The Best of Austin in 48 Hours

Experiencing the best of Austin, Texas in just 48 hours. // Austin TX | ATX | Texas Road Trip | Travel with Kids | Family Travel | 2 Day Itinerary | Things to Do | What to See | Where to Eat | Best Food | South Congress | Zilker Park | Texas Capitol | Weird Austin | Austin Murals

Austin stole my heart from the moment we arrived.

It feels like home. It’s comfortable. It’s laid-back. And it’s got its quirks that make it its own unique city. What’s not to love about Austin?

There’s lots to do in the Texas capital, but if you’re short on time, you can still experience the city in a weekend quite easily. Here’s how to see the very best of Austin in just 48 hours.

Note: This post contains affiliate links to products and services we love and recommend. If you purchase anything through these links, we may receive a small commission (at no additional cost to you!) Thanks for supporting the blog in this way.

Experiencing the best of Austin, Texas in just 48 hours. // Austin TX | ATX | Texas Road Trip | Travel with Kids | Family Travel | 2 Day Itinerary | Things to Do | What to See | Where to Eat | Best Food | South Congress | Zilker Park | Texas Capitol | Weird Austin | Austin Murals

Getting Around Austin

While parts of Austin are very walkable (SoCo for example), like much of America, Austin is still very much a car town. Do yourself a favor and book yourself a rental car before you arrive. It’s extremely easy to drive in Austin…the streets are wide (it’s Texas, duh) and getting from A to B on the grid-like streets is relatively straightforward.

Experiencing the best of Austin, Texas in just 48 hours. // Austin TX | ATX | Texas Road Trip | Travel with Kids | Family Travel | 2 Day Itinerary | Things to Do | What to See | Where to Eat | Best Food | South Congress | Zilker Park | Texas Capitol | Weird Austin | Austin Murals

Where to Stay in Austin

Hyatt Regency Austin | The Hyatt checks all the boxes for an ideal stay in Austin. Reasonable price, central location, classic, modern rooms, and tons of on-site amenities including a pool and 3 restaurants. Downtown and South Congress are both walkable from this centrally-located hotel.

Compare Prices on Hotels.com | Booking.com

Hotel San Jose | In the heart of quirky South Congress, the Hotel San Jose offers a sleek, modern getaway. Delivery of nearby Jo’s Coffee and Polaroid cameras on loan from the front desk are just a few reasons to love this place.

Compare Prices on Hotels.com | Booking.com

Austin Motel | The Austin Motel will remind you of that kitschy 80’s motor inn, but make no mistake about it, after a recent renovation this hotel has become one of the coolest spots to stay in town. Between the “best swimming pool in Austin” and the patio bar, you’ll never want to leave.

Compare Prices on Hotels.com | Booking.com

Alright, let’s get going, shall we?

Day 1

Late Breakfast at Elizabeth Street Cafe

Start your morning off with a late breakfast at Elizabeth Street Cafe. This adorable cafe serves a mix of Vietnamese and French fare (think banana and Nutella stuffed crepes and breakfast banh mi). And it works so well! On a sunny morning, take advantage of the super cute patio outside.

[irp]

Experiencing the best of Austin, Texas in just 48 hours. // Austin TX | ATX | Texas Road Trip | Travel with Kids | Family Travel | 2 Day Itinerary | Things to Do | What to See | Where to Eat | Best Food | South Congress | Zilker Park | Texas Capitol | Weird Austin | Austin Murals

Greetings from Austin Mural

While you’re in the neighborhood, stop by Roadhouse Relics at 1st and Annie. On the side of Austin’s most unique neon art studio is also one of the most well-known murals in the city: the Greetings from Austin mural. It’s much less crowded (and much easier to photograph!) than other murals along South Congress, and its bright colors make it one of my favorites.

Explore Zilker Park

Austin is blessed with a huge, spectacular park right in the center of the city, so plan to dedicate much of your first day to all that it has to offer!

No matter what you’re into, whether you’re visiting with kids or not, there are a million different ways you can enjoy Zilker Park.

Zilker’s most popular attraction is unarguably the Barton Springs Pool. The spring-fed swimming hole maintains a year-round temp of a cool 68 degrees, though, on a hot Austin day, nothing feels better. The pool does get quite busy in the summertime though, so come early if it’s going to be a nice day. Entry fees range from $3-8 for non-residents, so it’s not a huge commitment if you decide not to make a day of it. Outside food is not allowed inside either, so plan your meals accordingly.

If you’re not interested in a swim, try your hand at stand up paddleboarding, kayaking or canoeing along Barton Creek. Zilker Boats is a convenient place to rent from at reasonable rates. If you don’t fancy getting in the water, there are also plenty of hiking and biking trails in the park and along Lady Bird Lake.

