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Austin is the capital of the U.S. state of Texas and the seat of Travis County. Austin is the 11th-most populatedcity in the U.S and the4th-most populated city in Texas. It is the fastest growing of the 50 largest US cities and the second largest capital city after Phoenix, Arizona. As of June 1, 2016, Austin had a population of 931,830 (U.S. Census Bureau estimate). Located in Central Texas in the foothills of Texas Hill Country, the city is home to numerous lakes, rivers, and waterways including Lady Bird Lake, Barton Springs,McKinney Falls, the Colorado River,Lake Travis, and Lake Walter E. Long. It is cultural and economic center of the Austin–Round Rock metropolitan area, which had an estimated population of 2,010,860 as of June 1, 2016.
In the 1830s pioneers began to settle the area in central Austin along the Colorado River. In 1839, the site was officially chosen to replace Houston as the new capital of the Republic of Texas and was incorporated under the name Waterloo. Shortly thereafter, the name was changed to Austin in honor of Stephen F. Austin, the "Father of Texas" and the republic's first secretary of state. The city subsequently grew throughout the 19th century and became a center for government and education with the construction of the Texas State Capitol and the University of Texas at Austin. After a lull in growth from the Great Depression, Austin resumed its development into a major city and, by the 1980s, it emerged as a center for technology and business. A number of Fortune 500 companies have headquarters or regional offices in Austin including Advanced Micro Devices, Apple Inc., ARM Holdings,Cisco, eBay, General Motors,Google, IBM, Intel, Texas Instruments, 3M, Oracle Corporation and Whole Foods Market. Dell's worldwide headquarters is located in nearby Round Rock, a suburb of Austin.
Residents of Austin are known as Austinites. They include a diverse mix of government employees, college students, musicians, high-tech workers, blue-collar workers, and businesspeople. The city's official slogan promotes Austin as "The Live Music Capital of the World", a reference to the many musicians and live music venues within the city, as well as the long-running PBS TV concert series Austin City Limits. The city also adopted "Silicon Hills" as a nickname in the 1990s due to a rapid influx of technology and development companies. In recent years, some Austinites have also adopted the unofficial slogan "Keep Austin Weird", which refers to the desire to protect small, unique, and local businesses from being overrun by large corporations. In the late 1800s, Austin was known as the "City of the Violet Crown" for its wintertime glow of bluebonnet wildflowers across the hills just after sunset. Even today, many Austin businesses use the term "Violet Crown" in their name. Austin is known as a "clean-air city" for the city's stringent no-smoking ordinances that apply to all public places and buildings, including restaurants and bars. The FBI ranked Austin as the second-safest major city in the U.S. for the year 2012.
|POPULATION :||• City 931,830 (11th)
• Metro 2,000,860 (33rd)
|FOUNDED :||Settled 1835
Incorporated December 27, 1839
|TIME ZONE :||Time zone CST (UTC-6)
Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
|AREA :||• City 271.8 sq mi (704 km2)
• Land 264.9 sq mi (686 km2)
• Water 6.9 sq mi (18 km2)
• Metro 4,285.70 sq mi (11,099.91 km2)
|ELEVATION :||489 ft (149 m)|
|COORDINATES :||30°15′0″N 97°45′0″W|
|SEX RATIO :|
|ETHNIC :||• White: 68.3% (Non-Hispanic Whites: 48.7%)
• Hispanic or Latino: 35.1% (29.1% Mexican, 0.5% Puerto Rican, 0.4% Cuban, 5.1% Other)
• African American: 8.1%
• Asian: 6.3% (1.9% Indian, 1.5% Chinese, 1.0% Vietnamese, 0.7% Korean, 0.3% Filipino, 0.2% Japanese, 0.8% Other)
• American Indian: 0.9%
• Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander: 0.1%
• Two or More Races: 3.4%
|AREA CODE :||512 & 737|
|POSTAL CODE :||78701–78705, 78708–78739, 78741–78742, 78744–78769|
|DIALING CODE :||+1 512|
|WEBSITE :||Official website|
Austin is a city of over 900,000 people in the Hill Country region of the U.S. state of Texas. It is the capital of Texas and a college town, and also a center ofalternative culture away from the major cities on the US coasts, though the city is rapidly gentrifying with its rising popularity. Austin's attitude is commonly emblazoned about town on T-Shirts and bumper stickers that read: "Keep Austin Weird." Austin is also marketed as the "Live Music Capital of the World" due to the large number of venues.
- Austin Visitor Center, 209 E. Sixth Street, +1-866 GO-AUSTIN. Daily 8:30AM–5:30PM.
Austin, Travis County and Williamson County have been the site of human habitation since at least 9200 BC. The earliest known inhabitants of the area lived during the late Pleistocene (Ice Age) and are linked to the Clovis culture around 9200 BC (11,200 years ago), based on evidence found throughout the area and documented at the much-studied Gault Site, midway between Georgetown and Fort Hood.
When settlers first arrived from Europe, the Tonkawa tribe inhabited the area. The Comanches and Lipan Apaches were also known to travel through the area. Spanish colonists, including the Espinosa-Olivares-Aguirre expedition, traveled through the area for centuries, though few permanent settlements were created for some time. In 1730, three missions from East Texas were combined and reestablished as one mission on the south side of the Colorado River, in what is now Zilker Park, in Austin. The mission was in this area for only about seven months, and then was moved to San Antonio de Béxar and split into three missions. In the mid-18th century, the San Xavier missions were located along the Colorado River, in what is now western Milam County, to facilitate exploration.
Early in the 19th century, Spanish forts were established in what are now Bastrop and San Marcos. Following the independence of Mexico, new settlements were established in Central Texas, but growth in the region was stagnant because of conflicts with the regional Native Americans.
In 1835–1836, Texans fought and won independence from Mexico. Texas thus became its own independent country with its own president, congress, and monetary system. After Vice President Mirabeau B. Lamar visited the area during a buffalo-hunting expedition between 1837 and 1838, he proposed that the republic's capital, then located in Houston, be relocated to the area situated on the north bank of the Colorado River near the present-day Congress Avenue Bridge. In 1839, the Texas Congress formed a commission to seek a site for a new capital to be named for Stephen F. Austin. Mirabeau B. Lamar, second president of the newly formed Republic of Texas, advised the commissioners to investigate the area named Waterloo, noting the area's hills, waterways, and pleasant surroundings. Waterloo was selected and the name Austin was chosen as the town's new name. The location was seen as a convenient crossroads for trade routes between Santa Fe and Galveston Bay, as well as routes between northern Mexico and the Red River.
Edwin Waller was picked by Lamar to survey the village and draft a plan laying out the new capital.The original site was narrowed to 640 acres (259 ha) that fronted the Colorado River between two creeks, Shoal Creek and Waller Creek, which was later named in his honor. The 14-block grid plan was bisected by a broad north-south thoroughfare, Congress Avenue, running up from the river to Capital Square, where the new Texas State Capitol was to be constructed. A temporary one-story capitol was erected on the corner of Colorado and 8th Streets. On August 1, 1839, the first auction of 217 out of 306 lots total was held. The grid plan Waller designed and surveyed now forms the basis of downtown Austin.
In 1840, a series of conflicts between the Texas Rangers and the Comanches, known as the Council House Fight and the Battle of Plum Creek, finally pushed the Comanches westward, mostly ending conflicts in Central Texas. Settlement in the area began to expand quickly. Travis County was established in 1840, and the surrounding counties were mostly established within the next two decades.
Initially, the new capital thrived. But Lamar's political enemy, Sam Houston, used two Mexican army incursions to San Antonio as an excuse to move the government. Sam Houston fought bitterly against Lamar's decision to establish the capital in such a remote wilderness. The men and women who traveled mainly from Houston to conduct government business were intensely disappointed as well. By 1840, the population had risen to 856, of whom nearly half fled from Austin when Congress recessed. The resident Black population listed in January of this same year was 176. The fear of Austin's proximity to the Indians and Mexico, which still considered Texas a part of their land, created an immense motive for Sam Houston, the first and third President of the Republic of Texas, to relocate the capital once again in 1841. Upon threats of Mexican troops in Texas, Houston raided the Land Office to transfer all official documents to Houston for safe keeping in what was later known as the Archive War, but the people of Austin would not allow this unaccompanied decision to be executed. The documents stayed, but the capital would temporarily move from Austin to Houston to Washington-on-the-Brazos. Without the governmental body, Austin's population declined to a low of only a few hundred people throughout the early 1840s. The voting by the fourth President of the Republic, Anson Jones, and Congress, who reconvened in Austin in 1845, settled the issue to keep Austin the seat of government as well as annex the Republic of Texas into the United States.
In 1860, 38% of Travis County residents were slaves. In 1861, with the outbreak of the American Civil War, voters in Austin and other Central Texas communities voted against secession. However, as the war progressed and fears of attack by Union forces increased, Austin contributed hundreds of men to the Confederate forces. The African American population of Austin swelled dramatically after the enforcement of the Emancipation Proclamation in Texas by Union General Gordon Granger at Galveston in an event commemorated as Juneteenth. Black communities such as Wheatville, Pleasant Hill, and Clarksville were established with Clarksville being the oldest surviving freedomtown ‒ the original post-Civil War settlements founded by former African-American slaves ‒ west of the Mississippi River. In 1870, blacks made up 36.5% of Austin's population. The postwar period saw dramatic population and economic growth. The opening of the Houston and Texas Central Railway (H&TC) in 1871 turned Austin into the major trading center for the region with the ability to transport both cotton and cattle. The Missouri, Kansas, and Texas (MKT) line followed close behind. Austin was also the terminus of the southernmost leg of the Chisholm Trail and "drovers" pushed cattle north to the railroad. Cotton was one of the few crops produced locally for export and a cotton gin engine was located downtown near the trains for "ginning" cotton of its seeds and turning the product into bales for shipment. However, as other new railroads were built through the region in the 1870s, Austin began to lose its primacy in trade to the surrounding communities. In addition, the areas east of Austin took over cattle and cotton production from Austin, especially in towns like Hutto and Taylor that sit over the blackland prairie, with its deep, rich soils for producing cotton and hay.
In September 1881, Austin public schools held their first classes. The same year, Tillotson Collegiate and Normal Institute (now part of Huston-Tillotson University) opened its doors. The University of Texas at Austin held its first classes in 1883, although classes had been held in the original wooden state Capitol for four years before.
