Wednesday, May 29, 2024

The Eco Travel Guide to Austin: Deep In the (Green) Heart of Texas


From plant-based restaurants to vintage shops, eco-friendly hotels, and more, here’s how to enjoy Austin sustainably.

Austin, Texas, is a trendsetting town — from the home of Whole Foods Market to the spring SXSW festival to its ‘Keep Austin Weird’ tagline and the “Live Music Capital of the World’ title. But did you know it’s also a sustainable travel destination? If you’re heading to Austin, you’ll find it brimming with opportunities for adventure. The city offers a rich tapestry of cultural, culinary, outdoor, and musical experiences, appealing to a wide range of interests and tastes.

It’s true, Austin holds the esteemed “Live Music Capital of the World” title as it boasts an unrivaled live music scene that spans genres from country to blues, rock, and indie. SXSW helps buoy this badge of honor as does the legendary Austin City Limits, in addition to countless live music venues that host performances every night of the week. It’s also a booming tech hub, known these days as the Silicon Hills, attracting professionals and entrepreneurs with its innovative ecosystem.

While you may think of all Texas food as meat-heavy barbecue and Tex-Mex, you’d be partly right. The city is also a thriving hub for farm-to-table restaurants, vegan, and vegetarian options, too. Or maybe skip the dining scene entirely and pack a picnic and head for Austin’s Lady Bird Lake or Zilker Park for a meal under a shady tree.

Sustainable hotel options

Make your stay in Austin comfortable for you and the planet at these sustainable hotels from the urban oases to the nature-surrounded retreats.

The W

Not only do they always serve up gorgeous rooms and rooftop bars, but the W also takes sustainability seriously. The W Austin is LEED certified and has energy star-rated appliances and windows throughout the hotel. The faucets are water-saving and it has a robust recycling program. The onsite restaurant, Trace, has food composting and actively reduces single-serve packaging.

Habitat Suites

Habitat Suites was named one of the top ten most sustainable hotels in the world by Expedia in 2019. It is a locally owned hotel and has organic herb and veggie gardens on site. It serves vegetarian meals from its own garden and locally sourced produce, has solar panels on each building, and uses clean cleaning products. The team puts an emphasis on composting and recycling and reusing collected rainwater.

Hotel San Jose

Hotel San Jose has become popular with celebrities for its calm, nature-themed atmosphere. The eco-friendly hotspot has gorgeous, drought-friendly landscaping and it is built from recovered and reclaimed materials.

Sustainable dining

Give yourself extra meal time in Austin. The food is worth savoring and so are the vibes and people.

Bouldin Creek Cafe

Bouldin Creek Cafe is a long-time favorite for veggie fare in Austin. It has incredible seasonal bowls packed with vegetables, rice, and quinoa. Its salad and sandwich offerings are worth noting, too, and don’t skip over the vegan blueberry cornbread. If you are looking for a Tex-Mex twist give the Farmer’s Plate sweet potato and pecan tamales a try. The zucchini migas are another crowd favorite.

Forthright Cafe

This bright and airy restaurant is a must-try while in Austin for a plant-forward meal. Forthright Cafe’s loaded bowls are packed with plant-based goodies like roasted sweet potatoes, chickpeas, fried Brussels sprouts, kale, and beets.

Honest Mary’s

Honest Mary’s is another local favorite amongst the foodie crowd of Austin. The fast-casual restaurant is extremely plant-forward and in theme with the rest, serves incredible loaded veggie bowls. Try the delicious Sedona Lime, which is packed with rice, spinach, roasted sweet potatoes, black beans, toasted pumpkin seeds, and cashew lime cream sauce.


“Eat Plants. Drink Gold. Feel Good.” Well, if Curcuma’s says so! This hotspot is popular for its vividly colored dishes and trend drinks, such as golden milk lattes all from its roaming food truck. It puts a truly unique twist on ancient Ayurvedic practices. Everything is quite delicious, however, we recommend the cashew ricotta toast and spirulina pesto toast.

Eco spas and salons

Wash away your travel ick and stress with a perfect spa day.

Lake Austin Spa 

Just like the expansive resort, the Lake Austin Spa is just as exceptional. The facilities use the same non-toxic materials and locally sourced products in its popular spa. Whether you are staying at the resort or not, you can enjoy this incredible day spa.

Mint & Thyme Spa

Mint & Thyme is a women-owned organic spa in Austin. It is a hybrid between a traditional day spa and a medical clinic as it delivers both a relaxing spa experience with medical level expertise. It offers organic facials, chemical peels, and photofacials.

Viva Day Spa

Viva Day Spa prides itself on using clean, organic products in its assortment of services. It has a range of great options including facials and couples massages as well as Med Spa services. Try the Viva Diva Spa Package which includes 6.5 hours worth of treatments.

What to do

Whether a little nature time or retail therapy, you’ll find plenty to keep you busy in Austin.

Parts and Labour

Looking to support local Texas artisans on your visit? Swing by Parts & Labour. The small, independent shop has great gifts such as handmade jewelry, gorgeous art, and small home goods

Charm School Vintage

You can learn a lot about a city from its vintage fashion and thrift shops. Charm School Vintage is a little vintage haven in Austin. Not only does it have a great selection of high-end vintage but also carries local sustainable fashion and home goods.

Barton springs

Barton Springs

There’s plenty of sightseeing to do while in Austin from museums and parks to bat watching. But don’t miss a good soak at Austin’s Barton Springs after you’re through with everything else. The pool, fed from underground springs, is a remarkable three acres in size, and the average temperature is between 68-70 degrees, making it ideal for year-round cooling off.

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