Thinking of taking a tour in Austin, TX? If so, you're on track to discover one of the most vibrant cities in the United States. But before you hit Sixth Street or sunbathe in Zilker Metropolitan Park, let's debunk some myths about this Texas state capital.
Austin, often termed the "Live Music Capital of the World," is much more than just tunes. It's an eclectic blend of culture, nature, history, and innovation.
The Essence of "Keep Austin Weird"
This motto isn't just a catchy phrase; it's the spirit of the city.
From the unique murals of East Austin to the bustling energy of South Congress Avenue, Austin thrives on its quirkiness & is what initially drew so many people to this city.
However, as most local Austinites will tell you, this essence Is slowly fading away as more and more people move here.
So in reality, the slogan “keep austin weird” is just a call back to a city that doesn't really exist anymore.
Sixth Street and Austin's Music Scene
While Sixth Street is synonymous with live music and nightlife, the beats of Austin extend to historic places like Congress Avenue Bridge and beyond.
If you're looking for authentic live bands you won't find them on 6th street. South Congress Ave is a better alternative with dive bars like the Continental Club who has been a staple in Austin since it was 'WEIRD".
Zilker Park and Barton Springs Pool Adventures
Zilker Park isn't just a park; it's a haven for Austinites. Whether you're kayaking on Lady Bird Lake, strolling in the Zilker Botanical Garden, or taking a dip in the Barton Springs Pool, the area is a testament to Austin's love for nature.
However, what most people don't know or utilize is the Green Belt, which backs right up to Zilker Park & Barton Springs Pool.
This long stretch of hiking & biking trails used to be a creek that would partially feed Barton Springs Pool. However, due to climate change & drought, the creek is dried up most of the year.
If you're lucky enough to be in town on a day when it's running, we'd highly recommend taking advantage & going for a swim,
The Appeal of Downtown Austin & Congress Avenue
Downtown Austin is a blend of the old and new. The contemporary Austin vibe meshes with the historic essence, especially around Congress Avenue, a stretch that tells tales of Austin's rich past.
Lake Travis and Lake Austin's Natural Beauty
Nestled in the Texas Hill Country, these lakes offer serene views and water activities, making them top picks for "things to do in Austin, TX."
One of the best places to take in the sunset in the city is at Mount Bonnell since it overlooks Lake Austin.
If you're looking to enjoy a nice view of downtown while still being able to run your feet through some grass, the best park is Auditorium Shores. Located right next to S 1st Street Bridge, this park is ideal for those looking to take in the Austin skyline.
Not just a BBQ Town
Austin’s culinary scene goes beyond BBQ. From South Congress food trucks to high-end eateries in North Austin, there's a palate-pleaser for everyone.
If you are looking for good fried chicken you've come to the right city. Places like Tumble 22 & Spicy Boys turn out some of the best-fried chicken you'll ever get your taste buds on.
And with multiple locations, these local chains are some of the best places to get food if you're in a chicken mood.
Looking for something a little less Texan? Austin also has some incredible Japanese, Chinese, Korean & Vietnamese food.
There's honestly too many to list here but a great local content creator we recommend you check out for food reviews is @thedaviddouglass.
Beyond the Tech Boom
While there's a tech surge, Austin’s heart lies in its arts, music, and cultural hubs like Blanton Museum and Austin Aquarium.
Austin also hosts a large number of festivals and events throughout the year. The most notable month is October since both ACL & Formula 1 come into town.
These events bring hundreds of thousands of people to the city, which means that tons of local bars & venues make an effort to put on events of their own. Because of this, there's always tons of stuff to do outside of the typical nature activities.
Navigating Austin Traffic
Traffic might seem daunting, but with alternatives like biking in South Austin or using public transit in Central Texas, it becomes a breeze
One tip we can give is to try to avoid using I-35 as much as possible. If you live on the east side, Airport BLVD is a great alternative to getting from north to south Austin.
Landmarks & Activities: What To Do In Austin, TX
Exploring South Congress & Historic Places
South Congress is a treasure trove of boutique shops, eateries, and the famed Austin mural artworks. Nearby historic places offer a peek into the city's soul.
If you're looking for the best place to take in some amazing architecture, Tarry Town, next to downtown & west campus, is home to hundreds of old colonial-style homes that really transport you back in time.
The Charm of Rainey Street & Mount Bonnell
Whether it's the laid-back bars of Rainey Street or the panoramic views from Mount Bonnell, Austin never ceases to amaze.
While these two activities couldn't be more different, we actually think they go really well together. Imagine this, taking in a beautiful sunset over the incredible town lake, then hitting the town out on Rainey.
While Rainey Street is no longer the "go-to spot" in Austin for a night out, it's still home to some incredible bars for going day drinking.
Spots like Icenhauer's are perfect for a beer or cocktail at 3 p.m. On Sunday they have PDA Band, a local band from Austin, come and put on a hell of a show.
Austin, in its essence, is a blend of traditions and innovations. While misconceptions exist, the truth is that Austin offers a diverse experience that few cities can match. Ready for your Austin tour?
Is Austin's music scene only about country music? No, Austin has a diverse range of music from rock to jazz and everything in between.
Are there vegetarian BBQ options in Austin? Yes, many BBQ joints now offer vegetarian and vegan options.
Is Austin expensive to live in? While Austin is more expensive than some Texas cities, it's cheaper than places like San Francisco or New York.
Does Austin have a good public transportation system? Yes, Austin has buses, light rail, and bike-sharing systems.
Is Austin a family-friendly city? Absolutely! With numerous parks, museums, and activities, it's great for families.
Is Austin's tech scene as big as Silicon Valley's? While it's growing, Silicon Valley still leads in terms of size and influence.
What are the peak traffic times in Austin? Generally, from 7-9 am and 4-7 pm during weekdays.
Does Austin have a diverse food scene? Yes, from food trucks to upscale restaurants, Austin offers a variety of culinary delights.