2nd Street District, Austin: What to See & Do + Where to Eat, Drink & Stay

Planning a sojourn to the state capital of Texas? Make Austin’s 2nd Street District your first stop! Just a few blocks from Lady Bird Lake, this dynamic Austin neighborhood has everything from world-class shopping and award-winning restaurants to entertainment galore!

Tucked between Downtown Austin and the Colorado River, this walkable district is packed with more locally owned shops, restaurants, and venues than anywhere else in downtown Austin. In the 2nd Street District, you’ll find a treasure trove of chic boutiques, trendy shops, and stylish stores where you can find everything from unique fashion to hip accessories.

The 2nd Street District boasts a burgeoning culinary scene with a wealth of fantastic restaurants, cafés, and eateries. Whether you’re craving mouthwatering Tex-Mex, fresh sushi, or good old-fashioned Southern comfort food, you’ll find it all here.

Entertainment-wise, you’re all set here, too! Catch live music performances at intimate venues, sip on handcrafted cocktails at trendy bars, or stroll along the bustling streets, enjoying the sights and sounds of this dynamic district.

Excited to get going? Start planning your trip with this complete guide for what to see & do, where to eat & drink, and where to stay in the 2nd Street District, Austin!

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What to see & do in Austin’s 2nd Street District

ACL Live

One of the must-dos when in Austin’s 2nd Street District is to catch a live music performance at ACL Live. Located on the appropriately named Willie Nelson Boulevard, Austin City Limits Live (ACL Live) is a mecca for music enthusiasts and artists alike.

ACL Live

Renowned for its cutting-edge technology and impeccable acoustics, ACL Live is a world-class venue for live music. It hosts a multitude of concerts throughout the year across a range of genres, from rock and folk to country and jazz. It’s also synonymous with the legendary television show Austin City Limits, which has featured countless unforgettable performances over the years.

Before the show, unwind over cocktails at one of the many bars around the venue. Whether you’re attending a sold-out concert by a globally acclaimed artist or an up-and-coming star, ACL Live promises a night out to remember.

3TEN at ACL Live

Same venue, different vibe! Set in the iconic Austin City Limits Live (ACL Live) complex, 3TEN at ACL Live is an intimate and energetic space that showcases incredible live performances. This smaller, more intimate live music venue is perfect for getting up close and personal with the performers on stage.

Spread over 2,700 square feet, 3TEN at ACL Live boasts a small removable stage, a full-service bar, a VIP room, and a lovely outdoor patio. One of the coolest places to visit in Austin, the venue presents up-and-coming artists, providing them a platform to showcase their skills across various genres, from country and blues to indie and rock.

Grab a drink from the bar, find a spot near the stage, and soak up the crowd’s energy.

Violet Crown Cinema

If you prefer the big screen to live performances, head to the Violet Crown Cinema for a top-notch movie-watching experience. Established in 2011, this independent cinema offers a curated selection of indie, foreign, and art-house films for cinephiles and movies-lovers alike.

Designed with comfort and style in mind, the theater is a cozy and inviting space where you can unwind and enjoy the magic of cinema. Expect plush seating, state-of-the-art technology, and exceptional acoustics.

Enjoy gourmet bites, craft cocktails, and a variety of tasty beverages from the in-house café and bar while you watch.

Jo’s Coffee

When it’s time for a caffeine kick, Jo’s Coffee is the go-to spot in the 2nd Street District for great coffee and good vibes. Laid-back and oh-so-cool, Jo’s Coffee is a hip and happening coffee joint that has become a beloved institution among locals and visitors alike. It’s the perfect spot to kick back, sip on your favorite brew, and watch the world go by.

At Jo’s, they take their java seriously. Whether you prefer a velvety latte, a robust espresso, or a smooth drip coffee, this cafe brews a mean cup. If you’re feeling adventurous, try one of their signature drinks or seasonal specials like the Iced Turbo or the Belgian Bomber.

Grab a seat on the outdoor patio, surrounded by colorful murals, funky art, and buzzing energy, while you sip your latte and people-watch. Keep an eye on their calendar for live music performances hosted at the café – what better way to while away an afternoon during your Austin trip itinerary?

milk + honey spa

Does a soothing massage to melt away that stress or a luxurious body treatment to nourish your senses sound good? Treat yourself to some pampering and relaxation at the milk + honey spa. With four locations dotted about Austin, this award-winning spa promises to leave you feeling relaxed and rejuvenated.

milk + honey spa offers a wide range of services, from facial and body treatments to massages, manicures, pedicures, and hair styling. Expect top-notch service from the expert staff, who’ll guide you through the menu of services, help you choose the perfect treatment, and ensure you leave feeling completely blissed out.

After your treatment, unwind in their cozy relaxation lounge. Sip on a refreshing infused water or herbal tea and soak up the calm. Before you leave, purchase a few aromatic candles or skincare products to take with you.

