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11 Things To Expect When Visiting Austin, Texas

Picture of Anna Carruth
Updated: 9 February 2017
Austin, Texas has grown to become a hot spot to visit for all kinds of people. If you’re one of the many visitors who wants to see and experience all that Austin has to offer, here are some things you should expect to experience on your visit to Texas’s capital.


There are people on bikes everywhere in Austin. Some people use them as transportation, some for exercise, and some simply like to ride for leisure. Either way, prepare to see bikes all over the city. The bright side is that since so many people choose to ride bicycles in Austin, the city is extremely bike-friendly, with bike lanes on almost every major street. The city even offers bike rentals, so feel free to grab one and explore.

Austin Bike Trail |©Larry D. Moore/WikiCommons
Austin Bike Trail | ©Larry D. Moore/WikiCommons

Locally owned restaurants and food trailers

Austin may be the live music capital of the world, but its food is also worth talking about. Austin’s most popular restaurants are almost all locally owned and use locally sourced produce and goods. Many choose to operate out of food trucks and trailers. For this reason, you can find interesting food anywhere in the city. If you don’t try any of Austin’s locally owned spots, you aren’t experiencing one of Austin’s best features.

Austin Food Trucks |©Steven Polunsky/Flickr
Austin Food Trucks | ©Steven Polunsky/Flickr

Terrible traffic

Austin has grown remarkably fast in the past few decades, and unfortunately the city’s roads haven’t kept up with the increase in population. When visiting, prepare to come across traffic that can strike at unpredictable moments. It is very likely that you will find yourself in a jam on I-35 at 1 p.m. on a Wednesday. For no specific reason, this is a daily routine locals have gotten used to. Downtown is also bad for traffic, having small lanes and predominately one-way streets. However, congestion can disappear just as quickly as it appears, so don’t be too concerned.


Another symptom of Austin’s growth problem is that the city is constantly under construction – an attempt to make it more suited to its population. If you like mapping out your trip before you go, don’t get too attached to your plans. At any given time, roads may be closed or blocked, certain buildings may be inaccessible, and detours will probably be necessary. Most popular destinations are accessible, but you might have to come up with a creative way to get there. And good luck finding parking.

Hot and humid weather

Austin’s annual high temperature is 78.8°. Long story short, Austin is hot. The city also gets a warm gulf breeze that comes in from the south, making it very rainy and humid in the spring and early summer. If you’re visiting Austin anytime between April and October, prepare to be hot and sticky. The weather can also change dramatically and without warning – so be sure to pack for every scenario imaginable.

You can find a quiet park

Austin has a number of beautiful parks that can serve as a great getaway from the city. Most notably there is Zilker Park, a 351-acre park just outside of the city, where many people go for a picnic, with their dogs, or just for a day out. It’s a pleasant, open space with all kinds of activities and a gorgeous view of downtown. You can also try the Greenbelt or McKinney Falls State Park if you want to get even more in touch with nature.


Austin loves tacos. From breakfast tacos to full taco plates, you’ll be able to find great tasting tacos at almost any restaurant you can visit. Austin is the spot where to some of the best Tex-Mex chains originated, including Torchy’s Tacos and Chuy’s. Tacos are eaten for every meal in Austin – you can grab a breakfast taco at any diner or taco stand (of which there are many), then go back later in the day and get a different variety.

Torchy's Tacos |©Todd Dwyer/Flickr
Torchy’s Tacos | ©Todd Dwyer/Flickr

Live Music

Austin is arguably the live music capitol of the world. You can find live performances almost anywhere, and probably without even meaning to. Venues permeate the city. Some well known examples are Stubb’s or Emo’s, which feature live shows on a daily basis. Most bars and coffee shops have a live music night at least once a week. More likely than not, you’ll happen upon some live music just walking down the street. Even if you didn’t visit the city for its music scene, a trip to Austin without seeing live music just isn’t right.


Austin has been stereotyped for being a ‘young’ and ‘hip’ city, and for a good reason. For years Austin has been a mecca for diverse people to come and feel welcome. Expect to see beards, suspenders, typewriters, and thick-rimmed glasses. You’ll also find organic and gluten free food options at almost every locally owned restaurant. While ‘hipsters’ may have a negative connotation in most places, here they really do help keep Austin weird (in a good way).

Packed tourist spots

Austin’s tourist spots are well known – South Congress, the bats on Congress, Sixth Street, and of course the State Capitol. If you want to visit any of these places, be prepared for them to be crowded. Austin’s numerous well known destinations have become big draws. The result is that most, if not all, of them are full of people at any given time. This is especially true for the capitol – not only are their casual tourists, there are school groups, interest groups, city-wide tours, and of course there are the people who actually work there.

Sixth Street |©prind1m/Flickr
Sixth Street | ©prind1m/Flickr

…But that doesn’t mean you should skip them

All that being said, the tourist spots are crowded for a reason. The Capitol is an educational and interesting experience, and the building itself is a spectacle any Texan should see at least once. While it’s good to be prepared for large crowds, skipping out on Austin’s most famous spots would be like skipping out on Austin altogether. Don’t let a long wait at a restaurant or a large crowd deter you from experiencing the best this amazing city has to offer.