If Texas is like “a whole other country”, then Austin is like a whole other state. Once known best for being capital of the Lone Star State and beloved home to The University of Texas, Austin has since gained serious momentum and attention over the last few decades. The city’s ascent to international acclaim was largely driven by major cultural events putting down their roots in “River City.” The likes of South by Southwest, Austin City Limits, and other creatively stimulating festivals set the stage for Austin’s cultural renaissance. Not to mention, the infusion of major tech companies like Apple, Facebook, and eBay set up shop, bringing innovation (and $$$) along with them. Austin is the “Live Music Capital Of The World.” Its streets are lined with bars and live music venues, each with a claim of discovering legends like Willie Nelson and Janis Joplin. It’s also home to Texas’ only nude beach and locals have an affinity for Mexican bats. Have we proved our point?
You could spend 24 hours just eating ribs, but here’s a list of all our favorite places if you decide to branch out from your barbeque fantasy…
12PM: Giddy Up
If you’re going to experience the real Texas, then you’ll need to dress like a real Texan. Start off at Allens Boots to get suited and booted from head to toe while you breathe in that sweet, leathery smell.
1PM: One Man’s Trash
“Yardist” Vince Hannemann began his backyard Cathedral Of Junk in 1988. Since then, he’s accumulated over 60 tons of “junk” in this one-of-a-kind hoarder’s haven. It only costs $5/person to enter, but be sure you ring Vince first to make sure he’s in the mood to show you around.
2PM: Best Of
Consistently topping the blog charts for both food and atmosphere, Elizabeth Street Café is a delicious and Instagrammable destination for noodles, bánh mì, and pastries. The French-Vietnamese locale is open all day long with an epic menu of freshly baked macaroons and a weekday happy hour from 3-6pm.
3PM: My Little Pony
If you haven’t stopped resenting your mother for “accidentally” throwing away Rainbow Dash, we have the perfect solution. Recognized by Travel + Leisure as the “World’s Best Toy Store,” Toy Joy has provided an eclectic assortment of vintage and indie toys to satisfy your most juvenile cravings since 1987.
4PM: Stay Happy
Head to Clark’s Oyster Bar for happy hour every day from 3-6pm, where delicious deals include half-price burgers and 50 cents off oysters, not to mention $5 martinis, oyster shooters, and beers. Bottoms up.
5PM: For The People
Since opening in 2005, Feathers Vintage has quickly emerged as an Austin must-shop among locals and travelers alike. The artfully merchandised boutique offers a collection of handpicked vintage alongside the locally designed and manufactured “Feathers Originals” private label.
6PM: Batshit Crazy
A 1980 renovation of the Congress Avenue Bridge unintentionally transformed the overpass into a bat sanctuary for migrating Mexican free-tailed bats. Austinites have since grown fond of the nocturnal creatures, and we encourage you to follow suit by partaking in one of Congress Kayaks’ Guided Sunset Bat Tours.
World-renowned artist James Turrell is known for his work with light and space. His permanent exhibition The Color Inside at the University of Texas is not to be missed. Try to snag a sunset ticket and witness the light sequence through the oculus for an ideal sensory experience.
8PM: Worth It
The omakase at Otoko takes itself very seriously. The beautiful 12-seat venue serves an expertly curated, 22-course culinary adventure that will surely impress your friend from New York – the one who backpacked through Japan in the late 90s and won’t stop talking about it. Tickets start at $175 per person.
9PM: All Are Welcome
No matter where you’re coming from, you’ll feel right at home when you walk into Mohawk. Established in 2006 with the sole purpose of becoming Austin’s ultimate bar and live music destination, Mohawk is a good vibe sanctuary for friends, musicians, locals, and visitors.
10PM: Old School
Austin has its fair share of new and used vinyl shops, but Waterloo Records takes the cake. Since 1982, Waterloo has been internationally recognized for its massive collection and regular in-store performances. The best part? You can listen to any album in the store before you buy it.
11PM: Keep Austin Weird
You’ve seen the shirts and hats at AUS. You’re probably even wearing one by now. Practice what you preach and head to the Museum Of The Weird. Inspired by P.T. Barnum’s dime museums of the 1800s, you’ll find yourself among authentic freak animals, real mummies, Fiji mermaids, shrunken heads, and life-size wax figures. BOO!
12AM: Hipster Honky Tonk
It’s a thing. The White Horse is the coolest honky tonk venue in Austin, warmly welcoming convivial locals and confused hipsters with open arms. Dance your heart away to live music every single night and keep your tab open because the drinks are insanely underpriced.
1AM: Oui Oui
Known for its risqué website and outdoor patio, Justine’s Brasserie is a fan favorite. With a small but delicious assortment of casual French fare until 2am, Justine’s draws a young and sexy crowd that comes ready to eat snails and finish off a bottle of Bordeaux. Menu highlight: moules frittes with duck fat fries.
2AM: Raising The Bar
After years of bartending himself, Scranton Twohey opened Whisler’s. Founded on the premise that the staff makes the business, Twohey has cultivated a team of passionate and creative bartenders who love what they do and take pride in each cocktail they craft. Double Bonus: There’s a food truck and a speakeasy, so you can pretty much cancel all your other plans.
Grow up. Head to the North Loop and get your caffeine fix at Epoch Coffee. Open 24/7 with notoriously friendly service and latte foam hearts.
4AM: Chef’s Table
If you want to increase the chances of eating next to your celebrity chef crush, 24 Diner is your best bet. The concept is upscale, chef-inspired comfort food with an exquisite beer and wine list. Get the chicken and waffles. You’re on vacation.
5AM: Dive In
South Austin’s 358 acre Zilker park is home to the awe-inspiring Barton Springs Pool. Revered as one of the city’s crown jewels, the three-acre pool is fed from natural underground springs and maintains an average temperature of 70 degrees. Get in there.
6AM: Take A Hike
Dry off and take in the sunrise from the vista at Mount Bonnell. Located alongside the Lake Austin portion of the Colorado River, Mount Bonnell has been a favorite Austin vantage point since the 1850s.
Named after a “drinking, smoking, gambling woman with an immense heart and a keen understanding of true hospitality,” Irene’s is the perfect place to start your day. Head to the counter window for a coffee, a slice of toast, and a pack of smokes if your anything like she (the owner’s grandma) was.
8AM: Échenle Ganas
Family owned and operated since 2004, El Primo is a tiny trailer that with the breakfast tacos, tortas, and burritos of your dreams. The operation is run entirely by three siblings who say their hard work and success was motivated by their father’s constant reminder Échenle ganas a.k.a. Try your hardest.
9AM: Sweat It Out
At Knockout Kickboxing, it’s just you and the heavy bag. All of the fun, music, and mood lighting you’d want from a nightclub without any of the bachelorette party drama in the bathroom.
10AM: Tag It
In 2011, HOPE Outdoor Gallery was established to present local and visiting artists with an unbound canvas for their public-facing art. Since then, artists of all ages and styles have artfully “bombed” the surfaces, contributing to a one-of a-kind collective where self-expression is king.
11AM: No Regrets
Going to Austin without going to Franklin BBQ is not an option. Pitmaster Aron Franklin is unanimously recognized as one of the best in the game, proudly serving the likes of Obama and Bourdain. Get in line when they open at 11am because chances are they’ll be sold out in a couple of hours, leaving you with an afternoon of hunger and a lifetime of self-resentment.