Austin has seen fast-paced growth of design-related businesses and places for years now, and it's an absolute pleasure to live in a city that treasures good design so highly. If you're visiting, you'll find no lack of things to see and do and great-looking places to eat good food in.
See: • Graffiti/Castle Hill (pictured above): A fun, free spot to hang out and see fresh street art, graffiti and lots of color. • The Driskill Hotel: A historic property with a Texas-heavy look and a great bar. Enjoy hearing about ghost stories from staff members and see a sort of design style that rarely exists anymore. • The Statues in Mueller: Mueller is a fairly new subdivision in Central Austin, and along with homes it also sports a great walking trail and outdoor area. In that outdoor area are some metal sculptures from Austin artist Chris Levack. With native plants, picnic tables and Levack's lovely big pieces, it's a nice place to spend an afternoon. • AMOA-Arthouse at Laguna Gloria: The Laguna Gloria location of the AMOA-Arthouse at Laguna Gloria is a stunning place for art, but its grounds are fun to explore, too. An Italian villa, gardens and walking trails all make for an enjoyable time.
• AMOA-Arthouse at the Jones Center: The other location of the AMoA is a new contemporary structure with an ever-changing selection of beautiful art to view.
• Texas State Capitol Building: Can't visit the capital of Texas without visiting the capitol building, which has a lot of history and a spectacular dome.
• Blanton Museum of Art: At The University of Texas at Austin, this museum has more than 17,000 works and is known for European paintings, prints and drawings and modern and contemporary American and Latin American art.
• Umlauf Sculpture Garden: If the weather is nice, the Umlauf Sculpture Garden is a great collection of sculptures, and it's located near Zilker Park and Barton Springs.
• Domy Books & Busy-Being: If you're in the mood for the hippest design and art books and zines, you'll love the cool store known as Domy Books. In the back in a small room is Busy-Being, a tiny but potent shop full of home goods and personal accessories, plus a great collection of art.
• Take Heart: At this shop run by Nina Burke Gordon, who has a sweet personality and a good eye, you'll find lots of fun, warm gifts for your home, yourself, or a friend, plus a lot of beautiful woodwork by local craftsman Brian David Johnson.
• Aviary: You'll find high-end design lines and lots of style at this South Austin location, plus an awesome wine bar.
• Howl: You'll find wildly weird antiques and custom pieces in this South Austin store.
• Uptown Modern: If you want a curated selection of retro modern vintage finds, Uptown Modern in North Central Austin is full of fun, warm furniture pieces and accessories.
• JM Drygoods: For those looking for some real West Texas style, whether in clothes or home goods, head to JM Drygoods for items inspired by travel and the cultural hub of Marfa.
• Big Red Sun: We just love this outdoor resource store plus landscape company located in East Austin. They have a colorful selection of accessories and lots of beautiful plants perfect for modern homes.
• Foreign & Domestic: If you're looking for a combination of simple ingredients and innovative dishes, you'll enjoy the laid back but beautiful setting of this small restaurant.
• Uchiko: The little brother of well-known restaurant Uchi, Uchiko gained fame when head chef Paul Qui won "Top Chef," but the decor, designed by Michael Hsu, is pretty modern and dramatic.
• Hillside Farmacy: A bright and bold eatery on the East Side transports you to another world, and the place has good food, too. Inside or out, it's fun for a quick snack and good conversation.
• La Condesa: Award-winning Mexican fusion food and a beautiful bar are the bonus to a space that's modern, bold and colorful.
• Lavaca Teppan: A great lunch spot on the edge of downtown, the gray color palette mixes with pops of color and sleek interior design.
• Elizabeth Street Cafe: Featuring a fusion of French and Vietnamese cuisine. The exterior and interior of this South Austin restaurant is light and bright with a fresh, modern color palette.
• East Side Showroom: In this space with a great mix of unique industrial, artistic and 1920s decor, you'll find some of the best mixed cocktails around.
• Swift's Attic: Located in an upstairs space in downtown, this place is tucked away, cozy and dramatic.
• Icenhauer's: Just one of many great drink spots in the area known as the Rainey Street District. You'll enjoy the dark wood walls mixed with vintage and modern furniture.
• Drink.Well: A relative new-comer to the Austin scene, this new North Loop favorite crafts mean drinks in a modern, decked out space.
• Easy Tiger: You'll love the vast selection of beers are on tap and all the German-inspired food like sausages and pretzels at this bake shop and beer garden with an interior inspired by Wes Anderson movies,
• Kimber Modern: A sleek bed and breakfast in South Austin nestled among big oak trees.
• Hotel St. Cecilia: A small hotel with beautiful landscaping and a gorgeous, modern rock star style, within walking distance of the stores and shops of South Congress.
• Hotel San Jose: A great hidden design gem in the city, San Jose is right off of South Congress, filled with clean, simple modern design. Has a great bar.
• Heywood Hotel: Heywood Hotel is a tiny modern hotel on the East Side of Austin, close to downtown, with a lot of color and style.
There are so many awesome places in Austin we just know we may have missed your favorite! Please share your favorite Austin places for design lovers.
(Images: Capitol shot: Flickr user p_a_h, licensed under Creative Commons; Kimber Modern from Kimber Modern website; all others: Adrienne Breaux)
Adrienne photographs beautiful homes in and around her home base of Austin, Texas. She's a contributor to UPPERCASE Magazine and spends all her free time exploring small town Texas. She watches a lot of Star Trek.
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