Austin in One Day

September 30, 2022

Recently, a dear friend came to visit me in Austin, TX. I had exactly one day to convince him to move to the city.

I wanted to hit as many tourist-y Austin-y spots as possible, so this is exactly what we did, in this order (starting around 6am on a Friday).

1. Mt. Bonnell

The trail at Mt. Bonnell is short, and will only take you a few minutes – but it gives you a great view of the river facing West. Note that we came here to see the sunrise, and quickly realized that we're complete idiots. (I would recommend stop #3 below for sunrise!)

2. The Overlook at The Oasis

I've heard the food at The Oasis is mediocre, if even that. We didn't bother to stop there for food – instead we went in the early morning (while it was closed) and stole the view for free.

And damn, is it a good view!

A black and white photo of a man with a Lake Travis behind him

Not me, it's my friend. Why would you want to see me?

A photo of a man with a Lake Travis behind him

Not me, it's my friend. Why would you want to see me?

Quick, are we in Texas or California?

Sunrise over a bunch of trees and expensive homes

West Austin is essentially an embedded California.

3. Pennybacker Bridge Overlook

This overlook gives you the river, the bridge, the city, and an ominous-looking tree (that looks like it could be a part of a biblical story) all in one view.

Of course, I didn't take a picture of the bridge. Or the tree.

A river winding through trees, eventually leading to downtown Austin in the distance

Dreamy and creamy.

Instead, you get another picture of my "dear" friend. (There will be a lot of those.)

A man standing on a rocky surface in front of the river, with the city in the background

Also dreamy.

4. Mozart's Coffee Roasters

A fantastic coffee shop on the water, usually with some live tunes, dogs, and Christmas lights in the winter.

We also overhead a dad tell his daughter that this was a "tourist trap". And if it is, then happily trapped I am. (I just wouldn't recommend visiting on the weekends.)

5. Barton Creek

A man hiking through the trees near Barton Creek

Great walks/hikes around here, but we didn't make it too far before moving on to the next thing... which was...

6. Barton Springs

Very popular, but yes, I absolutely love Barton Springs.

A man holding onto the ledge of the pool at Barton Springs, with the city in the background

7. Upper McKinney Falls

McKinney Falls State Park park is nice to visit, but I'm not sure I'd camp there. I think I've been spoiled by Door County, WI.

Nonetheless, the watering hole at the upper falls is nice! Just be careful about jumping off the rocks into the water – there's one specific spot where the water is deep enough, but I wouldn't bet on myself making it.

A series of large rocks with a small pond in the middle, with a man swimming in it

The warm water felt like pee, after coming from the ice-cold Barton Springs.

8. Kayaking Downtown

There's a handful of kayak/paddle-board rentals along the river. This boathouse proved to be pretty nice!

Interestingly, the employees told me the building would be torn down within a handful of years, to make way a new metro train line. Considering the facility is practically brand new (and very nice), that's a shame. Like, couldn't have been a shitty old boathouse that gets torn down?

Anyways, here's photos from kayaking (not on the fancy camera).

Kayaking in downtown Austin with the city skyline in the background

We ended up traversing some of Barton Creek, which has a bridge (you can see in the distance) where people often jump off into the water (for fun, to clarify).

Kayaking near downtown Austin up a small creek surrounded by trees

9. Rainey Street

Now we're getting into the night life!

Rainey Street is a cool place to be, but there's a lot of construction right now as it becomes an extension of downtown. Just a block away is a new building that is slated to be the tallest in the state of Texas, at seventy-something floors. The construction worker told me it that it's going to wrap up in 2026.

The whole Rainey Street district has transformed light lightning over the last number of years, and continues to do so. That would be one heck of a time-lapse, if anyone were able to put that together.

10. 6th Street, West

The west side of 6th street has a pocket of nice bars among other things. If you start on this side, and travel east – you'll pass through some quiet business districts, until you get to...

11. 6th Street, East

The east side. (I picked a random bar for the link above.)

Here, the street is packed, and stressful. Later at night, bouncers will yell at you telling you how cheap their margs are. It's a different vibe, for sure.

Also, not sure why, but you can always find people handling big snakes out on the street every weekend night.

12. Elephant Room

We ended the night at the Elephant Room, one of the best jazz clubs and one of my favorite spots in the city.

It's not as cool as The Green Mill, which I used to live next to in Chicago, but it ain't bad at all. I'm sure I'll end a lot of nights there.


And there you have it, my stupid-ass little blog post about taking my friend around town, alongside some cool photos.

I don't actually think he'll move here, but it was a good day.