I’ve known Noah Kagan for years because his website marketing tools are pretty amazing. So, when it was time to do a podcast focused on Austin, Texas, I could think of nobody better to share his insights into the city. Noah’s tips for the best things to do in Austin are all about the laid-back lifestyle and eating delicious food.
I had the pleasure of meeting Noah in person in San Diego, California, during one of the conferences I attend each year, FinCon. Noah was giving out $100 bills and challenging people to invest the money in their business to make it better. My $100 went towards launching this podcast!
Noah first visited Austin while interning in Dallas, Texas, on the advice of a friend. Instead of his usual weekend of drinking Heineken and watching Sex & the City with his girlfriend, Noah drove 3 hours south to explore Austin. He instantly fell in love with the town. Although his journey took him elsewhere for a few years, Noah has been in Austin since leaving San Francisco in 2010.
Noah calls Austin, Texas the “weirdest place in America” which is in line with the local motto of “keep Austin weird.” There are a vibrant music and foodie scene and they’re the home to many music festivals like SXSW. Austin considers itself the “Live Music Capital of the World.”
When Anna and I were evaluating places to move, Austin was on the shortlist. A lot of people and businesses are moving to Austin. In 2017, there were 151 new people every day!
Just like Nashville, Austin is also very popular for bachelor and bachelorette parties due to the laid-back atmosphere, excellent food & drinks, and lively music scene.
Noah says Spring and Fall are the best time to visit Austin. During that time “it is the best place on Earth.” He suggests avoiding May through August because it can be hot.
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. Make sure you check out the Visit Austin Insider Deals page to print out or save coupons for your upcoming visit.
Best things to do in Austin
Here are some of the best things to do in Austin according to our local expert, Noah Kagan. I’ve added some additional options based on my research, places I’ve visited, and my friends at Visit Austin.
- Barton Springs (reviews) – Noah loves going for early morning swims in the water that is 68-70* all year long. The pool is 3 acres in size and the water comes from underground springs.
- Cedar Street Courtyard (reviews) – Take in a live show of local music. One of Noah’s favorites is watching the Spazmatics perform hits from 80’s bands like Devo and Queen.
- Congress Avenue Bridge Bat Colony (reviews) – every evening witness the world’s largest domesticated bat colony fly into the night sky in search of their next meal. There are an estimated 1.5 million bats in this colony.
- Float the river – floating the river is a local custom where you bring a football, some brews, and rent an inner tube to literally “float the river.” Check out local companies like ATXcursions (reviews) who can set you up.
- Graffiti Park at Castle Hills (reviews) – this temporary SXSW installation from famed street artist Shepard Fairey started in March 2011. So far, there have been more than 300 street artists leaving their mark on Austin. The Austin Historic Land Commission voted on January 29, 2018, to allow the land to be turned into condos, so you should visit before it needs to be moved to six acres of Carson Creek Ranch in East Austin.
- Lake Austin and Lake Travis – Noah suggests renting a boat to enjoy the lake.
- NLand Surf Park (reviews) – the idea of surfing in the middle of the desert in Texas is pretty cool.
- Pease District Park (reviews) – come to this park on the last Saturday of April for Eeyore’s Birthday, a bit of a hippie festival like you’ve never witnessed. Kind of like Burning Man. This park is also popular for disc golf.
- The Domain (reviews) – an outdoor mall with 100 upscale and mainstream retail stores and restaurants.
- Topgolf (reviews) – a bar, restaurant, and golf in one concept. You can earn points based on hitting the ball.
- YETI Flagship store (reviews) – while you’re waiting for the Congress Avenue Bats, walk over to the flagship store for a retail experience you won’t believe.
- Zilker Park (reviews) – this park is 350 acres of publicly owned land that offers many outdoor activities, including a couple of Noah’s favorite ways to spend an afternoon, stand-up paddle boarding and frisbee golf. Barton Springs Pool is also within Zilker Park.
Here’s a short list of the current events happening in Austin that you can buy tickets for.
Looking for other things to do? Here are the top 10 sightseeing tickets and packages for Austin.
Or, you can buy one of the Lonely Planet books, which are another excellent resource. Their current promo offers 3 books for the price of two.
Best places to eat in Austin
When you’re in Austin, there are so many excellent places to eat. Austin is known for its BBQ. Heck, people are even willing to wait hours in line for BBQ from Franklins. Don’t worry, Noah has tips on how to eat Franklins’ BBQ without the wait.
But, Austin is also the home of the breakfast taco. What is a breakfast taco, you ask? Something amazing that you’ll just have to visit Austin and experience for yourself. Here are some of Noah’s favorites that should be on your list of the best places to eat in Austin.
- Cooper’s Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que Austin (reviews) – Noah says that it is 90% as good as Franklin’s, but without the long wait.
- Franklin BBQ (reviews) – amazing food, but if you want to eat here, be prepared to wait in line.
- Jester King Brewery (reviews) – while renting a ranch for the weekend in Dripping Springs or Wimberly grab some farmhouse and barrel-aged wild ales.
- La Barbecue (reviews) – super popular, but is it worth the wait in line? We’ll let you be the judge.
