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A weekend in Austin, Texas is the perfect quick getaway! Austin is well known for live music, epic barbecue, nearby nature and a very lively bar scene. With 3 days in Austin over a long weekend, visitors can experience the absolute best of the city. Our Austin Itinerary features must-see sights, top eateries and the best Austin bars.
Planning the Best Weekend in Austin, TX
When my friends and I planned a Girls Weekend in Austin, we were intent on fully experiencing the city. We wanted to completely immerse ourselves in the absolute best Austin city experiences.
While we could have easily spent our entire Austin, TX weekend imbibing, we wanted to see more than just the inside of bars. With a rich history and abundant nature, the city offers a wide range of weekend entertainment – and we wanted to include it all in our Austin 3-Day Itinerary.
To ensure we created the best Austin, TX Itinerary for our short Austin vacation, we dug into our research and asked for tips from locals. The hard work paid off and we had an exceptional time visiting Austin. Now, I’m sharing the details of our Austin 3 Day Itinerary so that you can easily plan your vacation in Austin, TX!
Pro Tip: Get (and stay) organized for your vacation to Austin using our Trip Planning Printables!
3 Days in Austin Trip Plan
Our Austin, Texas Weekend Itinerary details the best way to spend 3 days in the city. We assume that your weekend trip to Austin will commence on Friday afternoon and that you will stay in the city until Sunday evening. That said, travelers visiting Austin during the week can also use our guide, with just a few tweaks.
Additionally, we know that not all weekend getaways in Austin, TX last for three days. Therefore, if you only have 24 hours in Austin or are planning a 2-Day Itinerary for Austin, we’ve got it covered! At the end of the post, we share our top planning tips for the best weekend in Austin, Texas – even if you only have one day in Austin!
Inspired to visit other USA destinations on a weekend trip? Use our guide to the Best Places To Visit in the US on a Weekend Getaway for our top picks!
Our Austin Itinerary
Our Austin, Texas Itinerary is formatted in a day-by-day, easy-to-follow guide. It includes top attractions, restaurants and districts to visit during your weekend trip to Austin. At the end of the post, you will also find Austin trip planner tips – like how to get there, where to stay and what to pack.
This Austin 3-Day Itinerary has everything you need to plan your Austin weekend trip! Save, Bookmark or Pin this blog post so that you can access it to plan your weekend trip to Austin, TX.
Day 1 of Your 3 Days in Austin Itinerary
Ease into your Austin weekend by stretching your legs around Lady Bird Lake, then mosey into the Rainey Street Historic District for dinner and end your night with a bang at some of the bars in Austin’s iconic Sixth Street entertainment district.
Lady Bird Lake Walk
Start your weekend trip to Austin along the banks of Texas’ Colorado River, which runs through the center of the city. The river pools into a reservoir, called Lady Bird Lake – or just Town Lake – to the east of the Austin city center and is lined with walking paths on both the north and south sides of the river.
In fact, ambitious travelers to Austin can make the 6-mile loop on the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail using the Congress Avenue Bridge as a starting point and crossing the river at the Longhorn Dam. Or, for half the distance, cross at the I-35 frontage road bridge.
If you are getting a late start to your weekend in Austin, skip the longer walk, but at least make your way to Waller Beach at Town Lake Metropolitan Park for a glimpse of Lady Bird Lake.
Rainey Street Historic District
From Waller Beach, it is just a short jaunt to the Rainey Street Historic District – one of the top places to visit in Austin, TX.
This quaint Austin neighborhood is characterized by historical dwellings – most of which were built prior to 1934. Listed in the National Register of Historic Places since 1985, the residential Rainey Street was transformed into a thriving Austin dining district when many of the homes were converted into restaurants and bars in the 2010s.
Some of the top spots are Craft Pride, Banger’s Sausage House & Beer Garden and Emmer & Rye Austin. Or, rather than sitting down at a restaurant, dive into the Austin Food Truck culture and grab a meal from one of the popular Rainey Street food trucks.
East Sixth Street Austin
As one of the must-see places in Austin with an you’ve-got-to-see-it-to-believe-it atmosphere, embarking on a walk down 6th Street is a must on your weekend trip to Austin, TX. Sixth Street is a main thoroughfare that runs through downtown Austin – and is the iconic nightlife district in the city.
East 6th Street – better known as Dirty Sixth – hosts an incredible number of drinking establishments, many known for their cheap drinks and others for legendary Austin live music. Of course, not all of the bars are drowning in youthful debauchery; there are upscale cocktail bars, beer gardens offering local Austin craft beer, and many, many live music venues.
