Like it or not, most of us are creatures of habit—which is exactly why you need to start taking advantage of all the good stuff Austin has to offer from the moment you arrive. I recently talked to a neighborhood friend who has lived here for 19 years, but never set foot on the Lady Bird Lake Hike & Bike Trail. Don’t let that be you. Rather, set the tone for a very good life in Austin by establishing some very good habits right from the get-go.
1. Take a Hike
Natural beauty is one of the many things that sets Austin apart from other large Texas cities. Whether you want to stay urban on Lady Bird Lake, get a little taste of the wild on the Barton Creek Greenbelt or head north to St. Edwards Park, there are miles and miles and miles of trails worth exploring within Austin’s city limits.
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2. Get Acquainted with the University of Texas
From the Blanton Museum and Informal Classes to educational speakers, sports and world-class performances, UT is overflowing with cool stuff to do. It’s remarkably easy to forget it’s there, however, so put it on your radar early.
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View from the UT Tower Tour
3. Tune into KUTX (98.9)
Everything a local radio station should be, the musical ‘arm’ of our NPR station is a great place to school yourself on Austin music and culture.
4. Spend Some Time (and Money) at Waterloo Records
Around since 1982, Waterloo is a champion of local musicians and the kind of authentic place we need more of in the world. Plan to spend at least an hour browsing, then choose something new, as well as something with deeper roots, like Jerry Jeff Walker or W.C. Clark.
5. Pick a Festival, any Festival
Austin quite possibly hosts more festivals per year than anywhere else on the planet, and there is truly something for everyone. Depending on your preferences, hit up a biggie like ACL or SXSW, something spicy like the Hot Sauce Festival
, something trippy like Eyeore’s Birthday Party
or something whimsical like the Kite Festival
. Whatever you choose, it’s pretty darn affirming to be among masses of people enjoying the same good time you are.
The Annual Zilker Kite Festival
6. Spend a Day in East Austin
Maybe more than anywhere else in town, East Austin is a blend of the ‘old’ ATX some are nostalgic for, and the ‘new’ hip iteration. To get some understanding of that juxtaposition, spend a day enjoying both sides of the argument. Eat breakfast somewhere classic like Cisco’s
(while you still can!), hit up some art galleries and shops like Friends & Neighbors
, grab a locally-brewed beer from Hops & Grain
and either catch a show at the Historic Scoot Inn or eat at fancy James Beard award winner Launderette
7. Put Live Music on Your Monthly Calendar
Sure, you talk big now about going out nightly to see shows. Unfortunately, life and finances can get in the way, so plug in at least one night per month on your calendar. You can fill in the details later.
8. Get wet
No Austin to-do list would be complete without mentioning Barton Springs. It really is all that it’s cracked up to be. But, there are plenty of other fun places to cool off, including the Barton Creek Greenbelt, Deep Eddy, and one of the many small neighborhood pools in parks around town. They all have their perks, and they all contribute to Austin being Austin.
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9. Pay Homage at a Classic Music Venue
There’s some hallowed musical ground in this town. Make it a priority to visit at least one classic venue soon after arrival, because they probably have had more influence on the Austin vibe than anything else. To name a few noteworthy places… The Continental Club, Saxon Pub, White Horse, Ginny’s Little Longhorn Saloon, Broken Spoke
and Hole in the Wall.
The dance floor at The Broken Spoke
10. Start a Favorite Taco List
Don’t get into a taco routine just because there’s a good joint nearby. Pledge to visit a different one every week, and then
decide which is your favorite. What will it be? Valentina’s
, Tacodeli, Veracruz
, Papalote, Torchy’s, or somewhere else? You won’t know if you don’t try.
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About the author: Jill Coody Smits is the author of Expedition Austin: A Kid’s Guide to the Weirdest Town in Texas
. A freelance writer of many things, she lives south of the river with her husband, daughter and two four-footed sons. After nearly 20 years in Austin, she is still in love with this little big town.
Join us at St. Elmo Brewing on Thursday, February 16th for our second annual celebration of sausage. The “Kings” of the Austin sausage scene will be onsite providing off-menu sausage creations in a friendly competitive format. Tickets are limited and will go quickly.
Included in the $26 ticket price:
- Samples From ALL of the Sausage Purveyors (Micklethwait, Salt & Time, Soursop, Frank, Easy Tiger, Banger’s, Even Leroy, and more!)
- Two Draft from St. Elmo Brewing
- The smooth sounds of The Urban Achievers Brass Band
- One voting card to nominate your favorite sausage offering (winner chosen by those in attendance!)
Photos Courtesy of BBQ Bryan and Texas BBQ Treasure Hunt. See his review of last year’s event HERE.
A Texas summer just isn’t complete without floating the river. And if you’re going to embark on this age-old journey of aquatic debauchery, you might as well do it right! This year, we’ve partnered with Austin Tour Company to offer public floats with added features that make it a floating party unlike any other.
