This post contains affiliate links. Click here to read my affiliate policy.
Last Updated on May 15, 2020
You don’t have to be young to enjoy the youthful vibe in Austin Texas. The Keep Austin Weird campaign isn’t just a cool slogan, it really is weird and can be enjoyed by those that like to live by the beat of a different drum.
There is something for everybody in Austin. From the best barbecue in Texas, to an incredible music scene, you will have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to choice for what to do.
As a bonus, the weather is great all year round and getting there is easy from any city in the country.
Let’s dive in and talk about why Austin should be high on your list of top travel destinations.
The food scene
As a capital, it is home to a very diverse culinary scene. You can get any type of ethnic cuisine you’re interested in. There are Vietnamese pho restaurants and many Indian as well.
Being so close to Mexico makes it an obvious hub for authentic cuisine from your Southern neighbor.
And being the heart of Texas means that barbecue is well represented.
Since the weather is so mild in the winter and hot and dry in the summer, there are food trucks just about everywhere. Mexican is well represented by elxolofoodtruck.com which serves up tasty tacos and more.
Finding the food trucks is easy just by wandering around the center, but you can find a few others along East Sixth Street as that is where many music venues are so there is a concentration.
If you’re looking for barbecue, the legendary Franklin Barbecue on East 11th Street has a queue down the street as a testament to the quality. There are many other places that are equally good without the wait, too like Freedmen’s.
Bars are also well represented with one in stone’s throw no matter where you find yourself in the city.
The music scene
To listen to just about every type of music genre available, all you have to do is walk down Sixth Street. This is the beating heart of the music scene in Austin and is a top draw for music fans from all over the country.
There are bands that are world famous that can be found playing in small venues up and down the street.
Obviously, Country and Western music is going to be the most represented, but really anything is on offer. There are plenty of punk bands, folk music and even hip hop so nobody leaves unsatisfied with a visit to this area.
Even outside the downtown there are plenty of traditional music halls where you can enjoy doing Texas Line Dancing with actual Texans and not just other tourists.
If sprawling music festivals are your thing then you have a couple of choices. The famous PBS show Austin City Limits have their own festival in the fall with three days of music with multiple stages. If you don’t like Country music, don’t worry. This is a music festival that draws bands from every genre. Add in some food stalls that sell everything from Mexican (recipes like Cheesy Chile Rellenos ) to vegan offerings and you have a match made in Heaven.
South By Southwest, comminly called SXSW, is also help every year in Austin. This is more of a conference than just a music festival as it gives visitors an opportunity to learn more about technology, science and even network with global professionals in many different areas. There are film and art events and every major label has their bands perforrming there.
What to do
Besides just eating, drinking and listening to music, Austin has a lot of activities on offer.
Bring a bathing suit as there are plenty of places to go for a refreshing swim as there are rivers and lakes all around. Barton Springs is a popular spot when the temperatures start reaching 90° and more but there are plenty of small, secret swimming holes.
There are also a lot of hiking trails outside the city limits and some even within. There is a 10 mile Hike and Bike trail that runs along Town Lake that even cuts through downtown. The trail is well marked and lined with gravel so it is accessible by anybody.
If you prefer to be out on the water, then you can try out kayaking on the aforementioned Town Lake. Views of the downtown from a different perspective make it an interesting paddle around. It then joins the Colorado River where you can see the natural side of Austin.
The largest bat colony in North America is found in Austin and everybody, including people who are not zoologists, love to see them come out at night. Over a million live under the Congress Avenue Bridge and in the Spring gather at sunset to watch them all fly out in unison. Then again, the phenomenon repeats itself as the bats fly out with their babies.
Many people love to visit Vince Hannemann’s backyard. Not for a cookout, but because he has erected a Cathedral of Junk. It is a hodgepodge of junk that has been collected over the years and made into some unique structures.
Presidential history fans will love going to the Lyndon B Johnson Library. There are the usual exhibits that showcase his achievements as you typically find in a presidential library. But, this wouldn’t be Austin if there was nothing weird about it. There is a section where an animatronic LBJ will tell you jokes and anecdotes that were recorded years ago.
One of the best things about AUstin is how you don’t even need a guide to have a blast. Just wander around the city and you are sure to find some unexpected surprises from an impromptu concert to a pop up art exhibit to just one of the many eccentric characters entertaining the locals and tourists alike.
A trip to Austin is an assault on all of your senses and may become your new favorite city in North America.