48 hours in Austin, Texas

Austin is known for indulgences: Queso, barbecue, and donut food trucks to name a few. But this Southern city isn't all about splurges—in fact, its booming wellness culture has given rise to some of the country's best health spots. You won't have to look too hard for delicious, plant-based dishes sourced from local farms and might have a hard time choosing from the endless outdoor activities. Here's what to eat, see, and do in the Lone Star state's capital city.

Where to stay

Check out the eclectic Heywood Hotel in the edgy neighborhood of East Austin. Each of the seven rooms features handcrafted furniture, textiles, and artwork from local artisans.

For a more secluded vibe, book a poolside bungalow at the historic Hotel Saint Cecilia.Built in 1888 as the Miller-Crockett house—where one of Davy Crockett's descendants resided—the property mixes its old Victorian charm with '60s and '70s flair.

If you're in town for South by Southwest, both options are less than a 10-minute bike ride from the main festival venues.

Day 1

From Heywood, a 15-minute walk straight down Cesar Chavez Boulevard leads you to Pitchfork Pretty, a light-filled minimalist space, where each table is dotted with an ever-trendy air plant. Try the toast with grilled blue crab and hot cabbage slaw or the Earth Bowl, a riff on classic oatmeal, where oats are topped with toasted coconut, kiwi, banana, and sunflower seed milk.

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  • Option 1: culture

    Stroll through gardens, woods, and meadows to admire the works at the Betty and Edward Marcus Sculpture Park, home to both permanent and temporary installations. In addition to the art, don't forget to admire the free-range peacocks that roam the grounds and occasionally open their plumage to treat visitors to a stunning display of color.

  • Option 2: fitness

    Spend the day exploring Zilker Park, 358 acres of green space and a haven for running, biking, or kayaking right near downtown Austin. Grab bikes—Heywood offers free rentals—and cruise down the numerous paths such as Ann and Ron Butler Hike and Bike trail, which wraps around Lady Bird Lake. Round out the afternoon with a dip at Barton Springs Pool, a relaxing oasis fed by natural underground springs.

For lunch, check out Laundrette for fresh takes on Mediterranean cuisine like beet hummus topped with silky labneh or PEI mussels simmered with green chile butter and olives.

Back in East Austin, browse the shops on East 11th Street, nearly all of which are small businesses and unique to the city. Pop into Take Heart for artisanal essential oils, tea sets, inspirational books, or detoxifying charcoal cleansers. Or, treat yourself to bohemian-inspired jewelry at Mana Culture.

End the day with a reservation at Odd Duck, where the menu is crafted based on whatever local farmers and ranchers have available. In addition to the soft, hearth-baked bread, standouts include the cauliflower fritter topped with herbed yogurt, redfish ceviche, and the perfectly mixed Paloma cocktail, served on draft.

Day 2

Don't miss out on Austin's morning staple, the breakfast taco, from Veracruz All Natural's food truck. The La Reyna is filled with egg whites, spinach, avocado, carrots, mushrooms, bell pepper, pico de gallo, and monterey jack cheese. For a refreshing drink, try their cantaloupe agua fresca or sip on the Jarocha juice, a nutrient-rich blend of cold-pressed orange, carrot, and beet.

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  • Option 1: Culture

    Visit the Bullock Texas State History Museum to learn about the legendary cowboys, artists, activists, and numerous ethnic populations that have shaped the state's narrative. Then walk to the iconic State Capital Building, which evolved from a log cabin to a limestone marvel.

  • Option 2: fitness

    Get up early and drive 30 minutes out to hike the leg-burning River Place Trail, one of Austin's most challenging outdoor workouts. The six-mile route boasts waterfalls and scenic overlooks of Texas' famed Hill Country. Don't forget to pack a bathing suit to cool off in one of the trail's refreshing swimming holes.

Head back to home base to freshen up and then over to the Rainey Street Historic District off the Colorado River for an early dinner at Emmer & Rye, a James Beard-nominated tapas restaurant. Chef Kevin Fink mills the pasta grains himself. The charred broccoli with burnt tangerine hoisin makes a great side, as do the treats from the quirky dinner dim sum service that includes navy cove oysters and tomato puffed carrots.

Grab a post-dinner cocktail at nearby rooftop restaurant and bar Geraldine's, where the drinks boast felicitous names like Millennial Pink. Stay for the bird's eye view of the city and the live music, which is lined up 365 days a year.

Photo: Brad Beck/tandemstock.com (Paddlers on the Colorado river)