Take an elevator up to the fourth floor of the hip new Hotel Van Zandt, and you’ll find Geraldine’s, a live music restaurant and bar. The buzzy, leather and brass-filled space opens up to the hotel’s rooftop pool, complete with a fireplace and private cabanas. Order a boozy Old Fashioned or a lighter Geraldines’ G&T (made with black peppercorn and cucumber) and recline in the lounge, until the nightly live music starts at 10pm.
About 25 minutes north west of Austin, tucked away in the hills surrounding Lake Travis, is Travaasa, a luxury resort and spa. Travaasa offers a packed activity list, and encourages guests to sign up for as many experiences as they like, including hikes, yoga, archery, and cooking classes. Those who avoid group activities can escape to the spa for a stone massage or purifying body wrap, then take a dip—a jaw-dropping infinity pool overlooks the mountains. After a soak, grab lunch or dinner at The Preserve Kitchen and Bar, where you can sip champagne and snack on Wagyu Sliders while taking in the Texas skyline.
Foreign & Domestic
If you visit Austin without dining at Foreign & Domestic you’ll leave with serious regret. The 47-seat neighborhood spot features classic dishes but with an out-of-the-box twist. The best seats are at the chef’s counter, where diners can watch the lively kitchen in action. Owner and Chef Ned Elliott grew up in Cincinnati, where he was raised by two women who taught him how to garden and cook. From his first $3.75 per hour kitchen job to cooking in prestigious New York City restaurants, he eventually opened Foreign & Domestic where he cooks food inspired by the dishes he grew up eating, mixed with his influence from experience working with French chefs. Order the split pea soup: the dish is topped with roasted pineapple, charred tofu, tarragon and paprika, a spicy and earthy combination that will make you forget every split pea soup you ate prior. The roasted day boat scallops are almost too pretty to eat. The tender scallops are accompanied by morels, English peas, pommes puree, chive oil and red wine are completely decadent. You won’t be disappointed by anything on your plate.
Skip the cheesy souvenir shops and head to Solid Gold, a little gem sitting in the developing arts district on the east side. Kate Friedman opened the store in 2006, as one of the first retailers in the neighborhood. The shop is committed to selling small label clothing, jewelry and home goods. Browse the array of delicate necklaces, breezy dresses (perfect for the hot Austin temperatures) and their gold-printed namesake tees.
Dai Due started as a part butcher stand, part supper club, and five years later opened a brick-and-mortar version dedicated to serving local, farmer’s market-focused food. The menu changes daily, so you could visit seven days in a row and have a completely different meal each time. Go for the supper club menu, $98 for two people, and share three courses. Each shared platter offers up the freshest bounty of vegetables, herbs, bread, seafood and meat. Be sure to order a bottle from their extensive list of Texas-made wines, and finish with a refreshing house-made soda.
Blanton Museum of Art
The bustling University of Texas at Austin campus sits in the middle of the city, giving a fresh art scene and rich historical experience to visitors. The Blanton Museum of Art offers a varied collection of European paintings, Latin American, American and Contemporary works, as well as rotating exhibitions. Children of the ‘90s will love the current exhibition: “Come as You Are: Art of the 1990s,” showcasing works created from 1989-2001. The collection speaks to the way technology and global migration shaped the identity during the time period. The little museum is a relaxing way to spend an afternoon before an evening of bar and restaurant hopping.