Austin To-Do List

Texas has been my home for the past 14 years. With the practically non-stop sunshine and distinct lack of snow, it is quite the opposite from my years growing up in the Midwest. (If you’re going to visit the Midwest, the summer is the best time! We had a blast there in June for the first MVCon of 2019 in Chicago.)

We’ve embraced all that central Texas has to offer, and I couldn’t be more excited to be bringing the Mediavine Conference to Austin!

If you’re attending the conference or visiting Austin separately, here are some of my favorite places to eat and things to do. 

Austin To-Do List

Visiting Austin for MVCon or just on your own? Check out a few of our recommendations for where to eat and things to do!

Where to Eat

Austin is known for its restaurant culture, outspending nearly every other city to enjoy all that it has to offer. While Austin has become synonymous with food trucks, the dining scene is so much more than that. Below are just a few of our favorites.

With award-winning breads and sausages made in-house, Easy Tiger is a favorite spot for patio eats. The original location is only a short walk from the Fairmont, but you can also visit their larger beer garden at the Linc.

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Counter Culture is Austin's foremost vegan restaurant, offering a full menu from brunch to dinner. From nachos with cashew cheese and reuben sandwiches made with homemade tempeh, it's a not-miss place for those who eat plant-based.

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Austin's first food hall features outposts of some of the best restaurants in town. Here, you can get bites from Contigo, Dai Due, Henbit, ni komé, and Italic. Newer addition TLV features Israeli street food. Bring a big group and get selections from all of them to share!

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Probably the most popular ramen restaurant in town, Ramen Tatsu-Ya helped create ramen obsessives all over town. Owner/chef Tatsu Aikawa also recently opened Dip Dip Tatsu-Ya, a shabu shabu restaurant on North Burnet Road.

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If you are a fan of coffee, Houndstooth is one of your best bets for an excellent cup. While you're there, pick up a bag of beans from one of their curated roasters.

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ATX Cocina serves up modern Mexican food in a beautiful, soaring space downtown. With a focus on shared plates using fresh and local ingredients, the restaurant is 100% gluten free.

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Péché's cocktail program is so precise that their team has provided training for many other bars and restaurants in Texas. Don't look for Jagerbombs here; this is a place to sip perfectly crafted drinks (especially if you're keen to try absinthe). If you can't make up your mind, just tell the bartenders what you like and they'll make a custom cocktail on the spot.

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Loro is the pairing of Austin's acclaimed chefs Tyson Cole and Aaron Franklin. This smokehouse with Asian flavors has been a hit since Day 1. With a huge patio and communal seating, this is the perfect place to visit on a warm night. Order everything.

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This neighborhood cafe has been a favorite since it opened in 2015. You can make a full meal off the "Snacky Bits" section of the menu, but make sure to leave enough room for the inventive vegetable sides or the excellent Plancha burger.

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What once was a quiet neighborhood is now the entertainment district of Rainey Street. Full of homes converted into restaurants and bars, this is a great place for people watching and good drinks. Favorites include G'raj Mahal, Banger's, and Lustre Pearl. Hit up Half-Step and grab some mini donuts from Little Lucy's, the pink trailer parked out front.

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There's no shortage of barbecue in Austin, but if you only have time for one visit Micklethwait on the east side of town. They stay open until they run out of meat, so stop by early for the best selection.

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While a bit of a drive from downtown, Valentina's is worth the hype. Be prepared to wait in line.

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What to Do

Have some free time to go exploring? Check out a few of these places.

While many of the bats have headed south for the winter, you can sometimes still see Austin's Mexican free-tailed bats emerge from the Congress Avenue bridge at dusk into November. You can watch from above on the bridge or below at the Statesman Bat Observation Center, but the best vantage point is from a kayak or tour boat on Lady Bird Lake.

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Austin is known for keeping it weird, and the Cathedral of Junk is that expression fully formed. The cathedral began in 1988 and has grown into a three-level sculpture created purely from discarded items. Note that it is located on private property, so give the owner a call to make an appointment before visiting.

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Austin boasts excellent weather most of the year, so if you love the sunshine you're in luck. Soak it in from a kayak, canoe, or paddle board out on Lady Bird Lake.

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OK, so you might not be able to tote a plant home in your luggage, but for plant lovers East Austin Succulents (and their next-door neighbor Tillery Street Plant Company) is a green wonderland. The variety of succulents on display is incredible, and there are plenty of one-of-a-kind planters to take home as well.

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History and architecture buffs should check out the Texas State Capitol, surrounded by 22 acres of grounds with statues and monuments. The Capitol is the sixth tallest in the country and is taller than the U.S. Capitol building. Tours are run daily.

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While Alamo Drafthouse locations can now be found across the country, it's always worth a visit in Austin. Check out one of their special movie parties, brunches, or music video sing-alongs.

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Austin's favorite watering hole is a spring-fed pool that is always a cool 68-70°F. Best enjoyed when the days are at their hottest, Barton Springs attracts crowds every day of the year. (The full moon swim is especially beloved.) Don't hesitate at the chill — it's best to jump right in.

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Austin's flagship library is worth a visit for any book lover. It has plenty of nooks for working or studying, a rooftop patio with excellent views, not to mention Cookbook, a themed restaurant that serves up dishes that come straight from popular cookbooks.

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No matter what kind of music you enjoy, there's a venue for you to hit up. From intimate jazz clubs to rock venues, Austin is full of places to catch a show.

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If you have longer in town, head west to the Hill Country. Historic towns, vineyards, distilleries and parks dot the landscape. Top towns to visit include Fredericksburg, Wimberley, and Gruene.

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No matter where you end up, Austin is full of incredible experiences. If you can’t make it in person to the Mediavine Conference, we’ll be videoing and sharing all the sessions, just like always. Subscribe to the Mediavine YouTube channel today.