Austin in Two Days: Eat, Shop, Play
Steven Leigh, Archer Hotel Austin’s chef concierge, knows a thing or two about how to spend 48 hours in Austin, the Live Music Capital of the World. He’s helped countless Archer guests experience Texas’ capital city authentically, historically and distinctively — and with timeliness in mind. Whether for food, fashion or festivities, Leigh’s list provides local insight into some of the most memorable ways to spend 48 hours in Austin.
Fill 'er up
Your 48 hours in Austin starts now. Nourish up before heading out at Second Bar + Kitchen, inside Archer Hotel. Enjoy breakfast daily starting at 6:30 AM, or partake in a delicious brunch starting at 11 AM on the weekends. Haven’t had a strawberry lavender scone? Now’s your chance. Both menus have such eggs and plates as the Breakfast Club Croissant and Crispy French Toast; the brunch adds on a variety of snacks, pizzas and salads.
Visit the capitol
A 30-minute guided tour of Austin’s capitol is free of charge and features monuments, historical buildings and a lovely landscape. Or take a self-guided tour and explore the grounds, with informational signage along the way. The capitol, in downtown Austin, is the largest capitol building in the United States.
Monday – Friday 8:30 AM – 4:30 PM
Saturday 9:30 AM – 3:30 PM
Sunday noon – 3:30 PM
Closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day
If you’re in Austin on a Saturday, stop by the Sustainable Food Center (SFC) Farmers’ Market, in Republic Square at 422 Guadalupe Street. The mother of all Austin farmers’ markets is open 9 AM -1 PM, rain or shine. Peruse dozens of farmers’ offerings and award-winning food artisans’ creations, as well as other locally made goods, while enjoying the live music.
Take a break for lunch
Have lunch in one of the many locally owned, farm-to-table restaurants on South Congress or in the downtown area, just north. Moonshine Patio Bar & Grill, a few blocks north of the river, gets consistently stellar reviews as an excellent lunch stop — think Southern comfort food, but with a bit of flair. The Blackened Catfish platter, Tender Belly sandwich and side of Green Chile Cheddar Grits get honorable mention.
Keep it weird on South Congress Avenue
If you are looking for oddities in Austin, then look no further than South Congress Avenue — aka SoCo. This neighborhood is southwest of Lady Bird Lake and home to locally owned and one-of-a-kind boutiques, restaurants, galleries and music venues. Kitschy and eclectic is what this area is all about. Start at the north end at Heritage Boot for hand-made western boots with a distinctively retro-vintage style. Make your way down Congress south to C-Boys Heart and Soul for live music and a stop in its Japanese-American upstairs bar. Then head back up the street for more spectacular, unique shopping opportunities.
Round out your first day with dinner at another locally owned restaurant you didn’t get the chance to go to for lunch. Try Vespaio for rustic Italian on South Congress, Swift’s Attic or Second Bar + Kitchen for New American on Congress just north of the river or Parkside, a gastropub, for small plates and a raw bar on 6th Street.
If you prefer to freshen up at the hotel before dinner, Rock Rose is a destination street with such locally owned restaurants as Mia Italian Tapas & Bar, St. Genevieve for small plates and Tarka Indian Cuisine. Then stop in at the Rose Room for dancing on the weekends. Or enjoy our heated saltwater splash pool and a cocktail at the pool bar — a relaxing way to end your first day in Austin.
Restore your energy
Rejuvenated and ready to complete your 48 hours in Austin? Have breakfast at Velvet Taco here in The Domain or at one of the Torchy’s Tacos to understand why Austinites love their tacos! Velvet Taco serves brunch all day; one popular selection is the #20 — roast pork and egg frittata with charred tomato-poblano salsa, queso blanco, chili powder and cilantro with a flour tortilla. At Torchy’s, try a Migas — scrambled eggs, crisp corn tortilla strips, green chilies, fresh avocado, pico de gallo and freshly grated cheddar Jack cheese with tomatillo sauce on your choice of tortilla.
