Austin is a city made up of diverse and unique places and attractions. From the live music that plays nightly at dozens of different types of venues, to dining at anything from a food truck to a celebrity chef restaurant, and totally Austin spots like the Cathedral of Junk, entertainment abounds for every individual personality and preference. Museums, exhibits, guided tours, and outdoor activities galore are available in the state's capital. There are unique opportunities to learn about the city, such as Texas Bike Tours narrated by locals and including a photographer; and Austin Duck Adventures where you splash from the street right into Lady Bird Lake.
Hot Tips: In summer, always bring sunblock and water to any outdoor event. Texas heat is scorching!
Caution: Parking can be a premium downtown and in neighborhoods like Rainey Street and East Austin. Consider using a service like Uber, Car2go or a pedicab.
Avoid: Being disappointed by a venue that's closed when you arrive; always check the website or call ahead for hours or reservations if needed.
Austin accommodations are plentiful, with new hotels opening and other rentals such as vacation homes and even Airstream trailers. If you’ll be downtown for business or partying on Austin’s famous Sixth Street, you’ll find several hotels within walking distance of great restaurants, live music venues and the State Capitol. Downtown is also accessible to Lady Bird Lake, with its hiking and biking trails. When visiting other areas of Austin, it’s a good idea to verify how far you'll be from your destinations, especially with the traffic the city has become known for. Austin is super friendly to cyclists and walkers, and encourages public transportation and ride sharing.
Hot Tips: Austin's unique vibe means that many boutique hotels have their own distinct personality, so check out several to find one that's your style.
Caution: There are three chain hotels right at the airport, with several others within a 15 minute radius.
Austin has become a foodie's paradise, with dozens of highly-anticipated restaurants opening in recent months. The downtown area is host to a variety of restaurants and upscale eateries that cater to the weekend nightlife; but don't ignore central neighborhoods such as SoCo (South Congress), South Lamar, and East Austin with their own unique personalities and plenty of dining options. Some pretty awesome meals can also be found at gourmet food trailers, which are plentiful all over the city.
Be Sure to Sample: Entrees from at least one of Austin's funky but fabulous food trailers!
Take It or Leave It: Skip the chain food restaurants. Ask about establishments that are local favorites instead.
Avoid: Avoid taking IH-35 if you are short on time or have a reservation. Traffic can be a nightmare between 4-7pm on the weekends.
Austin is called the "Live Music Capital of the World" for good reason. You can find live music all over the city, no matter the time of day, not only at known music venues but the most laid-back coffee shops or taco stands – even the airport! Nightlife here has a personality all its own, from upscale cocktail lounges to all-in-one venues featuring food and movies, bowling, or karoaoke. Hole-in-the-wall dives are popular with locals as well. Austin is also home to the world's largest bat colony, and every night people gather to watch them fly out from under the Congress Street Bridge.
Take It or Leave It: Parking can be an issue at some venues. Call ahead to see if valet service is available, or use public transportation, taxi or other services.
Hot Tips: Pick up a copy of the Austin Chronicle (available free at many local businesses) to see up-to-date concert, show and event times.
Caution: When attending concerts and live music events, advance purchase of tickets may be the only thing to get you in the door.
Austin has self-defined style like nowhere else. At many places you might rub shoulders with both tuxedos and tattoos. Blue jeans and cocktail dresses sit side by side in restaurants. Quirky styles catch your eye on the streets. Austin is home to upscale, locally-owned boutiques, specialty stores and swanky malls. A town geared to the outdoors and healthy living, there are plenty of stores dedicated to running, cycling and other fitness regimens. Vintage shops are also popular here, and a fun way to make a personal style statement. Grab those trendy hand-tooled leather boots on South Congress (SoCo) where you'll find an entire strip of shops and galleries.
Hot Tips: Ask shop owners if you can be put on the VIP mailing list. It often qualifies your for an instant discount!
Caution: Parking can be brutal on the weekends. Channel your inner rockstar and visit boutiques and independent shops for local flavor.
Best Local Souvenir: Pick up a T-shirt that says "Keep Austin Weird" - even locals wear them!