Austin, Texas is no longer the out-of-the-way state capitol reserved for campers, college students, and music enthusiasts. It’s now all of those things and a premiere destination for foodies, adventurers, history seekers, and those seeking a bit of solitude from the rest of the world.
For the City Dweller
You won’t find an area more eclectic and with more options for food, shopping, and entertainment than South Congress Avenue. South Congress Hotel not only offers a place to stay but a trip within itself with its many amenities, including a rooftop pool and bar. August & Marcel Wine Bar offers a menu and drinks with a French-inspired twist. Those staying over the Halloween weekend should try Lucy in Disguise for a costume to win any contest. Or simply get lost in the racks of vintage clothing the zebra-print decorated store has to offer. South Congress Avenue also offers a gorgeous view of the state capitol, a visit to which is a must for anyone interested in politics or history.
Tours of the capitol are available every day of the week and can be guided or with a group. Depending on when you plan your visit there may be specialty tours happening. During Hispanic Heritage Month take the Hispanic Heritage: A Texas-Sized Legacy tour to learn about the Tejanos who have helped shape Texas’ culture. In December enjoy a look into the architecture that inspires the annual holiday ornament of the capitol and the holiday traditions of the diverse ethnic cultures that populate the city and state at large. For an outdoor experience that will inform you on Austin’s past residents, go on a cemetery tour. Visit the graves of Susanna Dickinson, a survivor of the Alamo, and Dallas Cowboys legendary coach, Tom Landry. If able, bring a picnic lunch and take your time exploring before heading back into the hustle and bustle of the city.
Of course, no visit is complete without checking out the music scene and nightlife. Every year in October the city is taken over by the best and most popular names in music for the Austin City Limits festival for two consecutive weekends. From Paul McCartney to Sylvan Esso, you can find a stage with an act for you. South by Southwest is another festival that caters to those in the entertainment fields. There are movie premieres, record release parties, and tech giants spotlighting what’s coming next. Remember that 6th street isn’t the only place to find a bar or band in town, so keep your eyes out for performances by up and comers at restaurants, rooftop bars, patios, even coffee shops. You never know who you’ll find pulled up on a couch with a guitar in hand.
For the Adventurer
If the great outdoors is what soothes your soul (or your budget), Austin’s parks, rivers, and lakes are for you. Kayaking or canoeing is available at several of the city’s lakes, including Lady Bird Lake, which is minutes from downtown. Named after President Lyndon B. Johnson’s wife, Claudia “Lady Bird” Johnson, the lake (which is actually more of a reservoir) is 416 acres. Every inch of it is used by the aforementioned kayakers and canoers, but also by boaters, swimmers, paddle boarders, and those looking to cool down after a long hike. You can find whatever style of hiking you desire within the confines of Austin or just outside the limits.
Make sure to have everything you need, whether it’s for a simple afternoon hike or a multi-day trip. As it’s southern Texas, you’ll need a cooler for drinks, plenty of food (check to make sure you dispose of it in a safe way so as to avoid lure animals into your camp), a tent, a first aid kit (there are snakes and poison ivy around), sleeping bags, and don’t forget your phone. Stop by one of any of the AT&T stores in Texas to check out cell phones and accessories before you head out into the great wide open.
There’s no shortage of things to do, see, eat, and drink in Texas’ oasis. The hardest decision you’ll have to make is whether or not you’ll want to leave.