Austin is one of the coolest cities in America – at least that’s what I’ve been told by friends, TV and social media. For years, I’ve heard that Austin is a trendy, funky city that you really have to experience in person to understand. So when I finally had the chance to experience the craziness of Austin in person, I took it. A few of my friends decided to head to Austin for a music festival, so I tagged along hoping I could spend some time exploring the city. However, we ended up spending all of our time at the festival, so I didn’t really get a chance to see any other parts of the city. While the festival was a blast, I didn’t want to leave Austin without actually seeing the town, so I changed my flight and used HotelTonight’s app to book my last-minute hotel in Austin.
After I checked into the hotel, I made a quick list of neighborhoods I wanted to check out so I could get a real sense of this eclectic city. I can tell you right now – one day is definitely not enough time to see all that Austin has to offer, but it’s a good start.
If there’s one thing I can say about Austin, it’s that this city’s got some serious rhythm. It is, after all, considered the live music capital of the world. That being said, I wanted to get a broader sense of Austin than just its booming music scene, so I headed downtown to visit the Texas state capital for a bit of a history lesson. Since I consider myself a history buff, I signed up for a free guided tour of the state capital, during which I learned lots of interesting tidbits about Texas history and also got to wander through the capital’s gorgeous grounds.
While technically still part of downtown, Rainey Street is a unique neighborhood with its own distinct vibe. I arrived at Rainey Street and was instantly surprised – it was nothing like I had expected. For two blocks, beautiful historic houses line the street, but nobody lives in these houses. Rather, each house has been converted into a cocktail bar, making this one of the most unique areas in Austin. While this is definitely a popular destination for tourists, it’s also a beloved hangout spot for locals. After all, what local wouldn’t want to grab an afternoon cocktail in a charming craftsman bungalow?
After I had a couple of cocktails on Rainey Street, I decided it was time to take advantage of the warm Texas sunshine, so I headed to Zilker Park. More specifically, I headed to Barton Springs Pool. This isn’t your typical public pool, though – it’s a large pool fed by natural underground springs surrounded by the beautiful scenery of Zilker Park. And let me tell you, nothing is more refreshing on a hot Texas day than a cold cocktail and a dip in the pool, and I managed to squeeze in both during my day in Austin.
Austin has a reputation for being a city full of hipsters, and while that’s certainly not true of the entire city, it is true of East Austin. After a long, refreshing dip in Barton Springs Pool, I headed back to my hotel to shower and change clothes. Then I hopped back in my rental car and headed to East Austin, which is known for its quirky bars, abundance of trendy coffee shops and countless artist studios. If you’ve heard of the slogan, “Keep Austin Weird,” a quick trip to East Austin will make you realize why this slogan is so appropriate.
Austin is arguably best known for its music scene, and if you love live music you definitely can’t skip Sixth Street during your stay in Austin, even if you only have a few hours in the city. Sixth Street may be a historic district, complete with old, beautiful homes dating back to the late 19th century, but it feels nothing like a museum. This popular Austin neighborhood buzzes with energy and excitement from sunup to sundown, and there is no neighborhood in the city with a more concentrated music scene – there are more than a dozen blocks filled with live music venues in Sixth Street. I only had time to pop into two different venues, but any music lover could spend an entire day exploring Sixth Street and listening to one talented, up-and-coming musician after another.
I won’t lie – a wave of sadness hit me when I started packing up my suitcase in my hotel room. I didn’t want to leave Austin. This city is one of the most unique places I’ve ever visited, and there’s an infectious energy in Austin that you just can’t resist. I’m grateful for HotelTonight, because it made my extended stay in Austin possible. And you can bet that if I ever have the chance to extend my Austin vacation again, I’ll do it, and I’ll make sure to book my last-minute Austin hotel through HotelTonight.