Nowadays, people want more from their lodging than just a room to lay down for the night, a continental breakfast and good customer service—they want a memory.
This city has an abundance of well known hotels, but with all of Austin's wonderfully wacky residents why not stay in one of their homes? Whether it's a vacation, staycation or get-together, here are seven local rentals you won't soon forget.
Sculptor's Guest House, $121 per night
Located a short distance from Downtown, UT and the airport, this guest house sits on two acres of art studios so you can truly get into character while you walk the sculpture garden. The house itself is decked out in unique architecture and creative interpretations of ordinary objects, like the onyx stone bathroom, natural wood headboard with matching end tables, and cozy kitchen. The guest house accommodates a maximum of four guests with one bedroom, one bathroom and plenty of couches to crash on for an authentic artist experience.
1940s East Austin Bungalow, $164 per night
This spacious bungalow was built in the 1940s, but you'd never know when you walk inside. The wooded, solemn interior paired with black finishes give the rental a clean, rustic look. Although you'll be staying in a home that is nearly 100 years old, the unit comes complete with all the technology of the modern era. The Bungalow comfortably allows four guests with two bedrooms and two bathrooms.
Mid-century modern home, $202 per night
Nicknamed "The Peach Door" after its fruit-hued front entry, this Downtown-adjacent house is packed with texture, natural light and a comfortable interior that will make anyone feel right at home. Located in the coveted Travis Heights neighborhood, guests are just a short walk away from Austin's picturesque arts and culture strip, South Congress. The stay accommodates up to four guests with two bedrooms and one bathroom.
The Bloomhouse by Lodgewell, $822 per night
Don't look for any straight lines in this house—you won't find any. Designed by two University of Texas architects, this lodge is designed to make you feel like you're stepping into a fairytale with its cave-like interior and secluded location in the West Lake Hills woods. You'll know you've arrived at this one bedroom, one bathroom home for four when you see its fantastical head peeking through the trees.
Colorful Clarksville estate, $847 per night
Each room in this massive 3,200 square foot home is cloaked in its own unique personality, from its two-story graffitied living room to its colorful countertops to the industrial wash basin sinks. Less than a mile from downtown, this space is perfect for entertaining or simply soaking in city living. With six bedrooms, four-and-a-half bathrooms and two kitchens in the main house and one bedroom, one bathroom and a full kitchen in the guesthouse, there is room to sprawl out.
Downtown Guest House, $250 per night
This picturesque hippie hideaway sits just two blocks away from South Congress but comes with the privacy of the Hill Country. Built in 1928, the European cottage has exposed ceiling beams, a pebble shower and lush garden filled with large trees on-site. The guest house may be small but with a downstairs bed and loft upstairs, it can still fit four guests without getting crowded.
Historic Casa Cartel, $2,648 per night
Integrating Mexican architecture and art throughout this bespoke villa, the tastefully vibrant interior makes it impossible not to be in a good mood. With natural light from the floor-to-ceiling windows, custom murals painted all over the house, a basement theater and a private pool fit for a full summer of lounging, this opulent house is the vacation. The house sits on a corner lot "very close to downtown" and sleeps up to 17 people with nine bedrooms and five bathrooms, so bring the whole crew.
Your perfect stay awaits you!
By Kali Bramble
The city’s water utility is inching toward its goal to store 60,000 acre feet in underground potable water reserves by 2040, according to a briefing delivered to the Austin Water Oversight Committee on Wednesday.
The ambitious 20-year project will be the city’s first foray into aquifer storage and recovery, or ASR, a technology that harnesses aquifers to store water in times of excessive rainfall to be retrieved during shortages. With the compounding stressors of population growth and climate change, staff believe such measures will be integral to weathering the future storms confronting Austin’s water supply.
