Austin, Texas has a lot to offer, being known for many things like food, music, nightlife and the outdoors. I spent four days there over the holidays, and I’m already itching to go back. There’s a lot to love about this unique Texan city, so here are a few tips to help you get the most out of Austin.
Check out the different neighborhoods. Don’t get stuck in one area of the city. There are loads of unique communities all over town. Of course, the infamous Sixth Street, aka ‘Dirty Sixth’ is a great spot to drink the night away and hear some tunes. Don’t get too hung up on the craziness of the main drag and not make it to east of Interstate 35 on Sixth Street where you will find cozy restaurants and bars. The nightlife doesn’t end there. Be sure to make it to Rainey Street for a more laid back night out, where several houses have been converted into unique bars.
One of my favorite areas to walk around was South Congress. It’s a great street for shopping in eclectic boutiques and eating at hip cafes. Take a break at Jo’s Hot Coffee Good Food and don’t miss the famous street art on the side of the building. Nearby South First Street is also worth a wander, especially for food truck lovers.
Take advantage of the free or cheaper activities. Despite Austin being the 11th biggest city in the U.S., there are plenty of activities to enjoy in the great outdoors. There are loads of parks to stroll in or go for a bike ride. You can even go kayaking on Lady Bird Lake, in addition to countless swimming spots. The Capitol building is another option, which boasts a park surrounding it and free tours daily. My personal favorite was exploring the 360 Bridge Overlook. It’s a short hike full of views of Pennybacker Bridge, Lake Austin and the city skyline in the distance.
Indulge in the food and drinks. I found this to be the most impressive part of Austin. The city is especially famous for its BBQ and food trucks. I can’t pick one favorite meal I had but a few highlights were Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken, Magnolia Café, Buenos Aires Café and Lucky Robot Japanese Kitchen. I also recommend getting a few beers and a snack at Easy Tiger (Sixth Street). The Blind Pig Pub was my favorite bar I made it to on ‘Dirty Sixth’ with its rooftop view of the madness below. Shangri-la (east of Interstate 35 on Sixth Street) is a good hangout dive bar to escape the craze.
Take in the music scene. Austin is renowned for its live music scene. It’s hard not to stumble on any type of music when walking the streets at night. I’m from Nashville, Tennessee, so I really appreciate a city that offers quality live music. I found Austin offers a uniquely wide variety of genres in its bars and venues across town.
You can find free parking within walking distance of downtown. If you choose to have a car while visiting Austin, there are options for free parking, although it may not seem like it with all the signs advertising steep car park prices. Go east of I-35 from 4th Street. Parking meters spring up among the neighborhood streets. However, if you keep your eyes peeled, there are a few streets that are fair game to park in, even overnight. We parked our rental car there for three nights and had no problems.
If you’ve visited Austin, Texas, what was your experience like? If not, are you drawn to check it out?