Hotspots in Austin, TX
Known as an experiential destination hotel and recent winner of Treehugger's 2010 Best of Green Award for "Best Resort", this newly renovated, eco-conscious campus-style property, located on 210 acres of the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve, offers a nature-inspired retreat centered around five core pillars: adventure, culinary, culture, fitness and spa. Guests of the contemporary western flair decorated, 70 room property are encouraged to choose their own Texas-themed schedule of activities, ranging from equine experiences to locally themed cooking demos, to accompany their accommodations. In addition to the highlights like The Spa at Travaasa, on-property yoga studio and organic, farm-to-table style cuisine, an exceptional point of interest to this feel-good locale, is the infinity-edge pool which overlooks Lake Travis.
Arguably one of the most iconic destinations in Austin, Barton Springs Pool epitomizes fun in the sun. On average, this spring-fed pool is a chilly 68 degrees, perfect for Texas heat. Gently sloping grass knolls surround this urban pool, allowing for sunbathing and lounging. The vibe here is friendly and it is not uncommon for an impressive dive off the diving board — be it the graceful arc of a talented athlete or the humble plop of a young kid — to earn the applause of the watching crowd. A large part of the 1,000 feet pool has a natural bottom (read: seaweed-like grass) so floats and noodles are a good idea. Barton Springs Pool is closed every Thursday from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m. for maintenance.
If Texas cities were siblings, Austin would be the granola-crunching, hippie sister. Eco-friendly salons enjoy a rabid following here, but what makes Paloma Botanical Beauty Parlor stand out is its marriage of organics and high-level aesthetics. The space itself is part hair salon, part skin/massage clinic, part alternative art gallery, with owners (and lovebirds) Evette Richards and Levi Dugat at the helm. Raised by organically-minded parents, Evette now carries only paraben-free, sulfate-free skin products, many hand-mixed right here in town, and happily writes clients their very own skin prescriptions. Antique furniture, mod photography, and poetry grace the walls of this Mueller District hideaway, giving visitors a different kind of luxury – stimulating imagination, in addition to pores and hair follicles.
A room with a view is the mindset behind this charming boutique hotel located near Lake Travis. Each of the 44 guest rooms situated in one of three themed villas, the South, Central or East Texas, has an open-aired view, most with balconies, that faces the sunset. The décor in each villa has the distinct aesthetic of a homey living room, complete with custom-designed duvets and portrait art that ranges from rustic to Victorian. After your relaxing night's sleep, kick back with a morning cup of coffee and a buffet style Hill Country breakfast in the South Texas Dining Room. The picture perfect spot for a family getaway or romantic rendezvous, the property is also a fan favorite for destination weddings.
This small, unassuming park nestled in the Clarksville neighborhood provides dogs and owners the chance to socialize in a comfortable fenced-in area. Unlike other dog parks in the city, West Austin provides seating and even a few tables, which makes for a relaxing experience. Because the pups are contained, it is easier to talk to fellow owners while keeping tabs on your animal. The park is shaded, which is essential in the hotter months. Spending time in this park reminds you of the best qualities of both dogs and Austin — it’s nothing but friendly, welcoming and fun.
If every dog goes to heaven then surely Red Bud Isle acts as a preview. This peninsula jutting out into Town Lake is practically run by canines. Walk down the wide trail and dogs excitedly scamper in front of you as they chase one another to the lake. Owners tend to mill around the water’s edge, either getting in to cool off right along with their pets or to supervise their animals going aquatic. Feeling adventurous? Pack the pups into a canoe and row your way there. Is your dog not fond of swimming? No matter — Red Bud has plenty of side trails to explore for land-loving breeds.
Since 1970, Book People has been Austin’s top independent purveyor of literature. A top stop on book tours, Book People has a wide selection of signed books for sale for those who missed out on the appearances. Book People takes kid literacy so seriously, they started a literary camp that immerses young readers into the worlds of their favorite books like “Percy Jackson & the Olympians.” For teens, Book People has a Teen Book Club featuring hot hits in the young adult genre as well as a few classics. The store also expanded their mystery section into a shop within the shop - making it a hub of information and events for the Mystery People of Austin.
Imagine this: a quaint Craftsman style house, a leafy garden and chickens clucking in their pen. While it may sound like the opening of a classic American novel, it is in fact the perfect setting to enjoy a tasty meal in Austin. Eastside Café reminds us that it’s important to know the origins of our food. The restaurant has a lush organic garden in the backyard and also uses veggies from its very own farm a few blocks away. Fresh eggs from the chickens on-site makes this restaurant’s brunch worth an early wakeup call. Try house favorites eggs benedict, migas or Belgian waffles for brunch. For the lunch or dinner hour, the baked brie with apple chutney, meatloaf, crisp salads and crepes come highly recommended.
No local dessert guide would be complete without a chocolate tip-off, right? For Austin, the top contender is Miles of Chocolate, whose cocoa-laced confections are so highly in demand, you can find them anywhere. Well, almost anywhere: Look for them at Texas’ largest grocery store chain, H-E-B, as well as its fancier, upscale cousin, Central Market. Founder Miles Compton begins each recipe with liberal amounts of butter, and ends with a secret chocolate mixture, added to the pots while the lights are out – because the chocolate is just that sensitive. The result is chocolate that’s almost ganache-like in its softness, and coats your entire tongue in rich, sweet decadence. It’s enough to make even the staunchest vegan weak in the knees.
For corporate birthday celebrations in Austin, it’s not uncommon for breakfast tacos to replace cake. Even the New York Times has cited Austin as the best American city to enjoy this Texan food staple. One of the most eclectic and fun places to enjoy a breakfast taco is Maria’s Taco Xpress. From the plaster half bust of Maria herself adorning the top of the building to the seemingly endless collection of random objects nailed to the walls and hanging from the ceilings, Maria’s keeps it weird and delicious.