Austin Water began considering aquifer storage and recovery seriously in the aftermath of the eight-year drought from 2008 to 2016 that left Central Texas’ Highland Lakes system at historic lows. But the use of ASR in Texas has a much longer history, dating back to the 1960s in a group of towns on the High Plains within the Colorado Municipal Water District.
Since then, a number of ASR programs have sprung up in cities like Midland, Kerrville, El Paso and San Antonio where fluctuations in climate and rainfall challenge water reserves. Austin City Council hopped on board in 2020, but severe utility failures in the fallout of Winter Storm Uri brought the importance of infrastructure resilience into even sharper focus.
Aquifer storage and recovery systems function like a water savings account, in which wells pump treated water into underground aquifers, rather than drawing it out. In the event of climate disasters like droughts, floods and freezes, underground channels can draw out this extra supply for emergency distribution.
“An ASR system can store large amounts of water with minimal disturbance to the land above the aquifer,” project manager Helen Gerlach said. “A natural aquifer prevents high evaporative losses, like those we experience with reservoirs in warm climates, and storing water in a natural aquifer is more cost effective than other similarly sized storage options.”
Engineers have spent the past year and a half analyzing potential sites for the project, weighing both the physical suitability and proximity to infrastructure of aquifers in Travis, Bastrop and Lee counties. Currently, sections within the Carrizo-Wilcox, Trinity and Edwards aquifers are all on the table.
Staff members intend to gather community feedback and land a site by the end of 2023, aiming to initiate a pilot program by 2024. Then, the project will enter a lengthy design and construction phase with a target for a fully scaled operation by 2035. By 2040, Austin Water hopes to store 60,000 acre-feet of potable water ready to be discharged in the event of climate disasters. (For perspective, the entire city used around 149,000 acre-feet of water in the year 2019.)
The project’s completion will be a big step for Austin’s Water Forward plan, a strategic framework designed to map out the next 100 years for the city’s growing water demands. In the meantime, readers can learn more about aquifer storage and recovery and submit questions to the project team here.
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Summer heat is here and that’s just as good an excuse as any to hunker down with a whole mess of barbecue.
Luckily, some of the best barbecue in the world can be found here in town. If you’re new to ‘cue, start here, if you’re an experienced eater, see how many you’ve checked off your list.
Cooper's Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que | 217 Congress Ave.
For any barbecue lover who hasn't tried the pork ribs at Cooper's Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que, it's time to finally do so. Pitmasters Kenny Oestreich and Louis Garcia run the family-owned and operated restaurant, making that delicious barbecue smell wafting on South Congress. Brisket, chicken, jerky and even goat are a fraction of what Cooper's has to offer. You can dine in from 11 a.m.-10 p.m. daily.
Distant Relatives | 3901 Promontory Point Dr.
Parked at South Austin’s Meanwhile Brewing, Distant Relatives and pitmaster Damien Brockway sport a James Beard nomination despite its youth as a business. The food here is spiced with African influences—try the pork ribs, burnt ends, collard green and smoked peanuts. Distant Relatives is open from 12-8 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday.
Franklin Barbecue | 900 E. 11th St.
Known for having extremely long lines and mouth-watering brisket from pitmaster and "barbecue nerd" Aaron Franklin, Franklin Barbecue is loved by locals and celebrities such as Anthony Bourdain, Jimmy Kimmel and Barack Obama. From brisket to beef ribs and a Tipsy Texan sandwich, there's nothing more iconic to Austin than this particular barbecue joint. Described by Texas Monthly as "serving the best barbecue in the known universe," Franklin Barbecue is a must-try if you're new to town. Franklin’s is closed on Mondays and open Tuesday-Sundays from 11 a.m.–sold out, which comes earlier than you think so arrive early to line up.
Green Mesquite BBQ | 1400 Barton Springs Rd. and 9900 I-35
An Austin classic, Green Mesquite BBQ has been serving barbecue at Barton Springs since 1988. This Austin barbecue spot switches things up by featuring mesquite barbecue, a method of cooking meat over a fire using mesquite wood that gives it a distinct flavor. This is the spot for chicken wings, fried okra, baked potatoes and sweet smoky meat. The Barton Springs location is open daily from 11 a.m.-10 p.m. and the Southpark location is open from 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday.