During the 1880s, Austin gained new prominence as the state capitol building was completed in 1888 and claimed as the seventh largest building in the world. In the late 19th century, Austin expanded its city limits to more than three times its former area, and the first granite dam was built on the Colorado River to power a new street car line and the new "moon towers". Unfortunately, the first dam washed away in a flood on April 7, 1900.
In the 1920s and 1930s, Austin launched a series of civic development and beautification projects that created much of the city's infrastructure and many of its parks. In addition, the state legislature established the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) that, along with the city of Austin, created the system of dams along the Colorado River to form the Highland Lakes. These projects were enabled in large part because the Public Works Administration provided Austin with greater funding for municipal construction projects than other Texas cities.
During the early twentieth century, a three-way system of social segregation emerged in Austin, with Anglos, African Americans and Mexicans being separated by custom or law in most aspects of life, including housing, health care, and education. Many of the municipal improvement programs initiated during this period—such as the construction of new roads, schools, and hospitals—were deliberately designed to institutionalize this system of segregation. Racial segregation actually increased in Austin during the first half of the twentieth century, with African Americans and Mexicans experiencing high levels of discrimination and social marginalization.
In 1940, the destroyed granite dam on the Colorado River was finally replaced by a hollow concrete dam that formed Lake McDonald (now called Lake Austin) and which has withstood all floods since. In addition, the much larger Mansfield Dam was built by the LCRA upstream of Austin to form the flood-control lake, Lake Travis. In the early 20th century, the Texas Oil Boom took hold, creating tremendous economic opportunities in Southeast Texas and North Texas. The growth generated by this boom largely passed by Austin at first, with the city slipping from fourth largest to 10th largest in Texas between 1880 and 1920.
After the mid-20th century, Austin became established as one of Texas' major metropolitan centers. In 1970, the United States Census Bureau reported Austin's population as 14.5% Hispanic, 11.9% black, and 73.4% non-Hispanic white. In the late 20th century, Austin emerged as an important high tech center for semiconductors and software. The University of Texas at Austin emerged as a major university.
The 1970s saw Austin's emergence in the national music scene, with local artists such as Willie Nelson, Asleep at the Wheel, and Stevie Ray Vaughan and iconic music venues such as the Armadillo World Headquarters. Over time, the long-running television program Austin City Limits, its namesake Austin City Limits Festival, and the South by Southwest music festival solidified the city's place in the music industry.
Under the Köppen climate classification, Austin has a humid subtropical climate. This climate is typified by very long, hot summers; warm transitional seasons; and short, mild winters. Austin averages 34.32 inches (872 mm) of annual rainfall and it is distributed mostly evenly throughout the year, though May and June are generally the wettest months. Sunshine is abundant during all seasons, with nearly 2,650 hours, or 60.3% of the possible total, of bright sunshine per year.
Summers in Austin are very hot. Average July and August highs frequently reach the high-90s °F (34–36 °C), and triple digits are common. Highs reach 90 °F (32 °C) on 116 days per year, and 100 °F (38 °C) on 18 days per year. The highest ever recorded temperature was 112 °F (44 °C) occurring on September 5, 2000, and August 28, 2011. Summer humidity is inconsistent and is highly dependent on the shifting patterns of air flow and wind direction. Humidity rises when the air drifts inland from the Gulf of Mexico, but decreases significantly when the air is channeled through the Chihuahuan Desert of West Texas.
Winters in Austin are mild. Daytime highs in December and January average 63 °F (17 °C) and 62 °F (17 °C), respectively, and the overnight low reaches or exceeds freezing only 19 times per year. The temperature falls below 45 °F (7 °C) during 88 evenings per year, including most nights between mid-December and mid-February. The lowest ever recorded temperature was −2 °F (−19 °C) on January 31, 1949. Roughly every two years Austin experiences an ice storm that freezes roads over and cripples travel in the city for 24 to 48 hours . When Austin received 0.04 inches (1 mm) of ice on January 24, 2014, there were 278 vehicular accidents. Similarly, snowfall is exceptionally rare in Austin. A snow event of 0.9 inches (2 cm) on February 4, 2011, caused more than 300 car accidents. A 13-inch (33 cm) snowstorm brought the city to a near standstill in 1985.
Climate data for Austin, Texas
|Record high °F (°C)||90
|Mean maximum °F (°C)||79.3
|Average high °F (°C)||61.5
|Average low °F (°C)||41.5
|Mean minimum °F (°C)||26.7
|Record low °F (°C)||−2
The most southerly of the capitals of the contiguous forty-eight states, Austin is located in Central Texas, along the Balcones Escarpment and Interstate 35, 150 miles northwest of Houston. It is also 160 miles south of Dallas and 75 miles north of San Antonio. Its elevation varies from 425 feet (130 m) to approximately 1,000 feet (305 m) above sea level. In 2010, the city occupied a total area of 271.8 square miles (704 km2). Approximately 6.9 square miles (18 km2) of this area is water.
Austin is situated on the Colorado River, with three man-made (artificial) lakes within the city limits: Lady Bird Lake (formerly known as Town Lake), Lake Austin(both created by dams along the Colorado River), and Lake Walter E. Long that is partly used for cooling water for the Decker Power Plant. Mansfield Dam and the foot of Lake Travis are located within the city's limits. Lady Bird Lake, Lake Austin, and Lake Travis are each on the Colorado River. As a result of its straddling the Balcones Fault, much of the eastern part of the city is flat, with heavy clay and loam soils, whereas, the western part and western suburbs consist of rolling hills on the edge of the Texas Hill Country. Because the hills to the west are primarily limestone rock with a thin covering of topsoil, portions of the city are frequently subjected to flash floods from the runoff caused by thunderstorms. To help control this runoff and to generate hydroelectric power, the Lower Colorado River Authority operates a series of dams that form the Texas Highland Lakes. The lakes also provide venues for boating, swimming, and other forms of recreation within several parks on the lake shores.
Austin is located at the intersection of four major ecological regions, and is consequently a temperate-to-hot green oasis with a highly variable climate having some characteristics of the desert, the tropics, and a wetter climate. The area is very diverse ecologically and biologically, and is home to a variety of animals and plants. Notably, the area is home to many types of wildflowers that blossom throughout the year but especially in the spring, including the popular bluebonnets, some planted in an effort by "Lady Bird" Johnson, wife of former President Lyndon Johnson.
A popular point of prominence in Austin is Mount Bonnell. At about 780 feet (238 m) above sea level, it is a natural limestone formation overlooking Lake Austin on the Colorado River, with an observation deck about 200 feet (61 m) below its summit.
The soils of Austin range from shallow, gravelly clay loams over limestone in the western outskirts to deep, fine sandy loams, silty clay loams, silty clays or clays in the city's eastern part. Some of the clays have pronounced shrink-swell properties and are difficult to work under most moisture conditions. Many of Austin's soils, especially the clay-rich types, are slightly to moderately alkaline and have free calcium carbonate.
The Greater Austin metropolitan statistical area had a Gross Domestic Product of $86 billion in 2010. Austin is considered to be a major center for high tech. Thousands of graduates each year from the engineering and computer science programs at the University of Texas at Austin provide a steady source of employees that help to fuel Austin's technology and defense industry sectors. The region's rapid growth has led Forbes to rank the Austin metropolitan area number one among all big cities for jobs for 2012 in their annual survey and WSJ Marketwatch to rank the area number one for growing businesses. By 2013, Austin ranked No. 14 on Forbes' list of the Best Places for Business and Careers (directly below Dallas, No. 13 on the list). As a result of the high concentration of high-tech companies in the region, Austin was strongly affected by the dot-com boom in the late 1990s and subsequent bust. Austin's largest employers include the Austin Independent School District, the City of Austin, Dell, the U.S. Federal Government, Freescale Semiconductor (spun off from Motorola in 2004), IBM, St. David's Healthcare Partnership, Seton Family of Hospitals, the State of Texas, the Texas State University, and the University of Texas at Austin. Other high-tech companies with operations in Austin include 3M, Apple, AMD, Applied Materials, ARM Holdings, Bigcommerce, Bioware,Blizzard Entertainment, Buffalo Technology, Cirrus Logic, Cisco Systems, Dropbox, eBay, PayPal, Electronic Arts, Flextronics, Facebook, Google, Hewlett-Packard,Hoover's, HomeAway, Hostgator, Intel Corporation, National Instruments, Nvidia,Oracle, Polycom, Qualcomm, Inc., Rackspace, RetailMeNot, Rooster Teeth,Samsung Group, Silicon Laboratories, Spansion, Troux Technologies, United Devices, and Xerox. In 2010, Facebook accepted a grant to build a downtown office that could bring as many as 200 jobs to the city. The proliferation of technology companies has led to the region's nickname, "the Silicon Hills", and spurred development that greatly expanded the city.
Austin is also emerging as a hub for pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies; the city is home to about 85 of them. The city was ranked by the Milken Institute as the No.12 biotech and life science center in the United States. Companies such as Hospira, Pharmaceutical Product Development, and ArthroCare Corporation are located there.
Whole Foods Market (often called just "Whole Foods") is an upscale, international grocery store chain specializing in fresh and packaged food products—many having an organic-/local-/"natural"-theme. It was founded and is headquartered in Austin.
Other companies based in Austin include Freescale Semiconductor, Temple-Inland,Sweet Leaf Tea Company, Keller Williams Realty, National Western Life, GSD&M,Dimensional Fund Advisors, Golfsmith, Forestar Group, and EZCorp.
In addition to national and global corporations, Austin features a strong network of independent, unique, locally owned firms and organizations.
Downtown - The central business district and home to some of the tallest residential towers in the state, it also contains many of the cities most popular live music venues, bars and restaurants.
UT and the Drag - The campus of the University of Texas and the dense student housing of West Campus offer museums, art and inexpensive eats.
North Central - Historic and affluent residential neighborhoods filled with Arts and Crafts-styled bungalows and small cafes.
East Austin - Diverse neighborhoods where people of color mix with artists to create a vibrant, energetic mix of cultures.
Northwest Austin - Home to much of Austin's tech businesses and high end shopping.
South Austin - Strolling down South Congress is something every visitor to Austin must do. As you get farther south, neighborhoods become more working class.
