SXSW packs every single hotel room in Austin these days so many of you are probably staying in places you found on HomeAway, AirBnB or some other vacation rental site. Here are my recommendations for places to check out in five of the best neighborhoods for vacation rentals:


  1. Travis Heights

    Travis Heights includes the popular South Congress area. Have you heard that Austin is eclectic? A music city? The worst dressed? But known for being pet friendly, having more food trailers known to man and infamous of hike and bike trails? Get the full feel of Austin on SoCo. Besides eating, shopping can be had as well-vintage and unique boutiques: Stag, Maya Star, and definitely stop by Parts and Labour. EATS: Touristy: Home Slice or Guero’s Like a Local: Amy’s Ice Cream or food trailers Splurge: Vespaio or Perla’s My Pick: HopDoddy’s try the Terlingua!

  2. Barton Hills

    South Lamar is in the Barton Hills area and finding a home to rent for the weekend may be your best bet in this area. Bikes and foot are doable, but you may want a car or cab. You NEED Tex Mex in your life if you are visiting Austin. In this area you are too close to not visit Zilker Park and on a hot ass day--Barton Springs pool. EATS: Touristy: Matt’s El Rancho-get the Bob Armstrong dip! Splurge: Uchi or Barley Swine (be prepared to wait!) Like a Local: Maudie’s My pick: Opa’s, the Greek inspired coffee/wine bar.

  3. Downtown

    Downtown - Do you seek night life? Is the purpose of your trip to party, wine, dine, stumble back to your hotel. Tons of hotel options. In the day: The capitol is nice to walk and tour. Art and shows?! Find yourself on Congress again to visit the Paramount, Elephant Room or AMoMA, but you can find music picks in the Chronicle (free newspaper-see for shows to get lost). EATS: East: Touristy: Iron Cactus-sit upstairs on the patio, more action and people watching at night. Brunch: Moonshine My pick: Easy Tiger West: Splurge: Haddington’s My pick: Whole Foods is always my go to for short notice or wanting a “healthy” meal or when I can’t decide.

  4. Eastside

    Eastside - This quickly gentrifying part of Austin where you can still find a good deal comes with an interesting vibe. Do tattoos adorn your arm like a sleeve and street art tickle your fancy? East of I-35 is a good place to start. EATS: Tourist Must: East Side Kings (3 trailers total) but try the one at Liberty Bar first (Top Chef Paul Qui’s famous eatery) Like a Local: Juan in a Million (Sun morning especially) Splurge: Salty Sow or way further East to Justine’s (French and secluded) Brunch: Hoover’s My Pick: Takoba, on Onion and E 7th-excellent patio and vibe, love it on a pretty Sunday afternoon.

  5. The Domain - North Austin

    The Domain - Need something a little more mainstream? Or perhaps your “vacation” is work with an extra day in the city or two? If you must stay North, but need things to do, here’s where you go. Some recognizable chains yes, but if you love to shop, this may be the place for you! Eats: Touristy: North by Northwest (in house brews and a diverse menu) Like a Local: North (Italian, this chain is off the chain!) Splurge: Jasper’s Brunch: The Park.N. Sunday Funday. My Pick: Gloria’s, yes it is a chain, but the salsas, ambiance and margs for price are a great value.