I’ve been looking forward to this interview with Lillian Martin. She knows all of the tastiest places to eat and the best things to do in Austin because she’s raised her family on the local favorites in Austin and the neighboring Hill Country.
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Austin is a hotspot for music, BBQ, and craft beverages. It bills itself as the “live music capital of the world” and you’ll find local bands and musicians at every turn. The food scene is also incredible with so many top-notch chefs dazzling you with their mouth-watering food.
Most visitors stay inside the city limits of Austin when they visit. Lillian suggests that you branch out and explore the Hill Country. It is a great place to ride bikes and sample the local wineries, breweries, and distilleries. Massive festivals and events like Austin City Limits Music Festival in Zilker Park and SXSW, a conference and festival that celebrates the convergence of interactive, film, and music industries, and Formula 1 Racing draw huge crowds from all over the world. And smaller, local festivals like the Spicewood Vineyards Wine and BBQ Festival, Pecan Street Festival, and Texas Veg Fest should be on your list of things to do in Austin.
According to Lillian, the weather in Austin is “crazy.” It can be 80* and sunny, then 40* with 60 mph winds an hour later. The best time to visit is late September to early November or late February through May. December and January are wet, cold, and grey, while June through September are hot and muggy.
We share a lot of resources and local suggestions in today’s podcast, but you should also check out Visit Austin, the local convention and visitor’s bureau. They are a wealth of information and can help you plan an itinerary based on your time, budget, and interests.
If you’d like to learn how to travel for free using airline miles and hotel points, check out my free 7-day email course.
Best Things to Do in Austin
- Barton Springs Pool (reviews) – A great place to take a dip
- Enchanted Rock (reviews) – A perfect place for a day trip
- Hamilton Pool (reviews) – Another great place to go swimming.
- Hill Country (reviews) – Visit the wineries in Hill Country
- Lady Bird Lake (reviews) – This lake is great for walking, biking, stand up paddle board, kayak, and watercycles.
- Lake Travis (reviews) – This lake is great for sailing and skiing.
- LBJ Presidential Library (reviews) – This place is very interesting
- Mount Bonnell (reviews) – This is great for a quick hike
- National Museum of the Pacific War (reviews) – They have real tanks here
- San Marcos River (reviews) – If you have kids, you must come in the summer and tube down the San Marcos river! At the end of the river, there is a natural waterfall where everyone takes turns riding the rapids down the falls. Insider tip: Hold onto your hat and sunglasses – they will fly off!
- Zilker Park (reviews) – Take the little train.
Best Restaurants in Austin
- 827 Rays Kitchen (reviews) – Try the quail
- Franklin’s Barbecue (reviews) – This is a must if you’re willing to wait for it. An insider tip: you can order ahead but you have to go to the website on the first Monday of the month and pre-pick a time and day. It’s crazy good!
- Jack Allen’s Kitchen (reviews) – They have fantastic drinks and a great patio. We go there after tennis matches.
- Lamberts (reviews) – Make sure to have the pie after you eat. If you don’t have room, stuff it in anyway and then head upstairs. They have great acts and its a cool old-fashioned parlor, small venue. One time I was there, it was my birthday and I asked a group of 20 somethings if I could share their table and they said they were all celebrating their birthdays and when they found out it was mine, they ordered me a drink, and toasted me and my friends and we hung out all night (even though we were probably 20 years older than all of them).
- Pizzeria Sorellina (reviews) – They serve artisan pizza, but make sure you go early because they run out.
- Rudy’s (reviews) – My kids love the pork ribs here
- Santa Catarina (reviews) – My husband loves the mescal margarita and I love the Paloma and handmade guacamole that’s served in a margarita glass.
- Terry Black’s Barbecue (reviews) – They have amazing beef ribs
- Uchiko (reviews) – Paul Qui from Top Chef use to work here until he left to open his own place. If you don’t want to spend a lot of money, make sure to go during happy hour.
Best hotels in Austin
Here are the best places to stay in Austin.
- Courtyard by Marriott Austin Downtown (reviews) – An excellent location for exploring the city
- Hampton Inn & Suites Austin-Downtown (reviews) – Another great location for exploring the city
- Hyatt Regency Austin (reviews) – Right on the lake, but can be hit or miss with service
- InterContinental Stephen F. Austin (reviews) – Beautiful and has an amazing breakfast buffet. We ate Thanksgiving there one year and it was delicious.
- Lakeway Resort and Spa (reviews) – It’s a great hotel on Lake Travis with access to boats and golfing. They have a killer pool with a great pool side bar and the food is delicious. They have a free daily happy hour with food for guests.
- The Westin Austin Downtown (reviews) – If you are staying downtown this is where I’d stay.
AirBnB is also a great option. Use our referral link to get $40 off your first AirBnB stay.
For other hotel options and prices for the best places to stay in Sydney, use Booking.com, Expedia, Hotels.com, Priceline, Travelocity, or TripAdvisor.
Getting around Austin
The local airport is Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS), which is about 7 miles from downtown.
Lillian says that you don’t need a car if you’re in Austin for a quick weekend. The city is quite small and the attractions centralized. Uber and Lyft are excellent ways to get around.
You can rent a car if you’re looking to explore the Hill Country. Click here for the best offers from Avis, Budget, or Hertz. But, if you’re going to drink at the various wineries and breweries, Lillian recommends booking a tour so you don’t have to worry about driving.
If you only need a car for a couple of hours, you can rent by the hour with Zipcar. Join now to get $25 loaded into your account.
Places we talked about on the podcast
Here is a map of all of the places we talked about on the podcast episode with Lillian Martin about Austin, Texas. You can zoom into the map and click on each dot to explore the city.
- Green dots = best things to do in Austin, Texas
- Red dots = best restaurants in Austin, Texas
- Yellow dots = best hotels in Austin, Texas
Who is Lillian Martin?
Lillian Martin moved to Austin for her husband’s job several years ago. She is a content coordinator and writer at BestVersionMedia.com. Lillian loves to sew and makes handmade crafts for sale online. She runs a sewing summer camp for kids at Lakeway Sewing and Craft Academy.
You can connect with Lillian Martin Instagram.
Big thanks to today’s podcast sponsor – Credit Land
This episode is brought to you, in part, by Credit-Land.com. Credit Land analyzes all of the credit card offers available to search for the best deals so they can bring you the cards with the biggest bonuses, lowest interest rates, and best benefits.
I use travel credit cards extensively to lower our family’s travel expenses and trust Credit Land to help me know whether I should jump on an offer or let it go. Visit WeTravelThere.com/creditland for more details.
Stay tuned for our next episode
Listen to the next episode when Stefan Lako of StefanLako.com shares the best things to do in Monrovia, Liberia. Stefan and I talk about Sapo National Park, searching for pygmy hippos, or crossing a monkey bridge. We hope you’ll join us when We Travel There.
What’s your favorite part of Monrovia? Let us know in the comment section below or continue the discussion in our Facebook group!
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To learn even more and get different perspectives on Austin, Texas, please listen to our other episodes on the city: