It seems like no matter where you go in Austin, you hear music. From big acts at the Moody Theater to smaller venues like Skylark Lounge and Antone’s, there is a place where you will find the music you love. Oh, and of course there are the festivals. Whether you love drum circles, reggae, jazz, country, rock, or anything in between, you’ll be able to find it. No wonder Austin is known as the Live Music Capital of the World.
Although in large part a music festival, over the years South by Southwest (SXSW) has morphed into a two-week-long festival that features tech, film and music. Whether you’re looking to network or just want a raucous spring break, SXSW is the time to come to Austin if you want to see the city with all the stops pulled out. Just make sure to make a list of the shows you want to see and get there early. You will have to wait in line.
Circuit of the Americas has its track just outside Austin, which draws in thousands of visitors who are curious to see cars flying down the track at high speeds as they take hairpin turns and narrowly avoid one another (and sometimes don’t!). Overnight, this festival turns Austin into an international hodgepodge filled with visitors from all over the world, which makes for quite a few fun interactions if you find yourself downtown. Oh, and this festival also makes helicopter taxis a thing, just in case you ever wanted to say you got dropped off from a flying taxi.
Sunshine *almost* every day
Austin is one of the sunniest cities in America. On average, there are 300 days of sunshine every year. So if you like to cycle, hike or generally enjoy the outdoors, Austin is the ideal city to visit. Just be careful if you come in the summer. It’s hot, so hopefully you like to swim, too!
Sure, Austin is known for being weird, but have you ever stopped to think about where that character came from? Maybe it’s because of the sunshine, or perhaps it’s all the intellectual thoughts that stream out of the university, but whatever it is, Austinites cultivate a friendly spirit that is open and willing to accept the new, the unusual and the different. In any case, it makes for a welcoming community to live in.
Perhaps it’s the inclusive nature of the locals that has drawn creatives to Austin from across the country. The city may be an incubator for innovative technology, but it’s also a hub for designers, photographers, florists, artists, writers and more. And while there’s certainly a healthy dose of hustle, the general vibe is “community over competition,” making Austin a great place to meet fellow creatives and build the collaborative relationships that ultimately establish a niche. While SXSW is known for attracting entrepreneurs in technology, engineering and science, events like Create + Cultivate, the Texas Book Festival and the Texas Conference for Women provide reasons for creatives and aspiring leaders in all fields to visit Austin as well.
If you like cheese, don’t go to France. Instead, come to Austin where queso is a way of life. Served as an appetizer, a side dish or even as a main course for some, this melted cheese and pico de gallo magic is a reason in itself to visit the capital of the Lone Star State. Grab a table and try yellow queso at Magnolia Café, white queso at Z Tejas or queso fundido at Takoba. The good thing is that you can’t go wrong with any choice.
Along with queso generally comes a margarita. However, margaritas in Austin don’t generally come out of a Slurpee machine. If they do, make sure you ask if they’re made in-house and not out of a pre-made pack; it’s easy to tell the difference, in any case. Whether you like them on the rocks or frozen, a margarita in the shade is an Austin staple. In the summertime, try prickly pear margaritas. They’re electric-purple in color and add a touch of sweetness that pairs perfectly with a tart lime.
Another Texan favorite is barbecue, and Austin is bursting with some of the best barbecue in the state. Try the uber-famous Franklin Barbecue or go for the classic Salt Lick BBQ that’s just outside of city limits. However, there are other, lesser-known options like La Barbecue, Micklethwait Craft Meats, J. Lombardi’s and Birdhouse BBQ if you don’t want to wait in line.
Of course, there is upscale shopping all over Austin, but the true gems are hidden in the nooks and crannies of the city’s vintage shops. From North Loop and Burnet all the way down to South Congress, those who love the thrill of the hunt can rummage to their heart’s content through stores offering second-hand furniture, clothes or decoration.
Austin is as active after dark as it is during daylight hours. Maybe even more so. Austin’s nightclubs regularly rank towards the top of national lists for the best places to go hard during a party weekend. The Sixth Street District, or “Dirty Sixth,” is probably the most famous area for getting out and strutting your stuff, but there is also Rainey Street, East Cesar Chavez, East Sixth and South Congress if you want a different vibe. Each district has its own distinct pubs, bars and live music venues that cater to different characters around the city.