Best for: eating and drinking
Texans are famously, some would say notoriously, friendly, and Austin is a city where you’ll never be short of a smile, whether it’s across a shared plate of streetfood, across a grimy dancefloor, or across the water of one of the steamy city’s cherished swimming holes. Dining out is a thoroughly relaxed affair in Austin, as much of the best eating in town is dished out of food trucks – where solo travellers join other diners at bar-style seating and never really eat alone. There are over 1,000 food trucks rolling around town, but Gourdough’s doughnuts are cult dishes in Austin, served out of a vintage Airstream; go big and go for grilled banana and bacon.
Hip hotelier Liz Lambert runs the sleek Hotel Saint Cecilia and the more affordable San Jose Hotel around the corner on South Congress, which teems with organic grocery stores, vintage stores, coffeeshops, taco shacks and music venues like the legendary Continental Club.
If South Congress is the city’s hipster thoroughfare, the up-and-coming creative neighbourhood is the East Side, best seen after an afternoon touring and tasting the local brewery, Hops & Grain Brewing. Make pilgrimage to Rainey Street, a residential street turned urban phenomenon, where bars and cafes are housed in converted bungalows. In the morning, leap out of bed early to cycle the steamy 10-mile circuit of Ladybird Lake along the new hike and bike track’, perhaps cooling off at beautiful Barton Springs pool (free before 8am; £2 after), a vast spring-fed swimming pool hewn out of rock.
An expert’s guide to Austin