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GOT AUSTIN: The (mini) Insider Guide

With the holidays here, loved ones will soon be knocking at the door. Austin can be such a fun place to show off to out-of-town guests and with so many options, we’ve whittled our “things to do list” to just a handful of our favorite top picks.

The Austin Insider

OBVIOUSLY AUSTIN

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Barton Creek Greenbelt – Located in south-central Austin, the Barton Creek Greenbelt contains 12.68 miles of gorgeous trails, with the main trail spanning about 7 miles. This particular greenbelt is considered one of the top hiking trails in Texas.

South Congress – South Congress is one of Austin’s hippest streets where you can shop, eat, drink, and see some great live music! Be sure to check out STAG Provisions, Lucy in Disguise, and Allens Boots.

Lady Bird Lake – With more than 300 days of sunshine in Austin each year, there’s no better place to go than Lady Bird Lake for jogging, walking, and outdoor fun.

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center – Eat a picnic lunch and learn more about the conservation of native plants at this internationally recognized botanic garden.

Mount Bonnell – Enjoy the sweeping views at what is generally considered the highest point in Austin at 775 feet.

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WHERE TO STAY

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Austin Proper Hotel – Situated in Downtown’s Second Street District, Austin Proper is a luxury lifestyle hotel that features Lady Bird Lake and City Views.

Fairmont Austin – The towering icon brings exclusive luxury to Austin and is located within the vibrant Central Business District. They are also currently offering a complimentary second night during the same stay.

Hotel Magdalena – A new yet distinct hotel from Austin’s acclaimed Bunkhouse! This South Congress hotel features four buildings connected by exposed elevated walkways and courtyards, creating a treehouse feel inside the grounds.

Hotel San José – Kick up your heels and relax at this bungalow-style hotel in the vibrant SoCo neighborhood of Austin.

Hotel Van Zandt – Known for being very modern and chic, this central hotel offers a great location for walking to local bars, restaurants, and Austin fun.

The LINE Austin – At the crossroads where Lady Bird Lake meets downtown, the LINE Austin draws influence from both the surrounding natural beauty and the creative energy that fuels the city.

South Congress Hotel – Modern boutique hotel located in the heart of Austin’s iconic South Congress shopping, dining, and entertainment district.

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ICONIC DISHES

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Bob Armstrong Dip at Matt’s El Rancho Named after local politician, Bob Armstrong, this dip is a delicious combination of queso, guacamole, and taco meat.

Brisket at Franklin Barbecue You better get up early if you want some of this delicious brisket. The line starts forming at 10am for this tender meat called “The Best BBQ in Texas, if Not America” by Bon Appetit. When it runs out, they’re closed until tomorrow.

Brussel Sprouts at Uchi and Uchiko The perfect combination of salty, sweet, savory, garlicky, and sour with a deep nuttiness from the crispy roasting, these will make you forget there is any other way to prepare brussel sprouts.

Don Juan at Juan in a MillionIn a town full of breakfast tacos, this one tops the list. El Taco Grande is a secret combination of potato, egg, bacon, and cheese in a deliciously hot tortilla.

Gingerbread Pancakes at Kerbey Lane Enough to warm a soul on even the coldest of mornings, these plate-sized pancakes are an Austin tradition.

The Austin Insider

SHOPPING LOCALLY

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ByGeorge – A luxury fashion and lifestyle store offering clothing, fine jewelry, and home goods.

Good Company – Thoughtfully curated items from an array of designers in clothing, jewelry, vintage pieces, and home goods.

Outdoor Voices – Activewear for Doing Things daily — dog walks, runs, yoga and so much more.

Howler Brothers – Locally made brand of surf-inspired men’s apparel and accessories.

Hearth & Soul – A gathering place and shopping experience where you can discover beautiful things for yourself, your home, or someone special in your life.

Valentines – Contemporary women’s boutique offering a curated selection of clothing, accessories, and home goods.

Wildflower Organics – A boutique store specializing in quality furniture and bedding made from all-natural materials.

The Austin Insider

CUP OF JOE

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Better Half Coffee Neighborhood bar serving a full menu breakfast through dinner and offers an outstanding coffee menu all day.

Caffé Medici This longtime Austin coffee shop has five branches around town, the original Clarksville branch has a warm and homey vibe while the elegant downtown space boasts a massive espresso bar.

Hank’s Light and bright coffee shop and cafe serving casual American fare and the best coffee, lattes, cold brews, and dirty chai lattes.

Houndstooth Coffee – This espresso-focused coffee bar is heaven for hardcore coffee nerds around town. The rotating selections of beans are highlighted by simple and well-executed preparation.