- La Condesca (reviews) – gourmet Mexican food. Tequila selection is amazing.
- Launderette (reviews) – Old laundromat. The same chef that runs La Condesa also runs this.
- Lin Asian Bar + Dim Sum (reviews) – Noah says that the Shao Lin Bao is the best he’s ever had.
- Loro (reviews) – Fusion restaurant from the owner’s of Franklin’s BBQ and the top sushi restaurant, Uchi & Uchico. Go here for happy hour. Noah says you can eat the same BBQ that is served at Franklins here without the wait.
- Midnight Cowboy (reviews) – this speakeasy is an old brothel. You have to make online reservations to get in.
- Odd Duck (reviews) – Noah’s friend always picks this place. Friend says that it is “the best food in Austin.”
- Parkside (reviews) – known for its small plates and extensive drink menu.
- Pieous (reviews) – artisan pizza.
- Pluckers Wing Bar (reviews) – make sure you try the fried pickles.
- Stanley’s Farmhouse Pizza (reviews) – Noah’s favorite pizza. Located inside the Jester King Brewery in Dripping Springs.
- Tacodeli (reviews) – The breakfast taco is nice, but their lunch is even better. Try the Cowboy Taco.
- Uchi (reviews) – amazing sushi from Chef Tyson Cole.
- Uchiko (reviews) – an offshoot of the famed Uchi restaurant by Chef Tyson Cole. Known for upscale sushi and small plates in a farmhouse-chic space.
- Via 313 Pizza (reviews) – amazing Detroit-style deep dish pizza.
- Yard Bar (reviews) – we met friends at Yard Bar while driving through with our dog, Stella, on the way to Nashville. Fun bar concept where you can bring your dog and let them run wild and play while you drink and eat.
Best places to stay in Austin
When you come to the live music capital of the world, here are the best places to stay in Austin.
- Best Western Plus Austin City Hotel (reviews) – nestled close to the SOCO South Congress District. Category 5 hotel that is 24,000 points per night.
- Country Inn & Suites by Radisson, Austin-University, TX (reviews) – Radisson category 3 property that is 28,000 points per night.
- Hilton Austin (reviews) – Hilton category 7 property that ranges from 30,000 to 60,000 points per night.
- Hotel San Jose (reviews) – one of Noah’s top choices.
- Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort and Spa (reviews) – this Hyatt category 5 hotel is 20,000 points per night. If you’re looking to get away from city life, this place looks amazing.
- JW Marriott Austin (reviews) – this Marriott category 6 property is 40,000 to 60,000 points per night.
- Kimpton Hotel Van Zandt (reviews) – this is my favorite hotel in Austin. The Wine Hour from 5p-6p every night is amazing and the rooftop pool overlooking the river is tough to beat. This IHG property is 60,000 points per night or 45,000 + $104 per night.
- Rent an Airstream – I found several on AirBnB, like this one. Use our referral link to get $40 off your first AirBnB stay.
- Rent a ranch – Noah recommends Dripping Springs or Wimberly.
- The Driskill (reviews) – Noah also recommends this historic hotel. This Hyatt category 5 property is 20,000 points per night.
- Wyndham Garden Austin (reviews) – all Wyndham hotels are available to book for a flat 15,000 points per night.
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.
Getting around Austin
The local airport is Austin–Bergstrom International Airport, which is close to downtown.
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.
The Final Countdown
2) Favorite memory of Austin – participating in the experience known as Eeyore’s Birthday. It’s a bit like Burning Man, but without all of the dust and dirt.
4) Best place for pepperoni pizza in Austin – Via 313 Pizza (reviews) has amazing Detroit-style pizza. Most cities have New York or Chicago-style, but it is hard to find a good Detroit-style pizza outside of Michigan.
Who is Noah Kagan?
Noah Kagan is an entrepreneur who has made a living off helping small businesses perfect their email marketing at Sumo.com. His company also provides amazing daily deals to help them automate, market, and improve their businesses at AppSumo.com. Over 500,000 websites are using one of their products!
I appreciate that Noah is using his success to help out the local community. Come ride with us! Or at least donate to a worthy cause – OKdork.com/sumo50. Noah is raising money to buy laptops for Austin’s poorest school districts. Then, he and his team will help educate the kids how to use them to better their lives through technology.
Places we talked about on the podcast
Here is a map of all of the places we talked about on the podcast episode with Noah Kagan about Austin, Texas. You can zoom into the map and click on each dot to explore the city.
- Red dots = best places to eat in Austin
- Green dots = best things to do in Austin
- Yellow dots = best places to stay in Austin
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Stay tuned for our next episode
Join us in the next episode when Joe Saul-Sehy of The Stacking Benjamins Podcast shares why Bentonville, Arkansas, the home of WalMart, is a slice of outdoor heaven that you must experience for yourself. We hope to see you when We Travel There.
What’s your favorite part of Austin? Let us know in the comment section below or continue the discussion in our Facebook group!
To learn even more and get different perspectives on Austin, Texas, please listen to our other episodes on the city:
- Exploring Wineries & Breweries of the Hill Country in Austin, Texas
- Barton Springs, Sam’s BBQ & Broken Spoke in Austin, Texas