I know I’m not the only one going stir-crazy watching my suitcase collect dust this year. It’s a minor problem to have, in light of, well, everything else terrible happening right now. But while I can’t cure coronavirus, I can keep myself somewhat sane and enjoy the time we’re given here in the beautiful Texas Hill Country. Staying close to home is the name of the game in 2020, so here are our Best Staycation Ideas around Austin!
Just because you live locally doesn’t mean you should not treat your ‘staycation’ like any other trip. Get out of the house and into vacation mode by checking out some affordable hotels downtown or get out of your comfort zone and stay in an area you aren’t as familiar with. Just as many New Yorkers have never been to the Statue of Liberty, I guarantee there are a LOT of things in Central Texas you haven’t had the change to discover yet.
Best Staycation Ideas in Austin & Surrounding Areas:
1. The ‘704: “Keeping Austin Weird”
Sure we all think we know South Austin, and I’m sure when you first arrived in town you strolled South Congress and stood in line at Hopdoddy Burger Bar. But like so much of Austin, this neighborhood has soooo much more to offer.
Stay in one of the swanky boutique hotels like Hotel San Jose, Hotel St. Cecilia, or South Congress Hotel.
Eat off the main SoCo drag. We love snagging Sunday brunch at Luke’s Inside Out and drinking cheap mimosas on the Gibson Bar patio. Or having some of the best thai in town at Super Thai. Check out the newly opened Austin Eastciders or have a craft beer in the garden of ABGB. Have you fought for a parking spot to spend some time at Radio Coffee + Beer or Cosmic Coffee? Radio Coffee hosts Veracruz Natural food truck, which is easily dubbed the best Migas taco in town. I’ll throw out a perhaps controversial opinion that I think their original migas is better than the migas poblano…but see for yourself.
Sip a craft cocktail at Golden Goose, one of the neighborhood’s best dive bars along with Barton Springs Saloon. Have a drink on Joanne’s Fine Foods patio. Head upstairs at the Continental Club for a more intimate performance (when open). Keep outdoors and jam to some live music at Sagebrush.
And let’s not forget things to do and see! Strike a pose in front of street art like the “I Love You So Much” mural, the Austin Postcard Mural, Willie for President, and Matthew’s Dazed and Confused. Write your life goals on the Before I Die Wall. Try and score a visit to the Cathedral of Junk. Shop at all the new stores that have appeared on South Congress since you last visited…and speaking of which, when have you last said hello to our 1.5 million native bat colony??? Book a bat cruise, rent bikes to ride through Zilker Park, hike the Greenbelt (with tacos along the way at TacoDeli, duh), see a movie at Alamo Drafthouse, and try to guess the trivia question at Amy’s Ice Cream.
One of the easiest ways to explore the food scene of the ‘704 is to hop on one of our small group tours (with private options available). We’ve got a Way Out Austin Food Tour that cruises around five local spots, or a brand spanking new Austin Brunch Walk if you’d prefer to get your steps and your mimosas at the same time!
2. Downtown: Deep Dive
Unless you live or work downtown, there’s a chance you’ve avoided it more and more as traffic increased over the years. But now it’s a bit more manageable, and the perfect time to explore how Austin’s Downtown has developed over the years.
Stay in the brand new Hotel Zaza, which may look like a ’90s Doubletree on the outside, but is all kinds of cool on the inside. We also like the Fairmont for its rooftop hot tub, Hotel Van Zandt for being smack dab in the middle of Rainey Street, and The Line for the views.
You won’t be short on restaurant options. Whether it’s upscale interior Mexican at ATXCocina or the newly hyped Comedor, Italian at Red Ash, or old-school favorite Swifts Attic, you are guaranteed to have a good time. Let’s not forget about the jazzy happy hour at Eddie V’s, dim sum brunch at Wu Chow, or the famous Mexican Martinis at Cedar Door.
Drinking is easy to accomplish, for any style and budget. Check out our new Scandalous Austin Cocktail Walk for an after-dark twist on discovering the architecture, history, and of course, cocktails of our city. We also love all the speakeasy style bars such as Floppy Disk Repair Co, Small Victory, and Midnight Cowboy Modeling.
For things to do, check out all of Austin’s attractions that have been hiding in plain sight all these years. See the famous Treaty Oak (where our settlers negotiated peace with the Native Americans), visit Austin’s Museum of the Weird, hit up The Contemporary for some stunning modern art, or get crafty at Upstairs Circus. See an improv show, a comedy show, or a movie at Alamo Drafthouse.
3. Dripping Springs: Distillery & Food Adventure
Only 30 minutes outside of town, Dripping Springs is one of our city’s easiest staycation getaways. It has been booming in recent years, so much so that you may find a weekend just isn’t enough!
While there aren’t a lot of options we love for places to stay directly in Dripping Springs, we recommend checking out some glamping & lodging options just outside of town such as Lucky Arrow Retreat, Asante Lodging, and Hill Country Casitas.
The main attraction here is definitely drinks. There are so many breweries, wineries, & distilleries here it will be tough for your liver to choose. We help make the choice easier with a sober ride and free pick-ups on our In Fine Spirits: Texas Hill Country Distillery Tour and Dripping Springs Brewery Tour. If you’re making the trail alone, just make sure you’re being safe those Hill Country backroads are no joke. Check out great spots like Family Business Beer Company, Treaty Oak Distillery, Desert Door, and Dripping Springs Vodka.
If you can take a break from drinking, there’s a few good food options nearby as well. Pizza is the name of the game at top-rated Pieous and at Jester King Brewery’s onsite restaurant. Have lunch at Rolling in Thyme & Dough. Enjoy a glass of wine at Epicure.
When you’re not eating and drinking, visit nearby Hamilton Pool or head a little farther afield for Enchanted Rock. And at night, get ready to dance the night away at Mercer Dancehall!
4. Romantic Hill Country Getaway
If you’ve tired of seeing your significant other only within the confines of your home (and in pajamas) then let’s change that! There are many easy getaways around town that would make a perfect lover’s escape. Head west to Fredericksburg, or south to Wimberley. Hide away in one of the several glamping spots popping up nearby.
The historic German town of Fredericksburg is getting a lot of local and national attention. Located in the heart of the Texas Hill Country wine region, it’s an ideal base for exploring wineries, distilleries, and historic attractions.
Barons CreekSide offers a wide range of lodging options, but we love the giant Oregon Trail-style covered wagon.
Discover the historic architecture, food scene, and fascinating history on our new Fredericksburg Walking Tour. It’s the easiest way to get your bearings and find a few things off-the-beaten path.
While we won’t give away all our favorite restaurants (saving that for when we see you on the walking tour!) we will say that Fredericksburg is known for its German food, and also has a growing BBQ scene. You’ll find a lot of wineries with tasting rooms on the Main Street as well.
Other attractions nearby include the LBJ Ranch which makes for a very interesting tour, Wildseeds Farms filled with the season’s favorite flowers, olive oil tastings, the famed town of Lukenbach, and hiking at Enchanted Rock.