South Congress is a bustling street just below the river and Downtown Austin where you can spend an entire day without even hitting a side street. If you’re new in town or want to get an efficient taste of the city in one straight shot, here is a tried-and-true itinerary for this super-famous part of town …
Start with brunch at Perla’s. “A seafood restaurant for brunch?” you say, exasperated. Yes. You’ll see. Order the Crab Florentine, a twist on the classic eggs benedict, except, you know, with crab instead. Wash it down with a bloody mary, and yes, add a cocktail shrimp for a couple bucks extra, if only for the Instagram picture you’ll take.
Next, it’s time for some shopping. SoCo is home to a ton of vintage stores. Feathers is always a good bet. And check out Prototype Vintage where you may find that rare Iron Maiden tour T-shirt you’ve been looking for. Men of all ages flock to Stag, a heralded menswear boutique stocking everything from swim trunks and henleys to cologne and flasks. Need some cowboy boots? Allens. A Day of the Dead wedding cake topper? Tesoros. Your shopping needs are covered on just this one street.
After a long day of shopping, refuel at Jo’s coffee shop for an iced turbo, which is exactly what it sounds like: a cold drink that provides a big boost. Sit outside and people-watch; it’s a hallmark of South Congress. If you want to look like a tourist, take a picture in front of the “I Love You So Much” wall out back.
Hop right next door after you’re caffeinated to the Hotel San Jose’s outdoor patio. It’s time for a drink. Order a michelada with Modelo or a glass of rose and relax. If it’s time for another meal already, dinner at the legendary Guero’s Taco Bar is never a bad idea.
Whew. OK, you’re off to C-Boy’s Heart & Soul, a hip, double-decker bar near the intersection of Oltorf and South Congress. On any given night, a soul or blues band will be playing inside, and the outdoor patio is one of the best in town. Have an extra cocktail or beer, because the night is about to get pretty crazy.
Next stop, yes, is Ego’s.
Is it kind of a cluster? Is everyone inside very drunk? Is it located at the bottom of a parking garage? Yes, yes, and yes, but it’s also an Austin rite of passage to wobble into Ego’s for a late-night karaoke session. Tip the DJ if you want to sing your heart out to Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” before closing. You’ll be glad you did.
If you take a drive just 20-ish miles west on Highway 71 out of Austin, you’ll reach one of the most picturesque spots in the entire state: Hamilton Pool Preserve. The swimming hole has been a popular spot for Austin residents and tourists alike since the ’60s, but was actually formed thousands of years ago when the dome of an underground river collapsed.
Now part of the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve, the preserve is home to many rare and endangered species of plant and animals, including the golden-cheeked warbler bird and plants like canyon mock-orange and the chatter-box orchid. Visitors to the park are asked to be mindful of the efforts to preserve this natural wonder.
The natural pool and creek are natural, left untreated and pure for your swimming pleasure. The swimming area is surrounded by a tiny beach at one end and a massive, horseshoe-shaped limestone cliff around the rest. There’s even a waterfall opposite the beach, a much Instagrammed locale at the preserve. Because everything is natural, swimming at Hamilton Pool is sometimes off-limits due to high levels of bacteria. Updates are available every morning at 9 a.m. by calling 512-264-2740.
Unfortunately, as is customary, the “secret” of Hamilton Pool was unearthed in recent years, correlating with both the large growth in population and the influx of tourism as a result of the innumerable festivals and conferences inside city limits. Wait times to even enter the park reached into multiple-hours on weekends and particularly nice days, with a large majority of late-arrivers being turned away because the preserve had hit capacity.
To combat this, a couple of years ago the Travis County Parks Department implemented a reservation system for the busy season. A reservation is required if you want to visit the pool between now and October 31, 2018—and that goes for each and every day of the week.
To make your reservation, click here. But before you do, please note the following super important fine print:
“You make your reservation online by paying $11 with a credit card. You will also pay $15 per vehicle in cash for an entrance permit when you arrive at the preserve. Credit cards are not accepted when you arrive at the preserve. Bring cash.
You can bring only one vehicle with each reservation. You can bring no more than 8 people with each reservation.
Your reservation receipt will be emailed to you very shortly after you make the reservation.
Reservation Periods: 9 a.m. – 1 p.m., 2 p.m. – 6 p.m.
No entry after 12:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. All recreational activities end at 12:30 pm and 5:30 p.m.
All fees are non-refundable once you have paid them. The deadline to reschedule a reservation is midnight before your reservation. You cannot reschedule on the same date as your reservation.
Swimming is sometimes not allowed due to high bacteria. Swimming is NOT guaranteed with your reservation.”
Got all that? It may sound like a hassle, but we promise it’s all worth it! Get yourself a rezzy and make the most of this amazing spot.
In honor of National Tequila Day, we put together a list of the places you would most likely be able to find us celebrating this important holiday. Frozen or rocks, chile-salted rims, or no salt at all; here are our favorite spots in Austin for margaritas in 2018.
