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Escape from San Diego to Austin on a budget

Looking for a trendy new city to explore? Consider Austin, Texas, one of the fastest-growing large cities in the country and U.S. News & World Report's number one place to live in the United States for the past two years running.

The self-proclaimed Live Music Capital of the World is home to many students, artists and musicians, along with a booming tech industry and a classic Texas barbecue and Tex-Mex food scene. Despite its growth, Austin seeks to maintain its eccentric local vibe, with plenty of independent businesses and a strong commitment to the local environment. Austin hosts numerous festivals throughout the year, and boasts more music venues per capita than any other city in the nation. The list of local attractions also includes extensive theaters, museums and outdoor spaces like parks, lakes and waterways.

Using the travel site Skyscanner, we’ve sifted through the cheapest flights between San Diego and Austin in the next few months, along with some top-rated hotel options and beloved local attractions. (Prices and availability are current as of publication and subject to change.)

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Cheapest Austin flights

Currently, the cheapest flights between San Diego and Austin are if you leave on Sept. 14 and return from Texas on Sept. 18. Frontier Airlines currently has roundtrip tickets for $131.

There are also deals to be had in October. If you fly out of San Diego on Oct. 5 and return from Austin on Oct. 9, Frontier Airlines can get you there and back for $147, roundtrip.

Top Austin hotels

To help plan your stay, here are some of Austin’s top-rated hotels that were selected from Skyscanner's listings, based on price and customer satisfaction.

AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center (1900 University Ave.)

Photo: Trip by Skyscanner

For an all-around top recommendation, consider the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center. The hotel has a 4.8-star rating on Skyscanner, and rooms are currently available for $129/night.

Located on the south side of the University of Texas at Austin campus, the AT&T Education and Conference center offers luxury hotel amenities and full conference center facilities. Guest benefits include access to the UT pool and gym facilities, in addition to the fitness room and pool on-site.

The Hotel Ella (1900 Rio Grande)

Photo: Trip by Skyscanner

Another 4.8-star option is The Hotel Ella, which has rooms currently set at $199/night.

"Hotel Ella is the perfect quintessential Austin vibe. Upscale luxury with laid-back personality," wrote visitor Alice. 

The Kimber Modern Hotel (110 The Circle)

Photo: Trip by Skyscanner

If you're looking to treat yourself, try The Kimber Modern Hotel. This 4.8-star hotel has rooms going for $322/night.

Featured Austin restaurants

If you're looking for a popular spot to grab a bite, Austin has plenty of excellent eateries to choose from. Here are a few options from Skyscanner's listings to help you get started.

Uchi (801 S. Lamar Blvd.)

Photo: Trip by Skyscanner

One of Austin's most popular restaurants is Uchi, which has an average of 4.9 stars out of 104 reviews on Skyscanner.

Uchi's culi­nary philos­ophy combines local, seasonal ingre­di­ents with an infinite spec­trum of seafood from around the globe, inviting diners to explore their gastro­nomic bound­aries by pairing tradi­tional Japanese offer­ings with new flavors and textures.

"Amazing sushi," wrote visitor Katie. "It's up there against anything you'll have in San Francisco, NYC or elsewhere."

Hopdoddy Burger Bar (1400 S. Congress Ave.)

Photo: Trip by Skyscanner

Another popular dining destination is Hopdoddy Burger Bar, with 4.7 stars from 127 reviews.

"Favorite burger place in town! There's a line out the door at dinnertime for a reason," wrote Jenna. "Amazing drinks, milkshakes, fries [and] burgers. A must-visit place."

Franklin Barbecue (900 E. 11th)

Also worth considering is Franklin Barbecue.

"Amazing barbecue! [The] brisket and pork ribs are my favorites," wrote reviewer Terry. "It’s an Austin experience to be embraced."

Home Slice Pizza (1415 S. Congress Ave.)

Photo: Trip by Skyscanner

Finally, there's Home Slice Pizza, an independent neighborhood pizza joint known for its authentic, hand-tossed New York-style pizza — served by the pie or by the slice.

"Whether you're into spinach pizza or traditional cheese, this place is funky and fun," wrote Tiffany.

Featured Austin attractions

Not sure how to spend your time in Austin, apart from eating and drinking? Here are a few activity recommendations, provided by Skyscanner.

Barton Springs Pool (2201 Barton Springs Road)

Photo: Trip by Skyscanner

First up is Barton Springs Pool.

Known as one of Austin's finest attractions, Barton Springs Pool is the perfect outing for those hot Texas days — or even the cool ones. Maintaining a comfortable 68 degrees Fahrenheit year-round, visitors can enjoy a 100% natural swimming experience with no chlorine.

"A must-visit [in] Austin, especially in the summer," wrote visitor Nici. "You can swim laps, jump [off] a diving board, bring a float and just relax in the always-cool water. Then, lay out on the hill in the sun to warm up and repeat."

Zilker Metropolitan Park (2100 Barton Springs Road)

Photo: Trip by Skyscanner

Then, there's Zilker Metropolitan Park.

Patrons can enjoy a huge variety of activities at Zilker Park, including hiking and biking trails, picnic facilities, Zilker Botanical Garden, canoe rentals, soccer fields, sand volleyball courts, riverboat rides on Town Lake, concerts, festivals and even a miniature train.

"A great place to take a break from the bustling downtown," wrote visitor Tyson. "Large open space makes this a great place to play soccer or frisbee."

Lady Bird Lake Hike-and-Bike Trail (Lady Bird Lake)

Photo: Trip by Skyscanner

Last but not least, consider checking out Lady Bird Lake Hike-and-Bike Trail.

"A wonderful body of water in the center of the city," wrote visitor Nici. "I highly suggest biking around Lady Bird Lake. ... There are solid trails, and on either side of the lake, there are additional areas you can ride through for a longer, more scenic ride of Austin."


This story was created automatically using flight, hotel, and local attractions data, then reviewed by an editor. Click here for more about what we're doing. Got thoughts? Go here to share your feedback.