Austin, TX is one of those cities that just has a reputation for being cool. Literally, their motto is “keep Austin weird,” and the art and music scene in the city is one of the best in the United States. It is a bit of an anomaly to the rest of Texas, but it lacks none of the Texas pride that Texans wear so well.
I recently went to Texas to be in one of my best friend’s wedding as a bridesmaid. We are California girls but her (now) husband is from Texas. He grew up about an hour and a half outside the city of Austin, but his hometown and city were so different! If you ever find yourself in little Marble Falls, TX, it is a quaint little town with a lovely river view, downtown shops and restaurants, and great brewery called Bear King Brewing Company.
Anyway, back to Austin, TX! I honestly spent about a day in Austin, TX itself, but I still want to share how great of an experience I had in that short amount of time. The nice thing about the location of the airport is that it really is not too far away from the city. You can get to some of the best Austin attractions within 20 minutes and there are many affordable accommodation options, especially through AirBnB.
Explore Zilker Park
One thing that impressed me the most about Austin was how active everyone in the city was. On a typical Wednesday evening as I walked around Zilker park taking pictures, there were people out and about all around me. Just a few of the activities you can do in and around Zilker Park:
- Bike Riding
- Paddle boarding
- Dog Walking
- Playing sports
These are a combination of land and water activities that I saw people doing. How many cities in the US can boast about that?! I doubt many could. Zilker Park is a huge part of Austin’s heritage and spans about 360 acres of land.
Some key places in Zilker Park are the Barton Springs Pool, Barton Creek, the Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum and the Zilker Botanical Gardens, among others. There are multiple festivals here year around and, as far as I can tell, it is a place many Austinite’s enjoy spending their weekday evenings with family and friends.
Zilker Botanical Gardens
I had the opportunity to visit the Botanical Gardens for a few hours while in Austin, TX and it was so worth it. I drove up to the gate where the kind attendant asked me if I was a resident of Austin. I said I was not, to which he replied, “Well it will be 3 dollars, then.” Apparently, residents only have to pay $2.00. Is that affordable, or what?! I considered trying to find a donation box, because I think it is even more valuable than that.
I loved walking around the garden. I have been dying to go to Japan and have been aching to visit some Japanese botanical gardens around California. I haven’t even made my way to the San Francisco garden, which is about 1.5 hours away from my home, and yet I find myself at the one in Austin, TX. Weird. But, I guess when you only have one day in Austin, TX then you have to choose the spots that are going to make you the most happy and are most appealing to you!
The garden was so tranquil and full of various plants, flowers and trees. There is a small pond with some extremely large and camera-shy fish. I especially enjoyed looking at the young bonsai trees, which represent the cities investment into the garden’s future. When the trees are ready, they will be planted into the ground.
In the midst of such a metropolis, I appreciated this small, green getaway. I consider the Zilker Botanical Garden to be a must-see If you are planning one day in Austin, TX. With its affordable prices and serene environment, I doubt you will be disappointed.
TX State Flower: The Blue Bonnet
Did you know the Texas state flower is the blue bonnet? When I went at the end of April these pretty little things were popping up everywhere! This year has been a superbloom of flowers, so I am so glad I was here to see them. I was careful while sitting on the grass, so do not worry. I did not crush any blue bonnets!
Lady Bird Lake
Yet another location that highlights just how active Austin residents are. There is a running and biking trail alongside the lake, which were busy even in mid-morning when I stopped by to walk around. I thought the lake had an especially nice view of the city. I watched a small group of women rowers pass by and they were going so fast I only got a few good photos of them before they were gone. This lake is pretty and another main Austin, TX attraction.
South Congress Bridge at Sunset
Although I did not make it to the South Congress Bridge at sunset to see the bats fly away, it is something that anyone exploring Austin for one day should try to see! My early morning flight had me in bed by 8:00, so lame! When driving in downtown Austin area, I recommend parking ahead of time and walking over, since parking can be a bit crazy in that area. If you look closely, you will notice everyone riding these fun little scooters. Finding some affordable parking, downloading the scooter apps (Lyft or another local one) and traveling around downtown that way may be the most affordable, convenient and FUN mode of local transportation.
Eateries in Austin
Okay, the downside to just one day in Austin, TX? That is not very many meals to eat! I only got to try a few places and if you look online there are literally HUNDREDS of recommendations. I asked some locals where they frequently go and I settled on Loro and Kerby Lane Café.
Loro is a sort of Asian/BBQ fusion recommended to me by a fellow travel blogger. Find her on Instagram @thenopantslife. She is a hoot and always has great food recommendations for any city she visits! I enjoyed the food a lot, but the vibes were just okay. Maybe I felt weird about eating alone. It was my first time traveling without my husband and I felt self-conscious about eating by myself. Seriously, mad respect to my solo female travelers out there!
Kerby Lane Café
Kerby Lane Café is an Austin classic. Everyone knows it and loves it there. I met my friends (the bride, groom and bridesmaid) for brunch and their food was bomb! They have a great breakfast and brunch menu, the customer service was amazing, and it was nice to have some people to converse with over food.
Let me just say, one day in Austin TX is not enough to enjoy this city. There is so much I wasn’t able to see, which is okay because my primary purpose was to be there for my friend on her wedding day. It was beautiful, I cried, and I got a little bit of Texas fever. I can’t wait to go back to see more of the great state and eat at Franklins BBQ!