Enter Full Screen View
Enter Full Screen View
The cult favorite restaurant just opened its third location downtown at the base of the 360 building. All three restaurants offer the various margarita options that made them famous.
When we want options, we go sit up on the roof at El Alma. Their drink menu offers ELEVEN types of margaritas.
Because sometimes the ambiance of where you’re drinking your margarita is just as important as the taste. Nothing beats a Hula Hut margarita after a long day on the lake… or at the office.
This South Austin institution pumps margs out by the hundred. Frozen, rocks, or premium, you can’t really go wrong here.
We loved the original Vivo location on Manor road, but while the location has changed, their consistently delicious margaritas have not.
Photo by Ashlyn Allison
Deemed the mecca of Mexican Food in Austin, they also have really great margaritas. Try the Silvercoin, Watermelon infused with Patron Silver, Cointreau, and fresh lime juice.
We typically go all-in and just order Mexican Martinis (sans glass), but they offer swirls, dots, and other fun combos of frozen drinks as well.
Photo by Melody Fury
The most unique margarita in Austin can be found off Oltorf. The Avocado Margarita isn’t just a gimmick, it’s delicious as well.
Photo by Julia Keim
The West 6th Street hotspot offers several margarita variations, but the true star of the show at 616 is the Ranch Water. A concentrated, boozy version of a margarita topped with Topo Chico.
Three words: $5 Happy Hour (four words?) Combier finished margaritas and hearty snacks for five bucks a pop.
Our biggest struggle is whether to order frozen or on the rocks, and then to drink them inside at the bar or outside on the patio.
Polls have been conducted, and the margs here typically finish top of class. If a $10 margarita is out of your acceptable price range, check them out for happy hour in their bar area M-F from 5-7pm.
Cover Photo by Melody Fury
Waterloo Adventures is finally open and they’re doing Family Day on Sundays! Parents get Half Price Admission (with 1 regular price child). Next three Sundays only! Reservations required.
Begin your awesome day with a boat ride to beautiful “Adventure Island.” When you arrive, you can throw yourself into a 45-minute, pulse-pounding session on their 600-foot state-of-the-art challenge course. It’s a series of floating obstacles like climbing walls, monkey bars, slides, hurdles, balance beams, bridges, and tons more fun.
After enjoying 45 minutes on the Challenge Course you are welcome to unlimited time at the Aqua Water Park, Adventure Island.
14529 Pocohontas Trail Suite A
Leander, TX 78641
Fireworks light up the night sky every Fourth of July to celebrate our nation’s independence, and thanks to our friends at Springfree Trampoline, this handy roundup of Fourth of July events has all of the festivities happening in the Austin area.
As an alternative to heading out to a celebration or festival, gather your friends and family to celebrate in your backyard! Turn your backyard into the ultimate fun zone this Fourth of July with a Springfree Trampoline! Take advantage of the 4th of July sale… the BEST SALE OF THE YEAR and save up to $897 when you take 50% off ALL accessories! Plus, add delivery & installation starting from $99*, regularly priced at $299! Offer ends July 5, 2018.
When: Friday, June 29 (8 am to noon) – Saturday, June 30, 2018 (10 am – 10 pm)
Where: Fisherman’s Park, 1200 Willow St., Bastrop
This family-friendly even celebrates our Nation’s Independence with food booths and children’s activities, live music, a pet parade, skydivers, and fireworks!
When: Sunday, July 1, 2018, 10 am – 5 pm
Where: Pioneer Farms, 10621 Pioneer Farms Dr., Austin
Join the fun at this star-spangled Independence Day festival featuring an array of family fun — historical exhibits, hayrides, music and a colorful display of independence flags. Red-white-and-blue historical exhibits, farm animals and hayrides are planned, along with music and other other old-fashioned festivities straight from the 1800s. Check our calendar to see which events are offered on Sunday. The days will be Austin’s version of a midsummer festival, a popular activity in the late 1800s. Plan to come early and stay late for this old-fashioned weekend outing that replicates the family-friendly summer holidays in Old Texas.
When: Tuesday, July 3, 2018
Where: Dell Diamond, 3400 E. Palm Valley Blvd., Round Rock
Join the Round Rock Express on July 3 for the biggest fireworks show of the year, presented by eBay.
When: Wednesday, July 4, 2018, 8:30pm
Where: Vic Mathias Shores, 800 West Riverside Drive, Austin
Spend this Independence Day with 100,000 of your closest friends! Central Texans will hurry to claim their grassy spot with the Austin Symphony Orchestra this July 4th for the largest Independence Day Celebration in the state. Tens of thousands of families will be decked out in red, white, and blue and heading down to Vic Mathias Shores (formerly Auditorium Shores) this July 4th for an amazing event complete with a fireworks display over the city skyline backed by symphonic patriotic classics.