Prices in Austin
MARKET / SUPERMARKET
|Beer (domestic)||0.5 l||$1.65|
|Bottle of Wine||1 bottle||$14.00|
|Dinner (Low-range)||for 2||$25.00|
|Dinner (Mid-range)||for 2||$50.00|
|Dinner (High-range)||for 2||$|
|Mac Meal or similar||1 meal||$7.00|
|Beer (Imported)||0.33 l||$5.00|
|Beer (domestic)||0.5 l||$4.00|
|Coctail drink||1 drink||$10.00|
|Men’s Haircut||1 haircut||$18.00|
|Mobile (prepaid)||1 min.||$0.20|
|Pack of Marlboro||1 pack||$6.60|
|Toilet paper||4 rolls||$|
CLOTHES / SHOES
|Jeans (Levis 501 or similar)||1||$46.00|
|Dress summer (Zara, H&M)||1||$37.00|
|Sport shoes (Nike, Adidas)||1||$88.00|
|Local Transport||1 ticket||$1.70|
68 $ per day
Estimated cost per 1 day including:
- meals in cheap restaurant
- public transport
- cheap hotel
268 $ per day
Estimated cost per 1 day including:
- mid-range meals and drinks
Transportation - Get In
Austin Bergstrom International Airport (IATA: AUS). 6 miles (10 km) southeast of the city center, it is served by most major carriers, with non-stop service to 49 destinations. There are a selection of buses, taxis, shuttles and car rentals to get you into town and back. Chauffeured sedans or limos are also available to pick you up or drop you off at the airport but normally require advance reservations. Taxi fare to downtown Austin is approximately $30. You may also catch Capital Metro bus 100 from ABIA to Downtown Austin, $1.75 for one way or $3.50 for a 24-hour local pass.
Austin Amtrak station, 250 North Lamar Blvd. Served by the Texas Eagle Line with service from Chicago to San Antonio.
There are multiple long distance bus lines serving Austin from San Antonio, Houston, Laredo and Dallas-Ft Worth in the U.S. and from Nuevo Laredo and Monterey in Mexico. Each company has a stop or their own bus station in different parts of town that are far from each other:
- Arrow Trailways of Texas (Southwestern Stagelines), (Greyhound bus depot) 916 E Koenig Ln and at the CARTS/Greyhound Station on 402 W Bowman Rd in Round Rock, north of Austin, . From Killeen to Temple, Waco, Round Rock, Austin and Houston.
- Greyhound Lines & Autobus Americanos, (bus depot) 916 E Koenig Ln(northwest of the I-35/US Hwy290 interchange at E Koenig & Middle Fiskville Rd.), , toll-free: . Greyhound travels primarily on Interstate 35/35E (Dallas-San Antonio with some buses continuing to Laredo) and on US Hwy 290 (Austin-Houston). Passengers transfer to other buses in San Antonio, Dallas, Laredo and/or Houston to get to other cities & towns and to Capitol Metro #7 or #10 going south on Airport Blvd to get to downtown Austin. Autobus Americanos travel along the I-35 corridor between Dallas & Laredo in the US and from Nuevo Laredo down to Monterrey along MX Hwy 85/85D in Mexico. Both Greyhound & Autobus Americanos share the same station.
- Megabus, (bus stop) 2008 Whitis Ave (Along the west side of Whitis Ave between W 20th and 21st St in the SW part of the U Texas campus.). Service from San Antonio, Dallas, and Houston. Fares from $1 and up.
- Turimex Internacional, (bus depot) 5012 E 7th St (E 7th St & Shady Ln, NW of the US-Hwy 183 & E 7th St), toll-free: . Mexican trans-border bus line with services to various points in Mexico and the southeastern U.S. Take the Capitol Metro #4 going west on 7th St to get downtown.
Austin is on one major freeway and several regional highways, and its outskirts are served by several tollways. From San Antonio, head north on IH-35, about one and a half hours. From Dallas, head south on IH-35, about three hours. From Houston, head west on US-290 (or I-10 W to Hwy 71 W if you want to reach South Austin), about three hours. From I-10, take SH-130 Toll north to Austin.
Transportation - Get Around
Generally, the feasibility of seeing Austin by foot depends largely on the weather
For those content to see only downtown Austin and who are in good shape, exploring most of the downtown area on foot is possible. There are many attractions within a 1 - 2 mile walk from most downtown hotels. Just be prepared for potentially oppressive heat during the summer months.
The University of Texas area, just north of downtown, is also very pedestrian friendly, and in fact can be a difficult place to get around by car (very hard to find a parking spot).
Though there are some exceptions, most of downtown Austin is reasonably bike friendly. There is a high concentration of cyclists in the city, and many trails around town.
Austin is hilly to the west but generally mildly sloping toward the river in the center of town. There are bike lanes on most major streets. Biking is a great way to get around year round and the weather is usually agreeable from mid-October to mid-April. May to mid-October temperatures may reach the high 90's to 100's and humidity may be a problem.
- Austin B-Cycle has a number of automated bike-rental stations in downtown, the University area, and near south Austin.
- Yellow Bike Project, Phone: +1 512-457-9880. Operates two community bike shops where individuals can go and repair their own bikes free of charge. Coordinators are present to answer any questions and guide you, but not to fix your bike for you. At the Main Shop on 51st Street there are 10+ work stands and tools sets available for use. The Satellite Shop is better for minor repairs and only has as a few work stands. If you are looking for a cheap bike while in town and are willing to do a little maintenance work, visit The Yellow Bike Project and pick out a bike that needs a little love in exchange for a small donation. If you are interested in getting away from touristy attractions on your visit, the Yellow Bike shop is a great place to drop in and volunteer for a few hours. Their hours change monthly but are up-to-date on their website. If you are lucky you might see one of the eponymous Yellow Bikes around town. If you see a Yellow Bike, feel free to ride it to your destination and leave it for the next person. Yellow Bikes are not to be locked up and you ride at your own risk. The Austin Yellow Bike Project has been operating for ten years and has released over 600 yellow bikes.
- Bicycle Sports Shop - Bike Rentals, Phone: +1 512-477-3472. The Bicycle Sports Shop is located Downtown and offers the largest selection of bike rentals in the city.
- Rocket Electrics - Electric Bike Sales, Rentals, and Tours, Phone: +1 512-442-2453. Rocket Electrics is Austin's only all-electric bike shop and is located 1 mile southeast of downtown in the Southshore District with direct access to the Hike-and-Bike Trail System. Day rentals are available as well as guided tours including a foodie tour and a Live Music Capital of the World Tour that is led by full-time Austin Musicians and includes a live performance by the artist.
Driving is not too difficult if you're used to living in a large city. Traffic is bad from 7-9AM and 3:30-7PM weekdays, though IH-35 through town can be jammed at other times as well. Austin's traffic is among the worst in the nation in terms of hours of delay per year, so allow plenty of extra time during the morning and evening commute.
There are two major north-south expressways: I-35 (non-standardly called "IH-35") and Loop 1 (also called the MoPac Expressway for the former owner of the railroad which runs along it, Missouri-Pacific - or "Slo-Pac" for anyone who has experienced it at rush hour). There is only one true major east-west freeway in Austin, located south of the city center, known as Ben White or US 290 West/Texas highway 71. The freeway section of 290 West/Ben White currently runs from I-35 to just east of Oak Hill. Freeway extensions are currently being constructed east on 71 to the airport, and the beginning stages of construction are taking place west towards and past Oak Hill. Hwy 183 runs from the southeast corner of the city near the airport to the northwest suburbs, bridging MoPac and I-35 in North Austin.
Oak Hill is the point at which TX 71 and US 290 split apart and go in separate directions, and in case this isn't confusing enough, some people make the distinction between 290 West and 290 East because at I-35, 290 East actually heads up the interstate, and then continues on to the east in North Austin. There is a second freeway that runs from the Northwest side of the city down to the Southeast side of the city past the airport. This freeway is called US 183, and in North Austin it may also be referred to as Research Boulevard. Most of it is freeway now; however, there are still several major intersections which are currently being constructed and turned into freeway.
I-35 has no loop that circumnavigates the city, so watch out for aggressive, confused drivers. Also, keep your eyes open for the upper deck/lower deck split between Airport Boulevard and Martin Luther King Jr Boulevard; it's confusing, and accidents occur there frequently. Drivers going through Austin without stopping, or those who wish to avoid the chaos of the lower deck, should use the right two lanes as the deck split approaches, in contrast to other cities where through traffic uses the left lane. On the northbound side, traffic entering I-35 at Martin Luther King Jr Boulevard goes directly to the upper deck.
Out-of-towners be warned: on-ramps on I-35, especially the lower deck, are very short. Austin has a mostly completed network of toll roads, see Central Texas Turnpike System and Central Texas Regional Mobile Authority. These include SH 130, an Austin bypass east of town; SH 45, an east-west artery in North Austin; the North MoPac extension; the US 183A bypass of Cedar Park and Leander; and SH 45SE in far south Austin. TxTag accounts are available for commuters. There has been significant opposition and accommodations have been made in some areas. Both US 183A and MoPac are rather deceptive — if you keep going north on either 183 or MoPac, the freeway seamlessly transitions into a toll road and the signage is rather poor. To avoid the toll, you must keep a sharp eye out and get off the main lanes. Even worse, all tolls on 183A are "TxTag Only" meaning that you cannot pay cash. This trend will likely extend to all Austin tollways in the near future.
Parts of the city are subject to flooding at times during the year; however, it is not too common as Austin does not usually get an excessive amount of rain. The year 2007 saw several flood episodes with the worst effects in Marble Falls, northwest of the city. 2015 was another heavy rain year with selective local flooding. See City of Austin Flood History for historic flooding.
For those of you unfamiliar with proper treatment of flooded areas, NEVER drive through flooded low water crossings. You will lose your car and possibly your life. As little as a few inches of running water can and does wash a car away and each year there are some deaths due to this. "Turn Around, Don't Drown."
While driving is not too bad, parking in the city center can be difficult; look for municipal parking garages as officers will ticket you in the blink of an eye (check meters, though, because many are free in the evenings, on weekends, and on major holidays). Worse yet, vehicles illegally parked in private parking areas arevery quickly towed, so make sure that you don't park in spots marked no parking.
Parking is free in the Texas State History Museum garage near UT after hours and on weekends. As of 2005 under SB 1533, state employees may park in state garages during non-business hours for free.
Capital Metro. The city's public bus network with a system of inexpensive neighborhood, express and downtown routes. Visitors can also get around on the Capital MetroRail commuter train which operates on weekdays (and in the early evening only on Saturdays) between Downtown and northwest Austin. Local fares cost $1.25 per trip, or you can get a 24-hour pass for $2.50 on board every bus (the airport bus, "flyer" routes, and bus rapid transit along Lamar and Burnet are $1.75 for a single ride and $3.50 for a day pass; while commuter express buses and MetroRail fares are $3.50, $7.00 for a day pass). "E-Bus" and "Night Owl" services serve the city's entertainment districts after hours. Expect a bus ride from any point north of 183 to downtown to take at least half an hour. The Capital Metro website has a trip planner which can be used to find public transport options between two points in Austin.
