A Day WELL Spent in Austin
Austin, Texas, has become my family’s summer home-away-from-home for the past three years. While work and ballet training initially brought us here, it’s the culture, the kind people and let’s be honest, the unmatched tacos, that keep us coming back for more. Because our trips are not just vacations, finding healthy places to eat on the daily was a priority, as was finding ways to stay cool in the hottest months of the year. With tips from the locals and personal experience, we are here to share where to eat, shop and stay cool for a Day WELL Spent in the city of Austin.
Whether you are working remotely on a weekday or living into the weekend, getting yourself to Radio Coffee & Bar is a must. It’s often the first place we go and the last place we stop before heading to the airport for home! A couple of food trucks have set up permanently here too, and the one we can’t get out of our heads and hearts is Veracruz All Natural. Order their vegetarian migas breakfast taco made with eggs, tortilla chips, tomatoes, onions, cilantro and cheese on a hand-made tortilla. If you like it hot, do not skip the magical green chile sauce.
While you wait (and there will be a wait after 8 a.m., so no sleeping in!), get your nitro cold brew or morning mug of Stumptown coffee from Radio. Whether you stay to work on the porch, return later in the day for live music or head out to the next destination, you should know there is kombucha on tap and a long list of beers as well.
Next up, grab your water bottle and get in some activity before the day heats up. The Colorado River runs through the heart of downtown Austin. Park and find the Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail + Boardwalk at Lady Bird Lake or try the Town Lake Trail Loop for three miles—both give you full views of the river and city.
If you are looking to cool down now or later, Austin local Carly Farmer from Branch Basics recommends Texas Rowing Center for kayaks and paddle boards. My kids also love visiting Barton Springs Pool, a three-acre long natural limestone pool, and they pack a pair of water shoes in their suitcase for this activity only.
Get your walking shoes back on or grab a Bird or Lime and ride down South Congress for one-of-a-kind shops and restaurants. Make your first stop Creatures Boutique where the welcoming staff will give you a heart-to-heart on bags, clothing and jewelry makers, and offer info on craftsmanship and artists, both inside and outside of Austin. You too may walk away more committed than ever to buying with intention, a new list of artists you’ll want to follow in your back pocket.
Continue your stroll up Congress, popping in and out of shops to cool off, and if you haven’t found a treasure yet, make Parts & Labour your last—but not least—shop to get to. You’ll find Austin shirts, and souvenirs you actually wish someone would bring you home, as well as clothing and art to inspire your home and personal style.
It might be noon but this bar is appropriately named June’s All Day, and you’re going to want to step into this gem for a bite or beverage, or both. If you’re traveling solo, take a seat at the marble bar and ask for the rosé menu or the bartender’s recommendation. If you have a group, they’ll gather their copper bistro tables for you or seat you on their misted patio, which somehow keeps you cool but not wet. Although the fried chicken sandwiches and delicious desserts looked remarkable, I was able to find a fantastic gluten-free smoked salmon Nicoise salad that has inspired my summer eating ever since. There’s something for everyone at June’s.
Cross the street and make your way to your appointment (hint: do this ahead of time!) at Tenoverten for a mani, pedi, sugar scrub, eye care or waxing service.
One of the first things you notice upon walking into the gorgeous and minimally designed toxic-free nail salon is the scent—or I should say the lack thereof. You won’t find a harsh chemical smell to be had and the ambiance will immediately put you at ease. The Tenoverten brand began in the Tribeca neighborhood in New York but hosts six locations throughout New York City, Los Angeles and Austin.
In addition to using and selling their eight-free nail polish and toxin-free nail care products, you can pick up other beauty products and gifts like One-Love Organics, Davids toothpaste, and many other brands you know and love.
Before you head back, step out of Tenoverten’s doors and look around the beauty of the South Congress Hotel. Through the connecting patio is a coffee shop called Mañana where you’ll find the best iced matcha with a touch of house-made syrup, or vegan banana bread cookie to go.
On your way back up the South side of Congress, you’ll see the likes of Toms with a porch swing, coffee shop and shoes for the whole family, and the Warby Parker retail store where you can try on the latest styles in person and grab a picture in their photo booth.
Take a drive across town for your last meal of the day. If you find eating out a challenge with health and food-related illnesses, Picnik will be your dinner dream come true. Having started as a food trailer, they specialized in gluten-free breakfast and lunch options, bone broth and butter coffee.
Picnik’s popularity grew quickly, and they created their brick and mortar restaurant on Burnet Road to follow. It’s a favorite for any meal of the day and will make a believer in whole foods out of any kind of eater. The menu is free of soy, corn and gluten for starters. They also focus on local and ethical sourcing of ingredients, from their plant-focused cocktails and spirits to meats and desserts. You’ll find an entire menu of the most delicious, nutritious, ethical and satiating foods that will not only feel good physically but will also inspire you to eat real food in your everyday life.
Want more WELL days and city tours? Check out our full series!