When: Wednesday, July 4, 2018, 3-10pm
Where: Entrance off of San Gabriel Pkwy
This free admission, family-friendly event includes live music, food and craft vendors, children’s activities, and a spectacular fireworks display.
When: Wednesday, July 4, 2018, 10am-10pm
Where: Katherine Fleischer Park, 2106 Klattenhoff Dr., Austin
The day begins with a short parade starting at KF Park at 10am. Spectators are welcome to line the street to watch. When the parade returns, there’ll be an afternoon of entertainment under the big tent, concessions from local restaurants and community service groups offering a variety of items to enjoy, and activities for the kids around Katherine Fleischer Park. KF pool will be open and free to the public as well. Fireworks begin at 9:30pm at the soccer field adjacent to the recreation center on Shoreline Dr.
When: Wednesday, July 4, 2018, 10am-11pm
Where: Old Settlers Park, 3300 Palm Valley Blvd., Round Rock
The Sertoma July 4th Parade, fireworks, carnival rides, jalapeno pepper eating contest, Swifty Swine Pig Races, children’s games, Sam Bass Shootout, Movies in the Park are all part of the City of Round Rock’s July Fourth Frontier Days Celebration. This year will feature an even grander firework show! The event is FREE!
When: Wednesday, July 4, 2018, 11am-11pm
Where: San Gabriel Park, 455 E. Morrow St., Georgetown
Come celebrate SERTOMA’s Annual 4th of July Family Celebration in San Gabriel Park, sponsored by the Georgetown Sertoma Club. Entertainment will be provided for the entire family! The event finishes with a “Spectacular Fireworks Finale” at dusk. The festivities will begin at 11:00 am, with over 60 Arts and Craft booths, and 20 Food vendors. Kiddie Rides, Bounce Houses, and Games along with a Petting Zoo are provided for the children. Entertainment at the gazebo will feature some of the best local and central Texas talent, beginning at 12 noon and will continue all day until the fireworks display.
When: Wednesday, July 4, 2018, 10am-2pm
Where: Sweet Eats Farm, Georgetown
Come enjoy the holiday at Sweet Eats Farm with a foam machine! There will also be fun farm activities including a petting zoo, pony ride, hay maze, jump pad, face painting and much more!
When: Wednesday, July 4, 2018, 10am (parade) 5-10:30pm (celebration)
Where: Milburn Park, 1901 Sun Chase Blvd., Cedar Park
The parade begins at 10 a.m. The route is along Discovery Blvd, starting at the H-E-B Center (Discovery Blvd and New Hope Dr) and ending at the Cedar Park Recreation Center. The event will feature live music, bingo, a washer tournament (at 4 pm), air castles, free watermelon and a fireworks display. Fees apply for food concessions, face painting, and carnival games and rides.
When: Wednesday, July 4, 2018, 5-9:30pm
Where: The Pfield, 1440 W. Pecan St., Pflugerville
Celebrate July 4th with pfun and pfamily in Pflugerville at the Pfirecracker Pfestival. Returning this year to the Pfield, you can enjoy music from Suede, food trucks, a kid’s area and of course… fireworks! PFREE!
When: Wednesday, July 4, 2018, 6-9pm with fireworks at 9:30pm
Where: Plum Creek Golf Course, 4301 Benner, Kyle
The pre-show celebration at the PCGC Clubhouse is free to the public and includes live music and fantastic viewing. Hot dogs and cold drinks will be sold under the large tent, along with other snacks.
When: Wednesday, July 4, 2018, 4-9:30pm
Where: Hill Country Galleria, 12700 Hill Country Blvd., Suite T-100, Bee Cave
Enjoy a day-long sidewalk sale! Stroll the streets of the Galleria and shop your favorite stores with outdoor displays. New this year, Hill Country Galleria is starting the festivities early at 4 p.m. with backyard games hosted by Camp Gladiator, including three-legged race, potato sack race, obstacle course, tug of war, and more, offering fun for the whole family. All games will be held on the lawn from 4pm-6pm and crowd participation is encouraged. Afterwards, bring chairs or blankets and enjoy the live music starting at 6:00 p.m. The splash pad will run from 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM on July 4th! Bring swimgear and water shoes for the kids. Firework show will take place at approximately 9:15 p.m. and subject to desirable wind and weather conditions. Parking and admission are always free.
When: Wednesday, July 4, 2018, 9am-9:30pm
Where: Buda Sportsplex, 310 Buda Sportsplex Dr, Buda
Join us for a Patriotic Parade on Main Street. Line up begins at 8:30 AM at City Hall. Awards will be given to the best decorated bikes. After the parade, enjoy free activities and more fun at the Buda Greenbelt near the Buda Public Library! Come back out to Buda Sportsplex for food, entertainment and a spectacular fireworks show! Fireworks begin at 9:30pm.