Austin has a generally mediocre public transit system. However, the bus can be a viable method of getting around with proper planning ahead of time.
The University of Texas shuttles (route numbers in the 600s) offer frequent service between the University and some neighborhoods during weekdays (and less frequently on Sundays) when school is in session. The older white buses with orange trim are free; the newer blue buses require a UTexas ID or Capital Metro bus pas.
There are also double-decker tour buses:
There are several cab companies on call if you'd prefer to avoid the driving hassle.
- Yellow Cab, Phone: +1 512-452-9999. website includes fare estimator and online booking.
- Marriton Limousine, , toll-free: . For airport transfers or those who just demand a bit more luxury you can rent a chauffeured sedan, limousine or minibus.
Uber and Lyft were formerly in Austin, but famously withdrew after losing the May, 2016 referendum they had sponsored.
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Austin is very proud of its local stores. Great places to shop are South Congress (SoCo),The Drag, (Guadalupe, from 17th to 38th, along the West side of the UT campus) and South First. North Loop also has a few fun and funky shops, but you'll probably have to ask a local (or several) how to get there.
- Barton Creek Mall (Southwest of town).
- Lakeline Mall (Northwest of town).
- Highland Mall (North of downtown). Most stores are gone, though there is La Chaparrita, a very good Peruvian restaurant. Will soon be converted into a ACC campus. The red line has a dedicated stop at this once important shopping center.
- Round Rock Premium Outlets. Opened in August, 2006 and features upscale outlet shopping in an outdoor courtyard style center. Just north of RM 1431 at I-35 in North Round Rock. 125 stores. IKEA Home furnishings is nearby
- Prime Outlets San Marcos and adjacent Tanger Factory Outlets combine for over 200 stores and is worth the trip south from Austin.
- The Domain. And The Shops at Arbor Walk at Braker and MoPac. The Domain hosts Neiman Marcus, Tiffany's and Macy's.
Austin is home of the original and the world headquarters of Whole Foods. Their flagship store is located downtown at W. 6th St. and Lamar, in the same building as their brand-new corporate headquarters. They have several other stores around town as well. The flagship store is a destination in and of itself.
Austin is also home to the original Central Market, near Lamar and 38th St., and a second location at Lamar and Westgate, down south. Both have live music in their dining areas on weekends.
Both Whole Foods and Central Market have a large selection of fresh fruits and vegetables, wines, beer, cheese, free-range meats, and seafood. The Whole Foods flagship store downtown and the 38th St. Central Market locations have a varied selection of gelato. The "mothership" Whole Foods (as locals call it) is the largest in its chain, boasting six mini-restaurants with dishes prepared to order (seafood, vegetarian, BBQ, Italian, Asian, and pizza). Spirits live music at night, an ice rink on top (during the winter months) and much, much more.
Wheatsville Food Co-op (original location 3101 Guadalupe, open daily 7:30AM-11PM, new south Austin store 4001 S. Lamar Blvd) is now a thriving cooperative grocery and has been around for over 30 years. Their focus on food issues guaranteed an excellent selection of ethically produced products including organics, vegetarian, vegan, free range meats and eggs, fair trade, household items, bulk foods and a full service deli. The store is a much smaller than the large supermarkets and provides a much more personal grocery experience. "King of the Hill" made fun of the earnestness of the place by having Hank eat "faux fu" (a more ethical form of tofu) from the place.
Austin also features a large variety of ethnic grocery stores, including Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese, and, of course, Mexican.
- MT Supermarket (North Lamar Blvd. and Braker Lane). 68,000 square foot Vietnamese and Chinese grocery supermarket, part of the 180,000 square foot Chinatown Center.
- Hong Kong, 8557 Research Blvd. Chinese groceries.
- Asahi Imports, 6105 Burnet Rd. Japanese grocery store.
- Fiesta Mart, 3909 N. Interstate 35. Mexican groceries, strong selection of other international fare.
- Barton Creek Farmers Market, 2901 S Capital of Texas Hwy. Austin's largest and most acclaimed farmers market located in the Barton Creek Mall parking lot, meets 9:00-1PM every Saturday
- HEB. One of the largest private (not publicly traded) corporations in America, has many supermarkets around town. They have great selection. Most markets have specialty, organic, and ethnic foods. Many are open 24 hours. Their newest large-scale supermarkets include everything from furniture to electronics to books to eggs.
- Randalls. The second largest supermarket chain in town after H-E-B, owned by Safeway has a few locations open 24 hours.
- Waterloo Records (Sixth & Lamar). Known around town for having local artists play in-store. Wide selection of music, everything from Blues to Electronica to Country. Has a wall dedicated to local musicians, great if you need a real country fix, not that sugary syrup they play on the radio.
- End of an Ear. Experimental music, jazz, other "left of the dial" music. Regular in-store performances, usually on weekends.
- Bookpeople (Sixth & Lamar). Across the street from Waterloo Records, this locally owned bookstore has two stories of books with lots of quiet corners to sit down for a read. Largest independent bookstore in Texas. Great selection of books on Texas history and architecture.
- BookWoman, 5501 N. Lamar. Independent feminist bookstore also specializing in LGBTQ texts.
- Half-Price Books. Five locations around town. This Texas-based chain's stores offer exceptional value for your dollar, and have an extremely diverse selection. A peek in these stores will show you what Austinites are really reading.
- Terratoys, 2438 W. Anderson Ln (newly re-located). Wide variety of toys and excellent selection of children's books.
- Hogwild, 100-A East North Loop. Vintage toys.
- Toy Joy, 403 W 2nd St. Awesome selection of novelty, themed, and era-reminiscent toys, candy, and stationary.
- Game Over Videogames, 911 West Anderson Lane #106. Classic & used videogames from Atari to Xbox360.
There are several antique stores on South Congress.
- Aqua, 1415 S. Congress.
- Blue Velvet, 217 W. North Loop.
- Buffalo Exchange, 2904 Guadalupe.
- Flashback, 1805 South 1st St.
- Blackmail, 1202 S. Congress. All black clothing and various accessories.
- Parts & Labor, 1604 S. Congress. Lots of unique items (clothes, earrings, purses, etc.) made by local artists.
- Lucy in Disguise, 1506 South Congress. Eclectic clothing and costumery for children and adults.
- Secret Oktober, 1905 South 1st St, Suite B. Goth, punk, and alternative clothing new/resale shop. Doubles as a local venue ticket sales outlet.[www]
When you visit Austin, or if you decide to live here, you'll have no shortage of interesting and satisfying places to eat. Austin's restaurants are a feast for the mind and the palate. The listings below are only a sampling of the diverse and plentiful Austin restaurant scene.
Austin has many high-end, destination restaurants, but it also has many high-quality, unique, and inexpensive restaurants where the locals eat, drink, and socialize every day (all day). It's a town built for living in, and the affordable, excellent restaurants show it. Just so you know you're in Texas, Austin has a large number of places serving Texas Barbeque and Tex-Mex; many of them are venerable, famous, and exceptionally good eating.
Austin is vegetarian-friendly, and many restaurants have a good selection to choose from. Most supermarkets such as HEB, Fiesta and Randall's offer inexpensive prepared food.
While Austin has dining options ranging from casual to upscale, most of the popular restaurants skew towards the budget end of the spectrum. There's a good chance the restaurant you want to visit has counter or quick-casual service and does not accept reservations. Part of the reason behind this is the fact that many popular restaurants started out as food trucks and then later built brick-and-mortar locations. Many of these places require that you pay up front, including tipping. When presented with the tipping step, bear in mind that Austin housing has recently become relatively expensive for service industry workers.
Consequently, many popular restaurants also have long lines (e.g., Franklin Barbecue). While some people enjoy striking up conversations in these famed lines, you may find yourself wanting to actually eat rather than talk. Austin's restaurants tend to follow trends (e.g., BBQ, tacos, pizza), so plan on some nearby alternatives if the idea of standing in 100º heat for an hour for a burger isn't your idea of fun.
- Asia Cafe. One of the best Chinese food places in Austin. It's family style (huge portions) and offers some very exotic dishes. But its claim to fame is the "spicy fish fillet". It's amazing. There are a few other must-try items, such as eggplant with ground pork and twice cooked pork (bacon) with garlic sprouts.
- Threadgill's. The menu focuses on southern comfort food. The chicken fried steaks, salads, and peach cobbler are all especially good. Both locations are famous concert venues, starting the likes of Janis Joplin. Weekly gospel brunch at the south location on Sunday, for which you might want to call for reservations.
- Pluckers Wing Bar, Rio Grande, South Lamar, Research Blvd, Lakeline Mall, Round Rock. A local wing joint/sports bar. Reasonably priced, delicious wings and other menu items (including tasty salads). Try the fried macaroni and cheese. They have tons of TVs; it's a great place to watch a ball game.
- Austin Land and Cattle, 1205 N. Lamar Blvd.. Delicious steaks in a relaxed atmosphere (for a steakhouse). Great bar, appetizers, and sides too. Not especially cheap, but some of the best steaks in town.
- Burger Bar, 110 E. 2nd St, . Feast on ground flat-top burgers, inventive handspun shakes and addictive fry creations in a stylish sidewalk setting. Be sure to try their signature Big Mouth Burger, topped with blistered peppers, jalapeno jam, bacon and zesty cheddar.
- Dan's Hamburgers. Big, greasy burgers and tasty milkshakes. There is also Fran's Hamburgers; the story is that Dan & Fran divorced and each took part of the franchise.
- Waterloo Ice House. Austin classic. Delish burgers, some of the best onion rings in town. Don't miss the Cinnamon Chocolate Shake!
- Hopdoddy Burger Bar, South Congress and West Anderson Lane. Absolutely amazing burgers, an excellent bar, and great milkshakes (be sure to try the Caramel & Sea Salt)! Be prepared for a wait.
- P.Terry's. Hormone free, anti-biotic free beef, served up in tasty burgers with fresh cut french fries. Veggie burgers and quality chicken burgers (better than the regular burgers) are also available. Great quality 'fast food.' Several locations all over town.
- Mighty FIne. 4 Locations. Up and coming burger joint in Austin, short menu but not short on taste.
If you're going to Austin looking for barbecue, you're going to the right place. Austin is home to multiple of the best barbecue restaurants in the state.
