While it might seem like an out of the way place to visit, Austin, Texas is by far different from the rest of Texas. With indie festivals such as South by Southwest and Austin City Limits to trailer food and natural springs, Austin can serve as a quick getaway on almost any budget. With three of the 10 largest cities in the US around Austin (Dallas, Houston, San Antonio) to cheap airfare to Austin and such large surrounding cities, getting there by car or plane isn’t a problem.
Blues on the Green
Sponsored by local radio station KGSR, Blues on the Green is held in Zilker Park every other Wednesday. It’s not a trip to Austin without experiencing live music. Not even considering the delicious trailer food offered at the music events, Blues on the Green offers the chance to come out with hundreds of others and relax on a summer evening on the grass while listening to music. Artists this summer include musicians such as Alpha Rev and Bob Schneider.
Austin has plenty of natural springs and swimming holes all over the city. Hamilton pool offers a cool reward after a hike through forests just south of downtown. Deep Eddy Pool is right closer for those who want to hold off on the drive, being right off of Lake Austin. During the summer there are also movie nights for the kids. Of course, it’s not Austin without Barton Springs. Open from 5am-10pm, the springs stay 68 degree year-round. Robert Redford in fact learnt how to swim here. Being the most popular swimming spot in the city, it’s also the most crowded. If crowds aren’t for you, hike upstream about a mile or so to swim. However, take note that upstream the currents are stronger and the water will be colder.
Lake Bird Lake
Though most busy in the summer, Lake Austin, in reality the Colorado River, is worth kayaking or canoeing on. With a multitude of rental locations on both sides of the river, getting out on the water is easy. For those who feel adventurous, Austin also offers stand up paddle boarding (SUPB), in which you are given a paddle and can travel on the river standing on a board.
Congress Avenue Bats
The largest urban bat colony on the continent can be found right in Austin. The Congress Avenue Bridge houses up to 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats that migrate to Austin to give birth. Every evening Austenite’s come out to see the bats fly out together at sunset to feed. There are many ways to see them depending on what pictures you want and how close you want to get. For a relaxed approach, consider the river cruises or restaurants and bars beside the bridge and enjoy the view with a drink. For those who want to get up close and personal, you can sit right under the bridge and watch them fly out up close.
Food: Trailer Food, BBQ, and so much more
Any trip to Austin and Texas at large wouldn’t be complete without some BBQ. Whether you stay in the city and stick to old classics such as County Line or Rudy’s BBQ, or if you decide to travel a bit outside Austin to visit the original Salt Lick, either way you’re in for a treat. In fact one of the best spots for BBQ is right in the heart of downtown, known as Franklin BBQ. Originally a trailer, the restaurant is now considered one of the top 20 restaurants in the US (Bon Appetit Magazine). Unfortunately it’s no secret, and as a result there is always a line outside Franklin’s.
Trailer food can be found all over Austin as well as events such as Blues on the Green. It includes everything from fried chicken and Thai food to cupcakes and crepes. With such a broad variety, it’s difficult to go wrong. One great place to start is South Congress, a place where Austin still keeps things weird.
6th Street is famous as Austin’s take on Bourbon Street. Stop by the Driskill Hotel while walking down, a historic hotel where everyone from Bill Clinton to Lady Gaga has stayed. With pubs, clubs, and even a Vaudeville Theater, after 10pm this street is always busy. Of course to mix things up, 4th Street offers a different take on things and hosts Austin’s gay club scene.