Where to hike in Austin
With trails in the heart of downtown, gorgeous parks and gardens all over and a plethora of outdoor activities available, it’s safe to say that Austin’s an outdoorsy city. The near year-round sunshine means there’s rarely any excuse to stay indoors, so for hikers, this means ample chance to lace up those sneakers and take to the trees. There’s something for all levels of ability here, from easy(ish) trails like the Lady Bird Lake, a stroll over the bridge from all the big downtown hotels offering plenty of loops to end the jaunt as you please, right up to calf-blasting climbs like the mighty Urban Assault at Barton Creek Greenbelt. No matter how high a number your Fitbit regularly sees, you’ll for sure enjoy some quality time in Austin’s awesome outdoors (not to mention, work off the BBQ and tacos you’ll be consuming upon arrival). Here are the 10 best hikes for sweat, nature and city views. RECOMMENDED: The best things to do in Austin
The 11 best day trips from Austin
If you wanted to call Austin the star attraction of central Texas, we wouldn’t disagree – the place is packed with fun things to do, delicious restaurants and seriously rowdy nightlife. But it also acts as a great base from which to explore the surrounding smaller towns and cities, which is where these day trips from Austin come in. In under two hours from the heart of city, you can find yourself sampling Texan wines in the Hill Country or on a thrilling bike tour of the Texas White House. And did we mention all of the barbecue food the Lone Star State has to offer? There’s a lot to get stuck into. One piece of advice before we begin: traveling around Texas usually requires access to a car, so make sure you sort out a rental before you set off. But with that done, you’ll be free to make the most of the part of Texas. RECOMMENDED: the best things to do in Austin
The best gift shops in Austin
There's never a shortage of celebratory events in Austin, but that also means we’re constantly hitting up the best gift shops around town, stores that appeal to a wide variety of tastes—and budgets. When a bouquet from one of Austin’s best flower shops, a day at top spa or a night out at the city’s most romantic restaurant isn’t enough, head to one of the shops on our list. Whether your shopping for family or frenemy, the best gift shops in Austin have something for every occasion.
Listings and reviews (19)
Tesoros Trading Company
It’s difficult to think of a more colorful shop in Austin than this South Congress mainstay. Tesoros sources their traditional folk art and crafts from more than 20 countries across the globe, but they are best known for their Latin American Dia de los Muertos figures. There’s plenty of one-of-a-kind objects like Peruvian retalbos dioramas, but the store has even more shelves devoted to affordable treasures like coin purses, woven bracelets and paper roses.
Owner Lisa Bagby spent much of her previous career merchandising some of America’s top retail brands, so it’s no wonder that her downtown outpost is a delight to visit. Prize lives up to its name by mixing homewares from coveted big-name designers like Jonathan Adler, Kelly Wearstler and Fornasetti with curated coffee table books and jewelry from lesser-known trendsetters.
Friends & Neighbors
What’s better than shopping at one of Austin’s hippest boutiques? Shopping with a mimosa in hand. With a charming back porch sitting area, a tiny café (yup, complete with mimosas) and rooms full of vintage and new treasures, there’s something for everyone in this converted Eastside bungalow. Best bets include gorgeous ceramics, handmade jewelry and beauty products from cult brand like Olo and Meow Meow Tweet.
Parts & Labour
Our secret weapon for baby showers? The adorable selection of locally-made onesies from this SoCo shop printed with cute slogans like “Hecho in Austin” and “Hold Your Horses.” It’s a terrific place to shop for adults too with handcrafted art prints, tea towels, so-hot-right-now enamel pins, and clothing for both men and women. All of it is made in Texas, so you’ll feel good about supporting the local economy too.
If you are looking to outfit a new graduate's dorm, Nannie Inez’s home accessories are right on trend. We especially like the selection of prints that give some instant sass to the walls, but the shop is also full of planters and vases, sculptural hooks, jewelry holders and throw pillows from trendy designers like Afternoon For Menu, Wrong for Hay and Ferm Living. While you’re there, pick up a few bath time essentials from the apothecary like sugar scrubs or essential oils.
Noah Marion Quality Goods
Leather is the main draw at Noah Marion, much of it untreated and undyed to allow each piece to age beautifully with each use. From valet trays to stylish clutches to dog collars, the South Austin outpost has something that appeals to every member of the family. Your snowboarding cousin will appreciate the wool knit caps and your hippie aunt will go mad for the organic castile soaps. But with all this luxury, we won’t judge you if you take a cuff or keychain home for yourself.
Japanese design is the core of this Eastside jewel-box filled with things your BFFs never knew they couldn’t live without. For a housewarming, pick-up a salt box or a ceramic sponge holder. Or for something that feels more personal, pick up a copy of Haiku Texas, a collection of 19 poems inspired by some of the most beautiful places in Austin written by owner Nina Gordon’s mom Kathleen Burke.
Mercury Design Studio
A dark sense of humor makes this downtown shop especially unique. Although the stock is constantly changing, there always seems to be something with a skull on it and the odd bit of taxidermy. You’ll find plenty to gift your less goth friends, too, like pillows made from global textiles and cheeky cards. An online store will be opening in late 2017 if you don’t want to get out of your pajamas.
If you are perpetually a last minute holiday shopper, Atown should be your go-to stop. Featuring the work of more than a hundred local artists, the Allandale gift shop has plenty of affordable options for every member in your family. Our first stop is always the sock wall, a collection of the wildest and wooliest socks your family’s feet will ever meet. We tend to load up on Texas-themed t-shirts and prints, barware, and novelties too.
Houseplants are enjoying the greatest surge in popularity since the height of the Seventies. Get in on the growth moment at this tiny shop off South Fist. There’s a plant at Frond to match almost any decor—from rustic staghorn ferns to sculptural tropical terrariums—all mixed with naturally scented candles and botanical prints.
Kettle & Brine
If your best friend is getting married, you can treat them to something generic off his registry. But they’ll be more likely to come to your wedding if you buy him something from Kettle & Brine. Featuring carefully curated home goods (many from local artisans like Wiege Knives and Foxware Ceramics) with a focus on the kitchen and table, the West Austin outpost is admittedly a bit of a splurge. But it is also the epitome of “I love you.”
Blunn Creek Preserve
This one mile (give or take) loop has the occasional view of Downtown or St. Edward’s University, but it’s still easy to forget that you're in the middle of the city. Rugged trails lead you through canopied thickets of trees, rocky terrain and a few creek crossings. Attracting fewer visitors than some of the other city routes, Blunn Creek is perfect for quiet introspection. If you go during the summer, be sure to take a dip in the nearby Big Stacy Pool after you’ve worked up a good sweat. Address: 1200 St Edwards Dr Hours: Sunrise to sunset Parking: Street parking along St. Edwards Drive or Long Bowl Pets: No Length: 1 mile, with option for side trails Time: 30-45 mins