Interstellar BBQ | 12233 Ranch Road 620 N
Using high-quality ingredients and wood, and cooking in small batches, low and slow is the motto Interstellar BBQ goes by. Of course, you can get all the classic favorites: brisket, pulled pork and ribs, but Interstellar has some pretty stellar signatures. Try the peach tea glazed pork belly, brisket taco, jalapeno popper sausage and you can even get bulk sauces or beef tallow to cook with. You can take out your feast or dine in from 11 a.m. until sold out Wednesday-Sunday.
La Barbecue | 2401 E. Cesar Chavez St.
La Barbecue is a shining star of Texas barbecue. Owned by LeAnn Mueller and wife Ali Clem, La Barbecue serves brisket, beef and pork ribs, sausages and so much more. Pitmaster Clem has established her influence on La Barbecue with help from Francicso Saucedo, especially for the sausages and pork ribs for a perfect barbecue experience. You can preorder online or dine in from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday.
LeRoy and Lewis Barbecue | 121 Pickle Road
This new-school and creative food truck blends new school flavors with traditional embellishments. LeRoy and Lewis Barbecue opened their doors in 2017 in the Cosmic Coffee + Beer Garden lot and pitmaster Evan LeRoy and Director of Operation Sayer Lewis have provided Austinites with locally-sourced barbecue since. From brisket to sausage to barbacoa, LeRoy and Lewis Barbecue have all the fixins' and more for barbecue lovers in town. Grab some grub from 11 a.m.-9 p.m., or sold out, Wednesday–Sunday.
Micklethwait Craft Meats | 1309 Rosewood Ave.
Micklethwait Craft Meats is no stranger to the well-known barbecue game in Austin. Also featured in Texas Monthly as one of the best barbecue spots in Texas, pitmaster Tom Micklethwait brings standout items to the Austin food game. With brisket, pork ribs, pulled pork, homemade sausages and so much more on their menu, Micklethwait Craft Meats is the perfect spot for meat lovers looking for a new destination. You can get your barbecue fix Thursday-Saturday either through preorder or walk up and there's even an outdoor picnic area that is open from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday.
Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew | 6610 N. Lamar Blvd.
Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew is led by pitmaster Lance Kirkpatrick, with a hometown twist and celebrity status of being featured in “Dazed and Confused.” Owner and Texas native Shane Stiles named Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew after a Central Texas railroad stop on the I&GN Railroad from the 1800s. The authentically delicious barbecue such as beef rib, pork ribs and sausage are just the start of the menu. You can dine in from 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday and Tuesday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-8:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday.
Terry Black's Barbecue | 1003 Barton Springs Road
Pitmasters Michael and Mark Black, from the famous Black’s Barbecue family, bring Lockhart's barbeque knowledge to Austin. The meat market-style restaurant offers delicious brisket, pork rib, beef sausage and shining sides . If you're new to town and thinking of sending a gift to your friends and family outside of the state, Terry Black's offers nationwide shipping for most of their meats. Austinites can dine in from 10:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and Friday-Saturday from 1:20 a.m.-10 p.m.
Valentina's Tex Mex BBQ | 11500 Manchaca Road
In a city where tacos and barbecue aren't hard to find, pitmaster Miguel Vida brings Valentina's Tex Mex BBQ to Austin with a twist on both food groups. Is there anything more Austin than skipping tradition and creating something completely unique? Valentina's serves brisket, pulled pork and chicken and beef fajita with a Mexican twist. Make sure to try their smoked brisket taco and order online before it all sells out. Valentina’s is closed Monday-Tuesday, but open for dine-in from 7:30 a.m.-8 p.m. (or until sold out) Wednesday-Sunday.