Upstairs Circus ATX

For a unique and fun experience that combines crafts, drinks, and good times, don’t miss Upstairs Circus ATX! Unleash your artistic side at this one-of-a-kind venue where you can let your creativity run wild while sipping on your favorite libations.

Upstairs Circus ATX is not your typical arts and crafts studio. This lively and vibrant space provides a social crafting experience like no other. You can try your hand at various craft projects, from painting and woodworking to jewelry making.

You don’t need to be a crafting expert to join the fun: Their friendly staff will guide you through the process, providing all the materials and instructions you need to bring your artistic vision to life. And all the while sipping on a drink from the fully stocked bar.

Don’t forget to take your finished masterpiece home with you as a reminder of your inner artistic guru.

Where to eat & drink

Whether you’re in the mood for Mexican, American, Italian, seafood, or sushi, you’ll undoubtedly find a culinary gem that won’t disappoint in this vibrant district.

There’s no better place for the best slow-smoked BBQ in Austin than Lamberts. Expect all the usual suspects like brisket, pork ribs, sausage, and innovative additions like juniper and black pepper lamb ribs or wild boar ribs with honey and sambal. They have a pretty good list of whiskeys too!

North Italia is a fantastic option if you’re in the mood for Italian cuisine. Capturing the essence of authentic Italian flavors, this laid-back spot serves classic Italian dishes like pasta, risotto, wood-fired pizzas, and an excellent selection of wines. , this restaurant captures the essence of Italian flavors. Try the Spicy Rigatoni Vodka with crispy pancetta and shaved garlic if you want something with a kick.

Restaurant in 2nd Street District

Tacos, tacos… and more tacos: Torchy’s Tacos is a popular chain that serves, you guessed it – tacos! With several locations around town, this beloved taco joint has gained a cult following for its mouthwatering and inventive taco creations. Order the Trailer Park taco, filled with fried chicken, green chilies, pico de gallo, and poblano sauce, or the Brushfire taco with Jamaican jerk chicken, grilled jalapeños, mango, and sour cream.

If you appreciate an impressive array of wines, delectable cuisine, and a sophisticated atmosphere, make your way to CRÚ Food & Wine Bar. This laid-back wine bar exudes a Napa Valley-inspired vibe, blending contemporary decor with a hint of rustic allure. Indulge in classic New American dishes paired with a diverse selection of wines sourced globally.

Put on your dancing shoes and head over to Club Bantu for a night of colorful cocktails, sparkling lights, and disco beats. Every night has a different theme – if Salsa is your thing, head to the club on a Thursday night to Cha-Cha the night away.

Or something slightly more sophisticated, the Edge Rooftop is the place to be. Set atop the luxurious JW Marriott Austin hotel, this beautifully appointed rooftop bar offers an exceptional evening lounge experience. Order a bottle of bubbles and watch the city come alive as the sun sets over downtown Austin.

Where to stay

As it’s located in the heart of the city, the 2nd Street District is a top choice for where to stay in Austin. The accommodation selection here, however, is relatively limited, with only a few lodgings options in the district proper.

If you run out of ideas, expand your search to elsewhere in Downtown Austin or further afield to areas like South Congress (SoCo) or Central Austin.

Kasa 2nd Street

Kasa 2nd Street Austin

Perfect for self-catering stays, Kasa 2nd Street Austin is a chic apartment hotel with fully equipped one- and two-bedroom apartments overlooking the city. A short walk from the Colorado River, the hotel has a beautiful rooftop pool, a state-of-the-art gym, and a casual café. Apartments feature kitchens, washers/dryers, and free Wi-Fi for a hassle-free stay.

Austin Proper Hotel

Austin Proper Hotel, a Member of Design Hotels

Overlooking the Colorado River, the Austin Proper Hotel, a Member of Design Hotels, has stylish rooms, suites, and top-notch facilities. Relax by the outdoor pool or enjoy a class in the yoga studio. Well-appointed suites have Nespresso machines, designer toiletries, and free Wi-Fi. Upgrade to a suite for breathtaking city or river views.

JW Marriott Austin

JW Marriott Austin

The JW Marriott Austin ticks all the boxes, from the elegant rooftop pool with cabanas and a bar to the exquisitely appointed guest rooms and suites. Book a club room for access to a private lounge where you can enjoy complimentary breakfast and evening appetizers. Stay fit in the state-of-the-art fitness center and indulge in various hotel spa treatments at the in-house spa and wellness center.


Ryan O'Rourke is a seasoned traveler and the founder & editor of Treksplorer, a fiercely independent guide to mid-range luxury travel for busy people. With over 20 years of extensive travel experience, Ryan has journeyed through over 50 countries, uncovering hidden gems and sharing firsthand, unsponsored insights on what to see & do and where to eat, drink & stay. Backed by his travel experience and in-depth research, Ryan’s travel advice and writing has been featured in publications like the Huffington Post and Matador Network. You can connect with Ryan on Twitter/X at @rtorourke.

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