They say Austin is an oasis in the heart of Texas, but that doesn’t mean there’s only one watering hole to visit during your stay. It’s the capital of live music, the home of the Longhorns, and a mecca for racing enthusiasts, music lovers, and craft brew drinkers alike. For a small big-city, it surprisingly boasts a diverse collage of neighborhoods that display traditional Texan culture with a hipster twist. Depending on whether you take a right or a left down Congress Avenue, you might find yourself either at a sophisticated cocktail happy hour or a dive bar blasting loud live music. So, make sure you give yourself plenty of time to explore!
Austin’s diversity is reflected in its many restaurants. As the birthplace of brisket, barbecue is a must during your stay. Each Austinite is fiercely loyal to their own blend of BBQ, so make sure you leave room to try all that Austin has to offer. On the top of most people’s list is Franklin Barbecue, but you’ll be investing a good three or four hours to wait in line. It’s worth it, but don’t forget to be well stocked with beer and a football to help you pass the time! If you don’t want to spend your whole day queuing up, don’t fret. Check out JMueller on the east side for an equally mouth-watering experience.
But man can’t survive on brisket alone, so when you’re done with your dry rub, leave room for some of Austin’s famous taco spots. Situated on Guadalupe (drop that final ‘e’unless you want to be pegged as a tourist), in the heart of the University of Texas’drag, is Torchy’s Tacos. Whether you’re a Republican, Democrat, or Independent, there’s an option for you. Don’t forget your side of queso—it’s a must! Just down the street you’ll find Fuzzy’s, another local favorite. The fishbowl-sized margarita will be sure to keep you hydrated in the Texas heat.
Characteristic of Austin’s laid-back vibe, some of the best eats come in the form of food truck grub. For tastes a little less Texas and a little more Vietnam, check out Saigon Le Vendeur for some authentic Banh Mi. If it’s late night eats you’re looking for, try East Side King. Beet home fries and Asian inspired hot dogs will help soak up that evening’s libations.
There’s a reason people equate live music with Austin—it’s everywhere. You may have noticed that, even in the airport, each bar has a live singer. The same is true for virtually every spot on Sixth Street. SXSW has made this city a real hub for both up-and-coming and established musicians. If you haven’t bought tickets to your favorite artist, don’t worry! You can see some local talent at Cheer-Up Charlie’s or Barbarella’s. It’s always a good time.
One of the newer places to see in Austin is Rainey Street, which really exemplifies the city’s mix of new and old. The entire street of houses has been taken over by bars and restaurants with plenty of space to sit and drink. Banger’s on Rainey Street is a hopping place for Sunday brunch, with a live brass band, a michelada bar, and their famous Manmosa (a full bottle of champagne in a glass stein). Austin prides itself on big bars, open space, and local beer. Bars like Craft Pride serve over 100 Texas brewed beers on tap to give you a true taste of what the state has to offer. Or, head across the street to Container Bar where you can enjoy a refreshing cocktail in the comfort of your own recycled shipping container (trust me, it’s worth the experience.) After seeing Rainey, you can head downtown for some craft cocktails at the W or head West on Sixth for some old-school arcade games at Kung Fu Saloon.
Austin’s located right on Lake Travis, so there is ample opportunity to work off the beer and brisket. Paddle boarding and kayaking allows for quick respite from the city buzz, all with a wonderful view of the Austin skyline from the water. You can enjoy the beauty of the natural Barton Springs, a great place to relax with the family with year round temperatures of 70 degrees.
If none of these items appeal to what you’re looking for, the best thing about Austin is its hospitable southern charm. Ask any Austinite for recommendations and they’ll give you a list twice as long as this one.
If you’re needing to get connected while in Austin you have plenty of options. For one, the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport offers 90 consecutive minutes of free Wi-Fi daily.
Outside of the airport, your best bet is to head to the nearest Starbucks, which shouldn’t be too far away no matter where you are. Check out this map to find one near you. Although not always free, your hotel or Airbnb should also offer access. If free Internet is important to you during your stay, make sure you book accordingly. Here’s a list of hotels that offer Wi-Fi for free.
Whether a flight delay or cancellation left you stranded, or you’re in Austin just for fun, we hope you enjoy your stay!