The Adventure Agency lives, breathes and dies by creating a full-brand experience. In fact, we see a major correlation between branding and well-designed cities–both create an atmosphere that forces the visitor to feel something. This gets translated through the landscaping, interior design, architecture, tourism companies and the culture cultivated by the people who live there. Recently we were able to explore Austin, Texas and drew a lot of inspiration. We hope you enjoy reading about how we would “brand” the city, and our itinerary of things to do when you visit Austin!

Only interested in the itinerary? Jump to it here.

Field Notes

Sounds like:
Live music of all genres

Smells like:
Barbecue, some floral notes and summer

Branding and graphic notes:
Bull horns (like, the animal, not the megaphone), neon, twinkle lights, Texas stars, a modern cowboy aesthetic

Austin Logo Concept no. 1  |  6th Street

Austin Texas Branding x 6th Street Concept by The Adventure Agency

CONCEPT 1

This concept was developed with 6th street in mind. The overall vibe on 6th street has a very “old” Texas feel, with bars that open by saloon door, and the classic heritage of the buildings in this part of town. It feels historic, but it’s still a good time.

Austin Logo Concept no. 2  |  Rainey Street

The Adventure Agency: Austin, TX as a brand. Concept based on Rainey St. bars, houses and neon.

CONCEPT 2

This concept was developed based on Rainey Street. The neon signs, the strands of twinkle lights, and the unique balance of old, established homes with shipping container food stalls brings a feeling of classic-meets-innovative. The base font of this logo is sturdy and retro, while the script font adds an element of personal touch.

Austin Logo Concept no. 3  |  South Congress

The Adventure Agency: Austin, TX as a brand. Concept based on South Congress - bright colors, high-end shopping

CONCEPT 3

South Congress is vibrant and buzzing! Vintage shops sit next to custom cowboy hat shops, across from a cute boutique coffee shop next to an Hermés. It’s very hip, and because of its nature of being a popular shopping destination, (compared to 6th Street or Rainey Street) this vibe feels much more “daytime” than “nighttime”.

Austin Itinerary

Where to Stay

We found the perfect Airbnb on Rainey St. Our apartment was quiet, the bed was comfortable and we had a kitchen! We enjoyed the rooftop pool every day–and there’s free drip coffee at the hotel just a few minutes away, FYI.

If hotels are more your thing, we found a few cute hotels in great locations:

Hotel Van Zandt: This is a really cute (and well-branded) hotel. Remember that free drip coffee I mentioned? This is where it’s at. A great location for the Rainey Street shenanigans, a fourth floor pool, and a really cute and delicious bar and restaurant–this place is *chef’s kiss*.

The Line: A boutique hotel right downtown with a cute pool, a delicious coffee shop, and gorgeous interior design. This hotel is basically at Congress and the lake, so it’s centrally located and makes Austin a little more walkable. (We walked everywhere, but we did clock in 22,000+ steps one day…)

The Driskill: For an iconic Texas stay close to 6th Street’s bar scene, check out The Driskill. I’d be remiss if I didn’t tell you ahead of time that it’s supposedly haunted, so don’t stay in room 525 unless you’re into that sort of thing. This historical building is still fun to walk through, even if you aren’t staying. Go for crossaints, design inspo and coffee in their cute cafe, the 1886 Cafe.

Austin Motel: This motel is in the perfect location if you plan on staying around South Congress most of the time. South Congress has a lot to offer in the way of shopping and boutique bars and restaurants.

Where to eat

Once you know where you’re going to stay, the next most important thing to consider is where you’re going to eat. We had heard that Austin is a very busy city, so we went into our trip having made a few dinner reservations ahead of time. Something worth noting is that if we would not have shown up for our reservations, we may have been charged for not cancelling ahead of time (a lot of the restaurants required a credit card number to book). We didn’t cancel any reservations, and we are happy we kept them!

Péché

10/10 experience  |  10/10 food

First and foremost, the vibe in here is very “Adventure-agency”. I wanted to bring one of the light fixtures home with me. It’s a darker/cozier space where people have to step aside to let others through because the tables and bar are tight. The staff are super friendly, quirky and funny. The menu is upscale and unique. You’ll find items like escargot, fois gras, duck confit and sweetbreads. They’re French-inspired (péché in French means “sin”) and have around 25 drinks with Absinthe. They also make a few milkshake cocktails, and each time Rob (the owner) walked by our table he checked in on us, made jokes and was just genuinely so nice. I was just looking around and he said “are you looking for the ghosts?”. Obviously!