- Franklin Barbecue, 900 E. 11th St. 11AM until sold out. Super popular (and rightfully so) place just east of I-35. It started as a trailer, but they now have a small restaurant. They open at 11AM and only serve food until they sell out. Be warned; folks start lining up incredibly early. If you arrive later than 10 or 10:30 on a usual day, you may not get food. It's easily worth the wait if you have the time; their brisket is the best in Texas.
- The Salt Lick, 18300 FM 1826, . 11AM to 10PM. Built in 1967, this Austin establishment is a local favorite and winner of multiple awards. A great place to have a huge BYOB barbecue feast.
- Gus’s World Famous Hot & Spicy Fried Chicken (Gus's fried Chicken), 117 San Jacinto Blvd Austin, TX 78701 (located on corner of San Jacinto Blvd & W 2nd St), . Mon – Thu 11:00 am – 9:00 pm Fri – Sat 11:00 am – 10:00 pm Sun 11:00 am – 9:00 pm. Fried chicken.
Austin is home to a verity of excellent Mexican restaurants. Everyone in town has his/her favorite so if your looking to find a good one just ask the locals.
- Polvo's Mexican Restaurant, 2004 S 1st St. All-around excellent tex-mex, very popular with the local crowd. Some of the best margaritas to be found anywhere, and a trip to Austin is not complete without their Rellenos al Nogal.
- Curra's Grill, 614 E Oltorf St. A much larger, more diverse menu than most tex-mex restaurants, and it's all fantastic. The avocado margaritas are extremely popular. Be forewarned, it's a small restaurant and it's almost always packed.
- Baby Acapulco's. This is a well known Tex-Mex restaurant serving out of 5 locations throughout the Austin area. A fun place for happy hour with a more upbeat and younger crowd. The famous purple margarita will do you just fine. But they serve a limit of two so drink responsibly!
- Chuy's Restaurant, 4 locations, e-mail: [email protected]. Austin institution with great Tex-Mex food. The North Lamar location is somewhat out of the way, but also tends to have the shortest wait times. Call ahead because the wait can sometimes be extremely long, though there are free chips and salsa to help make up for it.
- Maudie's. 6 locations. Great local Tex-Mex chain with locations spread across the city. Excellent tacos, enchiladas and chili rellenos. Serves breakfast all day. Gluten Free Menu available upon request.
- Corner, 110 E. Second St. Austin, TX 78701, . Combining regional ingredients and recipes from every corner of Texas with crafted tequila cocktails and locally-sourced beers, Corner brings a modern, uptempo spirit to a laid-back space overlooking the South Congress neighborhood. Don't miss the Slow-Roasted Pork Shoulder Sandwich, accompanied by quince jelly and manchego cheese or the festive Taco Bar.
- Maria's Taco Express, 2529 South Lamar Blvd. Local Mexican food. Live music on a regular basis and great fajitas.
- Changos Taqueria, 3023 Guadalupe. Tasty, affordable, and authentic tacos and other Mexican dishes. Try the al pastor tacos with the el nortena salsa. Serves breakfast tacos as well.
- Garrido's, Nueces & 3rd St. Modern Mexican food downtown. Try the chicken enchiladas and the guacamole. Great lunch special: 3 course meal for $12.
- Lupe Tortilla's, Arbor Walk and Westlake. Really delicious and affordable Tex-Mex. Great margaritas. Their queso is the best in town, and be sure to try the flour tortillas (which are as big as your plate).
- Serranos. A homegrown Tex-Mex restaurant with five area locations around town offering a great selection of tasty Tex-Mex dishes. The food and service are consistently good for a reasonable price. For something different try the enchiladas con huevos.
- Santa Rita Cantina, 38th and Lamar, Slaughter Ln. Fantastic and reasonably priced Tex-Mex. Their enchiladas are amazing, and their Mexican martinis are the best in town. Great happy hour specials, too.
- Tamale House, 5003 Airport Blvd, . The best hole-in-the-wall Mexican food in town. Simple, wholesome food made right in front of you by somebody's Mexican tias and abuelitas. It's mostly a take-out place but they have a half dozen tables inside/outside if you aren't in a hurry. Great value and colorful clientele. Nothing glamorous here though. One of the few places in town that feels like it is south of the border. $.
- Torchy's Tacos, Locations across town. Amazing tacos of every kind, including breakfast tacos. Try the green chile pork or the democrat.
- Trudy's, 3 locations. Regarded by some as the favorite for Tex-Mex food in town, but this also means they are generally incredibly crowded and loud. Excellent margaritas with specials each night of the week. They're known more for their Mexican martinis than for their food.
- Osteria Pronto, 110 E. Second St., . Indulge in authentic, quality Italian food hand crafted with passion and served with class. Don't miss the signature Pollo Al Mattone, the inventive pizza selections and the impeccable wine list.
- Mandola's Italian Market, The Triangle, Bee Cave, and Arbor Trail. Referred to by some as the best Italian food in Austin. Everything on the menu is affordable and delicious. Try the bruschetta alla checca, the trenette al pesto, or any pizza. They also have fabulous coffee, dessert, and gelato selections. From 3-6PM on weekdays they have a great happy hour.
- Perla's Seafood and Oyster Bar, 1400 S Congress Ave. Excellent for lunch or dinner, but particularly wonderful for weekend brunch on their patio. Have a few cocktails and some oysters before ordering your entree.
There are numerous Japanese restaurants in town (if you are looking for the real thing, most Japanese restaurants in town also are Korean or Chinese run). If you see bulgogi or other Korean fare it's likely a Korean restaurant. These places are pretty good and if you're not really into sushi, it's great to also have the option to eat Korean food.
- Uchi, 801 s. lamar, . High end authentic Japanese dining and sushi. Make a reservation!!! Always slammed full of people.
- Pho Tai Son, Three or four locations (Burnet Rd & Parmer in the HEB strip mall, Wm. Cannon and Brodie by ChoobieDoos, the Drag, and maybe Oltorf, but that's probably Hai Ky now?). Good fresh Vietnamese standbys, pho, bun, stirfry and bubble drinks. No beer but maybe you can bring your own?
- Amy's Ice Creams (Downtown, North Loop, Northwest Austin, South Austin, UT and the Drag). The atmosphere is lively and the employees are friendly. Add a fruit or candy "crush'n" to your ice cream for even more flavor. The recently-added location on Burnet Road, aside from being right beside the Amy's production facility, also features a burger joint - Phil's Ice House. Try the sweet potato fries and the burger sampler.
- Kerbey Lane Cafe. 24 hours. This Austin favorite offers legendary pancakes and an extensive vegan menu that includes breakfast tacos, chai pancakes, tofu cheesecake, and more. Also try the queso and Dave's enchiladas. Breakfast all day.
- Opal Divine's. Serving up American food menu at four Austin locations, all of which have large outdoor decks for those who prefer to dine or enjoy an adult beverage with nature.
- Thundercloud Subs. A local Sandwich deli with over 27 locations around town. Known for its 'Keep Austin Weird' atmosphere and 'Thunder sauce.'
- Whole Foods Market Cafe. Vegetarian-friendly grocery store with numerous food bars offering vegan and vegetarian options. Whole Foods' flagship store is in Austin.
Coffe & Drink
Austin is coffee mad. The coffeehouse culture is strong and growing here in Austin, and you can hear poetry and live music at quite a few of these places, as well as getting light eats. Coffeehouses are where the liberal heart of Austin beats for all to see. Free wireless Internet connections are very common (and available at many other businesses as well).
- Houndstooth Coffee, 4200 N Lamar, . Varies by day.
- Caffe Medici, Three Locations. Varies.
- Spider House, 2908 Fruth St (just north of the UT Campus), .Daily 7AM-2AM. A lovely place to spend a night out on the patio by yourself or with friends. Table service available. The Chai Milkshake is a dream; the Sangria pitcher is pricey but a fun way to unwind. Decent food as well. Hosts a poetry slam every Tuesday night at 8PM in an annex.
- Genuine Joe, 2001 W Anderson Ln, . M-F 7AM-11PM, Sa-Su 8AM-11PM.
- Texspresso Cafe, 2700 W Anderson Ln, .
- Ruta Maya, 3601 S Congress Ave **As of January 15, 2013, Ruta Maya has either moved or closed down!** (turn off So. Congress at the strip joint and go uphill), , fax: , e-mail: [email protected]. M 7AM-11PM, Tu-Th 7AM-1PM, F 7AM-2AM, Sa 8AM-2AM, Su 8AM-11PM. An Austin tradition. Located at the Penn Field complex in a cavernous space with classes, entertainment, and events. Be aware that the service can be haphazard, but always friendly.
- Teo, 1206 W 38th St, . M-Th 7AM-10PM, F 7AM-Midnight, Sa 8AM-Midnight, Su 9AM-10PM.
- Mozart's Coffee Roasters, 3826 Lake Austin Blvd, , fax: , e-mail: [email protected]. M-Th 7AM-Midnight, F 7AM-1AM, Sa 8AM-1AM, Su 8AM-Midnight.
- Cafe Caffeine, 909 W Mary St, .
- Bouldin Creek Coffeehouse, 1501 S 1st St, , e-mail:[email protected]. M-F 7AM-Midnight, Sa-Su 9AM-Midnight.
- Jo's, 1300 S Congress Ave, .
- Lava Java, 2901 Medical Arts St, . M-Th 7:30AM-Midnight, F 7:30AM-10PM, Sa-Su 9AM-10PM.
- Anderson's Coffee Company, 1601 W 38th St, .
- Trianon the Coffee Place, 3201 Bee Cave Rd, .
- Halcyon Coffee Bar & Lounge Cafe, 218 W 4th St, , e-mail:[email protected]. M-W 7AM-1AM, Th 7AM-2AM, F 7AM-3AM, Sa 8AM-3AM, Su 8AM-1AM. More of a bar than a coffee house, serves smores.
- Progress Coffee, 500 San Marcos St, , fax: , e-mail: [email protected]. M-W 7AM-8PM, Th-F 7AM-9PM, Sa 8AM-9PM, Su 8AM-8PM. Best Iced Toddy in town!
- Pacha, 4618 Burnet Rd, . M-F 7AM-7PM, Sa-Su 8AM-7PM.
Sights & Landmarks
- The University of Texas at Austin. A beautiful stroll. While there you might want to visit the Blanton Museum of Art, the Harry Ransom Center, Texas Memorial Museum of Science and History, or view the public art around campus The famous UT tower has reopened and is worth a look for the breathtaking views and history lesson. It is a tour though so you need to make reservations [www]. The theater and music departments are both well regarded and have performances throughout the school year. If you visit during football season, you can see the 2005 National Champion Texas Longhorn football team play at Darrell K. Royal Texas Memorial Stadium.
