What to Do in Austin
The Live Music Capital of the World
No Austin travel guide could ignore the incredible variety and quality of music on offer in this Texas city. Many visitors are shocked to discover that day or night, weekday or weekend, someone is picking up an instrument and taking to the stage in Austin. From an impromptu show with 20 audience members to some of the biggest music festivals in the country, every type of music is showcased in this city.
In 1991 Austin officially earned its title "The Live Music Capital of the World." The city hasn’t looked back since, and today it offers more than 200 music venues spread throughout the city. There are thousands of musicians that call Austin home, and bands from around the country are often stopping into Austin for the great atmosphere.
The Great Outdoors
Many travelers are surprised that beyond the Austin events, music, and restaurants, there are also many opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors. Hill Country is located right outside of Austin, and it is easy to escape the grid for a day of hitting the hiking trails or mountain biking.
If you don’t want to leave city limits, you can always visit Lady Bird Lake. This is an ideal place for a picnic or an early morning jog. Austin has more than 300 days of sunshine per year, and after a long night in one of the city’s music clubs you might just be tempted to spend a day breathing the fresh air in one of the city’s 200 parks.
Explore the Arts and Culture
Beyond Austin restaurants and live music venues, there are many more opportunities for getting a taste of local arts and culture. For a special night on the town, book tickets for the symphony or the ballet. If you’re a nature lover, check out the Botanical Gardens, where you can enjoy 30 acres of streams, waterfalls, and ponds.
The Long Center for the Performing Arts is dubbed "the art and soul" of Austin. Here you can see theater, opera, kid-friendly shows, and more. Many visitors fall in love with Austin because art and culture is also on every street corner. From galleries featuring experimental work to street performers that attract big audiences, Austin truly has it all when it comes to entertainment.
What to See in Austin
Exploring History in Austin
Even if Austin events such as concerts or festivals bring you to the city, don’t miss out on the chance to learn a little bit about local history. The nation’s tallest capitol building is located here, as well as the Texas State History Museum. To learn about the centuries of history in this city, one strategy is to join a historic walking tour, where you will see the treasures of downtown Austin with the help of a knowledgeable guide.
Another historic institution here is the University of Texas. If you’re a sports fan, one unforgettable way to spend a night in Austin will be to attend a football game. If you prefer art over sports, be sure to check out the Blanton Museum, Austin’s newest fine arts museum also located at the University of Texas. Here you can also see the Presidential Museum for Lyndon B. Johnson.
Music Festivals and Events
While a thorough Austin travel guide will attempt to turn visitors on to different attractions throughout the city, one of the biggest draws is still the music. There are two main music festivals, the ACL Music Festival which extends over three days each year and the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival that also celebrates other arts including film.
Where to Shop and Eat in Austin
Sensational Shopping in Austin
Be sure to leave some room in your luggage for the sensational shopping on offer in Austin. No Austin travel guide could cover the shopping choices in their entirety; this city is full of shops and new ones are popping up all the time. You will have no problem finding music memorabilia, vintage treasures, jewelry, and even outlet stores.
There are two districts in Austin where shoppers will want to their energies. The SoCo district, or South of Congress, is known as an area of eclectic stores where you will find unique boutiques. The second area is the 2nd Street District, where upscale and trendy shops line the streets.
The Big Flavors of Austin Texas
When you come to Austin, Texas, you better bring your appetite! Austin restaurants are known for bold flavors, satisfying portions, and barbecue that will make your taste buds dance. No one could claim that food in this city is boring or bland, so be ready to try something new.
Local favorites include Truluck’s, a seafood, steak, and crab restaurant where the jumbo stone crabs pack Austin residents and visitors alike. If you’re looking for an authentic taste of Austin, head to the Texas Chili Parlor, an Austin institution since 1976. You’ll find it when you see the line out the door of people patiently waiting for their chili fix.
When to Visit Austin
Every traveler will have his or her own favorite time to visit Austin. The city is popular for its mild winters and both spring and fall are known for perfect temperatures. Some visitors love the bright, sunny, and warm summers, while others prefer to be at a beach for the summer instead of in a city. Depending on your taste, you will be able to find the best time of year for you to visit Austin.
If you plan on attending one of the big music festivals in Austin, be sure to plan ahead and book your vacation rental as soon as possible. If you aren’t attending a festival, these can be weekends to avoid in Austin, as everything is very crowded. ACL takes place in the beginning of October and SXSW takes place in March.
What to Bring to Austin
Another thing visitors love about Austin is its laid back attitude. Even if you want to attend local music performances, you don’t need to get dressed up; a pair of jeans will do just fine. Your packing list will be different depending on what time of year you arrive, but outside of the summer months be sure to pack a light sweater or jacket as temperatures vary from day to night. A comfortable pair of walking shoes is also necessary if you plan on really seeing Austin on foot. Austin restaurants are known for being casual, so leave your fancy clothes at home for this trip.
Local Services in Austin
The city of Austin offers everything you will need right at your fingertips. If you’re tired of visiting places where the services are just OK, you will be pleasantly surprised by Austin. Whether you want groceries to stock the kitchen of your vacation rental, an ATM for fast cash, or a tour guide to explain local history, all of this will be readily available in the state’s capital city.
What to Know About Austin
Some travelers are intimidated by visiting a new city, but this shouldn’t be the case in Austin. This friendly city has a low crime rate, and visitors are just as welcome at the music shows as the local residents are. You might be wondering if it is safe to walk around downtown Austin, and the answer is definitely yes. Part of the appeal of Austin is the ability to walk everywhere downtown, so bring your comfortable shoes, and don’t be intimidated by the city.
Getting to Austin
Austin Texas is home to its own international airport, located 7 miles, or a 15-minute drive from downtown Austin. It isn’t necessary to rent a car to visit Austin, as the city is very friendly for walking. On the other hand, some travelers do choose to rent a car for a day or two if they plan on exploring outdoor adventure activities outside of the city.
Why Austin Vacation Rentals?
If you’re planning a trip to Austin, Texas, you’re probably curious about how locals live. The best way to achieve this is to live like a local by choosing a vacation rental. This is also a great way to keep the cost of your trip down, by enjoying some meals, such as breakfast or lunch, right in your rental. Instead of crowding into a hotel with no character, you will learn more about Austin (and be more comfortable!) by choosing a vacation rental.