Austin, Texas, is a trendsetting town—from the home of Whole Foods Market to SXSW. Did you know it’s also a sustainable travel destination? From plant-based restaurants to vintage shops, eco-friendly hotels, and more, here’s how to enjoy Austin sustainably.
My husband travels a lot for work, but rarely to fun places, so when he asked me if I wanted to go to San Antonio and Austin for a week I jumped at the opportunity to get out of Colorado, just as the winter fall started to fly in.
The first time I had the pleasure of visiting Austin was six years ago and as it was my first time to Texas, I had no idea what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised, however. Texas is bursting with delicious plant-based restaurants, gorgeous greenery, and sustainable shopping. This time around I made sure to paint the town red and try everything including where to stay, what to eat, and what to do, the sustainable way.
Sustainable hotel options
The W Hotel
I am a big fan of W Hotels. Not only do they always serve up gorgeous rooms and rooftop bars, but it 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. Book here.
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 reuses collected rainwater. Book here.
Lake Austin Resort
Looking for a true getaway? Look no further than Lake Austin Resort. Located on the shores of a beautiful scenic waterway, this resort has put a true focus on sustainability. It has expansive organic gardens, sources local products from produce to wellness, and uses low toxicity materials throughout. It has an efficient composting and recycling program and is truly committed to having a low environmental impact. The land is a certified wildlife habitat and includes a certified monarch butterfly habitat.
Park Lane Guest House
If B&B’s are more your style, definitely check out Park Lane Guest House. The small B&B is located in the trendy South Congress area and offers its guests adorable private cottages. All its bedding is organic, the breakfast is vegetarian, and it has onsite organic gardens. All the cottages are solar powered and there is a pool and spa onsite as well.
Hotel San Jose
Hotel San Jose has become popular with celebrities for it’s calm, nature-themed atmosphere. The eco-friendly hotspot has gorgeous, drought-friendly landscaping and it is built from recovered and reclaimed materials.
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 sandwiches offerings are worth noting, too and don’t skip over the vegan blueberry cornbread. If you are looking for a TexMex twist give the Farmer’s Plate sweet potato and pecan tamales a try. The zucchini migas are another crowd favorite.
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 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.
Revolution Vegan Kitchen
I love a good food truck. Revolution Vegan Kitchen is a popular one in Austin is known for its vegan comfort food. From Philly Cheeze Steak Sandwiches to its Notzarella sticks, everyone is sure to find something delicious.
“Eat Plants. Drink Gold. Feel Good.” Well, if Curcuma’s says so! This hotspot is popular for its vivid colored dishes and trend drinks, such as golden mylk lattes all from its roaming food truck. It puts a truly unique twist on ancient Ayurvedic practices. Everything is quite delicious, however, I’ll recommend the cashew ricotta toast and spirulina pesto toast.
Juan Pelota Cafe
I run on coffee, that is no joke, so when I am traveling finding a good quality cup of joe is a must. The Juan Pelota Cafe is an eco-friendly cafe that, surprisingly, shares its space with a bike shop owned by Lance Armstrong. The cafe serves organic, Fair-trade, shade-grown coffee and works with companies that help protect rainforests, bird populations, and overall biodiversity.
Eco spas and salons
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. I highly recommend the Viva Diva Spa Package which includes 6.5 hours worth of treatments.
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.
Miranda Bennett Studio
I am in love with this little ethical and sustainable brand, Miranda Bennett. Born in Austin, this brand focuses on exceptional sustainable fashion and even has its own in-studio plant-dying process. Shop from airy cotton dresses to homemade pillows.
Charm School Vintage
I love shopping secondhand, but especially when I travel. You can learn a lot about a city from its vintage fashion and I always try to find a piece as a keepsake to remember my trip. Charm School Vintage is a little vintage haven in Austin. Not only does it have a great selection of high-end vintage but also carry local sustainable fashion and home goods.