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This past October, a group of our friends from Ohio made a trip down to Austin, Texas to explore the city and watch the Formula 1 race at the Circuit of the Americas! Circuit of the Americas is actually the only track in the United States where the Formula 1 race takes place once a year, so it was definitely an experience to have at least once in your lifetime. Since our friends had never been to Austin before, we ended up staying for five days! Even though the Formula 1 race takes place over the entire weekend, with practice and qualifying sessions before the actual race on Sunday, we only went to the track for a few select events. If you are looking for places to go in Austin, you can check out our group trip itinerary.
The majority of our group landed around midnight on Wednesday night, with the rest of us landing on Thursday morning. We then all had flights leaving Austin on Monday afternoon. Our group rented an entire Airbnb house in South Austin. This house had enough sleeping spots for the 9 of us, and two full bathrooms. The house was in a good location, but I think overall we would only give it a 3/5 stars so I am not going to list it here. However, use my Airbnb referral code for $40 off your first stay at other places to go in Austin.
Thursday: Austin Murals and Sites
Lunch at Torchy’s Tacos
My husband and I did not fly in until early afternoon, but we had told the group to try lunch at Torchy’s Tacos, which ended up being within walking distance of the Airbnb. My husband and I have had Torchy’s many times before while growing up in Texas, and definitely recommend it. Try the Trailer Park Taco – delicious fried chicken on a flour tortilla. Out of the many places to go in Austin, eating good tacos is a must.
Austin Murals Photo Tour
Thursday was our “mural” day, where I forced everyone to take group pictures. We started with the Austin mural, for a postcard shot of our trip.
We then went to the I love you so much mural by Jo’s Coffee. There was a couple taking engagement photos by the mural, so while we were waiting we visited the Austin motel for a quick group shot. With so many places to go in Austin, we also saw this Austin Motel photo in our Airbnb.
HOPE Outdoor Gallery
After seeing the murals, we then took a quick detour to the HOPE Outdoor Gallery, a site where muralists can come spray paint the unfinished building. Unfortunately, it was super muddy so a few of us did not try climbing up any higher. However, if you make it to the top you can get great views of the city.
Afterwards we were getting pretty hungry. We tried to go to a brewery downtown, but of course the one we had selected was closed for a private event. We ended up at another brewery nearby – I don’t remember the name, but you can’t go wrong with food and beer in Texas!
Friday: Experiencing Texas
Franklin BBQ -> Stiles Switch BBQ
If you are in Austin, Texas on a group trip, you can’t leave without trying the Texas BBQ. We heard rumors about the line at the famous Franklin BBQ, but our group slacked off and only arrived around 9:30 am. The line was already far into the parking lot by the time we arrived. Fortunately we only had to wait about 10 minutes before an employee came up and let us know that we would be eating around 12:30 pm, but that only pulled pork and sausage was left. Because of this, our group decided to eat at Stiles Switch BBQ instead. While a bit further of a drive away, the wait at Stiles Switch BBQ was much shorter, and still delicious!
Fry’s Electronics is an electronic store, similar to a Best Buy, with a wide variety of electronics and a small café inside. One of our friends really wanted to visit Fry’s, because there is not a store location in Ohio and the Austin Fry’s store is in the shape of a piano. We visited, and made a few electronic purchases – but the store was a bit dead inside and had a pretty weird ambiance.
Texas State Capitol Tour
I’m obsessed with visiting state capitols, so from our places to go in Austin list I dragged our group on a Texas State Capitol Tour. You are welcome to walk around, but they also offer free guided tours every 30 to 45 minutes. During the guided tour, we were taken to see the Senate Chamber, the House Chamber, and the underground extension where the gift shop is located. Neither rooms were in session, but our guide was able to share some great Texas history with our group.
After the Capitol tour, eating, and Fry’s, our group itinerary lead us to BookPeople, a local bookstore. This bookstore is super cute, but the main reason we visited was because one of our friends wanted a signed book that he knew was in stock. You can see the list of signed books on their website, and you can stop by while in Austin to grab a copy.
Our group then ended up at Austin’s Flagship Whole Foods Market, to pick up dinner and snacks. Whole Foods is actually headquartered in Austin, so we felt it made sense to visit the flagship store.
Go-karting at Circuit of the Americas
We had made go-carting appointments at the Circuit of the Americas, and ended up at the track late on Friday night. The COTA Karting track is a replica of the actual track, but smaller for the karts! All of the guys, plus myself, raced around the track. It had been raining earlier in the day, and the wet track was one of the most difficult ones I have tried to drive on! I was scared for my life, but everyone else seemed to have a good time.
Saturday: Practice Races
Birthday Brunch at Blue Dahlia
One of my best friends lived near Austin, and it happened to be her birthday the weekend that we were in town. I ended up planning a quick birthday brunch at Blue Dahlia to celebrate with her, inviting a few of her friends from school along with my friends from Ohio. Blue Dahlia was one of the few restaurants who would take a reservation on a Saturday morning. There are many places to go in Austin, but many were first come first serve.
COTA Practice Sessions
We then met up with our gentlemen at the Circuit of the Americas track, located southeast of Austin. Saturday was for practice sessions and a few smaller races, so we spent our time scoping out the track to decide where to stand for the actual race. At the end of the day, we went to the Bruno Mars concert that was included with our tickets.
Sunday: Formula 1 Race Day
Breakfast from Summer Moon
I should mention, every morning for coffee our team walked down the street from our Airbnb to Summer Moon, an Austin wood-fired coffee shop. Our group was obsessed with their coffees; we always had a few orders of Summer Moon and Half Moon Lattes.
COTA Race Day
The actual Formula 1 race day was a blast! There were so many more people on the track, but fortunately we knew exactly where we needed to be. Our group split up to cover different turns, but we were all able to still watch and enjoy the race. After the Formula 1 race was over, the crowd was allowed on the track to celebrate the winners. We then wrapped up the day with a Brittney Spears concert; even though the guys rolled their eyes, we know they were secretly excited.
Monday: Leaving Austin
Queso at Kerbey Lane Cafe
In the morning after the race, our group went to Kerbey Lane Cafe, an Austin chain known for their delicious queso. Everyone I speak to always recommend getting the Kerbey Queso, which is their queso with fresh guacamole and pico de gallo on top.
After lunch, we killed an hour walking along some of the stores near the restaurant. We then headed towards the Austin airport, and went on our separate journeys home.
The best part about the trip was definitely seeing our Ohio friends, who we had not seen for nearly 5 months since my husband and I moved to California! The race was a blast, and we cannot wait for the next trip with this group. There are many places to go in Austin, and we definitely had an awesome time. If you are looking for more places to go in Austin, check out our Austin After Five guide.