When publisher Taylor Bruce relocated his American travel guide brand WILDSAM to Austin in 2013, he quickly fell for the Texas capital’s fusion of live tunes, smoky brisket, creativity, and big ideas. WILDSAM guides are famous for their personal and intimate looks at American communities, so it seemed a no-brainer to have Taylor curate his own selections for his new hometown, just in time for you to plan a spring or summer adventure. Take a look at his top Austin picks below!

west elm - Austin City Guide by WildSam

Photo by Stephanie Gutierrez

Your go-to spot for early coffee?
Austin is lucky to have a bold coffee shop scene, each spot with smart design and expert espresso pulls. We could name a dozen, but right now, the three cafes we find ourselves stopping into most are FLEET, CUVEE and MAÑANA for Americanos in the early hours–or for an afternoon Cortado boost.

west elm - Austin City Guide by WildSam

Photo by Chelsea Francis

The best place to really wake up?

Every city has its “one place” – the thing that every visitor simply must experience. For Austin, there’s no doubt that BARTON SPRINGS is the one. Right in the heart of downtown, this springfed, 68-degree swimming pool is open year round for everyone, including the ducks that call it home. A morning run on the Lady Bird trail, finished off by a plunge at Barton Springs will change your life.

west elm - Austin City Guide by WildSam

Photo by Stephanie Gutierrez

Where to breakfast taco like a boss?

The biggest debate in town is not the best barbecue. It’s all about breakfast tacos. Our favorites are in East Austin, at the intersection of Pleasant Valley and Cesar Chavez. The little orange trailer called TACOS GUERRERO’S serves up fresh chorizo and egg on handmade tortillas. Muy, muy rico.

west elm - Austin City Guide by WildSam

Photo by Wynn Meyers

Favorite place to see art, inside and out?

We recommend a twofer at Contemporary Austin, which has a sleek downtown museum and its sister property, an eden-esque retreat north of town called LAGUNA GLORIA.

west elm - Austin City Guide by WildSam

Photo by Stephanie Gutierrez

Is Austin really Dive Bar, U.S.A.?

The answer is Yes. If you love a rickety beer saloon or old-fashioned honky tonk, then you’re in luck. Our pick is DEEP EDDY CABARET, a skip and jump from the second most famous pool in town (hence the bar’s name). Order a Lone Star and enjoy this true Austin original.

west elm - Austin City Guide by WildSam

west elm - Austin City Guide by WildSam

Photos courtesy of JM Drygoods

For Oaxaca vibes in central Texas?

If you’re into the desert bohemian look and lifestyle, then get thee to JM DRY GOODS, where owners Jon Davidson and Michelle Teague stock a gorgeously curated collection of handmade home goods, art books, quarterly magazines, and artisan clothing and craft from Mexico.

The most neighborhood-vibe restaurant in town?

The dynamic chef duo of Rene Ortiz and Laura Sawicki took a dusty old laundromat in deep East Austin, and have lovingly transformed the corner spot into a hopping café-bar-patio that the neighborhood has immediately adopted. Share a bunch of small plates for supper, and top the meal with Laura’s birthday cake ice cream sandwiches.

west elm - Austin City Guide by WildSam

Photo by Wynn Meyers

Where for fancy drinks with fancy ice?

A tiny sliver of a cocktail bar on Seventh Street, SMALL VICTORY whips up the finest drinks in the city. Bartenders can do it all, but we suggest either a Maple Leaf (if bourbon is your thing) or Rosita (like a Negroni but with Tequila).

west elm - Austin City Guide by WildSam

Photo by Alison V. Smith

The hotel that started it all?

You’ve likely heard of the HOTEL SAN JOSE, and rightfully so. If any place kickstarted Austin’s vibe as one of the coolest up-and-coming American cities, this 40-room boutique hotel is the one. The lush grounds feel like Mexico City, and the minimal room design conjures dreams of Willie Nelson touring Japan. Even if you don’t snag a room, stop by the back patio for a chilly Frose drink.

west elm - Austin City Guide by WildSam

Photo by Stephanie Gutierrez

Where to go if you want live tunes?

While the Continental Club is no-doubt iconic, spilling tunes onto South Congress every night, we like the owner’s new joint just as much. It’s called C-BOYS HEART AND SOUL, and it’s a welcome addition to the Live Music Capitol.

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