When crafting a perfect summer day list for Austin, Texas, the most important thing to keep in mind is showcasing both the obvious with the less-than. One must be willing to explore the nooks and crannies of the city while also hitting the highlights. That means taking in the natural beauty all around while giving yourself enough time to enjoy the lesser known areas. Below, we’ve curated a list that will force you to look at the city in a different way and get to know it, and yourself, a little bit better.
Eater Austin’s number one pick for coffee in Austin, Machine Head Coffee earns the title in spades. Originally a coffee trailer, Machine head is now part of Vercruz All Natural’s second restaurant, offering breakfast tacos and more. It’s the perfect way to get a taste of authentic Austin cuisine before heading out for the day.
Despite the urban sprawl of the city, several great hiking trails crisscross throughout. Take advantage of the warm weather to see a side of the city you normally wouldn’t be able to. Options include the Barton Creek Greenbelt, McKinney Falls State Park, Turkey Creek Trail, and more.
Austin has tons of fantastic museums, but if you’re a little tuckered out from the traditional fine arts or history spots, consider spending the last few hours of morning at the Museum of the Weird. Tickets are only $12 and include a live sideshow performance. According to an Atlas Obscura article on the museum, “Created by artist-entrepreneur Steve Busti, the museum lives in the back of his store, the ‘Lucky Lizard,’ and features many of the same types of curios you might have encountered in a turn-of-the-century dime museum, including a feejee mermaid.”
One of Austin’s hottest lunch spots, Koriente has made a name for itself as a health-conscious Asian restaurant. You won’t find any fryers or microwaves in the kitchen (which they invite you to look into). Everything is fresh and made with low oil and sugar content. You can’t go wrong with anything on the menu—it’s all affordable and delicious.
If you haven’t gotten your fill of the strange yet from the Museum of the Weird, consider taking a short ride to the Cathedral of Junk. The “cathedral” is in a resident’s backyard and is comprised of over 60 tons of junk gathered since the beginning of its construction in 1988. Bring an offering and your piece of junk may find a place among the rest to live on in Austin infamy.
Most people will live their entire lives in a place and never notice the gorgeous architecture around them. Don’t make the same mistake. Take an hour or two to go visit the Texas State Capital Building in downtown Austin. They have regular tours until 4:30 p.m. on weekdays and 3:30 on weekends. See for yourself why it’s revered as one of the most beautiful in the country.
Take a little time to walk the boardwalk at Lady Bird Lake in the heart of Austin. The result of a recent rejuvenation project, the boardwalk extends over 7000 feet. Take in the views of the city and the public art all around.
Austin’s cocktail bars are legendary for their sheer quantity as well as quality. You can’t go far without running into one sporting their own home drink. Consider stopping by The Cloak Room, a long-time favorite, or try out King bee, a “welcoming neighborhood spot,” as Eater Austin describes it. No matter your tastes or styles, you’ll find something to like among the cocktail bars of Austin.
Eat at the brand-new restaurant by Top Chef Season 10 winner Kristen Kish, Arlo Grey, in the Line Hotel. The restaurant, open only for dinner. Has incredible burgers, crispy chicken with rice porridge and black truffles, and beignets with caviar. This is a meal you save for when you’re celebrating. Or for when you’re attempting to have the perfect Austin day.
The Zach Theatre has been an Austin performing arts mainstay for almost a century. They regularly host plays and musicals for the entire family. While we can’t recommend seeing a specific show since we don’t know when you’ll be visiting, we can tell you that the production values and theatre amenities are second to none regardless of the show. Enjoy the perfect cap to the perfect summer day in Austin.