With such a vast array of bars and styles, it is impossible to make a recommendation on a single establishment. When visiting Austin, TX, we suggest strolling 6th Street and popping into any place that suits your idea of a good time!
Day 2 of Your 3-Day Austin Itinerary
On the second day of your Weekend in Austin Itinerary, learn about the history of the city, indulge in some classic city eats and then head south of the city to the SoCo district.
Sixth Street During The Day
In the morning, make your way back to Sixth Street – this time for a daytime experience. While the street is well-known as a must-see Austin, TX nightlife spot, there is plenty to see during daylight hours, too.
First, feast on a sumptuous breakfast of Eggs Benedict at the posh 1886 Cafe and Bakery located inside the landmark Driskell Hotel. Then, with a full stomach, take a walk down the street and pop into a few shops or check out the Museum of the Weird for fun souvenirs.
Texas Capitol: A Must-See in Austin, TX
Mid-morning, delve into the history of Austin at the Texas Capitol building. The gorgeous structure was built in 1888 and features a phenomenal dome. In true Texas fashion, the Texas State Capitol Building ranks as the largest capitol building in the United States – and it is one of the fascinating places in Austin to visit.
Start your time at the Texas Capitol with a free 30-minute guided tour, where your local guide will fill you in on all the important history. After the tour, explore more of the building and the grounds on your own; you can even pick up a helpful pamphlet at the Visitor’s Center.
Best Barbecue Lunch in Austin
A weekend in Austin, TX is not complete without chowing down on at least one meal of Texas barbecue! The much-touted Franklin Barbecue in East Austin is a top pick, but with wait times of up to 3 hours, it is difficult to recommend it to weekend visitors (although it is possible to place to-go orders in advance…at least 6 weeks in advance!).
Two other highly-rated downtown Austin BBQ joints are Stubb’s Bar-B-Q and Cooper’s Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que. Either one will surely satisfy a barbecue craving – and they are both about a 15 minute walk (or quick Uber) from the Capitol.
Austin City Tour
After lunch, continue your education of the city on an Austin guided walking tour. On a small-group tour, guides take participants to top city locations, reveal off-the-beaten-path gems and share insider information on what to do in Austin. Reserve your spot now on the highly-rated Best of Austin Small-Group Guided Tour.
Note: The guided tour includes top sights to see in Austin – including the Texas Capitol – which is perfect if your day got off to slower start and you missed touring the Capitol on your own.
Self-Guided Austin Tour
Rather than joining a tour guide, you could plan your own self-guided walking tour to the best places to visit in Austin, TX. Find information on sights at the Visitor Center – or plan an off-the-beaten-path Austin adventure using a site, like Atlas Obscura.
An Evening in SoCo Austin
In the early evening, head to the SoCo District – South Congress – for a little retail therapy, dinner, bats (yes, bats!) and drinks.
Start your exploration of the district on South Congress Avenue at Jo’s Coffee for a little late afternoon pick-me-up (and be sure to check out the “I love you so much” street art mural while you are there!). Then, spend time perusing the goods at some of the best Austin boutique shops – like Lucy in Disguise with Diamonds for fun costumes and props, Allens Boots for leather western gear and Big Top Candy Shop for nostalgic candy classics.
Dinner: Burritos or Burgers
A local assured us that eating at Freebirds was an absolute must on our weekend in Austin, Texas – and we are stoked we heeded the advice! The build-your-own burritos at Freebirds World Burrito are made with fresh ingredients – and the taste is simply out of this world!
However, if you need a break from Southwestern fare, opt instead for a classic American meal of burgers, fries and shake. The old-fashioned Sandy’s Hamburgers, a city institution since 1946, is one of the top places to visit in Austin, Texas.
Congress Avenue Bridge Bats
Austin is plenty weird, but the quirkiest attraction is the daily flight of the South Congress Bridge bats. When you plan a trip to Austin, you won’t want to miss it!
Since 1980, a colony of 1.5 million Mexican Free-Tailed Bats have resided under the bridge. From spring to autumn at sunset (which varies between 7:30 and 9:45pm), the bats fly out from under the bridge in dramatic patterns as they devour insects. The spectacle lasts about an hour and can be seen from many spots near the Congress Avenue Bridge.
Live Music in SoCo Austin
A night of live music is a must for your Weekend in Austin, TX Itinerary! Although you can’t go far in the Live Music Capital of the World without hearing someone singing a tune, there are a few amazing places in Austin you can go to listen to incredible performers.
