Two September days in Austin
September 1, 2022 3:13 PM   Subscribe

I’ll be tagging along with my partners on a business trip to Austin 9/18-9/20. Tell me all the things I can cram into 2 nights and 2 days! We’re queer, we love to eat, drink fancy coffee, and would love to see some live music while we’re there. We will probably have a car. I’ve already got Barton Springs on my list. I’ve only ever driven through Texas so I would also be down to do touristy Texas things. Thanks y’all!
posted by tatiana wishbone to Travel & Transportation around Austin, TX (5 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Local here, my recs are biased toward East Austin which is my neighborhood and imo where all the good stuff is anyway. Figure 8 is the best game in town for coffee but Houndstooth has a couple locations and is solid. Nixta is my favorite Mexican food but Licha's and Suerte are also good options. Micklethwait is my favorite BBQ (Franklin is famous for a reason but the wait time isn't worth it on a short trip). Veracruz All Natural and Tacodeli make good breakfast tacos. Paperboy is good breakfast/brunch but stay away on Sundays, it's too crowded. There are million more good options, just check Eater. Cheer Up Charlies is one of our original queer bar and music venues.

Barton Springs is imo uncomfortably cold water. It's not the surface temp of your average lake, it's 68F year round, but lots of people love it, ymmv, you've been warned. Get bikes or scooters and wander over the bridge across the river downtown and through Zilker Park and around the lake boardwalk loop if the weather is nice. Stop on the bridge at dusk if you want to see the bats. If you are really outdoorsy types the Violet Crown Trail, the Barton Creek greenbelt trail, and the Bull Creek greenbelt trail might be worth your time for shorter hikes. Kayaking is also very popular on nice days and there are several rental places on the lake.

Our public library in the center of downtown is very nice and has an incredible roof deck.

Be prepared for it to rain enough to make outdoor plans change - it might be totally dry and warm that week but it has been more monsoon-ish than normal for this time of year.
posted by slow graffiti at 4:53 PM on September 1, 2022 [1 favorite]

slow graffiti has good ideas! Critical things will be where you're staying, and whether or not you have a car. (If you stay downtown, a car will be a pain. If you have a car, downtown may be a pain. Hopefully someone weighs in from south Austin, it is a different place.)

I don't know much about coffee, but Genuine Joe's on Anderson (north-central) used to be my local coffeeshop, and it is quirky and queer and being turned into apartments soonish. Get something there or at Upper Crust or Russell's, and drive to Mount Bonnell (west-central). Short hike to nice views of the city, and then a couple minutes' drive to Mayfield Park (old estate with some gardens and peacocks) and Laguna Gloria (art museum with an outdoor sculpture walk). Another very-old-Austin site: the Elisabet Ney museum in central Austin, at the home of a 19th century sculptor, featuring her work, contemporary art exhibitions, and a neat old building. The Blanton art museum and Ransom archive museum both do interesting things.

For walking around downtown: the Capitol building and grounds are scenic. Walk up Congress Ave. A couple blocks east, The Driskill Hotel on Sixth is pretty; west of Congress, Fourth Street has gay bars, Second has a boulevard, and after First you're at the lake. For Texas history, I recommend the Lyndon B. Johnson presidential library, at the University of Texas. Plenty of history, and animatronic LBJ. And f you have a car and get tired of Doing Things, drive Loop 360 out west Austin, to see the start of Hill Country.

On the lake: if you want city views, the Waller Creek boathouse rental place is best. (Barton Creek downstream of the springs is currently clogged with fanwort, it is less pleasant.) From the Rowing Dock (southwest-most option), head west and see cliffs, fancy homes, maybe hawks. At dusk, bats will stream out of the Congress Avenue bridge, visible from the bridge itself, the Statesman lawn, and the Waller Creek boathouse docks. So many bats.

I do not get out much at night, but yeah: Cheer Up Charlies has been the queer music venue of note for a good while. Stubbs is a good venue generally and Elephant Room does jazz. Better, check out the Austin Chronicle (alt-weekly online, hard copy every other week) for live music listings.
posted by mersen at 7:09 PM on September 1, 2022

One of my favorite places to take friends when I lived in Austin is the Umlauf Sculpture Garden. I also enjoyed the Elisabet Ney museum.

If you want to watch the bats, google for the bat cruises (they're all about the same AFAICT). It's somewhat less crowded than being on the shore and everyone I've done it with, adult or kid, has had a great time. You'll be at the end of bat season but it's still fun.

Enjoy your trip!
posted by gentlyepigrams at 10:34 PM on September 1, 2022

came to recommend Cheer Up Charlies, it's a great place. Right next door to the mohawk, always worth checking what's going on there on your dates.

Another place to enjoy the bats is that you can hang out on the lawn behind the four seasons (you don't have to be a guest or anything, and you can grab a drink from the downstairs bar and take it outside, IIRC, they used to have have 50% off wine bottles from 5-7 around the dusk time, but maybe call to double check that.)
posted by wowenthusiast at 5:42 AM on September 2, 2022

Good recs. Chiming in for emphasis: do not miss breakfast tacos/breakfast burritos. I defected from Texas 20 years ago, and it's the only thing I REALLY miss. And I do miss it so.
posted by nosila at 6:54 AM on September 2, 2022

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