Every Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday we’re offering the ultimate floating experience—we provide transportation along with your tube, ice chests, ice, and more! You can meet new friends and live it up on the river without worrying about getting home safe.
When: Every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from now through September
Duration: 5 hours (roughly)
Here’s what you can expect:
- Pre-float special at the 6th Street Bikini’s, from 11am – Noon guests receive $3 Lonestar Tallboys, $3 Mimosas, $4 Bloody Mary’s and $2 off Sandwiches, Burgers and Salads.
- Pick up at 12:00pm in front of Bikini’s in Downtown Austin.
- Round Trip Transportation to and from the San Marcos River to Float The River.
- We provide the coolers for your convenience on the bus.
- We will stop on the way to the river for you to pick up alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverages and ice for you to take on the river.
- In order to protect our river, styrofoam cups and coolers are not allowed on the river.
- Your ticket includes your float and one tube for you to put your coolers in – per five people.
- Float to last 3-3.5 hours depending on the speed of the river which is altered by the amount of rain we get.
- New regulations are being enforced by the city of San Marcos on the river – no stopping will be allowed on the float during prime season dates. July-August.
- Please grab a reusable trash bag from Texas State tubes before hopping on the river to collect your trash.
- Return to Austin at approximately 5pm – 5:30pm.
- Bus and Float are BYOB.See you on the water.
If you’ve been putting off filing your taxes until the last possible minute, then Monday, April 18 will probably be a stressful day. And when you finally do hit send, you’re going to need an escape from all that adulting.
Luckily, The Escape Game, Austin’s best interactive game, is offering a special Tax Day promotion. Instead of taking all of your money like the IRS, they want you to keep it! Enter the promo code “TAXDAY18” when you book and you can play on April 18th for only $18 (usually $31.99).
The Escape Game Austin provides sophisticated, high-level games that will challenge even the most hardcore gamers. Solve million dollar heists, decode secret service missions, and navigate through prison passageways You have one hour. For more about the adventure, click here.
Opened in May 1971, the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library is a repository and exhibition of documents, photographs, audio recordings, and personal artifacts from one of the most interesting presidencies in our nation’s history. Located on the University of Texas campus, the LBJ Library is a fascinating destination for locals and visitors alike—more than 100,000 people pass through its doors each year.
Between the Vietnam War, Civil Rights, and the counterculture movement of the 1960s, the library gives both a snapshot of Johnson’s presidency and the context necessary to understand its importance.
Of the more than 45,000 personal objects donated by the Johnson family, visitors can view clothing worn by the president and first lady at the 1964 inauguration, antiques and visual art masterworks owned by the family and their friends, and the desk where LBJ was sitting when he signed the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
Several permanent exhibits opened on what would have been Lady Bird Johnson’s 100th birthday in December 2012, including a 7/8 scale recreation of Johnson’s Oval Office, the Johnson Presidential Limousine, and an entire exhibit dedicated to the assassination of JFK on November 22, 2963.
Current temporary exhibits include Hats Off to LBJ!, an in-depth look at the headware worn and given to the First Family and the public museum debut of the letter of condolence LBJ wrote to Martin Luther King’s widow Coretta Scott King in April of 1968 after the Civil Rights leader was assassinated.
The LBJ Library also serves as an events space for symposiums , lectures, and interviews featuring guests like MLB Hall of Famer Hank Aaron and Bob Woodward, who helped uncover the Watergate scandal as an investigative journalist at the Washington Post.
Above, from top: LBJ Library photo by Charles Bogel; LBJ Library photo by Cecil Stoughton
The Escape Game is the newest (and possibly best in our opinion) interactive game in Austin. Participants work their way through complex puzzles and multiple challenges in hopes of “escaping” the room in under an hour.
Here’s the basic rundown and some tips for first time ‘escapees’:
You and the rest of your team will be led into a room and given some brief instructions (there are 4 different game rooms each with their own theme and mission). After receiving your mission objectives, the clock starts counting down from 60 minutes…time to start looking for clues and solving puzzles to ultimately complete your goal and escape! These games are not easy, so get ready for a challenge! You’ll need to practice exceptional communication, critical problem solving skills, and a dose of creativity if you want to escape in time.
Our group was lucky enough to play the recently opened “Gold Rush,” which is set in a cabin in the mountains. The objective of the game is to find the hidden treasure of an old, greedy gold prospector that has gone missing. Word on the street was that he gambled with the mob too much and has disappeared. Our team had to work fast and find his lost gold in under an hour. Through hidden clues and mind challenging puzzles, we worked our way through the game and escaped successfully. Sorry, we don’t want to give too much away…the mystery is half the fun! (watch game video here)
The Escape Game is perfect for friends, family, coworkers, and visitors to Austin. You can book a game for as few as one person but we suggest playing with at least one more friend to share in the experience with you. The Escape Game should absolutely be added to your list of “best things to do in Austin,” it’s definitely on ours.
Looking for something different to do this July? Sign up now and get 10% off with code ‘Summer10’ Monday-Thursday this month!