The top low-key live music venues in SoCo are Guero’s Oak Garden, where the outdoor stage will draw you in, and Ego’s, a fun karaoke spot. However, The Continental Club in SoCo is a destination venue; established in 1955, the small-capacity shows are intimate – and it is authentically Austin. After a show, grab some late-night grub at the Magnolia Cafe.
Texas Two-Step Honkytonk Bar
On the other hand, if a classic Texas dance hall piques your interest, there is no better place to go two-steppin’ than Broken Spoke on South Lamar. The honky tonk bar also offers dance lessons, which is a fun activity for a Girls Weekend in Austin, Texas!
Austin City Limits at Moody Theater
Catching a live taping of the famed TV show, Austin City Limits, is another fantastic way to experience live music during your Austin weekend getaway. Get information from ACL on how to score tickets.
Austin Music Tour
If you’re interested in learning more about the live music scene, but looking to avoid packed crowds – consider adding a Austin Live Music Crawl tour to your Austin trip itinerary! Led by a music-loving guide, participants get an amazing 3-hour introduction to the Music Capital of the World. Get the details here!
Day 3 of Your Austin Weekend Itinerary
On the last day of your weekend getaway to Austin, TX, see some of the city’s most beautiful nature and navigate your way through the University of Texas campus.
Start your last day in Austin with an outdoor adventure: Climb Mount Bonnell at Covert Park. To be honest, it is not as difficult as it sounds. The hill is just 775-feet-high and only takes about 100 steps to ascend to the viewing deck. At the top, however, trekkers are treated to phenomenal views of the Austin skyline, Colorado River and western hills.
Mount Bonnell is just 5 miles north of 6th St Austin – and not accessible by public transport – so you will need to catch a ride (we recommend using Uber). Before heading for the hill, pick up VooDoo Donuts or stop by the Whole Foods Flagship store (both on 6th Street) and enjoy a picnic breakfast with a view from the top of Mt. Bonnell.
Alternative Breakfast Idea
If an adventurous hike is not how you want to start Day 3 of your Austin, TX Weekend, consider indulging in a classic Texas tradition of breakfast tacos instead.
Longstanding Cisco’s Restaurant is famous for their delectable migas (corn tortilla with egg tacos) – just be sure to order at least one of their extraordinary biscuits, too. At Tamale House East, they make pretty good migas and the space is hip and vibrant.
University Of Texas at Austin
By mid-day, make your way to the University of Texas Longhorns campus – a top destination on an Austin, Texas weekend trip. The university – one of the largest in the United States – was founded in 1883. The campus is comprised of 150 university buildings – of which the UT Tower, built in 1937 and reaching 307 feet – is a central focal point.
Other places to visit on the UT campus are the LBJ Presidential Library, Texas Memorial Stadium, Blanton Museum of Art and the nearby Bullock Texas State History Museum. (But with limited time, you will probably need to pick just one to enter!).
After touring the UT Austin Campus, head north on The Drag (formally Guadalupe Street) and pick up some tacos from much raved-about Torchy’s Tacos. Before leaving the area, pop into the Spider House Cafe for a beer (and maybe some food truck snacks).
Use this link to Google Maps for site locations and walking directions.
Barton Springs Municipal Pool at Zilker Park Austin
In the afternoon, cool off with a swim at the Barton Spring Pool – especially if you are planning a trip to Austin, TX in the summertime.
Fed by underwater springs – and maintaining a year-round temperature of about 70 degrees – the Barton Springs Pool is an absolute Austin gem! Surrounded in lush nature and with plenty of places to spread out your towel and relax, spending the afternoon at Barton Springs is the perfect way to end your Austin weekend trip!
Zilker Botanical Gardens
However, if it is too cold for a swim, spend the last day of your 3 Day Austin Itinerary at the Zilker Botanical Garden. The garden is inclusive of the Taniguchi Japanese Garden and koi pond, the Pioneer Village, a rose garden, butterfly trail and a prehistoric garden with a dinosaur sculpture and waterfall feature.
More Austin, Texas Things To Do
We have highlighted the best plan for a weekend in Austin, Texas – but there is still so much more to see and do in the city! Fellow travelers may want to squeeze in (or substitute!) some of these fun things to do in Austin, Texas.
Search for Austin Street Art
The Austin street art culture has grown in recent years – and the city is now graced with incredible street art murals. Seeking out the best street art is a fun activity for your vacation in Austin, Texas. Visitors can set off to search for the works of art on their own – or join a highly-rated tour. Find out more!
