Summer vacation! As a kid, it meant no school, unlimited time to hang out with friends, trips to theme parks, and so on; as an adult, it can mean jetting away to an exotic island or country to get a taste of something completely different from home. Here at milk + honey, we think that summer vacation can also include exploring your own backyard. Inspired by the city, we’ve mapped out our ideal Austin Staycation guide. Just like our Houston Staycation roundup, this guide highlights which hotels, restaurants, activities should be on your to-do list.
Where to Stay
Start your staycation at the relaxing and stylish South Congress Hotel. This boutique hotel offers mod, mid-century rooms with sweeping views of the South Congress strip all the way up to the Capitol Building, a picture-perfect pool (again, with those views!), and three can’t-miss restaurants, including Otoko (reservations are a must), Cafe No Sé, and Central Standard.
Built in 1886, the Driskill Hotel is the one of the oldest operating hotels in Austin. Upon its completion, hotel owner Jesse Driskill called it the “finest hotel south of St. Louis.” Since then, this historic lodging has been featured in countless magazines, movies, and is the epitome of Texas class and elegance.
For the music lovers in the city, a stay at the sleek Hotel Van Zandt is a must. Designed with tastemakers in mind, this true Texas charmer features a rooftop pool, its own stage, and is a five-minute walk from Lady Bird Lake.
Explore all that downtown Austin has to offer at The W Hotel. Located in the heart of the 2nd Street District, this luxurious hotel is near some of the city’s best restaurants and is right next door to the famed Austin City Limits venue.
Soak up the rays of the summer sun with a fun day of stand-up paddle boarding. Head over to local favorite, the Rowing Dock, and spend the day paddling up and down Lady Bird Lake.
Keep your skin nourished and moisturized with our HydraFacial. Utilizing state of the art technology, this innovative treatment infuses peptides, antioxidants, and hyaluronic acid into your skin to give you a healthy glow without any downtime or irritation. Now available at both our 2nd Street District and Hill Country Galleria spas.
Explore one of the city’s largest collections of art at the Harry Ransom Center. The museum has over 65,000 pieces and features works from the 15th century, the renowned Gernsheim collection, and is home to a complete Gutenberg Bible.
Nature and art combine beautifully at the Umlauf Sculpture Garden. Originally used as a place to practice fly casting by soldiers in the 1930s and 1940s, the land was transformed in 1991 when 20th-century sculpture, Charles Umlauf, donated many of his bronze and stone sculptures, creating this stunning garden.
The City’s Best Eats
From spicy dishes to flavorful tacos, our 2nd Street neighbor, La Condesa offers the best contemporary Mexican food in the city. Under the direction of Executive Chef, Rick Lopez, this award-winning restaurant was nominated for a James Beard Award “Best New Restaurant” and has the largest selection of 100% blue agave tequila and Mezcal in Austin.
Helmed by 2011 James Beard Award Winner for “Best Chef Southwest,” Tyson Cole, Uchi is Austin’s premier Japanese restaurant. This contemporary sushi restaurant is nestled inside of a renovated home and boasts excellent cuisine like hamachi habe, yokai berry, and other delicious dishes.
As part of the South Congress Hotel, Café No Sé should not be mistaken for your run o’ the mill hotel fare. Inspired and infused with touches of California, this restaurant features elevated takes on traditional Americana food.
No staycation would be complete without a trip to one of the most famous restaurants in Austin, Franklin’s Barbecue. Owned by renowned pit master, Aaron Franklin, this BBQ haven is ranked by Texas Monthly Magazine as the best BBQ joint in the world.
Ready for an adventure? Go deep beneath the earth and experience the wonder of Inner Space Cavern. This 100 million-year-old cave is one of the best preserved in the state of Texas and is one of the few places where prehistoric remains can be found.
Whether you’re going on a date night picnic or a solo hike, a sunset view from Mount Bonnell can not be missed. Perched on top of Lake Austin, this scenic view has been a tourist attraction since the 1850s.
Spend some time hiking, biking, swimming, and rock climbing at the Barton Creek Greenbelt. One of the city’s most popular spots, this greenbelt boasts over 12 miles of trails and its’ gorgeous limestone bluffs make it the perfect place to rock climb.
Take a dip in one of Austin’s many natural spring-fed pools. From the popular Barton Springs to the breathtaking Hamilton Pool, there are tons of places to keep cool during the hot summer months.
Hundreds of murals line the city streets, but none is more recognizable than the, Hi, How Are You mural. Painted by Daniel Johnston, Jeremiah the Innocent — the cartoonish bull-frog in this mural — is one of America’s most famous pieces of street art.
Painted in 1998, Greetings from Austin is one of the city’s oldest murals. Located on the exterior of Roadhouse Relics, it was painted by Todd Sanders and Rory Skagen and was recently restored in 2013.
From wedding proposals to best friend pictures, the I Love You So Much work is Austin’s sweetest public displays of affection. Spray painted by musician Amy Cook, she wrote this love note to her partner, Jo’s Coffee owner Liz Lambert as a sign of her love.
Launched in 2011, Hope Outdoor Gallery is the only paint park of its kind the United States. This concrete gallery features work done by local street artists as well as novices and is rated as one of the Top 10 Artistic destination in Texas.
Where to Stay: South Congress Hotel | Driskill Hotel | Hotel Van Zandt | W Hotel
Austin Must Do’s: Stand up paddle boarding | Harry Ransom Center | Umlauf Sculpture Garden
The City’s Best Eats: La Condesa | Uchi | Café No Sé | Franklin’s Barbecue
Austin Adventures: Inner Space Cavern | Mount Bonnell | Barton Creek Greenbelt | Barton Springs
Picture Perfect: Hi, How Are You | Greetings From Austin | I Love You So Much | Hope Outdoor Gallery