- LBJ Presidential Library. Always seems to have something interesting on display. They change their exhibits fairly frequently.
- The Texas State Capitol. Is a must-see for new visitors to Austin. A large source of pride for the city and the state, the State Capitol is a beautiful building wrapped in Texas pink granite. Independent-minded Texans take pride in the fact that the State Capitol is actually 14 feet taller than the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. Unlike many other state capitols in America, Texas's is as welcoming as the state's people, and is completely open to the public seven days a week. It's interesting to stroll through the halls, look at the paintings and sculptures, and peek into the legislative chambers. And it's free!
- Austin bats. Yes, that's right, bats. Austin's Congress Avenue bridge is home to about 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats. This is the largest urban bat colony in the world and one of the largest Mexican free-tailed bat colonies in North America. The bats are generally active at dusk every evening between March and November. In years when there has been a drought, the bats leave early (when there is still light), and can be a quite impressive sight. In years when there has been plenty of rain, they leave so late it is difficult to see much. Best place to see them is near the Austin American Statesman's parking lot, or you can pay for boat tours to see them from underneath the bridge. Towards the end of bat season, when the colony's young are flying for the first time, pedestrian crowds can become rather dense. Try to arrive at least an hour before dark if you want to have a good, unobstructed view.
- Texas State Cemetery. Is the state burying ground for Texas politicians, cultural figures and Republic of Texas heroes. Texas luminaries buried within its grounds include Stephen F. Austin, John Connally, Barbara Jordan, Darrell Royal and Ann Richards. The cemetery is open 365 days a year from 8AM to 5PM Audio tours are available at the office at 909 Navasota Street or can be downloaded for free from the website. Admittance is free, but can be limited during a funeral.
Museums & Galleries
Museums in Austin include the Texas Memorial Museum, the Blanton Museum of Art(reopened in 2006), the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum across the street (which opened in 2000), The Contemporary Austin, the Elisabet Ney Museum and the galleries at the Harry Ransom Center. The Texas State Capitol itself is also a major tourist attraction.
The Driskill Hotel built in 1886, once owned by George W. Littlefield, and located at 6th and Brazos streets, was finished just before the construction of the Capitol building. Sixth Street is a musical hub for the city. The Enchanted Forest, a multi-acre outdoor music, art, and performance art space in South Austin hosts events such as fire-dancing and circus-like-acts. Austin is also home to the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum, which houses documents and artifacts related to the Johnson administration, including LBJ's limousine and a re-creation of the Oval Office.
Locally produced art is featured at the South Austin Museum of Popular Culture. The Mexic-Arte Museum is a Mexican and Mexican-American art museum founded in 1983. Austin is also home to the O. Henry House Museum, which served as the residence of O. Henry from 1893 to 1895. Farmers' markets are popular attractions, providing a variety of locally grown and often organic foods.
Things to do
- Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail. formerly known as the Town Lake Hike and Bike Trail, the 1.1 mile trail creates a complete circuit around Lady Bird Lake. It is one of the oldest urban Texas hike and bike paths. The trail is the longest trail designed for non-motorized traffic maintained by the City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department and watched after by a local non-profit named The Trail Foundation.
- The Veloway, 4900 La Crosse Ave. A 3.1 mile long, paved asphalt bicycling and rollerblading trail.
- Walnut Creek Municipal Park, 12138 N. Lamar Blvd. Walnut Creek Park features a large loop and a multitude of hilly, meandering trails popular with mountain bikers. As of 2013 a new dirt BMX trail and loop has been added to the existing trails. Stay on mark trails, some areas have experience heavy errosions which have lead to huge rock slides recently.
- HOPE Outdoor Gallery, 1101 Baylor St, e-mail: [email protected]. 24/7.HOPE Outdoor Gallery is a large concrete walled hill featuring street art. The top of the hill has a unique view of the Austin city skyline. It's a steep hike to the top, so either bring sturdy shoes or plan on driving to W 11th Street. While anonymous spray painting was encouraged in the past, this is no longer the case. Parking on Baylor Street is limited and many side streets have restrictions, so pay attention to signage and driveways. free.
- Segway Tours. Austin Segway Tours enable you to tour downtown Austin on the Segway. Learn to ride a Segway for $50 or tour downtown Austin for $75. Tours depart daily.
- Austin Tours, 555 E. 5th Street, #2811, , e-mail:[email protected]. Operating daily. Offers scenic carriage and van tours as well as ground transportation to several area landmarks including Arboretum, Round Rock, and UT. Priced from $16.95.
- TexasWineTours.com, , e-mail: [email protected].http://www.Texas-Wine-Tours.com. Offers half and full day tours of the nearby Texas Wine country. Rent a chauffeured sedan, limo or minibus, generally departing between 10AM and noon daily. $50-$1500.
- Independence Brewery Tour, 3913 Todd Lane #607, , e-mail:[email protected]. 1-3PM, first Saturday of the month. Austin's local microbrewery, if you're in town on a tour day they are worth the time to see (and sample).
- Bike Nation Tours and Rentals, 1108 Lavaca St, .
- Rude Mechanicals (Rude Mechs). Original pieces are always engaging. Their production values are over the top (10 foot tesla coils on stage), and always make you interested to be watching theater. They did Lipstick Traces, which I loved. Also loved Get Your War On. They tour, so look for them.
- Pro Arts Collective. They do everything: theatre, dance, hip-hop, musicals, festivals and more.
- Teatro Vivo. Dedicated to producing quality bilingual theatre. Reflects the heart and soul of the Latino reality.
- Salvage Vanguard. Original musical pieces in conjunction with the Golden Arm Trio's Graham Reynolds are not to be missed.
- Different Stages. One of Austin's oldest rep. companies.
- Refraction Arts. They dabble in multiple mediums. Always interesting.
- the dirigo group. These critical darlings do original and established work.
- Bedlam Faction. The typical Bedlam fare is nervy, physical productions of lesser known early-modern playwrights. They occasionally do new, local works.
- Naughty Austin. Started out dedicated to gay-themed scripts, but they've been branching out lately.
- Loaded Gun Theory. Original pieces.
- Yellow Tape Construction Co. New work in theatre, dance, music, and many different combinations of the three.
- The State and Paramount Theaters. Feature a wide variety of plays and acts, from Broadway touring shows to Chinese acrobats to plays and unique dance companies. Note that the State Theater is closed for most of the 2006-2007 season due to flooding. Performances not canceled will take place in the Paramount Theater.
- Esther's Follies. Offers an entertaining Saturday Night Live-like comedy skits (Th-Sa). Located in the 6th street entertainment district it's a great way to start an evening. Reservations recommended.
- The Off Center. Managed by Rude Mechs and home to some of Austin's best theatre, music and dance: Deborah Hay Dance Company, Physical Plant Theatre, Salvage Vanguard Theatre, The Golden Hornet Project.
- The Hideout. Managed by The Austin Improv Collective. You can always find improv comedy there.
- The ColdTowne Theater. Plenty of comedy, ranging from stand-up to sketch and improv.
- Zach Scott. Dave Steakley is artistic director. If you are looking for solid musical theatre, this is your venue. They also have a lock on Christmas plays.
- The Blue Theater. Managed by Refraction Arts and featuring theatre, music, film and dance.
- The Vortex. Bonnie Cullum is artistic director. Original musicals and operas and plays. Some of the most delightfully weird stuff you'll see.
- Sam Bass Community Theater.
- Arts on Real.
- The Gas Light Theater.
- The Mary Moody Northen Theatre, . Sitting atop a hill with gorgeous views of downtown, this professional Equity house at St. Edward's University allows college students and seasoned actors to work together creating exceptional theatre at a great value.
- Austin Poetry Slam. 8:30PM, every Tuesday night at the 29th Street Ballroom.
KUTX Austin Music Map (Warning: sound; mute at bottom left)
Austin is the "Live Music Capital of the World". If you're into the bar and club scene, head to Sixth Street during the later hours for a wide selection of venues, many of which also feature live music. Sixth street is not by any stretch the only place to see music. It can in fact, become very crowded, and is generally the most tourist filled part of town. By ordinance for the protection of workers and public enjoyment, all public buildings in Austin are clean air zones, including bars. Smoking is prohibited except in rare separately ventilated areas, making Austin one of the few cities where a large and varied selection of music can be experienced smokefree.
- The Cactus Café, 2247 Guadalupe (at 24th St.), , e-mail:[email protected]. M-Th 11AM-Midnight, F 11AM-2AM, Sa 8PM-2AM (hours may vary during school breaks). A great place to hear many local artists. Much of the music that is played there seems to be singer-songwriter. It's musically akin to Austin City Limits and unlike Austin City Limits you can probably actually get in to the Cactus Café.
- Austin City Limits, e-mail: [email protected]. The venerable PBS show was filmed at Studio 6A in the Communications Building B at the University of Texas from 1976 to 2010. In February 2011, it moved to the The Moody Theater at 310 Willie Nelson Blvd in Downtown Austin.
- Stubb's BBQ, 801 Red River, . This BBQ restaurant has some of the best selection of live music in Austin, thanks to Charles Attal, one of the owners, who is recognized nationally for his music booking business. Crowded on Sundays!
- Antone's, 213 West 5th, . An Austin original that has survived despite many hardships. Considered by USA Today to be one of the best Blues clubs in the nation, Antone's continues to be a launching pad for dozens of new artists each year.
- The Saxon Pub, 1320 South Lamar, . M-Sa 11AM-2AM, Su Noon-2AM. An awesome live music venue. The Saxon hosts live music throughout the week and even has a "no cover" happy hour until 7PM. Look for the giant knight and neon guitar.
- Emo's East, 2015 E. Riverside Dr.. Standing on the site of the old Back Room, this venue has a larger capacity than the old Emo's (which, as of December 2011, is closed), better sound quality, and the draw of bigger acts.
- Hole in the Wall, 3600 Guadalupe (UT Campus ARea.). Unique UT campus area club. Great Live Music. Usually no cover. Unique mix of students and z's, craftsman and construction workers, gays, and professionals.
- Elysium, 705 Red River (Take I-35 to exit number 234B, 8TH), .Voted Best Dance Club 2003-2008 in the Austin Chronicle Readers' Poll
- Mohawk, 912 Red River (Intersection of East 10TH and Red River). Live music venue featuring local and national tallent. 8PM-2AM live music everyday. 5-9PM weekday happy hour featuring local ales on tap. varies based on performer.
