Guest post on behalf of Anna Blair
As far as Texas cities go, Austin isn’t the biggest and the grandest. However, you’ll find incredible food in an atmosphere of live music and wonderful downtown strolls. The vibe in Austin isn’t quite like any other city in the world. If you’re planning a visit and want to soak it all up, you may not know where to start. Check out these 12 things you have to do in Austin this year and you’ll be dying to go back as soon as possible!
1) TAKE A TOUR
What better way to explore the city’s historical landmarks, parks and breweries than to take a guided tour? Tours are available via foot, Segway, zip line, riverboat, or biplane. You can also visit the miles upon miles of downtown bike trails. Bring your own bike or visit a charming urban cycle shop and you’ll be traveling the city on your own power in no time.
2) EAT FAMOUS TEXAS BBQ
There’s no better place to get authentic Texas barbecue than Austin. Whether food trucks sound good to you, casual sit-down, or fine dining, you will leave with a full stomach of smoky goodness. If you don’t mind getting in line early, consider Franklin Barbecue. This lunch-only establishment has been rated by many as having the best brisket and smoked meats in Texas. You’ll surely be glad you stopped by!
3) ENJOY AUTHENTIC TACOS
Tacos are basically a religion in Austin. Grab some hearty, authentic Mexican tacos from a unique spot and you’ll never want to leave. Veracruz All Natural is one of the city favorites with all natural and locally sourced ingredients. Their steak fajita tacos on their in-house corn tortillas are to die for. Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ and Mad Taco are some other worthy options.
4) VISIT ANN W. RICHARDS CONGRESS AVENUE BRIDGE AT DUSK
Every evening in spring through autumn in Austin, huge crowds assemble on, around, and in the lake under the Ann W Richards Congress Avenue Bridge to watch the 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats emerge from their home and catch dinner. This phenomenon is famously the largest urban bat colony in the world and is quite mesmerizing to watch. Many tourists like to sit on the Lady Bird Lake lawn with dinner while watching the bats get theirs. You may also consider taking a boat tour to get a front row seat. And while this bridge houses the largest urban bat colony, you can also see much larger colonies outside the city limits. A few hot spots are in Round Rock, at Bracken Cave, Eckert James River Bat Cave, and Old Tunnel State Park.
5) CHECK OUT THE BULLOCK TEXAS STATE HISTORY MUSEUM
Get to know the roots of Texas at the Bullock Texas State History Museum. Over 5,000 artifacts are on display, along with an I-MAX theater and educational experiences during the day. Its stated mission is to tell “the Story of Texas.”
6) VISIT THE TEXAS CAPITOL BUILDING
Your history adventure doesn’t have to stop at the Bullock Texas State History Museum. Hop on a scooter and be sure to check out the Texas Capitol building on Congress Avenue. Take a tour while admiring the architecture. The Texas Capitol is one of the few capitol buildings that is bigger than the one in Washington D.C. It was the seventh largest building in the world when construction finished in 1888. Neat, huh?
7) EXPLORE THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS MUSEUMS
If your curiosity itch hasn’t been scratches yet, consider exploring The University of Texas at Austin’s many museums and centers for learning. Some of these include the Harry Ransom Center, Blanton Museum of Art, Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum, Texas Memorial Museum, and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.
8) ATTEND A TEXAS LONGHORNS FOOTBALL GAME
If you visit Austin and notice that everyone is wearing orange it must be game day. To get your college football on, visit the Darrell K Royal–Texas Memorial Stadium. Hook ‘em Horns!
9) VISIT THE DRISKILL HOTEL
The Driskill Hotel is a Romanesque-style historical landmark in the heart of Austin. It was “the finest hotel South of St. Louis” when constructed in 1886 and remains the oldest operating hotel in the city. The place is rumored to haunted, but three vibrant attached restaurants and bars may convince you otherwise. Live music is the norm here, and the 189 rooms welcome you to stay for your visit.
10) EXPERIENCE A MUSIC FESTIVAL
Austin’s visitors might be pleasantly surprised to find themselves being entertained with live music as they walk through the airport after exiting a flight. Live music, and music in many other forms, can be heard nearly everywhere in the city. Musicians can be seen playing in grocery stores (Central Market, Whole Foods), street corners, hotel lobbies coffee shops, or anywhere with an audience. They play outdoors at the Blues on the Green series and at festivals: Austin City Limits and South by Southwest (SXSW), which you’ve likely heard of, but there’s also Urban Music Festival, Old Settler’s Music Fest, the Pecan Street Festival and many more worth checking out. With over 250 organized music events to choose from, you can certainly find a show at least once during your stay!
11) ENJOY LADY BIRD LAKE
Branching off from the Colorado River is Lady Bird Lake, which splits downtown and South Austin, but brings everyone closer together at the same time. Rent kayaks or bike for as long as your legs will take you. Enjoy the lovely parks, downtown scenery, and quaint bridges.
12) GO FOR A DRIVE
After walking or biking around Lady Bird Lake you may feel like expanding your horizon. Head east of the city and hit up Circuit of the Americas, with on-track driving events and outdoor go-karts. Head 30 minutes southwest and you’ll break into Texas Hill Country, with beautiful hills, lakes, and plenty of Instagramable photo ops. Consider driving The Devil’s Backbone and exploring Canyon Lake for the full effect.
So there you have it – 12 things to do in Austin, Texas this year. Does Austin live up to its motto of ‘Keeping it Weird’? Only one way to find out!
Have you been to Austin, Texas? Please share your stories, tips, and questions in the comments below! To receive my articles and reviews straight to your inbox Subscribe Here.
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Guest post on behalf of Anna Blair
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