The Ultimate Austin Bucket List From 10 Travel Bloggers

Meg Cale

Back in July, we visited Austin, Texas for Meg’s 30th birthday. We did a whole lot of sightseeing, eating, and shopping for the perfect birthday look. After we published our posts we were flooded with messages from other bloggers talking about how much they too loved Austin. Austin seems to be one of those travel destinations that everyone was “just” there or is planning a trip to see in the next few months. The information was so good that Visit Austin asked us to share it with all of you. Austin is THE foodie city, so it comes as no surprise the list is a bit food heavy. Read with caution if you’re already hungry.

Swim in Natural Pools

Photo Courtesy of Sharon Chen

Austin boasts several natural pools and swimming holes, everyone calls one their favorite. The popular one–Barton Springs Pool, provides a bucket list pool and everyone visiting Austin takes a dip.

Like most  Austinite’s, I leave Barton Springs to the tourists and seek refuge from the heat at Deep Eddy Pool. I love Deep Eddy Pool’s old Austin vibe and of course the beautiful fresh water. Thanks to a recent remodel, the pool features a zero-entry wading pool, great for the kids. Deep Eddy Pool’s water draws most swimmers because of the natural water. Fresh spring water is pumped into the pool every other day and never treated with chlorine. The temperature ranges from 65F to 75F, quite refreshing on a hot summer day. Along with lots of grass for sunbathing and a vintage changing room, it’s an Austin jewel.

Catherine, Carful of Kids Media

The first cenote I ever visited was just outside of Austin, Texas. Yep, that’s right: those tucked away pools filled with shimmering bright blue water tucked away in limestone caves are found in more than just of Mexico. There’s one under an hour away from Austin, in the appropriately named Dripping Springs, Texas. It’s called Hamilton Pool, and it’s the perfect swimming hole! With a 50-foot over-cropping providing both shade and a refreshing waterfall, Hamilton Pool is the perfect spot to escape the Texas heat. Important note: Reservations are required to enter Hamilton Pool Preserve during peak summer months, May-September. Hamilton Pool Website.

Lia, Practical Wanderlust

Go Shopping  

For great shopping, the Domain Northside has a street called Rock Rose, that features a ton of eclectic local businesses that have been founded in Austin. The best men’s shop in town, Weathered Coalition, is on this strip. Offering a variety of stylish finds that are Made in the USA with a focus on local Austin artists and craftsmen.

Ariel, Weathered Coalition

One of the coolest parts about Austin is their unique brand of vintage, boho style that’s mixed with just a tiny bit cowboy and a tiny bit hipster. It’s a style that’s like nowhere else in the world. I had to take advantage of the incredible boutiques when I was in Austin for my 30th birthday. I loved the independently owned shops running along South Congress Avenue but I really loved Feathers Boutique. If I could wear vintage all the time – I would in a heartbeat. Feathers is one of the coolest vintage shops I’ve ever seen. Specializing in hand-selected vintage clothing for women, they have expanded their collection to include an array of artisan jewelry as well as vintage home decor and gifts. It’s a super cool shop to pick up a truly unique piece.

Meg, Dopes on the Road

South by Southwest

One experience that is not to be missed in Austin is the annual South by Southwest Conference and Festival, more commonly known as SXSW. This conference, which spans around ten days every March, includes film, interactive media, and music, and is the place to see all the hottest up and coming music acts as well as the latest technologies and the latest film releases. If you’re a music lover, it’s definitely unmissable, as it’s the largest music festival of its kind in the world!

Laurence, Finding the Universe


Photo Courtesy of The Wayfarer’s Book

If you are in Austin do not miss the Peached Tortilla. This Asian Southern fusion restaurant is the perfect stop on any type of trip. They grew from a single food truck to a brick-and-mortar restaurant. I’m stilling thinking about their amazing Banh Mi Tacos!  For the original experience find one of their food trucks and a spot in a park or make a reservation at their restaurant. Whatever you do, don’t leave Austin without getting Peached!