- Broken Spoke, 3201 S. Lamar, , e-mail:[email protected]. price=cheap cover, generally. Longtime honky tonk, family friendly with great music. One of the "last true dance halls in Texas," according to their website.
- Austin Film Festival. See information under Festival heading.
- SXSW Film Festival. See information under Festival heading.
- The Alamo Drafthouse. Four locations. A movie theater with full restaurant service. Downtown always has an eclectic array of cult and foreign films and a good beer and food menu and recently began serving liquor. They also have a dizzying number of specialty shows and film festivals. Their other locations show more first run movies with the same excellent food and beer menu.
- Arbor 7 Cinema. 9828 Great Hills Trail in the Arboretum area. Even though it is owned and operated by mainstream Regal Cinemas, the Arbor 7 shows art and foreign films.
- IMAX Theatre. At Bob Bullock Texas State Historical Museum. Huge screen, 400 seats, with 2-D and 3-D capability.
- Austin Film Society. Various theaters. A membership organization bringing the best of cinema to Austinites. Many screenings open to the public. Check the website for current programs and community film annoucements.
- Austin Jewish Film Festival. Takes place annually in January, presenting a cinematic examination of Jewish life and culture
- Cine Las Americas International Film Festival. Takes place in April, presenting the best in Latino and Indigenous cinema. The Festival presents approximately 100 films with screenings in theaters throughout Austin
- Austin Gay and Lesbian International Film Festival. Takes place annually in September. aGLIFF is the oldest and largest gay & lesbian film festival in the Southwest and one of the Top 5 Film Festivals of its kind in the nation
- Austin Bicycle Film Festival. Takes place annually in September. The Bicycle Film Festival is a celebration of bicycles through film, art and music
- Austin Asian American Film Festival. Takes place annually in October, celebrating the best in independent Asian cinema from across the globe
Enjoying the outdoors
- 43rd Street Bench. Undoubtedly Austin's favorite bench. Amazing location outside Quack's Bakery at the corner of 43rd Street and Duval. Frequently the scene of Hyde Park regulars holding forth on all manner of topics both day and night.
- Zilker Park. Undoubtedly Austin's favorite park. Amazing location on the banks of Town Lake with several miles of hiking and biking trails.
- Barton Springs Pool. Is one of Austin's most unique (and a refreshing 68 degrees year-round!) attractions: a beautiful spring-fed pool over 3 times longer than a football field, nestled in the heart of the city at Zilker Park. $3 entrance fee for the whole day. If you are short of cash or have a dog, head downstream just on the other side of the fence and find more clear beautiful water.
- Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. Showcases flowers and plant life of the area. The center is a bit southwest of downtown and worth the drive, especially during spring.
- Town Lake Boat Rental. Rent a canoe or kayak and enjoy the natural world in the heart of the city.
- Tubing the San Marcos River, 170 Bobcat Dr, . San Marcos, 25 miles south of town on I-35. There is no more quintessentially Central Texan thing than enjoying a summer afternoon lazily floating down the river. The Lion's club of San Marcos rents tubes at around $8/person or canoes at $10/each. They take you to the river and pick you up.
- McKinney Falls State Park. A 744 acre state park located in southeast Austin is rich in local history.
- Town Lake Hike & Bike trail. A big loop around Town Lake, beautiful scenery while getting a good workout. Recent beautification has cleaned up parts, and is making it nicer for all. Runs alongside Zilker park. A good place for biking, running, walking, or taking the dog out for a nice run. Relatively easy hike.
- Other parks in and around Austin. There are numerous parks all over the city and in the surrounding suburbs that are very popular with the residents of Austin. A significant number of these parks are pet friendly.
- Mt. Bonnell, 3800 Mt. Bonnell Dr (west of Mopac on 2222, left on Mt. Bonnell Rd.). The third-highest point in Austin city limits at 780 feet. Several trails make for pleasant short hikes and points to experience incredible views of Town Lake and the city. The area has a history of romance and is sometimes called Antoinette's Leap, after a woman who supposedly leapt to her death to escape Indians who killed her lover.
- Hippie Hollow, 700 Comanche Trail (West on FM 2222, left on FM 620, right on to Comanche Trail). The only legal nude beach in Texas, although "beach" is a bit of a stretch. Located on the North shore of Lake Travis, Hippie Hollow has a "steep, rocky, shoreline." It is also home to both the golden cheeked warbler and the black capped vireo, two bird species listed under the US Endangered Species Act.Spectator sports
- University of Texas Longhorns. Austin is a university town and Texas sports are taken very seriously. Home of the 2005-06 National Football Champions. UT also has strong basketball and baseball teams, in particular.
- Professional Sports. Among the professional sports teams in Austin are the Austin Aztex of the United Soccer League, and the Austin Toros of the National Basketball Development League. The Round Rock Express, affiliated with the Texas Rangers, are located in nearby Round Rock, Texas and play Triple-A baseball in the Pacific Coast League. The Texas Stars hockey team is an American Hockey League team playing at the Cedar Park Center and are affiliated with the Dallas Stars (NHL).
- Formula 1 (at the Circuit of the Americas south of Austin-Bergstrom Airport). Formula 1 has added Austin to its series of races. A must see for auto enthusiasts, the COTA also hosts other racing events such as Moto GP and the Australian V8 Supercars series.
- House Park Skatepark, 1213 Shoal Creek Blvd. Is a 30,000 square foot public, concrete skate park next to the ACC Rio Grande Campus.
- Maple Davis Skate Park, 3427 Parker Ln. Is Austin's first public concrete skate park.
- Duncan Park BMX Trails, 900 W. 9th St. For the past 20 years, the South side of Duncan Park has been used as a BMX bicycle Jumping/Trail spot. It has been hand built by the local riders with very minimal involvement from the City of Austin and absolutely zero compensation.
The Austin Steam Train Association, runs several tours aboard the Hill Country Flyer steam train into and around Texas Hill Country. The train makes short half hour jaunts as well as a 30-mile (50 km) circuit on weekends March through December. The Steam Train Association does actually own a live steam train, but it has been out of commission since about 2000. The train still runs though, just using a borrowed diesel engine. It is still nice, but not as attractive as it used to be.
Festivals and events
Arranged by month. The mammoth South by Southwest (SXSW) festivals are in March. The major Austin City Limits Festival is in October.
- Chinatown Center Austin Chinese New Year Festival, 10901 N. Lamar Blvd(Kramer and N. Lamar). JANUARY/FEBRUARY. Austin's Chinatown Center has set a Texas-sized standard for how Chinese New Year's Celebration should be done! All adults and children are invited to attend this FREE two-day event with family-fun entertainment including the kids' area, dragon and lion dances, traditional Chinese dances, martial arts performances and more! Don't miss out on a celebration that embraces and educates on the wide range of Asian culture. All retail stores and restaurants in the center are open.
- Lunar New Year Festival. FEBRUARY.
- Zilker Park Kite Festival. MARCH. The oldest continuous kite festival in the USA. Hundreds of kites will dance in the sky the first Sunday in March (10AM to 5PM). Admission is FREE. Everyone is welcome whether they fly a kite or just enjoy the spectacle that must be seen to be believed. Kite flying demonstrations will be held all day and delicious food of all kinds will be prepared fresh at the event. See kite ballet, kite battles, kite buggies and giant kites over 50 feet long. Come compete in both youth and adult kite contests with your homemade kite. Trophies are awarded to the winners. Proceeds from vendor sales go to break the cycle of child abuse. Free parking and shuttles. Come on down to Zilker Park and enjoy "Kite Day". Zilker Park is at 2200 Barton Springs Road. Rain date is the following Sunday.
- Austin Chocolate Festival. MARCH. The festival will include up to 20 vendors including chocolatiers, bakeries, patisseries, restaurants, hotels, caterers, authors, and resorts. The participating vendors will offer samples to festival guests. Guests will also enjoy and participate in chocolate competitions and demonstrations. It was founded in 2006 and benefits Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Tickets for the Austin Chocolate Festival are available for purchase online in advance at the festival website. For more information, volunteer, vendor or sponsorship opportunities please visit the website.
- South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival. MARCH. Beginning before and overlapping the SXSW Music Festival. SXSW Film is a significant industry conference, but also hosts many film screenings.
- South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive Festival. MARCH. Spotlighting cutting-edge technologies and digital creativity, SXSWi features five days of presentations and workshops, networking events and special programs.
- South by Southwest (SXSW) Music Festival. MARCH. One of the biggest music festivals in the United States, with more than 1,400 performers playing dozens of venues around Austin for four days. The wrist bands are loved by college students here, but be warned that you'll be turned away at the door at many of the venues even with one. You can still get into some of the larger venues without a wristband if you'd simply like to sample a band or two and check out the atmosphere; you can usually pick one "official" venue where you think you'll like all the bands, and then go early and pay the cover. Hardcore music fans usually make a week long calendar and plan to arrive at different venues for different acts.
- Wildflower Center Art and Artisans Festival. MARCH. The annual Wildflower Days celebration begins with the Art and Artisans Festival devoted to arts, crafts and nature. This early spring event features the work of local artists and artisans, all working with a nature theme. You will find watercolors, metalwork, pottery, jewelry, photography, woodwork and more, all lovingly made by hand. Highlights include children's activities in the Little House as well as book signings and special discounts at the store. Then, add some leisure to your arts - dine on tasty cuisine at the Wildflower Cafe and enjoy entertainment provided by local musicians.
- Texas Round-Up & Street Festival. APRIL. The Texas Round-Up 10K, 5K and Family Mile is held annually in Austin on the last Saturday in April. Race weekend begins with a health and fitness expo showcasing vendors and sponsors. The race is followed by a fitness festival where families can enjoy live music, food, fitness demonstrations and family-friendly activities. Many participants spend months training for Texas Round-Up, and for several participants, the Texas Round-Up is their first race, making the events a very special accomplishment and a true celebration of healthy living.
- Dragon Boat Festival. APRIL. Running since 1999 with growing participation and attendance; held centrally on Town Lake. In addition to the friendly, competitive races, the festival will include many other cultural exhibitions, vendors, and kids activities. FREE admission to the public.
- Eeyore's Birthday Party. APRIL Held on the last Saturday of every April to ring in spring, there are few things that seem so "Austin" as Eeyore's Birthday Party. It is a unique event: a free-form hang-out of several thousand people. sitting, walking, playing music, beating drums, eating, drinking beer, playing games. Be yourself. there are families, dogs, tattoos, costumes, hotties, hippies, gay, straight, black, white, brown, red, tan. and a statue of Eeyore dressed like the Statue of Liberty. The drum circle is massive and the beat vibrates throughout the central city. It ends when the sun goes down and everyone leaves peacefully.
