No SXSW Badge? No problem! Here Are Simple Ways To Enjoy SXSW


The two week long beast that is South by Southwest is almost here. If you’re looking to avoid SXSW and stay away from the madness that will flood downtown, this one’s for you!

While people from all over the world come to Austin for the festival’s music, film, and tech events, many Austin locals wish to steer clear of all that craziness. If you’re one of those such locals, here are our picks for alternative activities and more.

Want to do a bit of the fest but aren’t down for the whole experience? Here are a few ideas.

Go To The Free Pop Ups

There are tons of free pop ups happening during the fest (including all of these). In fact, there are so many, that it’s hard to keep up with all of them. If you are looking for the easiest way to RSVP to everything, check out RSVP ATX. With their system, you’ll be automatically RSVPd to all the unofficial SXSW showcases and events! Learn more and create your account here.

Hit Up South Congress

There’s so much stuff happening on South Congress this year that you could probably spend an entire day there.

Here are a few things happening on SoCo:

  • Start your morning with a cup of Jo’s on Amazon. Stop by early while the pots are still full. A variety of options are available while supplies last.
  • Prime Video’s new limited series Swarm is taking over the Austin Motel’s main lobby with an in-world convenience store pop-up, creating a sensory experience that illustrates the darkly indulgent tone of the series. Visitors will be given a lottery ticket for a chance to win various prizes, including a Swarm branded-bucket hat like Dre’s in the show.
  • Create and Cultivate is back at SXSW! You can attend their annual summit at South Congress Hotel. Expect live podcasts, educational and inspiring panels, workshops, delicious food and drinks, products from brands, networking, and of course conversations! RSVP here.
  • Harley-Davidson will be showcasing H-D Collections, their new lifestyle apparel adventure, with a first-ever pop-up shop featuring the unique apparel lines defined by the heritage of Harley-Davidson! Swing by 1224 South Congress Avenue between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. on Friday, March 10 through Monday, March 13.

Pick Just One Event to Attend

Here’s a recommendation. The team at North Italia will be dishing out FREE food and drinks (including 3,141 slices of pizza…get it?!) as well as FREE tattoos, FREE entertainment including an epic BMX stunt show, and more on Pi Day. That’s 3.14 in case you didn’t know!

Here’s everything that’s happening:

  • The pizza they will be handing out is locally made Pi Day special Texas BBQ Brisket pie! They will also have mini budinos, charcuterie cups, mocktails, and more.  
  • Wearing your heart on your sleeve is encouraged at this party… especially if it’s in the form of a pizza tattoo! 10 limited-edition, free tattoos (option to make a $3.14 donation to a nearby homeless shelter) will be available for a select number of guests.  
  • Finally, while pizza is always worth celebrating, the North Italia gang couldn’t let pizza have all the fun on Pi Day! Each guest will be going home with a bag of fresh pasta, which North Italia makes in-house daily.

Check out more Free Family Friendly events here.

Take a Tour

Here’s a way to see what’s happening downtown without having to deal with traffic and pedestrians. Sit back and enjoy the view with AO Tours! They will be offering morning tours on Friday, Saturday and Sunday with multiple tour options on Monday through Thursday. You can also schedule a private tour for any time. Contact them to create your perfect tour of the ATX and see anything you want to see!

Check out a New Restaurant

There are always a slew of new restaurants to check out. Just look at this list from Eater Austin. And there will be a slew of people out and about so you never know who you might see while dining. We don’t know about you, but we’re always looking for a healthy spot to grab a meal. That’s why we’re so excited there’s a new Sweetgreen location in Mueller. We plan to hit up that locale before we head down to the fest! Of course, you can also hit up the one on 2nd Street if you are downtown, or the one on South Congress in Music Lane. Click here to learn how to get $5 off your next visit.

Sweetgreen on Aldrich Street.

Get Out Of Town For A Day

Avoid the scene all together and still enjoy good food and drink! We suggest heading out to Vista Brewing where you can have an authentic Hill Country experience close to downtown (just 25-30 minutes away).

Here are details on the Vista events happening during the festival: 

  • Goat Cuddles with Goat Shenanigans is happening on Sunday, March 12 (This event is ticketed. Get tickets HERE).
  • On Friday, March 17, they’ll be hosting a St. Patrick’s Day Party with beer specials, Irish-inspired food specials, and a family-friendly scavenger hunt.
  • On Sunday, March 19, join for a Yappy Hour dog meetup with giveaways from Healthy Pet.

Plus, they have live music on Fridays from 6 to 8 p.m. and Sundays from 2 to 4 p.m. A full farm-to-table food menu is available anytime, fish & chips on Fridays and an all-day brunch on Sundays. And, of course, award-winning beer, Texas wine, and cider!

For those going to SXSW events, Vista will be pouring beer at THIS EVENT on March 12.

Want more out of town ideas?

Featured photo via Vista Brewing.