They say everything’s bigger in Texas, and they’re right. You will have a hugely gratifying experience when you visit Austin. The capital city is a mix of college town, music hub, antique treasure trove, yuppie wonderland; there are so many facets to it, all enjoyable. Austin is famous for many things, but SXSW and Austin City Limits festivals are held here and are awesome. I’ve yet to attend SXSW, but ACL is one of the most well run festivals. Since it’s ACL time soon, this guide takes that into consideration for your plans, from Friday to Sunday.
Austin will always hold a special place in my heart, as I once saw Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers walking around and he gave me a head nod there. I haven’t washed my eyes since.
the stars at night are big and bright, deep in the heart of Texas…
The tower at UT is an imposing figure in the skyline of Austin, and rightly so. The largest university in this huge state, Longhorns have a beautiful campus on which to roam.
They also have many local dining spots on which to graze at all hours of the day. Upon imploring where I should eat from my Longhorn friends, I got an astounding: Kerbey Lane. This is a popular amongst students breakfast/brunch spot located in a cute green house just minutes from campus. The lines can be long, but the wait is worth it for an assortment of sandwiches, scrambles, pancakes and Eggs Francisco.
You’ll want need to walk off this huge breakfast, so weave your way through campus towards Downtown. You can’t miss it, it’s marked by the gigantaur Texas State Capitol, one of prettiest buildings in town. I love state capitol buildings, and have seen many, but this one with its pink, sandstone color is remarkable.
The front of the building sits at the end of Congress Street which is the start of the famed entertainment district. This is the ideal place to stay if you can swing a reservation during this very busy time. 6th street has an abundance of clubs, bars, lounges, restaurants, etc. Dirty 6th is the East side, while the Lavaca side is the West side (westside!). Depending on events, the street is closed down to traffic, and it can get very crowded. Like really crowded.
It’s a very historic area, so keep an eye out for the murals and rad neon signage, which gives it a vintage local flavor. There are skulls everywhere, which is love. Keep Austin weird, y’all.
Cross the Congress Street bridge, which is famous for having a large fruit bat population. There are no pictures of this because I am terrified of bats, they carry a lot of diseases, so I wasn’t going to wait around to keep my neck exposed to them.
Anyway…this will lead you to the other side of the Colorado river, where you should take a shuttle/pedi-cab to Zilker Park. If your hotel offers a shuttle back from the festival make sure you remember the drop off point, it is a madhouse after the shows are over and it can take a long time to get out. But, there’s always after shows downtown, often for little or no charge, so maybe just stay out all night. Easy Tiger, Midnight Cowboy, all sorts of hot spots with chill vibes.
If you get up at a reasonable time, a fancy breakfast is waiting for you at the Driskill hotel at 1886 cafe and bakery. It’s an instagrammer’s dream to commemorate your time in TX.
Head back across the river to South Congress/Travis Heights, where you will find streets lined with boutiques, antique malls and food! There’s a couple of Torchy’s Tacos locations, Perla’s for seafood, Vespaio for italian, and the always crowded Home Slice for pizza. There’s an Amy’s Ice creams here, too, local legend and so tasty in the Texas sun.
I found the love of my life in the form of an antique broach at Uncommon Objects, so I’ll never forget it. You could spend all day perusing the antiquities, but alas you have a music festival to attend. This part of town has incredible character and positive vibes.
Sunday morning is a little rough after screaming your lungs out over the past two nights, so take it easy, find breakfast tacos/burritos. This is a necessary experience while in Austin. Mi Madre’s on Manor Road, Juan in a Million amongst the Mexican pinatas greeting you on East Cesar Chavez, Tamale House on 6th. If you’re up early, the Veracruz food truck is open at 7, which is amazing for people like me who are looking for migas (not Migos) on a Sunday morning. Enjoy the last day of the festival before starting your recovery from an exhilarating but taxing weekend in Austin.