There’s no denying it—we love Austin. For the past three years, we have had the privilege of heading to the Lone Star State in mid-March for South by Southwest (SXSW), the annual film, interactive and music festival. In 2013, more than 300,000 people flocked to the capital city for the 14-day affair—bringing $218.2 million to the local economy.
“Keep Austin Weird” has been a local motto for years used to promote the city’s eccentricity and diversity. Did you know Austin has more music venues per capita than any other U.S. city? It also boasts some of the best barbeque and Tex-Mex the south has to offer.
When we aren’t attending intriguing sessions about what’s next in the retail, branding and digital worlds, we get to explore the city. Here is our guide of places to visit morning, day and night.
Magnolia Cafe: This quirky diner serves up tasty, home-style goodness around the clock, from Tex-Mex breakfast fare like classic migas and tacos to decadent desserts, including a full menu of homemade pies. We are partial to the location on Lake Austin Blvd. www.themagnoliacafe.com
Jo’s Coffee: With three shops around town, Jo’s is a convenient stop for a morning pick-me-up or afternoon snack. From handcrafted espresso drinks using locally roasted Cuvee Coffee to breakfast tacos from Tacodeli, you’ll find something to satisfy your every craving. www.joscoffee.com
Congress Avenue Bridge: 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats migrate each spring from central Mexico to Austin. Get bat crazy under the bridge at sunset and witness the world’s largest urban colony fly off into the sunset.
South Congress Avenue: Across the infamous bat bridge, south of downtown, you’ll find South Congress Avenue. The street is filled with restaurants, shops and music venues. It is also home to the beautifully quaint Hotel San Jose.
Rainey Street: Near the banks of Lady Bird Lake, lies a charming, tree-lined street filled with houses that have been converted into an array of bars and restaurants. www.raineystbars.com
U.S. Federal Courthouse: Austin’s eight-story U.S. Courthouse is anything but an eyesore. Completed in December 2012, the modern architectural gem cost $123 million and was paid for by the American Recovery and Re-Investment Act. It is beautiful from every angle.
Lambert’s BBQ: Carved out of a brick-walled general store that dates back to 1873, this fancy barbeque joint cannot be missed. Enjoy roasted green chili queso, family style sides and a large selection of oak-smoked and oak-grilled entrees. www.lambertsaustin.com
Home Slice Pizza: Authentic New York style pizza can be found in the heart of Austin. Throw your name on the list and head out back for a game of ping pong. We love the steel table, which features the phrase, “In Crust We Trust.” You bet we’re down with that. www.homeslicepizza.com
HopDoddy Burger Bar: This modern burger joint features handcrafted burgers, beers, cocktails and milkshakes—all sourced with the freshest available, all-natural ingredients. You will likely be greeted with a long line, but believe us, it is well worth the wait. www.hopdoddy.com
The Ginger Man: While technically a Texas chain, we recommend this gem for one thing and one thing only: beer. Choose from more than 80 tap beers from Austin and around the globe. Grab a cold one (if you are able to make up your mind), then head out back and enjoy a conversation in the rustic beer garden. www.aus.gingermanpub.com
The Driskill: Go back in time at the oldest operating hotel in Austin. Enjoy a cocktail in the lobby bar on an overstuffed leather sofa. While you’re there, be sure to keep an eye out for ghosts—it’s well known as one of the most haunted hotels in the U.S. www.driskillhotel.com
STAG: This haberdashery is made for the modern man, which beautifully pairs high end with low, mixes vintage classics with new and adds a splash of unexpected alongside the nostalgic. www.stagaustin.com
Uncommon Objects: Established as a small antique collective, the shop today is an emporium of transcendent junk. Peruse the aisles and find objects from every era. www.uncommonobjects.com
So! Are you ready to explore Austin? We’re already looking forward to our next adventure.
Photos by Kate Lloyd