By Travel & Leisure
May 09, 2014
Nightlife in Austin, Texas
Credit: Al Argueta / Alamy

Austin is best known for its laid-back music scene and outdoor adventure opportunities. This growing capital has plenty of hideaways for couples, though, from private hotels and craft cocktail bars to hip restaurants with tables under strings of twinkling lights.

Jeffrey's Restaurant & Bar

Located in the quiet Clarksville neighborhood, this upscale New American restaurant is a longtime favorite of visiting celebrities and dignitaries. Past patrons include Walter Cronkite, Lance Armstrong, and former President George W. Bush. Housed in a gabled building with dark brown awnings, the dining room is decorated with wall sconces, hardwood floors, and white-clothed tables set in private nooks. In addition to seasonal entrées like the duck confit with mustard crème fraîche, Jeffrey’s is also known for its inventive small plates, such as the crispy oysters on yucca chips with pineapple pico de gallo and honey-habanero aioli.

Town Lake Kayaking

The calm waters of Lady Bird Lake, the dammed portion of the Colorado River that runs through Austin, provide an excellent vantage point to experience the city. And at 6.5 miles long, Lady Bird Lake offers ample opportunity to get a good workout by paddling. Rowing Dock, located on the western end of Zilker Park, offers a wide selection of inside and on-top kayaks as well as paddleboats and rowboats. Lessons are available for unproven rowers, while the beginner-friendly kayaks are billed as virtually "untippable." Special events include late-night rowing under the full moon.


Located in Austin’s up-and-coming East Side, Justine’s is a fantastic French bistro that attracts a stylish hipster crew, eager for expertly crafted steak frites and garlicky escargot. Wines by the bottle are well priced, and outdoor tables dot the front yard under a canopy of twinkling lights.

Weather Up, Austin

This New York transplant is housed in a wood-paneled house and has a sprawling lawn dotted with vintage furnishings. Settle in with a potent Revolution, made with rye whiskey, Benedictine, Ramazotti and Angostura bitters, and an order of piping hot duck fat fries with truffle aioli.

Hotel Ella

Named after the woman who saw the historic mansion through its original renovation in 1910, Hotel Ella is an elegant Greek revival structure (to create the building's columns, Ella hired the same stone carver that constructed the legendary Biltmore Mansion in Asheville). It served as student housing and later a rehabilitation center before becoming the 47-room boutique hotel it is today. The property's popular parlor bar features half-off cocktails, beers, and wines by the glass during weekday happy hours.