The Texas capital of Austin is one of the most vibrant cities in America with a unique character and a diverse set of entertainment options for golfers and non-golfers alike. No matter whether you tee it up or not in Austin, you'll need someplace to stay, eat and drink while in town.
In Part 2 of my Austin destination guide, we tackle all your off-the-course needs: eating, sleeping and, of course, a little drinking.
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Where to stay in Austin: Best hotels and resorts
- If you want to play the Barton Creek courses, which are undoubtedly the area’s best, you’ll have to be a guest of the Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa. The lavish resort is located 10 miles west of downtown, so it isn’t the most practical location for those who want to experience Austin’s famed live music scene. However, what it lacks in cultural attractions it no doubt makes up for in amenities. In addition to the golf, guests can enjoy four distinct dining options, a sprawling pool, numerous hiking trails and a world-class spa.
- The granddaddy of Austin hotels, the Driskill is located in the heart of downtown, with all the opulent charm and character befitting of a historic Texan hotel. Built in 1886 by a local cattle baron, the iconic hotel is within close walking distance of numerous attractions, as well as many of the city’s best bars and restaurants. If you’re feeling adventurous, ask for Room 525, which is said to be haunted by Colonel Driskill himself.
- For a more low-key stay, check out the Hotel San Jose on South Congress Avenue. Despite being located on one of the city’s busiest blocks, the hotel’s walled compound offers guests staying in its bungalow-style rooms a sense of tranquility among the hustle and bustle. The hotel is also pet-friendly, in case you can’t bear to leave your furry friend at home.
Where to eat in Austin: Best restaurants
- Southern comfort food meets modern technique at Olamaie, a charming restaurant tucked between downtown and the University of Texas campus. The menu is so chock-full of delights that it’s impossible to go wrong, but one item that never fails to please are the biscuits with honey butter. A private dining area is available for larger groups.
- If you think Central Texas is the last place to look for good sushi, you’d better think again and check out Uchi, where you’ll find some of the country’s best fish, along with other Japanese delicacies. Every single dish at this swanky south Austin restaurant is a wakeup call to the taste buds, all paired with an impeccable sake and wine list. Check out happy hour from 5-6:30 daily for incredible deals.
- No list of Austin restaurants would be complete without some of the city’s world-famous barbecue. While the 5-hour lines at Franklin get all the press, those in the know, including First Lady Michelle Obama, head just down the street to Micklethwait Craft Meats. The trailer is selling its tender brisket, delicious sausages and outstanding ribs at the tournament this week, so its under-the-radar status may officially be a thing of the past, but it’s still worth the trek to this eccentric East Austin spot for some of the finest barbecue you’ll ever taste.
Where to drink in Austin: Best bars
- Head to the Warehouse District for tiki-themed cocktails without the kitsch at Isla. The atmosphere is more Hemingway than Senor Frog’s, and you could spend an evening just admiring the vintage art that adorns the walls, which also happen to be covered in Cuban murals. Head next door to their sister bar, Peche, for delicious French fare and libations, including an absinthe milkshake with house-made ice cream that will knock your socks off.
- On the southeastern edge of downtown is Rainey Street, a stretch of century-old houses that have been turned into bars that make you feel like you’ve stumbled upon the world’s coolest house parties. My favorite spot is Banger’s, a German-style beer garden with over 100 brews on tap, half of which are always rotating. The outdoor spot is a favorite of young and old alike, and the weekend always means great live music, usually bluegrass.
- If you want to work on your game and your buzz at the same time, head up to TopGolf in northwest Austin. The innovative bar/driving range chain is popping up across the US, and the Austin location is one of its most popular, so be prepared for a wait if you come during peak hours. The bar is popular with tour pros and celebrities when they’re in town, with Jordan Spieth choosing it as the location to unveil his new Under Armour shoe yesterday.
Ravi Coutinho is a contributor at Golf News Net and the founder of Worldwide Golf Adventures, a golf travel company based in Austin, TX that offers dream vacations to the world's top golf destinations.