Let me confess something. I don’t think Austin is that “weird” at all. (Keep in mind that I’m a New Orleanian and take that for what it’s worth.) To be honest I think of Austin as ‘New Orleans lite’. Very similar – with less crime, more driving and more Mexican food. But when we had a crisis of confidence with the schools in New Orleans and considered moving, our first choice was Austin. It’s fun. Healthy. Lots to do. Cool houses. Great industry. Lots of money. Hmmmm, maybe it IS weird.
Hotel St. Ceclia
St. Cecilia is the patron saint of music and poetry. How fitting. This hotel is comprised of bungalows, studios and an old house all oozing a super hip vibe. Must do!
Hotel St. Jose
It is no surprise to find a renovated roadside motel turned into a trendy boutique hotel in Austin. That has Weird-Austin written all over it.
Aside from the typical amenities and services, this hotel comes with a long list of ghosts! Sleep or practice your ghost busting skills here. Check out the list of ghosts and their stories.
Just as Austin is considered an oasis in the middle of the Texas plains, so the Four Seasons is an oasis in Austin with eucalyptus steam room, heated saltwater pool and exceptional service. Use as a home base or just hide out.
It’s funky, it’s fab, it loves Fido and it’s right next door to Austin City Limits music venue. Get your groove on in the live music capital of the world!
With a motto like “So close yet so far out,” you’ve got to check it out! It’s green, clean, family-owned and rents out bikes.
1220 South Congress;512-441-1157
He is a chef. It is a restaurant. It is sort of a concept. Hard to figure out but just know: The food is outstanding and the website is all about the design and the team and feels a little bit like Ali G opened a restaurant in Texas. However all the reviews come in awesome, awesome, awesome. Make reservations but they also take walk-ins.
1600 e. 6th Street
Sushi, sake, sustainability. It’s Japanese with a delicious world flair: pumpkin seed oil, brussels sprout kimchee and dinosaur kale are just some of the items found on the menu.
801 South Lamar; (512) 916-4808; open 7 days a week for dinner
Elisabeth Street Cafe
French/Vietnamese restaurant great for breakfast.
1501 South 1st Street; (512) 291-2881; open 7 days a week for breakfast, lunch and dinner
BBQ at Franklin Barbecue
Get there early and prepare to wait in line. Open at 11 and serve until sold out. Beware, they frequently sell out by 2pm.
900 East 11th Street; closed Mondays
BBQ at Iron Works Barbecue
Can’t get enough of their barbecue? They sell sauces and rubs and and ship products all over the country. Also, they will smoke anything you want in 24 hours (within reasonable limits, I expect) Turducken anyone?
100 Red River; (512) 478-4855; closed Sundays
Clark’s Oyster Bar
A West Austin spot for oysters (natch), seafood and burgers.
1200 W. 6th Street; (512) 297-2525; open every day; brunch on Sat and Sun
Delicious local food, rediscover your love of pork!
2024 South Lamar Boulevard; (512) 394-8150; open for dinner Tues-Sat
Cantina Mexicana with style
1306 East 6th; (512) 771-8006; open for dinner Fri & Sat
East Side King Asian “So good make your eye roll back” (their words, not mine)
Torchy’s Tacos Go for the Trailerpark tacos “Trashy.”
Cocktail lounge and wine bar with craft cocktails and great outdoor seating. This is the kind of place that makes you want to drink more. Delicious if not, technically, healthy.
200 Congress Avenue; open Tues-Sat
Great artisanal coffee shop with two locations: Lamar or Congress.
4200 N Lamar Blvd; 401 Congress Ave
A hip neighborhood bar in downtown Austin. Yes. With ‘staches.
121 E. 5th Street
The White Horse
In Austin they call dive bars “honky tonks.” Call it what you will, don’t wear your Manolos here. Great mix of music – country AND western…and Conjunto shows on Sunday evenings.
500 Comal St.
Ginny’s Little Longhorn Saloon
Beer and music but most famous for its Sunday Chicken Shit Bingo. Their term, not mine. You can figure it out. It is a tiny place but it is full of locals and tourists all having a great time.
5434 Burnet Rd
The Continental Club & Gallery
Probably Austin’s most famous venue for country and swing but it also contains an upstairs gallery with jazz if you want to be super cool.
