt”) is located just minutes from downtown and contains 12.68 miles of hiking and biking trails that run along Barton Creek. Whether you’re looking to just hike, rock climb, or swim near the city, the Greenbelt offers the option to do all three. Most locals will make an afternoon of it, bringing towels, picnic baskets, and maybe even some beer to set up shop on some rocks and spend the day swimming and lounging by the water.
There are multiple greenbelt access points, which can sometimes be confusing to newcomers. Check out this comprehensive Greenbelt guide for more information.
Explore the shops on South Congress
The shopping strip in the SoCo district of Austin is iconic. With local restaurants (check out our SoCo burger bar), funky vintage shops, cool bars, and live music, you could spend the entire day walking up and down South Congress Avenue. If you go during the weekend, you’re bound to witness some entertaining, talented, and sometimes kooky street performers, only adding to the local charm.
If you’re a visitor looking for a walk-able area to stay in, anywhere in the SoCo district is a solid choice, with options including unique Airbnbs and boutique hotels. Check out the Visit Austin website for a more extensive list of local businesses on South Congress.
Go on a tour of Austin’s local murals
“I love you so much!” “You’re my butter half.” “Willie for president.” Sound familiar? Austin’s murals, which can be found throughout the city, attract influencers, visitors, couples doing photoshoots, and everyone in between. To live out your influencer fantasies, spend an afternoon checking out Austin’s most Instagrammable murals.
Watch the sunset from the top of Mt. Bonnell
Mt. Bonnell has been a popular attraction since the 1830s. With its beautiful views of the lake below, downtown, and the western hills of Austin, getting to Covert Park at the top of Mt. Bonnell requires only a modest hike. Known as a popular destination for wedding proposals, you’re likely to see at least one in action every time you visit this iconic spot.
Click here to find directions.
See live music at one of the city’s iconic venues
Okay, so live music is not happening on the same scale as it does outside of a pandemic, but there are still ways to enjoy live performances in the Capital of Live Music. You can dance the night away to some bluegrass at Sagebrush. The Far Out Lounge and Stage is another outdoor venue with music and events at a limited capacity. ACL Live is also offering limited-capacity shows.
For more information about which venues are still hosting live music, the Statesman has a running article with location updates, here.