The Ultimate Way to Spend a Day in Austin, Texas

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Whether you’re visiting Austin or still getting acquainted, I’ve put together a short list of my very favorite spots for a day and night well-spent (guaranteed).

Here is how to spend a day in Austin:

Eats & Drinks

With Kids – Hat Creek Burger Company

Melanie Applegate Photography

You guys! This place is amazing. And they’ve got locations all over Austin (Burnet, Georgetown, Domain Rock Rose, Round Rock, Westlake, Lakeway, Buda and Dripping Springs). Even better, each one has an impressive playscape so the kids can go wild while you enjoy one of the very best burgers (even veggie!) in town. Don’t worry, there’s plenty of local draft beer to be had. Oh – the kids will LOVE the milkshakes. It’s the perfect spot to enjoy lunch with the kids.

Date Night – Uchi

Melanie Applegate Photography

Uchi hands-down tops my list for best special occasion restaurant in Austin. And, I’m not the only one – it’s highly acclaimed. You’ll find it located just south of downtown along the city’s bustling South Lamar. Try to make a reservation month ahead of time if possible. If you’re not able to, there’s still a chance you can get a table with a wait. I follow a mostly vegan diet, but my husband loves Sushi – he says Uchi is the best he’s ever had. We are usually there for hours! The ambiance is dark and intimate. I love that there are so many options for both of us. It’s not easy to find a Sushi spot that will accommodate my diet as well, so that’s pretty amazing (their Brussels Sprouts keep me coming back). The service is always top-notch. And the drinks… outta the park. Dinner at Uchi is an all-around incredible experience. Treat yourself!

Stay Cool Indoors

the COOP

Melanie Applegate Photography

Let’s face it. Austin gets HOT. Like, “Are we sure we don’t want to move away from this blazing place?” hot (don’t worry – that thought only lasts from August through October). So, finding a place to entertain the kids and chill out is at times an absolute must. There’s an awesome new place called the COOP. It’s super clean and has everything the kids need to have a great time. There’s a gigantic ball pit, an electric Lightspace game and dance floor, rope climbing tube, a reading area, dress-up items, teepee with bean bag, coloring books and more. And for the parents – a full espresso bar, selection of lifestyle magazines and a large covered patio with a big-screen television so you can relax while you keep an eye on the littles. I took my daughter this afternoon and she can’t wait to go back and slide into that incredible ball pit again!

Culture, Music and Arts

Austin City Limits Live at The Moody Theater

Melanie Applegate Photography

Throw culture, music and art together and what do you get? ACL Moody Theater pie. Iconic? Check. It serves as the permanent home for the taping of the acclaimed KLRU-TV produced PBS series, Austin City Limits, the longest-running music series in American television history. It’s nestled next to The W Austin Hotel & Residences. Some of the most well-known musicians have graced this stage and each considers it an honor. Tickets for their PBS tapings aren’t sold – rather given away so you have to get lucky (you can enter to win online a week or two before the show) for that, but you can buy tickets to the regular shows. I love this space because it’s what I would consider an intimate venue; there isn’t a bad seat in the house. Standing on the floor is my favorite because I get to be up-close-and-personal with the stars. I’ve seen Gary Clark Jr., Billy Currington, Brett Eldredge and Willie Nelson here. Blows me away every time.

Become One with Nature

Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail at Lady Bird Lake

Melanie Applegate Photography

I moved to Austin in 2005 and quickly fell in love with this trail. Located in the heart of downtown, it meanders along the water’s edge and passes ballparks, cultural attractions, and the ever-changing skyline. This 10-mile trail is Austin’s most popular and recognized recreational area. You’ll see anything from serious runners training in groups, moms pushing strollers and seniors slow-strolling to kiddos zipping around on their bikes. For me, running this trail has become such a deeply personal experience. It’s not only a place I go to exercise but a place where I can face challenges head-on. The miles go by quickly for me, as my mind is usually racing through a million thoughts. Some runs are spent working through really difficult struggles while others are spent brainstorming ways to breathe new life into my relationships or business. Either way, by the end of it, I always feel restored and alive, at peace.

Take a Dip

Barton Springs Pool

Melanie Applegate Photography

If the sun is out in Austin, Texas, you can bet the grassy hills along Barton Springs Pool will be filled with folks from all walks of life sprawled out, some under the oak trees and others soaking up the rays (except for when they’re closed for cleaning on Thursdays). Located within Zilker Park and measuring three acres in size, Barton Springs Pool is fed from an underground spring and has an average temperature of 60-70 degrees. Since it’s also home to the endangered Barton Springs Salamander, it’s listed as a federally protected habitat. You can’t bring in food or alcohol, but you’ll probably want to remember a bottle of water, sunscreen, and a towel. The kids (and you!) will love to jump in off the super-bouncy diving board. It’s a great place for all ages to enjoy the outdoors and beat the heat at the same time.

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