A Weekend in Austin: the Perfect Retreat

With widely-acclaimed restaurants and an even more famous music scene, Austin is quickly becoming an oasis for the traveler interested in a different kind of getaway. Larry Olmstead, a columnist for Forbes who frequently writes about great urban escapes, makes a case for why a weekend in Austin is the perfect retreat.

Olmstead’s criteria is simple, a city on his list must have at least one standout attraction (the Alamo for example), along with a diverse selection of food, and pluses including things like natural attractions and cultural offerings.

The music scene is one of the biggest draws to a weekend in Austin. No matter when you choose to visit, thriving musicians or famous festivals can be found throughout the city. As the proclaimed “Music Capital of the World,” Austin offers more music per capita than anywhere else. You’ll find examples of this downtown in the Sixth Street area or on South Congress Avenue. Austin City Limits has become a notable stop on the festival circuit, drawing huge artists and crowds each October. If you are looking for something a little less touristy, you can catch local Austin artists at two popular concert venues: Stubb’s BBQ & the Mohawk. Both these venues have live music every night and are great spots to check out Austinites out on the town.


Stubb’s is one of the most infamous live music venues in Austin, Texas

Second to music on Olmstead’s list is food. Texas is known for barbecue and his list of great places to visit are extensive. There’s enough great barbecue within city limits to fill an entire weekend in Austin, and outlying small towns are famous for it as well. Lockhart, about 25 miles away, is home to Texas-style barbecue, celebrated for slow smoked beef brisket, sausage and pork ribs. The town of Driftwood is also miles from Austin and boasts The Salt Lick, another barbecue joint famous to locals and travelers alike. Austin is also home to one of the top ranked BBQ joint in America, Franklin Barbecue, but, you’ll have to get there earlier. The average wait to get a plate of their food is 2 hours!

Not hungry for this Southern classic? Try one of these local favorites: delicious Tex Mex at Matt’s El Rancho or tangy Japanese food at Lucky Robot.


You won’t find barbecue anywhere like you can get at Franklin’s in Austin

As mentioned, one of Olmstead’s other criteria for selecting a getaway location is at least one unique attraction. A weekend in Austin has many things to see, but don’t get away without visiting one of the most extraordinary – the bats. Underneath the Congress Street Bridge is home to up to 1.5 million of the creatures. They reside here from March through October, migrating to Mexico during the other months of the year. Standing on the bridge will offer a great view of the black cloud that descends over downtown each night, but Olmstead suggests watching from a boat below to best see this natural phenomenon.


Image Source: Chron.com

As expected, a weekend in Austin is loaded with shopping options as uncommon as the city itself. The downtown area is home to many shops and boutiques but none with quite as much Texas flavor as Heritage Boots. The owner crafts unique boots by hand with designs based on vintages pieces. After you get fitted at Heritage Boots, check out the other boutiques and stores in the area.


Ready to try these fun spots yourself? Download our Maps & Directions to see the best route to take to Austin.