Austin is definitely known for being the home of the wily, affable hippie, but the science of Austin is in that ‘equal and opposite REaction.’ For every grunge bar, there’s a linen tablecloth and craft-cocktail lounge. For every creekside picnic, there’s a sparkling pool and canopied cabana to balance it all out.
So, before you get all “SERIOUSLY? There are a MILLION great places in Austin! This is, like, the tip of the melting iceberg!,” please know that for the people who love Jeffery’s, Takoba, The Gibson, Lustre Pearl, and a ‘million’ more fantastic, upscale hidden gems in Austin, options abound. Of course we are the home of delectable food and tempting beverages, so whittling it down to a mere ten is silly-talk. STILL, if you are living in town or only dropping through for a visit, you cannot deny the following suggestions are worth a try. Not a single one will disappoint.
As you peruse the following list, you may notice the ubiquity of pools and swimming options, which in any other circumstance would be excessive, but are 100% necessary to beat the heat in Austin. We hope you’ll take the time to visit some of these wonderfully local spots, and let us know which venues you liked, loved, or can’t live without!
For those visiting The W Hotel Austin, located at 2nd and Lavaca in the heart of Austin’s vibrant, eccentric downtown, there’s plenty of luxury to be found. More than a conveniently-located and striking piece of architecture, The W offers seasonal and fresh Texas-fusion cuisine at Trace, as well as a stunning 4th-floor pool and lively deck-bar for guests and friends to take in some of Austin’s hottest parties. Their living room bar features carefully constructed craft cocktails alongside local DJs who welcome travelers and locals, alike.
2. Garage Bar
Taste the spirits of weird Austin with a happy hour drink at Garage Bar on Colorado and 6th Street. This craft-cocktail gem extraordinaire is embedded into a spiral parking-garage and valet-box deep in the heart of the American National Bank. Garage’s drinks and décor dress to impress, and live up to the hype. With an intimate, kitschy atmosphere, Garage is a great place to escape the heat and the din of the downtown crowds and settle into a nice Sazerac. It’s great for dates, business, or extravagance with friends!
3. ACL Live
Austin is the self-proclaimed Live Music Capitol of the World, and Austin City Limits Live at the Moody Theater remains the warm little beating heart of it. Next to The W Hotel Austin, ACL Live draws performers from all over the globe to downtown Austin. Comedy, performance art, and amazing music headliners such as Elvis Costello, Cyndi Lauper, Jerry Jeff Walker, and Austin’s own Groupo Fanstasma can be seen regularly at ACL Live. If you can’t wait a whole year until ACL Festival comes back around, ACL Live is there for you!
When you just want to get crazy with it, head to Rio Austin’s pool and bar, as well as the West 6th Street District. Rio is highly reminiscent of something out of Vegas, with its dance-driven DJs and wild party atmosphere, all centered around a narrow rooftop pool overlooking the center of West 6th. Bikini-clad beauties hold true to the farm-girl fantasy, as they playfully splash around in the pool and squirt water-guns brimming with low-alcohol shots into patrons’ mouths. On the street-level, West 6th is awash with fine perfume, little black dresses, and unbuttoned collared shirts, ready for a night to remember. Or to completely forget, as it were… Popular venues on this strip include Dogwood, Kung Fu Saloon, and the perennially-hip Star Bar. Plan on getting a taxi home!
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