- Moontower Comedy Festival. APRIL. Moontower Comedy and Oddity Festival brings to Austin some of the funniest, wittiest and oddest world-class comics from around the globe. This marathon of side-splitting nights throughout the city is slated to bring over 60 comedians doing everything from stand-up and sketch to improv and musical comedy. National headliners, up-and-comer and local Austin-based comedians ensure that there are options for every type of comedy fan, from die-hards to those just looking for a fun night.
- Old Pecan Street Festival. MAY & SEPTEMBER. East Sixth Street (formerly Pecan Street) from Congress to IH-35 and adjacent streets are closed to traffic to host over 240 Arts, Crafts and other vendors. Several music stages offer live music.
- Austin Wine Festival. MAY. A uniquely Austin 3-day Texas wine celebration - RAIN OR SHINE! Wineries from Lampasas to New Braunfels and Fredericksburg to Dripping Springs have bloomed from a pioneering few, into an internationally awarded and recognized wine region. The number 2 wine destination in the nation, second only to Napa! Together they have created the annual Austin Wine Festival, the first of its kind in Texas.
- Austin Gay Pride. SEPTEMBER. Austin's single largest LGBT event includes a festival at Fiesta Gardens park and a parade that goes through the Warehouse District.
- Austin Bamboo Festival, . AUGUST. Zilker Botanical Garden. This annual event features tours of the Taniguchi Japanese Garden, traditional dances, bamboo crafts and flute music.
- Austin City Limits Festival. OCTOBER. An annual six-day (two weekends of Friday, Saturday, and Sunday) outdoor music festival. It brings together more than 130 bands on eight stages, including rock, country, folk, indie, Americana, hip-hop, reggae, and bluegrass, and attracts a crowd of about 65,000 music-lovers each day. A great mix of big names and local acts, but be prepared to deal with the heat.
- Texas Book Festival. Has reached national prominence, in part due to support from Honorary Chairperson Laura Bush. OCTOBER.
- Austin Film Festival. OCTOBER. Conference and film showings.
- Lone Star Vegetarian Chili Cook-Off. NOVEMBER. The annual vegetarian cook-off began in 1989. Its mission is to show a healthy lifestyle can be as familiar as traditional, homemade chili – and a lot more fun! All of the chili is purely vegan (no animal products). The cook-off is open to all entrants. It is open to the public for tasting and mingling; admission enables you to taste ALL the different chili (and includes zoo entrance fee)! There will be lots of chili to taste, lots of interesting people to meet, guest speakers, great door prizes, live music, and many educational booths and exhibits. Half of the proceeds benefit the Austin Zoo, a rescue zoo providing sanctuary to displaced animals.
- Austin Asian Film Festival. NOVEMBER. An innovative Asian/Asian-American film festival committed to celebrating the best in independent Asian cinema from across the globe. For five years, the festival has highlighted the complexity and vitality of Asian/Asian-American communities through cutting-edge narrative, documentary and experimental films.
Gay and Lesbian
Most gay and lesbian bars and night clubs are located downtown with the highest concentration in the Warehouse district.
- Oilcan Harry's, 211 W 4th St, .
- The Iron Bear, 121 West 8th Street, .
- Bout Time II, 6607 N Interstate 35, .
Austin's main strip is on 6th Street downtown. But like most entertainment districts that get raves in the media, it's a little overhyped. Check out the nearby Warehouse District and Fourth Street if you don't want quarter wells and million-dollar sorority girls.
- Opal Divines Freehouse, 700 West 6th St . 11AM-2AM every day. This place serves great pub food and has an excellent beer menu. They have an enormous wrap around patio that affords an excellent view of drunk Austin staggering past.
- Maudie's, 2608 West 7th St, . Austin as Austin can get. A staple Tex-Mex favorite with five locations around town. Great salsa and better margarita's. If you crave cheese enchiladas get the Hernandez Enchiladas.
- Trudy's, 409 W 30th St, . Known for its 'Mexican Martini'. Great place for decent Tex-Mex and great frozen margaritas. Close to campus, so watch out for the frat crowd on weekends. Relaxing patio overlooks a city park. Also known for its unwillingness to split checks.
- Draught House, 4112 Medical Parkway, . A neighborhood pub that features 78 taps with an ever-changing selection of unique self-brews in a classic English pub environment that doesn't come off feeling cheesy. Locals bring folding chairs and dogs and tailgate in the parking lot. Check the website for great specials. Often crowded. Homebrews are $2.25 on Thursdays before 11PM.
- The Ginger Man, 304 West 4th St, . Dark and warm warehouse with 79 drafts at last count. Pool table and darts and a nice patio out back. Noted for its wide array of craft and local brews. Go on Mondays after 6PM for pint night - buy a pint of the beer of the day and you get to keep the glass.
- Barfly's, 5420 Airport Blvd (above Burger Tex), . Dark and dive-alicious. Great juke-box, super-cheap and STRONG drinks. Guaranteed interesting crowd of locals. Excellent bartenders.
Most grocery stores (especially HEB and Central Market) carry a variety of Texas beer. There are several microbreweries operating in Texas, and you can expect to find their beer at outlets with moderate to wide selections:
- Independence Brewing Co.. Relatively new, and in Austin.
- Spoetzl. Has several brews, including the Texas staple, Shiner Bock.
- Rahr & Sons. Out of Fort Worth
- Real Ale Brewing Company. Is based in Blanco, about an hour west of Austin.
- Saint Arnold Brewing Company. From Houston is fairly established and has a near-cult following.
- Live Oak Brewing. Is another Austin microbrewery. You can find their beers on tap all over town.
- (512) Brewing Company. Is one the Austin microbreweries, located just south of downtown in the SoCo neighborhood. Their beers are on tap in almost every bar in Austin.
- Jester King Craft Brewery. Is a newly emerging traditional farmhouse brewery located a short drive west of town on a pastoral farm in the Hill Country. They offer tastings and tours every Saturday afternoon.
There are also a number of small brewpubs serving their own house-brewed beers to the local cognoscienti. These include:
- NXNW, 10010 Capital of Texas. Standard menu options here include an Amber, Pale Ale, Hefeweizen, a light Pilsner and a hearty Black Ale. They also rotate out a number of magnificent seasonals, including some amazing house-brewed lambics. Once a month, head brewer Ty Phelps rolls out a special cask-conditioned brew that typically disappears within an hour.
- Draught House, 4112 Medical Parkway. Amazingly quick turnover of their fast-rotating seasonals. Drink it today because it won't be on tomorrow.
- Uncle Billy's, 1530 Barton Springs Rd. Tendency towards lighter beers, but their Haystack Hefeweizen is predictably good and some of their hoppy seasonals have been excellent.
- Black Star Co-op, 7020 Easy Wind Drive, Suite 100, , e-mail:[email protected]. The world's first member-owned brewpub. A cooperative with house brews from brewmaster Jeff Young.
Austin is becoming a hotbed for local, handcrafted spirits.
- Treaty Oak Distilling Co.. One of the first craft distilleries established in Texas, with a focus on using local ingredients when possible. They make Treaty Oak Rum, Waterloo Gin, Graham's Texas Tea and Starlite Vodka, with whiskey set to release in 2013.
Things to know
Pick up an Austin Chronicle newspaper first thing. These are freely available all over town, including the information desk across from baggage claim at the airport. It will be your guide to everything that's going on in Austin from festivals (Spam Festival, Chili Festival, etc.) to music, theater and food; it's all in there. New issues are published every Thursday.
- Austin American-Statesman — the major daily paper.
- Austin Chronicle — the alternative weekly. Their "Best of" lists and calendar of events are great resources and can be accessed online.
- The Daily Texan — the student newspaper of the University of Texas at Austin.
- Tribeza — Tribeza is a free monthly publication profiling and highlighting local culture, focusing a bit on higher end establishments while remaining accessible.
- Austin Monthly — aims to highlight more in depth the people, places and events that make Austin unique. Can be purchased on any newsstand in town (including Austin Bergstrom International Airport).
- Edible Austin — a free quarterly publication that celebrates the local food culture in Austin. The primary focus is on sustainable food practices and the farmers, retailers and chefs in Austin and surrounding areas that strive to contribute to a sustainable food culture in the region.
- L Style/G Style — a free bi-monthly lifestyle magazine for social and cultural influencers in the gay/lesbian community.
Safety in Austin
Safety ( overall) - High /7.7
Safety ( day) - Very High /8.9
Safety ( night ) - Mid./5.8
Austin is one of the safest major cities in the US. However, this does not mean that there is no crime. As with most American cities, credit cards are accepted nearly universally, especially for nightlife. Therefore, for convenience and safety, it's inadvisable to carry large amounts of cash. The number for police, fire, and medical services is 911.
In many parts of Austin, there are beggars on the street corners, particularly off of the freeways, who will hold signs asking for money (panhandling). Almost all of these people are fakes. A business hires them, supplies them with a cardboard sad-message sign, puts them at a begging station in the morning, picks them up at the end of the day, and takes a cut of the handouts. Much of the panhandled donations goes straight to drug dealers. These fake panhandlers crowd out legitimate poor people. Therefore, is not recommended that you give handouts to panhandlers. Donate instead to a legitimate charity, like Meals on Wheels or the Salvation Army.
There is a district around 6th St. and Red River that houses a large homeless shelter known as the Arch. This area is generally safe during the day, but often filled with panhandlers at night. They can be fairly aggressive and sometimes follow people traveling alone. In addition, groups of muggers sometimes target intoxicated bar patrons who dare to depart on their own.
There is generally a large, visible police presence (mounted, foot, and cruiser) at night in the 6th St. area. They are quite willing to let belligerent drunks dry out overnight in the city jail. They do, however, provide a safe and secure area to enjoy yourself and Austin's famous live music.
There is the Rundberg area, where you should not walk alone on the streets by yourself, especially around the I-35 area. Austinites tend to avoid this area.
Because surrounding hills concentrate the water, some streets in Austin and the surrounding area are prone to flooding during periods of heavy rain. These areas are typically marked as 'low water crossings' but in any event do not drive or walk across moving water. Each year several people are killed as they are swept away by flooding. You will also see many flood control structures built into the landscape. Small, dry low places with bounding berms during the dry season, these are dangerous places to be in, but keep Austin safer when the rains come.