Austin Rocks: How to Explore the Live Music Capital of the World

For live music fans, theres nowhere better to catch up-and-coming or established acts than in the eclectic venues of Austin
For live music fans, there's nowhere better to catch up-and-coming or established acts than in the eclectic venues of Austin | © Sipa US / Alamy Stock Photo
Culture Trip Travel Team

With its gloriously appointed vaudeville theaters and off-the-wall dive bars, the hippest city in Texas is a paradise for music lovers. We highlight seven of its most iconic venues.

For a city the size of Austin, playing host to one major festival would be enough to guarantee its place on the international music map. But this hipster enclave in the Lone Star State is a place where they double-down on everything. Every March, there’s the music industry jamboree, South by South West, and then in October, the city plays host to the Austin City Limits Festival, which has in the past featured mega-band headliners such as Vampire Weekend, Radiohead, and Depeche Mode. Not that this happened by accident, of course, Austin is music-mad 365 days of the year and has a roster of gig venues that would make most metropolises weep. We’ve partnered with music-enthusiasts 14 Hands Winery, who happen to be the official wine sponsor of the Austin City Limits Music Festival, and make the kind of wild, untamed wines that perfectly capture the spirit of this wild, untamed city, to pick seven of Austin’s highlights – from downtown dive bars to state-of-the-art, purpose-built concert halls.

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CentralAmerica

GORGEOUS GUATEMALA

Gorgeous Guatemala

5 days . Mini
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1. Guatemala

An express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.

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CentralAmerica

BEACHY BELIZE

Beachy Belize

5 days . Mini
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2. Belize

A quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
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CentralAmerica

COLONIAL MEXICO

Colonial Mexico

5 days . Mini
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An exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
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ADVENTUROUS ECUADOR

Adventurous Ecuador

8 days . Epic
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A remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.

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SouthAmerica

ANCIENT PERU

Ancient Peru

9 days . Epic
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2. Peru

An alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
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Europe

SEDUCTIVE SOUTHERN ITALY

Seductive Southern Italy

10 days . Epic
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1. Italy

The ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.

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Europe

EDINBURGH AND THE SCOTTISH HIGHLANDS BY TRAIN

Edinburgh And The Scottish Highlands By Train

7 days . Culture
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2. Scotland

Embark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
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COMPLETE PORTUGAL BY TRAIN

Complete Portugal By Train

8 days . Culture
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3. Portugal

A wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
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Asia

SOULFUL SOUTH KOREA

Soulful South Korea

10 days . Epic
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1. South Korea

Discover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.

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Asia

THAILAND, CAMBODIA & VIETNAM

Thailand, Cambodia & Vietnam

11 days . Epic
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2. Thailand

From Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
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SECRETS OF SRI LANKA BY TRAIN

Secrets Of Sri Lanka By Train

10 days . Culture
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3. Sri Lanka

A fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
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Africa

EPIC MOROCCO

Epic Morocco

11 days . Epic
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1. Morocco

An epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!

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Africa

ULTIMATE EGYPT

Ultimate Egypt

9 days . Epic
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2. Egypt

From Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
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IMMERSIVE KENYA

Immersive Kenya

8 days . Epic
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3. Kenya

An immersive blend of culture and wildlife for first time travelers to Africa. Learn about Nairobi, sample local coffee in the Aberdares and finish up with a fantastic safari stay in the Masai Mara.
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Antone’s

Since it opened in 1975, Austin’s legendary blues club has moved around the city, but wherever it’s been it has always attracted the best, including BB King, Eric Clapton and Ray Charles. Now on Fifth Street, just around the corner from its original home on Sixth, the club is once again at the heart of the action and still booking stellar acts from across the spectrum, while always maintaining its love of blues and soul. The menu was created by Jalal, an uncle of the original owner, Clifford Antone, back in 1963. Be sure to try one of the famous Louisiana-style po’ boy sandwiches accompanied by a zingy 14 Hands Gewürztraminer.

A landmark on the Austin music scene, Antone’s Home of the Blues hosts a wave of cutting-edge bands

The White Horse Saloon

Whether they’re hipsters in distressed jeans or retirees in diamanté denim, honky-tonk lovers of all kinds flock to the unpretentious White Horse for its Texas two-step dance lessons and its always-on-the-money roster of up-and-coming country bands. Acts play in front of a brilliant-red backdrop, while the lighting is low and the drinks are cheap. There’s a terrific taco truck outside serving everything from Bomb burritos to chipotle shrimp quesadillas, which are worth the visit alone. It’s a perfect opportunity to grab a bottle of 14 Hands Hot to Trot to enjoy with your meal.

Mohawk

This beautifully designed indoor-outdoor venue in the Red River Cultural District, which opened in 2006, has acquired an international reputation thanks to its forward-thinking gig schedule and big-time party atmosphere. Knowledgeable bartenders pour generous shots of small-batch liquors in the handsome taxidermy-stuffed bar. And there are two gig spaces: an intimate one inside for emerging bands and a larger one outside for big touring acts like Los Campesinos and the Psychedelic Furs.

At the Drive-In on stage at the Mohawk as part of the SXSW Festival

The Hole in the Wall

Sitting proudly opposite the University of Texas campus, the Hole in the Wall is a grungy student bar with all the essentials: cheap drinks, graffitied toilets, brilliant music. Fittingly, its tight-packed, always-atmospheric gig space has been a place of serious learning for the local acts who have honed their craft here before going onto bigger things, among them the alt-rock band Fastball, and the blues-and-funk singer Black Joe Lewis.

ACL Live at the Moody Theater

Austin City Limits, which regularly airs on PBS, is the only television show ever to win America’s coveted National Medal of Arts. A music show for authentic music lovers, it’s taped at the Moody Theater in downtown Austin. To attend show tapings you must enter a ticket lottery, but when the studio is not being used for this purpose, ACL Live at the Moody Theater presents concerts year-round that you can purchase tickets for. This gives you the opportunity to see massive names live from across the musical spectrum, from Dinosaur Jr to St Vincent.

The Moody Theater, in downtown Austin, hosts massive live acts year round, and is the filming location for renowned TV show ‘Austin City Limits’

Carousel Lounge

With its lion tamer wall mural and trumpeting pink elephant, this gloriously rickety dive bar has been one of the most iconic venues in Austin since it opened its doors in 1963. There’s an actual carousel behind the bar and the whole thing has the feel of something David Lynch might have dreamed up, which is perfect for the always-leftfield line-ups that feature everything from new bands on the make to belly dancers.

Paramount Theater

Built in the classical revival style in 1915, the glorious Paramount Theater is the grande-dame of the Austin music scene; a proper old-school theatre. with a gorgeous proscenium arch that frames a big stage, it has a long history of vaudeville and variety shows. Today, the venue keeps that eclectic spirit alive with a varied schedule featuring everything from internationally famous stand-up comedians and odd-ball magicians to local musicians and big touring acts such as KD Lang and Gladys Knight.

The Paramount Theater, built in 1915, has a long history of variety and vaudeville shows. Today it hosts everyone from major musical acts to madcap magicians

14 Hands does things differently. We honor the past, but we’re passionate about trying new things. And that means making wine that is flavor first, and everything else second. Discover wines unbound by rules or convention at your local retailer today. ©2021 14 Hands Winery, Prosser WA, Red Wine

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