This Lakefront Boutique Hotel Gives Guests Easy Access to Austin Highlights

Here’s why we love the Loren at Lady Bird Lake. Plus: Five exciting destinations within easy walking distance.

The balcony view from Nido, the rooftop restaurant at the Loren at Lady Bird Lake.

The Loren at Lady Bird Lake offers sweeping views of the Austin skyline and easy access to iconic destinations in the city.

Courtesy of the Loren at Lady Bird Lake

One of the latest additions to Austin’s boutique hotel scene, the Loren at Lady Bird Lake opened in October 2022 on the edge of Butler Park, a roughly 30-acre, metropolitan green space located in the heart of downtown Austin. The hotel’s dreamy setting, offering uninterrupted views of the Austin skyline, gives guests easy access to all the things the city is famous for: plentiful outdoor spaces, a lively art and music scene, and great barbecue.

Inside the Loren at Lady Bird Lake, visitors can expect nature-inspired touches that reflect the hotel’s leafy location, including a plant wall in the lobby (as well as a generous smattering of plants throughout the hotel), forest green carpeting on guest floors, and the use of natural materials like stone and wood throughout. The design-forward vibe continues in the 108 guest rooms, which are decked out with midcentury modern–inspired decor, including platform beds, Eames-esque chairs, and floor-to-ceiling windows framing the city skyline. Nido, the hotel’s rooftop restaurant on the 14th floor, serves up delectable cocktails—try the Farmer’s Daughter, which blends Still Austin Whiskey Co. bourbon and Balcones Baby Blue Corn whiskey with maple syrup. Stay for dinner and tuck into seasonally inspired dishes like beef short ribs served with polenta or duck breast paired with radicchio and cherries.

A guest room at the Loren at Lady Bird Lake

The rooms at the Loren at Lady Bird Lake feature smart design that reflects the hotel’s surroundings.

Courtesy of the Loren at Lady Bird Lake

When it’s time to explore the city, the Loren’s prime location makes the city feel extra accessible on foot. Head out with your walking shoes—or grab one of the hotel’s complimentary electric bikes available for guests to borrow—and check out these five locations nearby.

Lady Bird Lake and Auditorium Shores

Where: 900 W. Riverside Dr.
Walking distance from hotel: Less than a minute

Lady Bird Lake, which is actually a dammed section of the Colorado River, is a popular spot for both locals and visitors, for either walking and jogging on the trails circling the lake or getting out on the water. While swimming in the lake is illegal due to dangerous currents in the reservoir, visitors can still kayak or SUP—Zilker Park Rentals is a little more than a mile away from the Loren.

Auditorium Shores, a highly sought-after site for concerts and festivals, is also located on the banks of Lady Bird Lake. Staying at the Loren can make the headache of coordinating festival or concert travel easier by simply walking the three minutes to the venue.

The Mexic-Arte's Museums Dia de los Muertos Parade

The Mexic-Arte Museum holds Austin’s largest Dia de los Muertos parade each year.

Photo by ShengYing Lin/Shutterstock

Mexic-Arte Museum

Where: 419 Congress Ave.
Walking distance: 20 minutes

The Mexic-Arte Museum was founded in 1984 by local Austin artists Sylvia Orozco, Sam Coronado, and Pio Pulido with the intention of showcasing and promoting Mexican, Chicano, and Latino American art and culture in Texas—it’s one of the few museums focused on Mexican art in the country. At the Mexic-Arte Museum, visitors can check out rotating exhibitions of Mexican and Latino artists or stop by the changarrito, the museum’s “vending cart,” to purchase works of art. A mural program invites local artists to paint a wall about a minute on foot from the museum at Fifth Street and Congress Avenue. The mural changes every few months—a piece by San Antonio–based muralist Kat Cadena currently adorns the wall.

If you happen to be in the area on November 1, Mexic-Arte hosts the largest and oldest Día de los Muertos parade in the city each year, which marches down historic Sixth Street and ends near the museum.


Where: 1625 Barton Springs Rd.
Walking distance: 11 minutes

In a city (and state) obsessed with all things beef and barbecue, locally owned JuiceLand is a welcome fruit-and-veggie-focused anomaly that embraces Austin’s “weirdness.” JuiceLand (formerly known as The Daily Juice) is an Austin institution that has been serving up smoothies and grab-and-go plant-based meals since 2001. There are more than two dozen stores spread across the city, but the one on Barton Springs Road is the smoothie empire’s original location—parking can be tricky in this area, so being able to walk there is ideal.

Don’t miss out on the Morning Sunshine smoothie, a citrusy blend of orange juice, pineapple, mangoes, bananas, goji berries, and local bee pollen. There aren’t many places to sit and enjoy a smoothie at this JuiceLand (the tiny, historic structure is actually the oldest building on Barton Springs Road), so take your juice to go and walk 10 minutes to Zilker Park or 15 minutes to the perennially popular Barton Springs Pool.

Radishes and carrots for sale at the SFC Farmers' Market in downtown Austin

The SFC Farmers’ Market in downtown Austin is held every Saturday, rain or shine.

Photo by Alfie Photography/Shutterstock

SFC Farmers’ Market Downtown

Where: 422 Guadalupe St.
Walking distance: 20 minutes

The Sustainable Food Center Farmers’ Market in downtown Austin takes place every Saturday, rain or shine, at the newly renovated Republic Square Park from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.; it’s a pleasant, 20-minute walk from the Loren through the shop- and restaurant-lined downtown. Everything, from the ready-to-eat foods to the fresh veggies and eggs, is grown or made in Central Texas. Consider buying a couple of tamales from Tamale Addiction (try the Pork Tomatillo and the Chicken Mole) and a cup of joe from Rootline Coffee to enjoy while you listen to live music and relax on the green.

Terry Black's Barbecue restaurant in Austin

Terry Black’s Barbecue (not to be confused with Black’s Barbecue in Lockhart) serves up some of the most sought-after brisket in town.

Photo by Josiah True/Shutterstock

Terry Black’s Barbecue

Where: 1003 Barton Springs Rd.
Walking distance: 10 minutes

There are plenty of places to grab a good plate of ’cue in Austin—but Terry Black’s has been one of the city’s mainstays since it opened in 2014. Terry Black is actually a member of the Black family of Black’s Barbecue, a local institution in the nearby town of Lockhart. But he began his own business after unceremoniously receiving a letter from the family lawyer in November 2013 stating that his services were no longer needed at Black’s Barbecue. (There is, surprisingly, a lot of drama in the barbecue biz.) Nonetheless, Terry quickly landed on his feet.

At Terry Black’s, a rustic space complete with a longhorn skull, diners can expect mains like tender, perfectly smoked brisket, well-seasoned jalapeño cheese sausage, and chopped beef sandwiches. Be sure to get a few sides as well: The mac and cheese, potato salad, and creamed corn are worth the trip all on their own. And don’t be surprised if there’s a big line—as is the case with most great barbecue joints in the Lone Star State, a long wait is all part of the experience.

Mae Hamilton is a former associate editor at Afar. She covers all things related to arts, culture, and the beautiful things that make travel so special.
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