Austin, Texas is one of my favourite cities. I lived there for 5 years before I moved to Calgary. I was young, single and had a great corporate career. Many would question whether my love for the city was because of the city itself or where I was in my life. Thankfully, my latest Austin, Texas vacation with friends showed me that the city is just as cool as I remember. Here are my tips on planning an amazing trip to Austin for a group of friends.
For infos sake, we were a group of 7 couples traveling together from Thursday afternoon to Monday mid-day.
Invite Like-Minded Friends
My number one tip? Go to Austin (or on any trip) with people who generally like the same things as you do. Otherwise, you will go crazy trying to keep everyone happy, fed and entertained.
Plan a Few Fun Things to Do in Austin
Austin is a fun and funky city with TONS of things to do. I do NOT recommend that you plan every single minute but it is a good idea to have a few plans nailed down before you go.
For us, we planned for the girls to make a road trip to Magnolia Silos in Waco while the boys wake surfed on Lake Austin. It was also Dewey’s birthday on Friday so he wanted to have dinner at Polvo’s and go to a show at the Continental Club. It gave us a good idea of the kind of things we might want to do and put a few pegs into the plan. Then everything else could kind of move around that.
Some things we wanted to do but didn’t have time was Chicken Shit Bingo at The Little Longhorn Saloon and watching the bats come out from under the Congress Avenue Bridge (we went but it was rainy so they didn’t fly).
Oh and if you don’t have a ton of money burning a hole in your pocket, there are a lot of cheap things to do in Austin that are super fun too.
Where to Stay during your Austin Texas Vacation
Austin has tons and tons of hotels scattered throughout the city. They also have loads of home rentals that might work well depending on who you are travelling with. Note that Austin has a law that says that short term rentals can NOT have more than 10 people or 6 unrelated adults. So our growing group outgrew our ability to rent an Airbnb. Also, many of the large homes for rent were very far out of town. They were beautiful, had gorgeous surroundings and pools but would have driven us crazy trying to go out to dinner or out on the town.
Instead, we decided to stay at the Hotel van Zandt on the edge of Rainey Street. It was PERFECT for our group. There were bars, restaurants and food trucks within steps of the front door. Sixth Street was also an easy walk. We were able to take Ubers or taxis to anything we needed to do outside of that and no one had to worry about driving or parking. They also have a stellar pool which is perfect for chilling out and grabbing a few drinks.
What to Eat in Austin
Whatever you do, don’t go to Austin and eat at chain restaurants! Austin is one of my favourite food cities EVER. You must eat bbq and Mexican while you are there. You should also try some breakfast tacos and maybe drink a few margaritas. One thing that is available now that wasn’t when we lived there is crawfish. We had a phenomenal dinner of boiled crawfish at Shoal Creek Saloon.
Some of our favourites are Magnolia Cafe for brunch and late night eats, Rudy’s for BBQ that you don’t have to wait in line for, Fonda San Miguel for interior Mexican food, Guero’s for margaritas and so much more. Honestly, most of the food is great as long as you try to eat locally. You won’t be sad you did (though you might want to pack Tums if you aren’t used to eating lots of spicy foods).
Bringing your kids? We’ve done that too. Here are some kid-friendly places to eat in Austin that Evan loved.
Austin’s tagline is “Keep Austin Weird”. If you keep that in mind while you are there, you can’t go wrong. On your Austin Texas vacation, try some new things, stay out later than you normally would and experience a fun and vibrant city. Our group had a blast and I’m sure yours will too.