Hotel Magdalena – a fresh stay from Austin's homegrown Bunkhouse group – distils the city’s colorful, creative essence into the heart of bohemian Bouldin Creek. Here's how to explore, using the hotel as your base.Less
Much of Hotel Magdalena's design references Austin’s 1970s culture. Elevated walkways and courtyards connect four distinct buildings, creating a treehouse-like feel inside grounds planted with native Texan flora. Adding to the vibe are warm earthy tones – especially the covetable serape-stripe robes – era-defining photos and Sangre de Fruta toiletries. A freeform pool echoes the city’s natural swimming holes, steps from buzzing South Congress Avenue. Free bikes and yoga mats help you explore.
In a city with no shortage of veggie- and vegan-friendly restaurants, it takes a lot to stand out. But this award-winning spot with a meat-free menu has earned a loyal following among Austinites over the past decade – still with the same window signage from its previous incarnation as a tire store. Ingredients are sourced from other small local businesses, and the cafe fundraises for the local community. Importantly, the food is always made from scratch and delicious enough to lure omnivores.
The long line leading to Jo’s is enough to gauge the popularity of this streetside coffee shop. It’s been a South Congress mainstay since 1999, known as much for its “I love you so much” mural as its kick-ass coffee and freshly baked treats. You can often catch a local band knocking out a set here, adding to the community-hub feel. The sweet-toothed love the signature Iced Turbo, and the breakfast taco is close to legendary, so be sure to get there early before they run out.
Although a man-made reservoir – carved out of a stretch of the Colorado River – Lady Bird Lake sounds so much nicer. The bucolic name certainly suits this rather lovely central Austin oasis, where you can indulge in a raft of activities from hiking or biking its 10mi (16km) trail to water-based fun like kayaking and canoeing. From March to November, position yourself close to the Congress Avenue bridge to witness the remarkable scene of free-tail bat colonies swooping at sunset.
Ask your average Austinite where to go for the best pizza in town, and chances are they’ll direct you to this neon-lit landmark. It has evolved over the years from a mom-and-pop pizza joint into the go-to spot for New York-style pizza. It really gets its mojo on at night when pizza-hungry crowds spill from tables to the curb to chow down on generous slices of piping hot pie.
Auditorium Shores at Town Lake Metropolitan Park together with the Butler Metro Park make up a great swathe of green space wedged between Bouldin Creek and the Colorado River. There’s loads to do here, whether it’s just flopping on the lawns with a picnic, strolling around the winding footpaths or attending one of the numerous outdoor shindigs often held here. As the name suggests, there are two auditoriums: one hosting regular events and the other dedicated to the performing arts.
Justifiably dubbed the Live Music Capital of the World, Austin boasts the highest number of music venues per capita in the US. Few in the city come more hallowed than the Continental Club – an iconic nightspot that’s been running since the Fifties, and endures today as one of the top spots for rock, country, blues and rockabilly in the country. An intimate dive-bar vibe adds to its appeal, plus there’s no cover charge for most shows if you arrive early.
Locals have been getting their Mexican food fix at Güero’s Taco Bar for more than 35 years, and the family-run business is now in its second generation. You’ll find an old cantina vibe complete with paint-peel brick, well-worn floorboards and big collection of wall-mounted Mexicana. You’ll find everything from handmade corn tortillas to sizzling fajitas and frozen margaritas that will get you hitting the decked patio dance floor before you know it.