The visionaries behind this classic Eastside bungalow renovation have created a viable, desirable, and affordable boutique hotel east of I-35. Seven rooms teeter on that thin line between streamlined mid-century crispness and cozy, East Austin slack. Dare we say "Get in on this thoughtfully designed ground floor" before this place really takes off? Oh, and there are upstairs rooms, too. Weekday rates range from $179 to $279; weekend rates vary.
1609 E. Cesar Chavez, 512/271-5522
For those who never knew Austin before its new-millennium skyline era, the Hilton near the Austin Convention Center is a mammoth bookend, blending in with the ever-evolving scenery. But in 2004, when this giant opened, it was a game-changer, both in stature and in amenities. That's still true today. Its rich menu of spa options from the Sixth Street Soother reflexology and facial treatment to the Star of Texas Couples Massage is sure to make it a mood-changer, too.
500 E. Fourth, 512/482-8000
The bank of windows in the common area serves up a lovely and modestly priced slice of Lady Bird Lake. Here at HI-Austin, the culture and cost are rucksack ready – so much so that our readers voted it Austin's "Most Affordable" accommodations in 2010. Dorm beds, $25-28 per person. Private room, $63. Some modest fees apply.
2200 S. Lakeshore, 512/444-2294
In 2011, our team of critics awarded this jump-aroo zoo a "Best of Austin" Critics Pick for "Most Likely To Cause Squeals, Then ZZZs." Truly, after a few hours in this trampoline city, you and the kids won't want to "bounce" as in leave, but bounce as in pounce and flounce. $10 per person, first hour, ages 8 and older. Discounts are available for multiple hours, weekdays, families, and children younger than 5.
13801 MoPac N. #200, 512/326-2555
6405 South IH-35, 512/326-2555
The lovingly curated grounds inspire change, the vistas are simply inspiring, and the staff is one of the friendliest in the biz. This 10-time "Best of Austin" Readers Poll winner has amassed so many international accolades (Zagat, Condé Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure) that it could rest on its laurels, but it doesn't. It constantly innovates and shakes things up. This summer, the programming offerings include Quench!, a series featuring sea-inspired dishes and fitness challenges fit for an Olympian (or someone who's about to feel like one). Book a two-night stay and the second person pays half, or book a two-night stay and get a third night free.
1705 S. Quinlan Park, 512/372-7300
Shoot across 250 or 2000 feet of the rippled mirror surface of Lake Travis just like James Bond, Wonder Woman, or Batman, yo. A variety of packages can be outfitted to suit your group. Check online for info on one of its special Full Moon Zipline Tours. Reservations required. $98 includes all equipment, boat transportation, a light snack, and private beach access.
14529 Pocohontas, 512/614-1996
The higher the hair, the closer to gawd? Not exactly. These hairs apparent are classy beyond belief – totally customized works of art, not your typical blend-in-like-it's-your-own-hair wigs (although, they have a great selection of those as well). And while tress proprietress Allyson Garro outwigs a growing percentage of our local burlesque and performative show queen culture, she keeps it real with reasonable price points and, for the commitment-phobic, fantabulous wig parties: two to three hours of lid-popping makeover fun for gals and guys and everyone along the spectrum, with exciting options like the Fun Loving Photos photo booth add-on and parting gifts for all. Basic wig party packages range from $280 to 480; add-ons available.
2109 E. Cesar Chavez, 512/944-2801
Talk about your room with a view. The Sheraton's faceted zigzag design creates more than just four corner suites per floor, affording some magical sights, especially of our rosy Texas State Capitol. The ground-floor and uniquely indoor-outdoor pool is another great feature to round out this affordable staycation. Special summer packages and rates available online.
701 E. 11th, 512/478-1111
For those self-awakenings that dig a little deeper than, “Gee, I think I’ll cut back to just light beer this week!” – strap on a harness, sling across this vertical climbing gauntlet, and set your new bar at an all time high. Named to evoke the merits of surefooting, the Pricky Pear Challenge Course was designed in conjunction with Outward Bound to suit a range of skill levels with vertical climbing elements – from the Cob Web rope ladder, across the Raider Bridge, the Flying V, and Double Trouble, to the soaring climax: 250 feet of tree-kissing zipline. So if you generally don’t see yourself as the “fly through the air with the greatest of ease” sort, fret not, and take the leap. Slip into some sturdy rigging and in the care of affable adventure guides Cortnie Jones and Joshua Krilov for the upward-bound trek of your life. Ultimately, it’s all about trust – in yourself.
13500 FM 2769, 877/261-7792