I was lucky enough to have just spent the better part of a week in Austin, Texas. I had never been to Texas before so I was really excited for this! 8 of us rented a great apartment through Air B&B right in the city, and were able to take our time exploring the ins and outs of the live music capital of the country. I ate some amazing food, drank great beer, and had an absolute blast exploring the night life of the city. I have listed out 8 things that really stuck out to me as what not to miss if you get a chance to visit.
1.) Wait in line for a large plate of BBQ from La Barbecue.
I know ALL the rave in Austin is Franklin’s BBQ, and I’m sure it’s great but honestly I don’t have 2-3 hours to wait in line for food that’s “all the hype”. We somehow stumbled upon this gem in a small park of food trucks off the highway. It was Sunday, so don’t get me wrong we definitely waited in line, but the FREE beer and amazing live music definitely helped the time go by fast.
I am a serious food critic and I can honestly say this was the best barbecue I have ever eaten in my life. I may be a normal sized 24 year old woman, but I can admit that I ate like a man. I accidentally ordered one of almost everything on the menu and finished just about all of it. I would highly recommend the ribs (any) and the brisket for meat, and you can’t go wrong with any of the sides… my personal favorite was the bacon buttermilk potato salad (I’m literally drooling thinking about it).
2.) Explore the live music scene… everywhere.
I’m not sure if this was stereotypical of me, but I expected a lot of country music. Nashville is one of my favorite cities in the US and it is mostly country musicians all along the main strip. I was TOTALLY wrong about Austin, I heard absolutely everything. I heard rock, alternative, instrumental, and the street performers probably blew my mind the most. The best street performers I found were in South Congress, at night we saw a few great bands in bars on 6th street as well as Raney Street. Really any part of town you go, you won’t be disappointed no matter how commercial.
3.) Visit the Bat Bridge
Mostly everybody who visits Austin knows about the bat bridge and will visit if they aren’t afraid of the amazing little creatures. I know it’s not exactly a hidden gem, but this was seriously amazing. We arrived on a grassy park right next to the bridge at about 7:30 PM and hung out until the bats came out a little before 8:00. Their feeding time constantly changes so we were early just in case. Right on queue, over 1.5 MILLION bats come out to feed. Watching them fly out one after another is seriously breathtaking.
4.) Go out on Sixth street
If you are interested in the bar scene, you will be frequently told that you HAVE to go out on sixth street. It is most definitely the most commercial/main stream area of Austin and probably looked down upon by the hipster locals, but we had an absolute blast. Each bar was so different. Our favorites included:
-Friends Bar (especially for live music)
-The Trophy Room (just for the mechanical bull… and yes I rode a mechanical bull)
- The Jackakope Bar – great food and drinks!
5.) Visit South Congress
South Congress is the funky part of Austin, it features consignment shops, antique shops, markets, and great restaurants. We had a really great time wandering around, watching live performers and trying on costumes. Some of the favorite places we stopped were:
-Allen Boots – VERY out of my price range, but so fun to admire the pricey boots and leather.
-Uncommon Objects – I had a blast wandering around this antique shop. Also had fun with my camera in there!
- Casey’s New Orleans Snowballs - We stumbled upon this shaved ice truck on our walk back to the main town. All I can say is WOW. Amazing quality, we chatted it up with the owner for quite a while and he threw some amazing flavor combo ideas at us. Perfect treat on a hot, hot Texas day.
6.) Visit the Texas State Capitol
Stunning inside and out, a perfect place to cool off and take some really great photos!
7.) Visit Hops and Grain Brewery
This small craft brewery that shouldn’t be missed! The staff is great, beer tastes AMAZING, and it’s on a much smaller scale but you can tell these guys are extremely passionate about what they do and care about sustainability.
8.) Rent a car to drive out and tube down the Guadalupe River.
We did this on a Monday so from what I’ve heard it’s a TOTALLY different experience without the crowds, but we rented a cozy little mini van on Relay Rides for most of the day and headed for the river. We had a tube for our cooler, and each had our own as we sloooowwwlllyyy mosied down the Guadalupe. We used Tube Haus to rent our tubes, and the staff was great, shutting us to and from the place we would start and end. It took us about 5 hours to do the “medium” distance, and we really had so much fun cooling off. I don’t have any pictures because I didn’t want to lose my phone!
I hope you enjoy some of these tips. We really had an amazing time and I can’t wait to get back to Austin!