Visit Austin Museums
We highlighted some of Austin’s best museums that reside on the UT campus, but there are other intriguing museums in Austin to visit. Top picks for museums to include in your Austin itinerary are The Contemporary Austin, Thinkery (which is great to include in an Austin Itinerary for families), the Harry Ransom Center, UMLAUF Sculpture Garden and the Mexic-Arte Museum.
More Austin Food and Craft Beer
We included top food and bar recommendations throughout our 3 Days in Austin Itinerary – but there is still so much more to eat and drink in Austin!
Stubb’s Bar B Q Gospel Weekend Brunch in Austin is legendary…but it only happens on Sundays. The southern-style feast is highlighted by live Gospel music. If you can fit it into your Austin Itinerary, go for it!
Visitors who like to get a little taste of everything might want to join an Austin food tour – like this one! – where guides lead participants to their favorite Austin eats. And, craft beer lovers – like us! – can get an in-depth look at the Austin craft beer scene on a brewery bus tour that includes a live band on the bus. Book your spot!
Take A Half Day Trip from Austin
An Austin Day Trip out of the city to Texas Hill Country is a great way to explore beyond the city limits. Catch a ride on Austin’s Salt Lick and Winery Shuttle for a half day adventure of Texas wine tasting and BBQ. Book it now!
How Long To Stay in Austin
We outlined the best Austin Weekend Itinerary in 3 fun-filled days, which we think is the perfect amount of time to get acquainted with the city. That said, we could easily plan a trip to Austin for a much longer stay – and still find plenty to do and see.
Shorter trips – just 1 or 2 days in Austin – will be rushed, but certainly worth it just to experience a bit of the city!
More Austin Itineraries
We understand that not all travelers will have three days in Austin to explore and enjoy the city. To help, we are sharing our best suggestions for an Austin One-Day Itinerary and an Austin Itinerary for 2 days.
Austin in A Day
If you are visiting Austin, Texas in a day, you need to have a succinct trip plan. We think an ideal Austin 1-Day Itinerary includes a little bit of everything: nature, history, music, food and drinks.
One Day in Austin Itinerary
In a 1-day Austin trip planner, start your day with a walk along Lady Bird Lake, then feast on a BBQ lunch, stroll down Sixth, complete a self-guided tour of the Texas Capitol and finish your day in SoCo, where you can shop, bar hop and listen to live music.
36 Hours in Austin
With 36 hours in Austin, Texas, you will be able to fit more Austin sightseeing into your itinerary. Although the time will go rather quickly, there is a lot that you can squeeze into your trip.
Itinerary for 36 Hours in Austin
Use our above tips for One Day in Austin – including Lady Bird Lake, a BBQ lunch, the Capitol and SoCo. On the second day, go to breakfast on Sixth Street in the morning and then chill out at Barton Springs before your Austin trip ends.
2-Day Itinerary Austin
Planning an Austin 2-Day Itinerary is much easier – but you will need to plan ahead to ensure you see all of the top sights.
Austin 2-Day Itinerary
We think the best way to spend 48 hours in Austin is to use our above recommendations for 1.5 days in Austin, but instead of visiting Barton Springs after breakfast, first venture onto the UT campus. After your swim, check out the nightlife on Sixth Street.
Girls Weekend Austin, TX
On my Girls Weekend in Austin, TX, we were all interested in seeing as much of the city as possible. Our Girls Trip to Austin was focused on spending time together while sightseeing.
However, if you are planning an Austin Bachelorette Party Itinerary, you will want to put your focus on the bride-to-be! To create a fun Austin bachelorette itinerary, we recommend adding a few group activities – like taking dancing lessons at Broken Spoke, taking the half-day Salt Lick and Winery Tour or booking the Brunch Bus.
Best Time to Visit Austin, Texas
For me, figuring out the best time to visit Austin, TX is based on the weather and the seasons.
Generally speaking, Austin has hot summers and mild winters. That said, it can snow in January and February (although it is typically sunny) – and temperatures can reach 100 degrees in the summertime with high humidity. Spring can be very wet, but temps stay mild.
We think the best time to go to Austin is when the weather is nice enough to be outdoors. In our opinion, the best Austin weather is in the autumn, when the sun is shining, but the temps are comfortable.
How To Get to Austin, Texas
Most Austin weekend visitors will arrive to the city by plane at the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS), which is serviced by numerous US airlines and also has direct international flights to Amsterdam, London and Frankfurt! Search for the best airfare and flight times on SkyScanner!
Getting Around Austin
We do not think it is necessary to rent a car for your Austin weekend itinerary. Instead, use Uber or rent a scooter or bicycle (which is another good way to explore the many trails around the city!). Or, better yet, use your own two feet.