Looking for something a little more low-key? The Zilker Botanical Garden offers a nice, calming place to relax as you wander the grounds. Kids will love hunting for faerie villages that are installed throughout the park during the summertime.

And of course, families with young children should definitely take a ride on the Zilker Zephyr. The miniature train takes you on a tour along Barton Creek and through the park on a quick 30 minute ride. Lines can get long as there’s limited seating on each train, so be sure to buy your tickets as early as you can, and plan to return at your specified ride time if there’s a wait. Luckily there’s is an uber-cool park nearby where you can easily kill some time while waiting for your ride.

[irp]

Experiencing the best of Austin, Texas in just 48 hours. // Austin TX | ATX | Texas Road Trip | Travel with Kids | Family Travel | 2 Day Itinerary | Things to Do | What to See | Where to Eat | Best Food | South Congress | Zilker Park | Texas Capitol | Weird Austin | Austin Murals

Early Dinner at the Trailer Park

After a busy day at the park, you’ll likely be ready to eat! End your day with a casual dinner, Austin style. Food trucks are a staple in Austin, and you’ll find them on corners all over town, not just parked along the side of the road, but in actual trailer parks that have become their permanent home. Some of Austin’s best eats can be found at these food trucks!

Two of the most well-known parks are Barton Springs Picnic (on Barton Springs Road near Zilker Park), and the South Austin Trailer Park on South 1st. Take a look at the offerings (each is home to about 6-7 different food trucks) and see which strikes your fancy. The best part of a trailer park dinner is you can try foods from a few different places at once!

25 Family-Friendly Things to Do in Austin, Texas

Day 2

Texas State Capitol & Hope Outdoor Gallery

Start your day 2 off with a little Texas history as you visit the Texas State Capitol building. A tour of the building is quick (and free!) and the grounds are fun to stroll. Then hop over to the Hope Outdoor Gallery on the west side of downtown. The outdoor graffiti walls are a great spot for a few photos (just leave your spray paint at home; the walls are meant to be reserved for approved artists, not visitors).

Lunch at Torchy’s Tacos

You can’t visit Austin without tasting an epic taco or two! Austin has many spots that are highly regarded as having the best tacos in town, but Torchy’s (while now a chain) is still a local favorite. Head to their location on South Congress for a diverse sampling (or, try their original food truck location on South 1st). Oh, and ordering some queso on the side is also a MUST.

Shop South Congress

After your belly is full of tacos, spend the next couple of hours strolling the weird and wacky South Congress Avenue. Along the way, you’ll find plenty of eclectic shops like the infamous Lucy in Disguise with Diamonds and Uncommon Objects, but also some more practical shops with Austin, Texas flair like Co-Star and Parts & Labour. On the north end of South Congress, stop outside Jo’s Coffee and snap a picture in front of the “I Love You So Much” mural.

[irp]

Experiencing the best of Austin, Texas in just 48 hours. // Austin TX | ATX | Texas Road Trip | Travel with Kids | Family Travel | 2 Day Itinerary | Things to Do | What to See | Where to Eat | Best Food | South Congress | Zilker Park | Texas Capitol | Weird Austin | Austin Murals

Dinner at Licha’s Cantina

Finally, after experiencing South Congress, head over to East Austin for some authentic Mexican fare. I have a thing for restaurants inside converted old homes, so Licha’s Cantina was a must on my list.

Whether you’re enjoying the bright front yard patio, or eating in the bungalow’s old living room, you’ll be impressed with this creative Mexican food which finds its origins in interior Mexico (Mexico City, to be exact). Staples on the menu like Sopecitos and Huaraches are unlike anything I’ve ever tried before, and the $5 Happy Hour makes eating and drinking here for under $30 extremely doable.

Before leaving the east side, find a few more of those famous murals, like “You’re My Butter Half’ on Martin Luther King Jr Blvd or “Living the Good Life” on Cesar Chavez.

Then go ahead and relish in the fact that you just powered through the best of Austin, Texas in just 48 hours!

25 Family-Friendly Things to Do in Austin, Texas

Where would you go for the perfect weekend in Austin?

Read Next: 8 Awesomely Weird Things to Do in Austin

Liked this Post? Pin It!

Experiencing the best of Austin, Texas in just 48 hours. // Austin TX | ATX | Texas Road Trip | Travel with Kids | Family Travel | 2 Day Itinerary | Things to Do | What to See | Where to Eat | Best Food | South Congress | Zilker Park | Texas Capitol | Weird Austin | Austin Murals

Freebies!

SIGN UP FOR OUR WEEKLY
NEWSLETTER AND GET FAMILY TRAVEL TIPS AND INSPIRATION SENT STRAIGHT TO YOUR INBOX!

(As a special bonus for subscribers, you’ll also receive access to our free travel resource library.)

Reader Interactions