Pelóns

10/10 experience  |  8/10 food

The first thing you need to know: get the large margaritas. They were so good! Secondly, the outdoor seating has a treehouse vibe to it which was so fun, the staff was great and the place is woman-owned (+++points). The food was pretty good–it was your standard texmex, nothing super unique but if your’e looking for great margaritas and a place to sit outside and eat chips and guac, this is it. One more thing worth noting is that it is sort of on the “outskirts”… the area is fine but it’s not in the hustle and bustle of everything.

Terry Black’s BBQ

10/10 food

I can’t really speak much to the experience as we just stood in line to grab our food to-go, but honestly the line went really quickly so my advice is don’t be intimidated by how long it is! They have merch you can shop all the way through the line, and a pickup window where you can grab a drink while you wait. The first stop in line is where you choose your sides (my mom said “a pint of mac and cheese doesn’t sound like enough?” Trust–it’s more than enough lol.) The next stop in line is the meat counter, and they will carve meat for you, make you a sandwich–whatever you want! You cash out and go find a table or take it back to your hotel. Super good, and I highly recommend!

What to Do

There’s something for everyone in Austin. Shopping? Gotcha. Eating? Definitely. Drinking? All over. Live music? Literally everywhere (even at the airport on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays). There are a million bars and shops so you will have no problem finding cool places to go, below are the places that we went and loved but I know you’ll find your own vibe because, like I said there’s something for everyone!

It’s also important to note that every person recommended we do some nature stuff while we were there, which we didn’t have time for. A few of the local recommendations: hike the Barton Creek Greenbelt and get tacos from Radio Coffee & Beer; go to County Line on the Lake for BBQ and feed the turtles while you wait for a table; swim at Barton Springs; Go to the wildflower Center (these recommendations are all courtesy of our wonderful client Catherine with Giant Squid Group).

There’s beautiful street art and really cute/artsy boutiques to explore during the day. Finally (yes, I know I will sound crazy) but you need to see the bats. It sounds crazy and overrated, but we watched millions of bats fly out into the night at sunset over Lady Bird Lake, and it was really unreal. Beforehand everyone was saying “are we really standing here waiting for a bunch of bats to fly at us?” Then when they did, we were all like “Yep. We did wait for that and I am so glad”.

Shopping on South Congress

We were told by a waitress that this is a long walk from downtown, so we may want to Uber or grab one of the many scooters laying around town. Naturally, we didn’t listen. So let me tell you that it is walkable, but you will be clocking in the steps and you need to wear comfy shoes! But as you’re walking to South Congress from downtown, you’ll pass the flagship YETI store, which you can stop at for a drink and play foosball made out of YETI coolers, listen to live music if they have a band that day, and shop around. It’s a fun stop that breaks up the long walk. There’s also a cute vintage shop at an old gas station, and some coffee shops to help put the pep-in-your-step… then the next thing you know: you’re there!

Manready Mercantile
This was so Adventure Agency. It’s a shop for men filled with leather goods, shirts and men-friendly soaps, etc. They also have a DIY handmade candle cart! I also loved the staff here, everyone was so friendly.

LoveshackFancy
I love following Loveshack Fancy on Instagram, and their storefront did not disappoint! Super cute shop and very on-brand with the floral displays.

Trovador
A custom hat company with a really cool vibe. When we walked up to the door there was the most perfect cute little Frenchie welcoming people in and I am so mad we didn’t snap a photo. The whole store is a vibe.

Feathers Vintage
Next to Trovador is this impossible-to-miss, bright pink and quilt-square storefront. We weren’t really able to shop because of the size of the store and number of people inside, but it was truly adorable, nonetheless.

Prototype Vintage
Next door is Prototype Vintage – a really cute resale shop with fun and unique sunglasses 🙂

Once you’re done shopping, check out the Aba patio! It’s a Mediterranean restaurant that started in Chicago. The decor is 100% and the back/outside bar is really cute and chill. There are beautiful moroccan-style lanterns in the trees and plants everywhere, and the cocktails were delicious! We loved the bartenders and the overall experience here.

Partying on rainey street

Rainey St. is a fun place to get rowdy. It’s a strip of old houses that were turned into unique bars (a lot of them have their own individual theme or flair). Each has drinks, live music or a DJ, and a food truck! Each bar brings a different vibe so you’ll definitely find something your speed here, and when you are hungry go to the food truck lot! Here’s a link to all of the food trucks on Rainey to get you salivating.

