Launch A Downtown Austin Adventure From Either Side Of Lady Bird Lake

The central city boasts a wide array of hotels and restaurants.

By Judy McDonough & Marika FlattMay 17, 2018 9:30 am| ,

When it comes to a big Texas city like Austin, there are lots of ways to explore it. One way is to focus all your energy on the center of the city.

The Hyatt Regency Austin on Barton Springs Road is technically across the lake from what many people consider downtown, but that means it offers lovely views of Austin’s skyline, as well as the Congress Avenue Bridge bats. The four-star hotel has recently redesigned guest rooms, complimentary Wi-Fi, a Starbucks in the lobby and two well-regarded restaurants, Marker 10 and Southwest Bistro.

If you step outside, you’ll run right into Capital Cruises. You can rent standup paddle boards, kayaks, and even swan-shaped paddle boats to enjoy Lady Bird Lake. It’s a great way to get a completely different perspective of the city. I recommend paddling or pedaling all the way over to see Barton Springs pool.

South Congress or “SoCo” is a good place to find a bite to eat. Try lunch at Guero’s. The building was once a seed and feed store and became the taqueria that it is today back in 1995. Often, there’s live music on the patio with no cover charge. Their tacos Al Pastor, homemade tortillas, and salsa bar are tried-and-true favorites.

Back across the lake is another good lunch option: Flower Child on 2nd Street. I love their avocado hummus for starters followed by the mother earth bowl, which is healthy and delicious. Using locally sourced ingredients, they create beautiful dishes that you don’t feel guilty about indulging in

When it comes to nightlife, Rainey Street is the hippest kid on the block. It also offers another great hotel option – Hotel Van Zandt. A stay there includes a complimentary happy hour with margaritas on the rocks or Texas beer and wine. You can also enjoy a meal on the fourth floor at Geraldine’s, open for breakfast lunch and dinner, and brunch on the weekends with either a DJ or jazz. I love their tapas menu with small plates like the short rib egg roll with marsala mushroom, hibiscus cucumber and fried egg aioli – the perfect blend of big flavor and crunch. Start out with their signature 24 karat magic cocktail while you peruse the menu. And for dessert try the scotch & cigar, which isn’t scotch or a cigar at all, only shaped like them. It’s a butterscotch mousse, a hazelnut chocolate cigar, with scotch caramel and cocoa pear.

You can learn more about these and other Texas destinations in the travel issue of Texas Lifestyle magazine.