Mozart’s Coffee Roasters This “Austin original” offers beans flame-roasted on-site, bakery goods, frequent live music, and patio seating on Lake Austin.

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KIDVILLE

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Austin Zoo – The Austin Zoo is a non-profit rescue zoo where families can visit and learn about their rescued animals.

Inner Space Cavern – Hidden for over 10,000 years,  Georgetown’s Inner Space Cavern is one of the best-preserved caves in Texas.

Peter Pan Mini-Golf – Operating since 1946, this cash-only pair of courses feature a variety of characters, obstacles, and surprises.

Pioneer Farms – A living history museum depicting the lifestyle of early-day Texans – when Austin was just a small town, long before cars and cell phones.

The Thinkery Children’s Museum – An evolution of the Austin Children’s Museum, where science and families can play safely and maintain social distancing.

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TASTY TRAILER TREATS

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Baton Creole This Cajun truck offers inventive late-night eats, like deep-fried jambalaya on a stick, hearty gumbo, and delicious beignets.

Burro Cheese Kitchen Artisanal grilled cheese trailer serving up non-traditional innovative grilled cheese sandwiches layered with flavor.

Churro Co. For sweet tooths, Churros Co. is the answer, dishing out churros topped with fruit compote, apple pie, marshmallows, caramel, and more.

Little Lucy’s Serves hot fresh mini donuts in a wide variety of unique delicious flavors to fun-loving dessert enthusiasts of all ages in Austin.

Micklethwait Craft Meats – Texas barbecue trailer serving up barbeque meats and a notably daily smoked-sausage selection.

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MUSEUMS

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Blanton Museum of Art – Where art meets Austin. With nearly 18,000 works in the collection, the Blanton showcases art from across the ages, from ancient Greek pottery to abstract expressionism.

Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum – A dynamic museum that engages visitors in the exciting story of Texas through a variety of programs and exhibits.

The Contemporary Austin – Reflects the spectrum of contemporary art through exhibitions, commissions, education, and the collection.

Mexic-Arte Museum – This historic building showcases traditional and contemporary Mexican and Latino art and culture.

WonderSpaces Austin – Austin’s new exhibit that features twelve extraordinary works of art, spread across their 28,000 square foot space.

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SPA SERVICES

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Lake Austin Spa Resort – Choose from over 100 unique spa treatments and services or pamper yourself with a full or half-day spa package at this beautiful Texas Hill Country spa and resort.

Lakeway Resort and Spa Perched above the shimmering waters of Lake Travis, relax and enjoy the tranquility of the Lakeway Resort and Spa.

Milk + Honey Spa – Offers three luxury day spas with a full range of massage, body, skin, waxing, eyelash extensions, and nail treatments.

Viva Day Spa Offers a wide array of spa treatments for men and women including massages, facials, manicures, and spa packages.

The Austin Insider

NIGHT SPOTS

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Blue Starlite Mini Drive-InAuthentic drive-in slots with window speaker setups and great movie programming all year long!

Broken Spoke – If you want to do the Texas two-step, this is the place to go. This dance hall is internationally known as an authentic honky-tonk with live music & boot-scootin’.

Kung Fu Saloon – The perfect festive spot for arcade games, casual handheld fare, and a full bar featuring sake bombs.

Pinballz Arcade – A family-friendly arcade experience with an assortment of classic and new arcade gameplay. Don’t forget it’s also BYOB!

The White Horse – Live country music is served up in this hip, upbeat, sprawling East Austin honky-tonk.

The Austin Insider

AUSTIN'S HOLIDAY HAPPENINGS

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Ballet Austin’s The Nutcracker  |  December 12 – January 1 – Enjoy the dancers, beautiful sets and costumes, and Austin Symphony Orchestra from home this year. Visit their site to claim your “key” to unlock the fun from the comfort of home.

COTA: Peppermint Parkway |  November 27 – January 3 – A magical drive-thru experience with millions of lights, dazzling scenes, and dancing elves at Circuit of The Americas.

Mozart’s Coffee Holiday Light Show  |  Present – January 6 – Grab a hot chocolate and enjoy their decorated deck with lights set to holiday tunes. Reservations are required.

Santa’s Ranch  |  November 6 – January 3 – Take a drive through over a mile of winding country roads while taking in the beautiful lights, animated Christmas displays, and enjoying homemade hot cocoa, kettle corn, and snacks.

Trail of Lights  |  November 28 – January 3 – Now a drive-thru experience, enjoy Austin’s largest holiday tradition that celebrates the unique spirit and people that make Austin the place we love to call home.