Anthem
We went to Anthem for brunch, and absolutely loved the vibe here! Vintage Polynesian decor with Texas-Asian style food and drinks.

Placeholder
Across the street is Placeholder bar. This is another tiki-style restaurant with a DJ booth setup inside. It’s a very fun place to dance or hangout on the patio with a mai tai (warning: they’re very strong). The food truck here is Detroit-style pizza (yum).

Lucille’s Patio + Bar
Don’t let the photo on their homepage scare you … I don’t *think* it’s haunted (see why good website design is important?! Contact us lol. There’s a tab on the site that says “Lucille’s Legend” but I wasn’t able to access it… so maybe it is haunted?). While the inside is well-decorated and cute, there’s live music/a DJ setup in the backyard where there’s another bar! While we were there they were playing early 00’s Blink-182 remixes and I was in love.

UnBARlievable
This place is literally like a circus. There’s live music (of course), a large adult-sized slide, a giant giraffe, games and a giant TV. I believe they also have a location on West 6th if you find yourself there, instead!

live music on 6th street

While I’m only listing two places, know that the entire street is filled to the brim with live music! They have every style of music, and the bands change each night. The street gets shut down to car traffic on Thursdays-Sunday so you can walk around and party like it’s Bourbon Street. We spent our time on “Dirty 6th Street”, which is the older part of 6th Street. The entertainment is split up into “West 6th” and “East 6th”. The old historic portion of 6th is in the East, and the West side is supposedly more “hipster”. (Locals please weigh-in in the comments).

Friends Bar
208 E. 6th St. Austin, TX 78701
Mon: 11am-2pm; 7pm-2am
Tues-Wed: 11am-2pm; 5pm-2am
Thu-Sun: 11am-2am

This was our first stop for live music, and the band we saw was so good! We went back the next night to check it out and we didn’t love the band as much (mainly the style of music). They showcase local blues and rock bands– the first night was a blues band (so fun) and the second was a rock band (I was out when the guy started playing the guitar with his tongue… not very COVID-friendly, man).

Friends is located in the heart of the historic district of East 6th, and supposedly it’s haunted! We didn’t really experience any ghosts, though.

San Jac Saloon / Jack’s
300 E. 6th St. Austin, TX 78701
2pm-2am | 7 days a week

San Jac Saloon has live country music 7 days a week, and we had so much fun here! Honestly, they served the best margarita I had of the whole trip. The band we saw that night was Aaron Navarro, and even the band was fun, like, people I would want to have a drink with. Great people watching from the seats on the balcony, and everyone was just in a genuinely good mood. They have a second venue upstairs with a retractable roof, but we were enjoying our time so much we decided to stay where we were at.

San Jac won a Best of Austin award from Austin Monthly in 2019, and it’s easy to see why. The building is part of the Austin Historic Society, and was built in 1875, adding to it’s Texas-charm. Jared Padalecki is the owner of the bar and supposedly sometimes you can run into him working behind the bar.

Non-Party Things to Do

Watch the Bats (seriously)

Every night at sunset you can hangout on the Congress Street where millions of bats live. They fly out to search for food, and it’s actually really cool to see! We tried for three nights to catch them, and finally on our last night we were able to see them. From what I read, they could come out any time from 7:30pm-9:30pm, and the entire “show” can take up to 45 minutes. The first two nights we showed up around 7:45pm and people were already leaving, so we thought we may have missed it. The last night, we show up at 7:30 and the bats didn’t fly out until closer to 8:15pm. You can stand on the sidewalk of the bridge, or you can walk down below the bridge on either side. You never know where they’re going to fly out of, so don’t be discouraged when you see people all over.

Walking Ghost Tour

Did you know Austin was home to *possibly the first* serial killer in US history? Who may or may not have been tied to Jack the Ripper?! While a lot of Austin feels really new and modern, there are still plenty of dark stories to keep you interested on the walking ghost tour. One of my favorite locations was the Driskill Hotel, which has quite a few ghosts, apparently. We had a great guide who gave us a bit of history, as well. Honestly I expected more “cowboy ghost stories” lol, but the stories were a little scarier than that. Here is a link to the ghost tour we booked.

Tour the Capitol

While we didn’t actually do this, it was recommended to us a few times. Austin is the capitol of Texas, and you can see the building while walking down Congress. It’s a big, gorgeous building – and word on the street is if you know someone, they can get you to the top of the rotunda and take you out onto the balcony. It’s apparently a whole experience with a professional photographer and everything!