Take a tour
AO Tours offers an award-winning sightseeing tour that showcases many parts of this great city. Riding in the comfort of a Mercedes tour van, you’ll see and learn about the area’s history, up-and-coming and always-hot places to shop and eat, live music venues, local hangouts, cool arts opportunities. outdoor events. The tour takes your through the city, as well as the Hill Country’s lakes and vistas — all in a 90-minute excursion.
Soak up some history and culture
The Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum has an interactive collection of exhibits and artifacts, educational resources and programs, as well as the state’s largest IMAX theatre. The Texas Artist Series explores the arts throughout Texas history, and Texas Focus Films are “filmed by, for and about” Texans and delves into the Texas narrative through relevant storytelling. The Blanton Museum of Art has nearly 18,000 works in its collection, and the LBJ Presidential Library offers core exhibits about November 22, 1963, the Vietnam Conflict, a Social Justice Gallery, the Presidential Limousine, the Oval Office, the White House Years and Humor and the Presidency; both institutions are on the University of Texas campus.
Have lunch at one of the many local barbecue restaurants, and get ready to use more than one wet wipe. Local favorites are La Barbecue, Micklethwait Craft Meats — or barbecue from its fabulous food truck — and Freedmen’s, with its beer garden, whiskey lounge and smokehouse in a century-old building.
Splish and splash
If you’re visiting in the warmer months, take a dip in the 68-degree, spring-fed Barton Springs Pool. It’s in the 351-acre Zilker Metropolitan Park just southwest of downtown, with sculpture gardens, Bonsai gardens and a place for kids to play with the Zilker Zephyr train that goes around the park. It’s also the gateway to our vast greenbelt, which is great for rock-climbing and all sorts of other outdoor activities.
You’ve made it this far in your on-the-go 48 hours in Austin. Come back to Domain NORTHSIDE and relax with a massage at one of the many spas in the area. Walkable from Archer is Viva Day Spa, which offers a Celebration Spa Package: a 60-minute Swedish massage, a warm stone massage on the back, shoulders and neck, a custom-designed facial and a deluxe pedicure, served with wine or hot tea and chocolates. Spa Réviel provides a variety of spa treatments, including hydrotherapy, vichy therapy and acupuncture.
Stroll to dinner
Archer’s immediate area, Domain NORTHSIDE with the Rock Rose district, has fabulous locally owned establishments. You don’t even have to think about transportation; just walk. The varied dining options include Second Bar + Kitchen (in Archer), Toulouse Café and Bar, Culinary Dropout, Bazille (in Nordstrom), Paul Martin’s American Grill, The Dogwood, Cyclone Anaya’s Tex-Mex Cantina, Jack & Ginger’s, Flower Child, Thai Kun and Salvation Pizza.
Raise a glass
End your second night of 48 hours in Austin with a toast to the great time you’ve had here. At Yard House, try the Build Your Own 4-Pack or a Half-Yard of its exclusive craft beer. In the mood for a sports bar? Head over to The Park, with its 40+ high-def TVs, handcrafted cocktails and artisan beers. Somersault serves “Bold,” “Daring” and “Established” cocktails in a speakeasy-style atmosphere. Lavaca Street Bar is open seven days a week and showcases a myriad of drafts and spirits, as well as games, screens and two patios. 77˚ Rooftop’s outdoor bar serves exotic rum drinks and “Palette Pleasers” — sharable bites to curb the late-night munchies. And executive chef David Bull’s inspired, farm-to-table bites at Second Bar + Kitchen pair so well with the approachable wines, eclectic beers and finely crafted cocktails — and it’s just an elevator ride away from your comfy room at Archer.
After 48 whirlwind hours spent in this unique, unforgettable town, you’ll no doubt slumber contentedly and wake refreshed, ready for whatever your next 48 hours brings. Don’t forget to snag a souvenir before you leave. And if you need more inspiration — particularly for a weekend special with your love — these Austin romantic spots are just the ticket.
We wish you safe travels and look forward to your next 48 hours in Austin.