Between students and tourists, it can be hard to dodge the crowds eager to take in the best drinks, eats and experiences of Austin. Luckily, the Texas state capitol has plenty of quieter spots and lesser known locales to absorb some of that uniquely Texan culture, especially if you spend a day in South Austin, just below the Colorado River. With incredible nightlife, it’s ok to get a late start to your day and complete this scavenger hunt anytime between 11 a.m. and 11 p.m.
The Hotel San Jose opened as a motor court in 1936. While a retro-feel remains, the amenities have been upgraded to offer one of the best hotel experiences in the city. The interiors are both minimal and quirky, mixing kimono-style bathrobes with 1960s concert posters and handmade wooden furniture. And while the hotel is located on South Congress, among some of Austin’s busiest blocks, the lush courtyards keep you secluded and peaceful when that’s desired. Before starting your adventures, borrow a typewriter from the hotel and write out a memory from your travels. Instagram a photo of it with the hashtag #hipmunk to be featured on Hipmunk’s Instagram.
Since Austin is only chilly for a couple months out of the year, visitors will likely want to take a dip in Barton Springs Pool, a natural spring that is 68 degrees Fahrenheit year-round. It’s easy to rent a bike (Hotel San Jose customers can rent from the hotel) and pedal to the city’s natural beauty in the midst of Zilker Park, only a 13 minute ride away (or just over two miles). There’s a fenced in (and paid) portion of the springs with a green lawn for lounging and lifeguards on duty, but the better experience is just outside that fence where the spring is both free and dog-friendly. Find the friendliest pup frolicking in the water and tweet us a picture @thehipmunk!
After a dip in the icy spring water, bike back to Sandy’s Hamburgers on Barton Springs Road for a creamy treat. This no-frills burger joint has a walk-up window or drive-thru, with a few picnic tables for those who want to hang out. While it doesn’t look like much, there’s no better warm weather treat than a Sandy’s dip cone or milkshake. Order your treat of choice and Instagram it tagged with #hipmunk so we can all enjoy (and try not to drool).
When it comes to meal time, the restaurants along South Congress and South Lamar can get pretty congested with people. But just a bit East of Congress is Curra’s Grill. Famous for tamales and avocado margaritas, you’ll enjoy a Tex-Mex feast here after a day in the sun. There’s everything from tacos and enchiladas to ceviche and fajitas. What do you recommend off the Curra’s menu? Tweet us your favorite @thehipmunk and let us know.
Do some shopping, but just to the West of Congress on South First Street. Here visitors can find some truly Texan, and Austin-style, places—think vintage shops and quirky art galleries. Don’t skip past the old-school neon signage at Roadhouse Relics, where you’ll find the Americana creations of artist Todd Sanders. His neon art is in national magazines, the movies of Terrence Malick and Robert Rodriguez and the collections of Willie Nelson and Norah Jones, to name a few. Snap a shot on the side of Roadhouse Relics where you’ll find the iconic Greetings from Austin street art, beloved by locals and tourists alike, which Sanders is responsible for restoring just two years ago. Share on Instagram with the hashtag #hipmunk.
Finally, end your evening on South Lamar, a short drive from South Congress, South First or Barton Springs Road, depending on where you are in your hunt. Find yourself at the Broken Spoke, a honky tonk with real country bands and real country dancing. There’s sure to be a friendly enough Texan to teach you to two-step (if you don’t already know it), and plenty of couples to watch for the wallflowers. Find the best pair of cowboy boots and tweet a picture @thehipmunk!