Elizabeth,  Dutch, Dutch, Goose!

I’d recommend staying in Austin over the weekend – purely to experience Banger’s Sausage House & Beer Garden. Brunch on a famous Manmosa (yep, a $10 mimosa in a stein glass) and biscuits whilst enjoying the cool tunes of The Urban Achievers who bring the house down every weekend with their brassy renditions of Britney Spears and Marvin Gaye.

Monika,  My Monpie

The South is home to all good things deep fried, and that definitely includes donuts. Gourdough’s Donuts is an institution, gleefully supplying you with delights definitely not on your diet. Not only do they serve up a glorious hunk of fried dough, but they go all out with toppings. Caramel slathered apples or chipotle brownie batter, Gourdough’s Donuts has mouth-watering ingredients. The menu also lists savory donut items, even donut pulled pork sandwiches and donut burgers, which means you can visit multiple times in one day. You can get your sugar fix both at their public house on South Lamar or at their Airstream on South First.

Amy, The Wayfarer’s Book

Live Music

We recently visited Austin and one of our favorite activities was going out for some live music. We stopped at Threadgill’s downtown on Saturday evening for outdoor live music and great Southern food…The atmosphere was great and luckily it wasn’t overly crowded – it was just right! Our group included both adults and kids so it’s a fun activity for anyone. When you get hungry for dinner, it’s easy to pop inside the restaurant for food or you can order at the counter and eat outside. The downtown location is just a few blocks from the river in case you want to run out for some sunset views.

Laura, Lets Go, Little One

Experience Texas BBQ

Photo Courtesy of David Mah

Eating fatty brisket at Franklin BBQ is one of the main reasons why BBQ lovers from all over the country come to Austin! If you want to try the famous BBQ that was named the best in Texas and USA on several occasions, be prepared to wake up before dawn and stay in line for at least three-four hours! PS. Franklin BBQ is closed at the moment due to a recent fire. They are rebuilding and will be open again once the reconstruction is over.

Yulia, Foodie Miles

Everyone knows that Texas is one of the great USA BBQ destinations. And Austin is no exception. But my favorite Austin BBQ is actually found just outside of the city, in Driftwood, Texas. Take a 30-minute drive from Austin through the countryside and you’ll come to Salt Lick: a BBQ restaurant slash IRL “barn wedding” Pinterest inspo.  Follow the smell of smoking meat and the sound of sizzling ribs to the coolest dining destination in Texas. You’ll spend all night sitting at picnic tables outside under the lantern lights listening to live music and sipping fresh lemonade while feasting on brisket and cobbler. It’s a truly authentic, down-home Texas experience. But just in case you can’t make it to Driftwood, don’t worry: you can pick up Salt Lick at the Austin airport, too! Salt Lick Website

Lia, Practical Wanderlust

Visit the Cathedral of Junk

Photo Courtesy of That Other Paper

Austin’s tagline is “Keep Austin Weird,” and nothing else I’ve seen in Austin is quite as weird as the Cathedral of Junk. Even though seeing the Cathedral of Junk may not sound that interesting, it’s actually very impressive. The Cathedral is located in the backyard of a small house and it blends in quite well with the neighborhood. You honestly can’t even see it from the street, which makes it all the more surprising. And no, the guy who built it didn’t do it for fame or anything, he just did it because he thought it was cool. So, go do something weird in Austin and check it out.

Ben Granas, Trip Happy

Snap some pictures at HOPE Outdoor Gallery

HOPE Outdoor Gallery is an Instagrammer’s paradise. The colorful street art and a skyline view practically begging for a photo shoot.  Hours of your day could quickly evaporate while you’re searching for the perfect shot. The trick is getting there before or after the crowds of people. We opted for first thing in the morning to beat the crowds and the heat, it was perfect.

Lindsay, Dopes on the Road

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Visit Austin. The opinions and text are all mine.