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Aug 7 2017

A Day in Austin, Texas

Category: Best Of | Favorites | General | Itineraries | Sightseeingkmaxwell @ 09:34

As the fastest-growing large city in the United States and the second most populous capital city (after Phoenix, Arizona), Austin has much to offer – from finger-lickin’-good barbecue to honky-tonk dance bars to large cultural events, such as the annual South by Southwest festival.

A day is not nearly enough time to experience all of Austin’s gems, but if it’s all you have, check out these highlights to get a feel for the city. And along the way, don’t forget to join the locals in “Keeping Austin Weird.”

Texas State Capitol

Start the day with a visit to the Texas State Capitol. Completed in 1888, this pink-granite structure, designed in Italian Renaissance Revival-style, features wood wainscoting and an impressive rotunda, along with nearly 400 rooms. Its surrounding grounds, decorated with various statues and monuments, provide plenty of photo ops.

Guided tours are free and available throughout the week. They generally depart every 30 to 45 minutes and last approximately 30 minutes.

Texas State Capitol building

Jo’s Coffee

For a midmorning pick-me-up, head to Jo’s Coffee on South Congress Avenue. Since 1999, Jo’s has served coffee drinks, teas, baked goods and sandwiches from this spot on a popular shopping strip, a prime location for people watching. 

Jo’s Coffee on South Congress

Allen’s Boots

If time allows, walk a few blocks down the strip to Allen's Boots, known to be one of the best – and perhaps most expensive – places in Austin to find the perfect pair of cowboy boots. The selection is vast, with boots lining shelves from floor to ceiling. But newbies need not fear. The staff at this family-owned business is knowledgeable and helpful. Pick up a pair for some line dancing later, or simply browse the collection and soak in the scent of fresh leather.

Rows of boots at Allen’s

Torchy’s Tacos

For a bite to eat, head over to the Trailer Park on South First Street and try some of this joint’s inventive, Mexican street-food-style tacos. The menu includes such items as the Alabama Shake (cornmeal-crusted catfish, poblano slaw, Cotija cheese, peppadew peppers, cilantro and a lime wedge with avocado sauce on a flour tortilla) and the Trailer Park (hand-battered fried chicken, green chiles, lettuce, pico de gallo and freshly grated cheddar jack cheese with poblano sauce on a flour tortilla). Be sure to try the Hillbilly Queso.

Torchy’s, which now operates more than 30 stores, has won numerous awards for its food since it opened in 2006. What’s more, Torchy’s demonstrates its environmental commitment by using napkins, cups and cutlery made from 100% renewable resources.

Torchy’s at Trailer Park

Graffiti Park

This multistory graffiti art park, located in Central Austin at Castle Hill on Baylor Street, occupies the remains of an old building foundation. The park was launched in 2011 by the Austin-based nonprofit HOPE with the help of famed street artist Shepard Fairey. It attracts tourists, renowned artists and locals, all of whom can participate in its changing design. This unique selfie spot also offers a great view of downtown.

Plans are in the works to relocate the graffiti park because of maintenance costs and heavy foot traffic, so be sure to check the HOPE Outdoor Gallery website for the most up-to-date information.

Graffiti Park at Castle Hill

The Salt Lick

To end the day with a taste of old Texas, head out of the city to The Salt Lick in Driftwood (about a 30-minute drive from Austin), famous for its mouthwatering barbecue in the midst of Texas Hill Country’s roaming wildlife, century-old oaks and rolling hills. The first thing you’ll see upon entering is a large, open pit, where Salt Lick has smoked its meats since 1967.

Servings are enormous, and seating is picnic-table-style. This location is cash-only and does not serve alcohol, but patrons are allowed to bring their own. 

The meat-smoking pit at The Salt Lick

Outdoor patio at The Salk Lick

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