Oh, and don’t forget to check out our community calendar if 10 straight-up shots of ATX aren’t quite enough for ya. Now get out there and enjoy!
Austin.com is and always has been a site that celebrates and promotes the unique people and places of Austin, TX and surrounding cities. Though many businesses, locations, and events are closed at this time, we continue to highlight those things so that you can plan to experience them in the future.
A great way to immerse yourself in Austin culture is to stroll north down the hill of South Congress Avenue, from about Torchy’s Tacos to the Lake. Austinites flock to the “SoCo” District to window-shop or pop into kitschy places like Big Top Candy and Allen’s Boots (more interesting than it sounds – think hippy cowboys strumming guitar live in a retail store). With delicious and affordable fine-dining restaurants such as Vespaio and Botticelli’s, funky and cool patios at Guero’s and Perla’s, and hip Austin bars like C-Boy’s Heart & Soul and the world-renowned Continental Club, boredom will be a virtual impossibility.
The gem of Austin is Barton Springs Pool, the refreshing spring-fed swimming-hole spanning approximately 3 acres, a mere 5-minute drive from Downtown. The crystal-clear water remains an invigorating 68-70 degrees year-round! That may sound bracing, because it IS, but also necessary when the forecast predicts an unbroken stream of 100 degree-days. Hit ‘The Springs’ to chill out with tanning locals and frolicking families along the rolling grassy hills flanking the pool, and cool down on a hot, hot day!
3. The Texas State Capitol Grounds & Downtown
You don’t need to spend a dime to wander around the lush State Capitol Grounds or Downtown Austin. Cafes, shops, and restaurants – though often pricey – are scattered throughout the area, but a simple walk under the trees with a picnic makes for a nice afternoon. A little-known fact is that the Texas State Capitol building is taller than the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington D.C. by a full 15 feet! BECAUSE…you guessed it: Everything’s bigger in Texas. Relax under the trees, as the kiddos play with our friendly, brazen squirrels which frolic among the Capitol grounds!
Because Austin is a very health-conscious city, we have a killer Hike and Bike Trail along Ladybird Lake, in the center of town. Once you have a few drinks and eat your way through the food trucks here, you will quickly understand why. (Those tacos and margaritas aren’t going to jog themselves off…) The 10-mile trail is easy to access for shorter hikes, allows pups, and provides a leisurely view of Downtown, Zilker Park, and the Lake all for free. If you have kiddos, take some breadcrumbs to feed the ducks!
5. The Bats
The Bats. By now you’re thinking…what is UP with this Bat-thing? Real simple: Underneath the South Congress bridge, one of only 3 bridges linking the “Southside” with the “Northside” of Central Austin, live – oh – 1.5-2 million bats. They migrate north to Austin from Mexico throughout the Summer months, and can be seen as one massive cloud of tiny screeching dots swarming the eastern sky in search of food around dusk. It’s more mesmerizing than it sounds, can be walked to from Downtown, and is clearly FREE. (The Bats have NO business acumen or plumbing though, so be prepared for that.) The hours from 6-9 pm are best to catch them. Bats, like Austinites, can be late for anything.
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Mount Bonnell sits atop the cliffs facing Lake Austin to the West, and offers an expansive view of the hill country while still being a 15-minute drive from Downtown. Though the treacherous 100-stair walk to the top may seem daunting, for sunset in Austin, it’s a must. Recharge with a little downtime in nature before returning to the frenetic pace of your trip!
7. All the 6th Streets
When you’re ready for a night on the town, if you’re looking for a raucous party or a place to relax and chat, head down to 6th Street. In the past, there was only one 6th Street, but now it’s a bit more complicated…
– Dirty 6th: Dance-clubs, Bars, Live Music, Students, Locals, Families, Party-animals. $
– West 6th: Upscale dance-clubs/Bars, Professionals, More Students, Party-animals. $$$
– East 6th: Live Music, Bars, Hipsters, Locals, Even More Students, Food Trucks. $$
8. Kerbey Lane or Magnolia Cafe
After your night on the town, you will be hungry. We all are. So, whether it’s 3 am or 8 pm, when you choose between our two most popular 24-hour diners, Kerbey Lane and Magnolia Café, you will be making your first decision as a local. With several locations throughout the city, Kerbey and Magnolia are mainstays for anyone trying to get a taste of old-Austin: Migas and home-fries, salsa and queso, pancakes the size of your torso – that’s what it tastes like. Go during ‘off’ hours to avoid a wait!
But which tacos to pick?!?!? There are a LOT of options for delicious Tex-mex in Austin, but for your maiden voyage, hit Torchy’s Tacos. President Barack Obama even made it there while speaking at SXSW 2016, and though there is an abundance of hype surrounding this local taco-joint, a few bites will make everything clear. Order a Trailer Park “trashy” (smothered in queso) or a Fried Avocado with Poblano Ranch and all of your problems will evaporate.
10. The Broken Spoke
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Get your fix of two-stepping and Country Music at The Broken Spoke on South Lamar, a 15-minute drive from Downtown. Though you are in Austin, ‘The Spoke’ will help reinforce the fact that you are STILL in Texas. See a combination of young and old delight in the live bands, rustic atmosphere, and lively dance-floor…all over a Lone Star (the ‘National Beer of Texas‘), on a starry Texas night!
Hope you enjoy your trip! Y’all come back now, ya hear?