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An Insider’s Guide to Austin, TX

Austin has proved over the years that it’s much more than the state capitol of Texas. Live music plays every day of the week here, so there’s no shortage of opportunities to see your favorite genre of music. There’s plenty to do outdoors, from swimming in a pool made from natural springs to biking around all the trails and parks.

austin texas

Image via Flickr

Go Swimming

When the temperature’s hot, the place to be is Barton Springs Pool. The pool is over 3 acres and is filled completely from natural springs close by. With a year round average temperature of 68 degrees F, any day of the year is perfect for taking a dip. The depth ranges from very shallow to 18 feet, so it’s a great place for kids learning to swim for the first time or more advanced swimmers wanting to practice their skills.

Check Out the Bats

A unique and little known fact about Austin is it’s home to the world’s largest urban bat colony. Head to Congress Avenue Bridge to check them out if you’re not spooked easily. If you’re really into bats, make sure to come in August when the Bat Fest takes place. Along with some amazing Texan food and beer, you’ll have the chance to see 1.5 million bats come out when the sun goes down. It’s unlike anything you’ve ever seen before.

Listen to Live Music

Austin is called the live music capitol of the world, and for a good reason. Almost any night of the week will have live concerts available all over the city for your listening pleasure. Not just limited to country music, everything from reggae to jazz to rock can be found at different venues. Bigger concerts like Austin City Limits and SXSW also take place in Austin, so grab tickets if you happen to be in town during one of those events.

Jerod Slay explains why he loves the city so much:

“Austin is loaded with fun things to do for visitors, from touring our beautiful capitol to cooling off in the natural spring pool at Barton Springs, but one of our favorite things about Austin is still the wide variety of live music you can find on any night of the week.”

Walk or Bike Around Town

The sprawling city has trails all around it to stay active on. Lady Bird Lake is a beautiful place to visit during the warmer months to get a walk in and have lunch overlooking the lake. There’s plenty of parks throughout the city to ride your bike on as well. If you’ll be there for awhile, sign up for one of the many races around the area.

Watch a Race

Adventure junkies will love visiting the Circuit of the Americas. Home to the famous Formula 1 United States Grand Prix, races can be seen here year round. Treat yourself by getting a VIP package to a race complete with a tour of the venue and catering service.


Marissa Pedersen

Marissa is a freelance writer, travel blogger, and social media marketing manager from Seattle. She runs the travel blog Postcards to Seattle, which captures all her journeys from around the world. She likes to stay active wherever she goes, from kayaking in Italy to snowboarding in the Alps.

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HipHunt: Austin

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.

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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!

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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).

Screen Shot 2015-07-24 at 2.21.24 PMWhen 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.

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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!