Want to experience the best of Austin while keeping your budget in check? No problem. Here’s your guide to eating, drinking and sightseeing your way around town on the cheap.
La Condesa. Courtesy of Jody Horton.
Morning: No trip to Austin would be complete without breakfast tacos. Hit up Torchy’s Tacos or Tacodeli. See the city on a Downtown Guided Walking Tour. The fun and informative tours run around $10 and cover local lore, historic sites and new hotspots. Grab a coffee from Jo’s or a cone from Amy’s Ice Creams and window shop along South Congress.
Mid-Day: If it’s summer and it’s Tuesday, have lunch outside the Long Center with the Austin skyline as your backdrop. Trailer Food Tuesdays showcases walk-up cheap eats from local faves like The Peached Tortilla, Korean Komfort Food, Quality Seafood Market, Urban Cowboy and many more. Spend the afternoon lounging and cooling off at one of the area’s swimming holes (small entry fee).
Evening: Depending on the night, you can catch jazz, family films or musicals (this summer it’s “Shrek The Musical”) at the Hillside Theater outdoor amphitheater in Zilker Park. The best part – they’re all free!
Or head to an Austin Sound & Cinema event (select Wednesdays through August), where music, food and film come together in the form of lawn movies at the Long Center. Local bands perform and food trucks sell dinner before the sun dips down and the film rolls on an inflatable screen.
Morning: Shopping on a dime is an Austin specialty. Grab an espresso at Epoch Coffee before hitting the North Loop district for vintage and thrift store finds. Browse furniture, music and collectibles from the 1950s to the 1980s at Room Service Vintage. Pop into mother-daughter-owned Blue Velvet for an ever-changing treasure trove of men and women’s vintage clothing and accessories; and be sure to hit Revival Vintage, Breakaway Records and Big Bertha’s Paradise for even more sweet scores.
Mid-Day: For lunch, snag an affordable and incredibly tasty meal from The Picnic, one of Austin’s many food trailer parks. Or grab a few to-go goodies from Royal Blue Grocery, downtown Austin's hippest urban market. Pick up a coffee, tasty breakfast tacos, local brews and snacks or pizza by the slice from East Side Pies.
Evening: Take a short hike up to Mount Bonnell for stunning sunset views, see the peacocks at Mayfield Park and Preserve, catch free live music at one of these great summer spots and watch the bats emerge from under the Ann Richards Congress Avenue Bridge. If it’s Thursday, stroll South Congress Avenue for First Thursday, a block party where local artists showcase their work, stores stay open late with big specials.
Dinner is all about happy hour deals. Find them at Barley Swine (half off select plates), Searsucker ($5 cocktails and wine, $3 beer), Peche (half off food and $5 drinks) and La Condesa ($2 tacos, half off drinks).