Sunday before last, the New York Times featured Austin in their “36 hours” feature in the travel section. I’ve lived in Austin for almost 30 years, and I’d never heard of many of the places listed, and most of the ones I had heard of are newish hipster hangouts whose doorsteps no self-respecting Austinite would darken. The feature should have been titled, “36 Hours in Austin Hanging with the New Residents Long-Time Residents Wish Would Go Back To Wherever They Came From.” For the serious visitor, here’s how to spend 36 hours in Austi
3 p.m. The Driskill Hotel
Forget the boutique hotels on South Congress, the Driskill has been here since the 1800s and, more importantly, it has ghosts. After you check in, have a drink (anything with whiskey will do) in the bar and enjoy the taxidermy.
6 p.m. Central Market
Stop by Central Market for a selection of local craft beer to enjoy with your dinner (The Midway is BYOB.) I recommend anything from Adelbert’s. They invoke a sense of adventure with names like The Philosophizer and Scratchin’ Hippo. An hour may seem like a long time to stop for beer, but you’ll be in the middle of rush hour traffic.
7 p.m. The Midway
The best food trucks that stay in one place in town. Pizza, burgers, tacos, barbeque, whatever. Kick back and enjoy the fresh air. End it all with a mini-cheese cake
9 p.m. The Broken Spoke
Imagine this honkytonk when it WASN’T bookended with condos. Two-step into the night. (And if you don’t know how to two-step, why are you even coming to Texas? Look it up on YouTube for heaven’s sake.)
7 a.m. Taco Deli
Grab a breakfast taco to eat while you wait in line at Franklin’s.
7:30 a.m. Franklin’s Barbeque
It might seem crazy to spend four hours waiting in line for barbeque when you only have 36, but you’ll be glad you did. Not only is it the best barbeque on the planet, it’s the best way to gain an understanding of the egalitarian nature of Austin. EVERYONE stands in line. Ask Kanye.
1 p.m. Austin Pets Alive
Go to the Rufftail Runners desk and check out a dog to walk around Ladybird Johnson Lake. You’ll need to work off that brisket. Of course, you could walk alone, but that’s not how we do it here. We take our mutts everywhere.
3 p.m. Antonelli’s Cheese Shop
Grab some cheese, meats, olives, condiments, and crackers for a picnic.
4 p.m. Driftwood Estate Winery
Don’t bother with a tasting. Get a bottle of Alamo Red or Starry Nights or both, and stake out a spot to enjoy the view and your picnic.
8 p.m. See a play or a movie
Check the schedules. The best little theaters in Austin are Hyde Park and Salvage Vanguard. The best places to see movies are the Paramount (classic film series) or the Alamo Ritz (lots of special screenings).
11 p.m. Firehouse Hostel and Lounge
Before heading back to the Driskill, stop across the street at this little bar for a nightcap. The entrance is hidden inside the hostel, behind the bookcase. How cool is that?
10 a.m. Fonda San Miguel
Enjoy brunch at this beautiful restaurant that serves interior Mexican food (reservations required). I’m not sure when they first opened, but it was here when we arrived in 1989.
12 p.m. Umlauf Sculpture Garden
Charles Umlauf headed the UT art school for many years, and when he and his wife died, they bequeathed their home near Zilker Park to the city for a sculpture garden. The most beautiful place in town to end your 36 hours in meditation.
If you’re asking yourself, “But aren’t all of these outdoor activities going to be too hot in the summer?”,,,you’re asking the wrong question. You should instead be asking, “Should I go to Portland or Seattle?”
And that, my friends, is the best way to spend 36 hours in Austin, Texas.