1315 S Congress Ave
Historical Walking Tours
There are loads of walking tours of Austin including guided tours of downtown, the Bremond Block Historic District and even the Texas State Cemetery. Most are free but require reservations.
The Long Center for the Performing Arts
Let me set something straight here: There is a bucketload of money in Austin and that money is spent to support a tremendous amount of cultural arts in the city. Seriously. These people can boogie-woogie and line-dance and eat tacos till the cows come home but when it comes to the performing arts you’d be hard pressed to find another city outside of NYC or DC doing it better. The Long Center is a must to give yourself some culture if you are headed to the capital of the Lone Star state.
701 W Riverside Dr
UT games. Any of them.
HOOK ‘EM HORNS! Pack your burnt orange and white or khaki and get over to the University of Texas campus to help cheer on the Longhorns. Football season is clearly the best (editorial bias, yes) and you should definitely book in advance.
Worth going to just so you too can use that cool abbreviation. South By Southwest is a 9-day film and music festival that is huge and fantastic and expensive (A badge for all access is $1000. Music only is $600). But it should be on your Bucket List. Book early. Plan your course of action. Bring a friend along for the ride.
Austin City Limits Music Festival
ACLMF (catchy, huh?) is a 46-acres, 130+ artist wrap up to summer. Expect music from around the world, loads of food, activities for the kids, art market(s) and a sunburn. First two weekends of October.
Ride a bike!
Rent a bike from Lance Armstrong’s “Mellow Johnny’s Bike Shop”
400 Nueces Street
Bowling alley / karaoke bar / dance hall
*Currently closed but scheduled t0 reopen in 2014*
1142 South Lamar Boulevard
Not recommended for drinks or food but locals know that the view at The Oasis is worth choking down a few weak margaritas and some bland nachos. It is THE PLACE to see the sun set in ATX.
Lady Bird Lake
The jewel of the city that goes right through downtown. In addition to watching the bats fly in the summer or listening to all the great outdoor music at Zilker park, it is just a great way to spend an afternoon.
There are loads of great musicians in Austin but below is your must-hear list!
John Pointer, Acoustic Guitar
Tyler Wheeler & Patrick Wheeler, Wheeler Brothers (Tyler is a bass player, Patrick is a drummer)
Ruthie Foster, female vocalist
Ephraim Owens, horn
Emily Gimble on the Keyboard
Songwriter, singer and electric guitar player Gary Clark Jr. (Blues / Soul / Funk)n
Fiddler Warren Hood
Blues / Soul / Funk: Gary Clark Jr. or Ruthie Foster
Country / Bluegrass (don’t forget those boots!): Whiskey Shivers or The Whiskey Sisters
Cover Band (you KNOW you love cover bands): The Eggmen or More Cowbell
Jazz: Elias Haslanger or Ephraim Owens
Latin Rock: Brownout, Los Lonely Boys or Los Texas Wranglers
Traditional Latin: Gina Chavez or Los Texas Wranglers
Roots Rock: Wheeler Brothers or Wild Child
Folk: Wild Child or Dana Falconberry
Kendra Scott is a local jeweler who has definitely hit the big time. Her store at 1400 Congress is a great place to see the origins of what she did before heading to Beverly Hills and Dallas. Look for gorgeous metals, colorful stones and unique designs. Really beautiful stuff.
Strait Music Company
Want to buy a guitar to commemorate your weekend in Austin? Look no further. Head to Strait for a huge selection and knowledgeable sales staff.
2428 W Ben White
There is a lot of sh*t kicking to be done in Austin and this is the place to get the fancy footwork to do it! Boots range from $300 to $2000 but make an excellent souvenir from your weird and wonderful weekend. Plus the neon outside is begging…BEGGING…to make it to your Instagram account.
1200 S Congress Ave
High end boutiques with clothes and accessories for men and women.
1400 S Congress; other locations across Austin
JM Dry Goods
Mexican textiles, vintage cowboy boots, earthenware ceramics, garden chairs – there’s a bit of everything here.
215 S Lamar
Barton Springs Pool
A three-acre (YES!) dammed pool that is always a bracing 68-degrees.
2101 Barton Springs Road
The Austin Chronicle
Free weekly paper that lists all of the music and arts in town
The Austin Statesman
News. Weather. Sports. Longhorns.
Bon Appetit Where to Eat Guide