How To Get Around Austin without a Car
Getting around Austin without a car can be a little challenging. While many of the places to see in Austin are walkable from downtown, some visitors would rather get a ride (especially in the blazing summer heat). The public transport system can be used for short trips around the city – but it could be a waste of precious time if you are in Austin for a short visit.
The Hop On Hop Off Blue Line Bus is another great way to get around the city when spending a weekend in Austin. The open-air double-decker buses have on-board commentary, stop at most of the Austin tourist attractions listed in our itinerary and the tickets are good for 24 hours. Get the details!
Where to Stay in Austin, Texas
On an Austin weekend trip, the best place to stay is right in the heart of the city.
That said, choosing exactly where to stay in Austin for a weekend will depend on your budget and travel style. The city offers a range of accommodations from luxury Austin hotels to dorm room hostels. In addition to hotels in Austin, there are also holiday apartments and houses for rent.
Hilton Austin Hotel
On my trip to Austin, we stayed in the Hilton Austin Downtown. The location – near Sixth Street and Rainey District – was perfect and the amenities were top notch (as expected with Hilton properties). Our weekend trip to Austin was during a time that there was not an event at the Convention Center, so room rates were affordable. Check rates and availability!
Aloft Austin Downtown
We love Aloft hotels! They are modern, stylish and affordable compared to similar properties. While we have not stayed in the Austin Downtown Aloft Hotel, it is located just steps from Sixth Street and not far from the Capitol Building – and fellow travelers give it rave reviews. Check availability!
Driskill Hotel Austin
The landmark Driskill Hotel is an Austin must-see (we include it as our breakfast spot for Day 2 of our Austin Itinerary!) – so why not just stay there for your weekend in Austin?! We haven’t seen the rooms, but the property is gorgeous. If you are going to splurge on your Austin weekend, this is the place to do it. Check rates!
Native Hostels in Austin
Travelers searching for Austin hostels will want to check out the upscale Native Hostel, where dorm beds have privacy curtains and the hostel organizes fun community events in the bar. Check it out!
Weekend House Rentals: Austin, TX
On a long weekend in Austin, some travelers may be more comfortable renting an apartment or house on Airbnb. We rely on Airbnb for accommodations in cities around the world – and often find that they are a better value than traditional hotels. That said, on a quick Austin weekend trip, a hotel may be more convenient.
If you are new to Airbnb, you can use this link to create your account and save money on your first stay!
What to Pack For Weekend Getaways in Austin, TX
We have just a few final tips and packing hacks for your Austin trip!
Walking Shoes for Visiting Austin, Texas
Our 3-Day Austin Itinerary involves a ton of walking! While the city is very walkable, you will want to wear comfortable city walking shoes. I like these lightweight Columbia shoes for women, while Kris prefers wearing Merrell trail shoes – even in the city.
Weather Gear and Day Pack for Trip to Austin, Texas
Depending on what season you visit the city, you will want to be prepared for the weather. If you travel to Austin in the spring, bring along a travel umbrella and packable raincoat. And, in the summertime, make sure to pack sunscreen, a travel hat and your swimsuit! Whether you travel with a backpack or a suitcase, you will certainly want a great day bag to organize and secure all of your essential, everyday travel items for your Austin trip!
Travel Camera for Your Weekend in Austin, TX
Filled with historic sites, quirky art and beautiful nature, Austin is an extremely photogenic city – and if you are anything like us, we are certain you will be taking many pictures. Rather than relying on your cell phone camera for pictures, we recommend upgrading to a DSLR camera. We use a Canon Rebel with everyday 18-135mm lens. It is a great budget camera for beginners – as it comes with an entire package of bundled accessories!
Travel Insurance for Your Austin, Texas Itinerary
We think travel insurance is essential! In addition to covering delayed flights and lost luggage, good trip insurance can cover entire cancelled trips and an array of other unfortunate events. Check rates and coverage on World Nomads.
Don’t Miss Other Top USA Destinations!
Whether it’s a city break Seattle Trip, Chicago Getaway, Weekend In San Francisco, A Week In NYC, or Discovering Boston we’ve got you covered. If you’re looking for a nature escape to Montana, Flagstaff AZ ,the Oregon Coast or a Cali Road Trip, we can help you plan a great getaway as well!
How about a fun weekend in Nashville or Savannah? Looking for a party destination for NYE? We’ve featured some of the best on our list of the Top Cities for New Year’s! You can find all of our USA destination guides on our USA Travel Page!
We Want To Know: Is there anything you would add to our Weekend in Austin Itinerary? What are your favorite things to do in Austin, TX? Give us your best advice in the comments below!
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