Travel

4 MINUTE READ

A luxury 48 hours in Austin

Words by Keven Amfo

08 March 2024

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Experience the best of Texas – barbecue, rodeo, Tex-Mex, and swimming holes – during this weekend in the state’s capital.

A liberal enclave in the heart of otherwise conservative Texas – the USA's biggest state – Austin is a unique city that marches to the beat of its own drum. Abiding by the slogan 'Keep Austin Weird', this southern state offers much in the way of food – from perfect Texas barbecue to some of the best Tex-Mex, eating is definitely a highlight of visiting Austin. Culture abounds as well, with tons of live music and festivals as well as world-class museums; this is a city break in which much can be experienced in a short amount of time. Here are our recommendations for a weekend in the Texan capital.

Day one

Make Commodore Perry Estate your stately home during your stay. The luxurious hotel and members' club is the deserving recipient of many awards; part of the Auberge Resorts Collection, you can expect top-to-bottom stellar service. During your action-packed weekend, factor in some time to explore the formal gardens and relax by the pool. We recommend splurging on the expansive Mr and Mrs Perry's Suite – incredibly spacious and perfectly decorated, it truly feels like a home away from home.

Delve straight into the best of the best: Tex-Mex. Austin is known for having amazing food, and one of the highlights is Joe's Bakery. For over 75 years, this institution has been a staple for Austinites. Open for breakfast and lunch, they serve some of the best breakfast tacos in the city; order three or four to enjoy with your bottomless cup of coffee in the relaxed diner-style setting. 

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(L) Commodore Perry Estate | (R) Joe's Bakery - established over 75 years ago.

Strolling towards downtown, pop into By George for a bit of shopping. Featuring seasonal collections of menswear, womenswear, homewares, and beauty from the world's top luxury brands alongside pieces by smaller designers, there is something for everyone. The shop is airy and beautifully merchandised, with personal shoppers to help if you're looking for something more specific. 

Just down the street – and not far from the world's very first Whole Foods, which is worth a quick visit – West Chelsea Contemporary is an atypical gallery showcasing contemporary art of all types by global artists. On until 24th March, a solo show by UK artist Gary James McQueen (the nephew of Alexander Lee McQueen) presents striking new work: straddling the boundary between art and technology, his signature skulls draw upon classic techniques and interpret them through a futuristic lens. The Talisman Skulls series is inspired by Tibetan culture, featuring goldtone skulls created using 3D technology.

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(L) Gary James McQueen exhibition at West Chelsea Contemporary gallery | (R) Kintsugi Skull by Gary James McQueen in the The Talisman Skulls series

Weather permitting, head across the Colorado River to Barton Springs. The creekside spring-fed pool in Zilker Park maintains a consistently warm temperature year-round and, at three acres in size, offers ample space to swim surrounded by trees and verdant hills. Want to keep swimming? Deep Eddy, a public swimming hole, is another popular place to take a dip – plus, you can grab a bite from the adjacent Pool Burger. This retro eatery serves fantastic burgers, fries, and ice cream from an Airstream trailer, plus delicious tiki drinks using fresh juices; we love the Hurricane.

Finish the day at Clark's Oyster Bar. This treasured restaurant serves ultra-fresh seafood – it's our preferred place to indulge in crab cakes, oysters, shrimp cocktails, and perfect lobster rolls. Save some room for dessert: the Key lime tart is light and luscious.

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(R) Pool Burger | (L) Clark's Oyster Bar

Day two

Begin your second day with brunch at Elizabeth's Café, a stylish French-Vietnamese neighbourhood restaurant. It is bright and inviting, with customers of all types lingering over cups of strong Vietnamese coffee, breakfast Bánh Mì with eggs, and French pastries (plus beignets – there is a sister restaurant in New Orleans).

The focal point of this day is practically a prerequisite for visiting Texas: Rodeo Austin. This equestrian sport consists of several elemental competitions across several weeks this March. We recommend attending as many events as possible to absorb the authentic feel of this distinctive pastime, which originated in Mexico and evolved from the tasks of cattle ranching. Accompanying the official competitions are concerts, tailgate parties, carnival rides and barbecue cookouts.

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(L) Elizabeth's Café | (R) Rodeo Austin

Capitalising on the city's beloved 'Keep Austin Weird' slogan, the Museum of the Weird is unlike any other. Expect to see oddities and kitsch related to Bigfoot, county fair memorabilia, a fortune teller, and more strange and enticing pieces. This small museum is quintessentially Austin, an objectively strange destination that – somehow – fits naturally in the city's centre.

Top off your day with another Texan must-do – the enjoyment of barbecue. Franklin Barbecue is considered one of the world's best, so be prepared to wait… many of the regulars come ready to persevere in the sometimes-hours-long queue with a collapsible chair. Better yet, place your order in advance. If you wait, though, we promise it will be worth it. The brisket is super tender, the sides are perfectly seasoned, and the pies are (somewhat unexpectedly!) great – Ruby's Dang Pie is our favourite, a moreish blend of pineapple and coconut that is fresh yet indulgent.

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Franklin Barbecue

Think you’ve seen it all? Think again. Our global network of dedicated travel specialists plans one-of-a-kind, tailor-made travel experiences to make every trip your best yet. Find out more about Quintessentially Travel here.

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Keven Amfo

Keven is a writer, editor, and creative living between London and NYC – she's been the Global Editor of Noted since 2019. She is passionate about luxury in its myriad forms, and commissions, writes, and edits many of our features.

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