One visit to Austin, Texas, and you can easily understand why it is one of the fastest growing cities in the United States. The southern charm, mouth watering food, vivacious music scene, the list could go on for quite some time. But if you’re on a second or third visit and find yourself tired of being bombarded by frat boys at bars on sixth street or waiting in endless lines for the latest deep fried craze, it’s time to venture from the guidebooks and experience the city like the locals do.
There’s a unique charm and creativity to the Live Music Capital of the World, so stray from the typical path and try one of these five ways to truly experience Austin, Texas.
1. Be creative with where you stay.
Yes, Austin has a slew of great hotels, but stepping outside of the city limits will allow you to take in the beautiful hill country firsthand. First, decide what type of experience you want to have and research which location is right for you, depending on what you plan to accomplish during your visit. Once you’ve figured that out, turn to Glamping Hub to find the ideal getaway. Search through hundreds of listings with everything from fancy treehouses to traditional teepees with modern interiors. It’s so much more than camping! Bonus: Glamping Hub isn’t just in Austin—you can pick from locations all over the world.
2. Eat at the many hidden gems.
Source: Instagram @atasteofkoko
You can’t mention Austin without hearing about Franklin Barbecue, the infamous barbecue joint that doesn’t open until 11 a.m. but a line starts forming before 8 a.m. and the food is sold out before noon. People will even pay students to stand in line for them. Yes, locals and tourists alike rave about the establishment, but we get it—you don’t always have the time or dedication to wait. Instead head to where the natives get their fix when they aren’t bribing students. Try Opies BBQ toward Lake Travis, head downtown to Lamberts for a more refined experience, or stop at one of the many Rudy’s.
The food truck scene in Austin is a hot topic of conversation. You’ll want to participate in the great debate on who has the best tacos or argue about the newest truck and how it ranks against the others. Rather than driving all over the city for the perfect falafel, take your pick at the Truck Yard or South Austin Trailer Park & Eatery, where you can mix and match your meal from a vast selection and enjoy it on the park tables.
3. Get yourself to the water.
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Take a break from the Texas heat and cool off in one of the many beautiful natural holes. Instead of swimming at usually crowded Barton Springs, grab your swimsuit and set off to the natural swimming grotto Hamilton Pool or Bull Creek District Park. If you are active and hungry for beautiful views of the cityscape, spend an afternoon on Lake Austin paddle boarding and kayaking. If you want to be near the water (but not physically in it) take a loop on the Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail, hike in Barton Creek Greenbelt, or grab your pet and head to Red Bud Isle where they can swim, but you can’t.
4. Enjoy live music.
Source: Lostin Austin
When you imagine Austin, you may think country music and two-stepping. And while this is one genre you can find, the music scene expands far past the realm of guitars and broken hearts. You won’t want to visit Austin without seeing at least one live music show! We recommend Stubbs for a concert with easy access to barbecue, The White Horse for music and dancing, The Carousel Lounge for a touch of character, or Sahara Lounge for a laid back atmosphere.
5. Spend Sunday morning on South Congress.
Source: A Taste of Koko
South Congress is a special beauty on Sunday morning. So if you didn’t spend the night dancing away and can actually wake up before 10 a.m., start with a light brunch at Magnolia Cafe. Then walk down South Congress Ave. perusing the shops and snacking at local spots like Perla’s for a Bloody Mary and oysters. Among the markets and local vendors you’ll find special events like the Adopt a Dog Fair. Who doesn’t want to drink, shop, and then hold some puppies?