The Paramount Theatre turned 100 this year, making it one of the longest continually operating theaters in the country! That being said, if you’ve never visited this Austin institution, it should definitely be on your bucket list.
This Sunday, they’re featuring ‘Room on the Broom‘
The witch and her cat are flying happily on their broomstick – until a stormy wind blows away the witch’s hat, bow, and wand. A helpful dog, bird, and frog find the witch’s lost things and they all hop on the broom for a ride. But this broomstick is not meant for five and – CRACK – the broom snaps in two! When a hungry dragon appears, who will save the poor witch? And will there ever be room on the broom for everyone? Join us on this wild adventure! This musical adaptation will celebrate friendship, the fall season, and the wonderful world that author Julia Donaldson has created. Wear your Halloween costumes one more time!
Based on the book by Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler
Produced by Tall Stories Theatre Co. London, England
This is the perfect Sunday event for the whole family, and a great opportunity to take in the Paramount in all its glory. Tickets are available via the button below:
If you’re dying to celebrate the harvest season at the number two Oktoberfest in the country as voted by US Today, you’ve probably already made plans to attend Wurstfest this year. From November 6th through the 15th, people from around the state will gather in New Braunfels to celebrate German culture, and to party like crazy.
Attendees will sample German-style fare, dance to the live bands, and take in the various Alpine and Bavarian style shows that celebrate the fall. The Wurstfest grounds are in New Braunfel’s Landa Park, but there are various other events and activities going on throughout the town and Comal County.
The best week in sausage brings some of the best German fare right to Austin’s backyard and chances are you’re going to want to wash it all down with a beer… or four. Needless to say, a designated driver is a must.
Photo by Reddit user: svartorn
We’re partnering up with Austin Tour Company this year to make sure you make it to the fest and back in one piece. We’re offering round-trip transportation on our sweet party busses for only $40 per person. Parking for Wurstfest is actually offsite, so you still end up taking a bus from the parking area to the grounds if you decide to drive yourself. Our busses pick up in Austin and deliver and pick up to/from the front gates of the fest. Your first beer on the bus is on us, byob for the rest.
Additionally, the $40 doesn’t just cover the ride; it gets you into the festival! We get the party started early with fun music and the hilarious movie Beerfest to entertain you on the ride home. We also provide a little education (we promise, it’s not boring!) on the history of the festival and why it’s so significant in Central Texas.
Once we’re at the Wurstfest Grounds, you have three hours to enjoy the festival to your heart’s desire. Then we’ll be waiting for your group at the entrance ready to safely bring you back to Austin. It’s as easy as that.
Wanna learn more? Check out the Wurstfest official site for more information about the sausage party and book your spot on one of our Austin Tour Company party buses here. It’s a small price to pay for a time you won’t soon forget… if only you could remember.
Cover photo courtesy of Do512 Family.
Only two short years ago, one could count pizza delivery options in Austin on two hands. The choices were those inedible national chains, or Gatti’s/Austin’s Pizza, and a few others (we still love you Conan’s).
Oh, how the times have changed. With Favor Delivery, pizza is a few clicks away from anywhere that offers take-out. In fact, a large pie from my favorite shop for thin-crust, East Side Pies, was the first Favor order I completed.
I included a few newcomers on the list, so hopefully there are a few places you haven’t tried. Take into consideration that your favorite spot might not be on the list purely because it’s not in the Favor delivery zone. Or it could be that we haven’t tried it! Feel free to hit us up on Facebook with your recommendations.
In no particular order:
When it first opened, one could expect to wait hours to get a table. They’ve recently (and quietly) begun to allow takeout orders. Take advantage. It’s the best neapolitan pie in the city.
The trailer-turned-brick and-mortar on East 6th is open until 3am on weekends. Skip that Whataburger line and order from the safety of your own living room.
Known for his puccias (authentic wood fired Italian sandwiches), Lucky recently opened a brick and mortar on West 5th. The pizzas are as crave-able as his signature sandwiches.
Parkside’s sister restaurant serves up really great wood-fired pies. Pro-tip: Whatever you order, be sure to “put an egg on it.”
This South First Street newcomer has quickly climbed into our top ten. Try the Hot Honey if you’re into eating things that taste good.
As mentioned above, if you’re a fan of thin-crust, look no further. ESP sources local ingredients whenever possible, and that extra level of care is reflected in the quality of their cracker-thin pies. (Why is this pizza on rocks? I don’t know either)
This Crestview neighborhood gem gets very little press considering it makes one of the best New York style pies in the city.
Loved by tourists and locals alike, no list would be complete without a nod to Homeslice. They also take the cake (pie?) for the most often Favor-ed pizza joint in Austin.
Before you say, “but I don’t like deep-dish pizza,” let me comment that I didn’t either until I tried Via 313. Furthermore, I haven’t met a person who has tried it that hasn’t fallen in love.
Want to find out if you’re in Favor’s delivery zone? Check out the map.
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