Our Austin List: Things to do

A few years ago, Snackbox decided to make Austin, Texas home and we couldn’t be happier about it.  Austin is a city few know about, aside from the fact that Austinites are proud of being “weird,” but that’s a good thing; it keeps the city feeling like a small town, despite being the 16th largest city in the US, and the capitol of Texas.

Austin isn’t your typical “tourist-y” city, but the minute you get here, you realize there’s more to the city than most.  So where do Austinites take visitors to give them a true taste of the “weirdness?”  Here’s a list of our favorites:

Where to Eat:

Austin is full of world-class restaurants; it’s no wonder there are so many Austin chefs on the James Beard awards list and featured on television cooking shows.  Our favs include:

  • Uchiko.  Named one of the top restaurants in the US, Uchiko is sushi at its best.  The sushi chefs are highly trained and come up with some of the most amazing food creations; you won’t want to eat them – they’re that beautiful!
  • 24 Diner.  Another James Beard award-winning chef, Andrew Curran, has reached back into the 1950s to create a unique diner, open 24 hours, featuring updated classics and fresh locally-sourced ingredients.  Try the cheese plate for some of the best cheese you’ll find anywhere.  If you’re in for adventure, the chicken waffles are amazing, and the chopped salad alone is worth the trip.
  • Opal Divine’s.  Opal Divine’s is an Austin institution.  It’s not just a place to eat, although the food is amazing; the whole idea of Opal Divine’s makes it a place not to be missed.  The owners have gone to great lengths to not only serve great food, but to make sure their footprint is as small as possible.  Each of the four locations is wind-powered and all their to-go packaging  is sustainable, recyclable corn plastic, made from corn grown in the United States rather than from petroleum, like most plastics.  Don’t miss their world-famous cracked pepper fries – to die for!

What to Do:

There’s so much to do in Austin, it’s hard to pick just a few activities.  Here’s our top:

  • Shopping on Second Street and South Congress.  Are you feeling like the world is filled with only chain stores, all carrying the same products, no matter where you go?  Then make a beeline over to the shopping areas on Second Street and South Congress.  Everyone has their own favorite spots in each of the areas, but don’t rely on other’s suggestions; pick your own, but definitely go!
  • Town Lake Hike and Bike Trail.  Austin is different than other Texas cities, like Dallas or Houston.  Town Lake, also known as Lady Bird Lake, runs through the center of the city and is ringed by a hike and bike trail few others cities can match.  Surrounded by 468 acres of lush woods and gardens, the hike and bike trail is just the place to go to relax, enjoy nature, job or just sit and watch the ducks on the river.  If you enjoy water sports, kayak, paddle board and canoe rentals are available at reasonable rates.  People watching along the trail is highly recommended, or head over to the dog park to enjoy the frolicking dogs running in and out of the water.
  • Fredericksburg/Hill Country Wine Tour.  Like wine?  Head up to the Hill Country, where some of the best wines anywhere are made.  Fredericksburg is in the center of the Hill Country’s wine-producing area and is a delightful old German town.  The scent of lavender wafts over the town in the spring and most vineyards are open to the public, with tours and tastings available on request.

What to See:

There are a few things you MUST do on your visit to Austin:

  • Congress Avenue Bridge Bats.  Yes … bats.  Over a million bats live under the bridges along Town Lake, making it the largest urban bat colony in North America.  Beginning in March and peaking in the middle of summer, the bridge is the place to be dusk, when thousands of bats fly out in search of a meal.  The bat population ebbs and flows with the season, with babies being born in June and July.  At the peak, it can take up to 45 minutes for all the bats to take wing, but don’t worry – they’re after insects, not humans.
  • Texas State Capitol.  Texas is the only state in the U.S. that was a country on its own and the State Capitol reflects that.  Portraits of the presidents of Texas as well as every governor are a highlight of the tour.  The architecture is a replica of the U.S. Capitol, making the designation, “Capitol of the West,” very appropriate.  Tours are available every day of the week and include something for everyone, regardless of age.
  • UT Tower.  The University of Texas is the largest college campus in the world, with over 40,000 students attending each year.  The UT Tower, in the middle of the campus, overlooks Austin and gives a wonderful overview of the city; the observation deck has recently been remodeled and is open to the public.  You’ll know when a UT sports team wins, because the Tower is bright orange at night.

There are thousands of events in Austin every year highlighting the unique flavor of Texas’ favorite city; the key is to make your visit to Austin your own.  Let us know – what’s your favorite place in Austin?