Austin is the funky, cool kid born to conservative parent Texas. It is a blue city in a red state. Home to IBM, Apple Inc, eBay/PayPal, Hostgator and Blizzard Entertainment, as well as a host of local businesses and mom-and-pop shops. And a creative unofficial slogan – ‘Keep Austin Weird’ – reminding residents that they have a responsibility toward small, local business owners.
Festivals to catch
There’s never a dull moment here – except in winter, a briefly quiet period where the city seems to take a break from itself. Still, festivities can be enjoyed at the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar and Austin Trail of Lights.
Spring and fall are marked by a number of festivals that attract people from all over the world. Among the five biggest are:
- South by Southwest (SXSW) Conference and Festivals with its enviable and impossibly long line-up of music acts across genres, and a showcase of new talent from the film and interactive media worlds.
- The exclusively independent, underground music and musicians at the Fun Fun Fun Festival.
- The Statesman Capitol 10,000 – Texas’ largest 10K race attracting participation from elite athletes to runners in chicken suits or less traditional costumes.
- Austin Wine and Food Festival featuring award-winning wines, celebrated chefs, local food trailers and live music.
- Sherwood Forest Faire, a family-friendly Renaissance fair featuring music, comedy, jousting, dancing, food vendors, stout beverages, jugglers, jesters, pirates, lords and ladies and fantasy creatures!
Summer is bat-watching season. Set your eyes on the late evening sky when thousands of the winged mammals fly out to hunt for food.
Neighborhoods and top landmarks to explore
When in Austin, you can hang out in the downtown that resembles a regular business district in the mornings and transforms into a party and live music hotspot after sundown. Or check out South Lamar, home to abundant green spaces, dive bars, blue waters and cheap eats. Maybe even head over to the laid-back, tree-lined neighborhood of North Loop with its colorful buildings and vintage boutiques.
Even as you take in the sights and sounds of neighborhoods, stop by these attractions to experience Austin in its element!
- The historic and haunted Driskill Hotel known for its awesome live music and bar
- Museum of the Weird where bizarre displays and props greet you at every turn
- The State Capitol for an interesting history lesson, awe-inspiring architecture (be sure to visit the Senate chamber) and lovely open grounds
- Lady Bird Lake for a bit of canoeing, paddleboarding or kayaking.
- Baylor Street Art Wall, a huge graffiti wall and a vantage point for great city views
Take a breather from the sight-seeing with a pint at one of the city’s hipster bars, traditional saloons or beer gardens. Hire a bike, car share or take a pedicab to get around. Bicyling is one of the most popular modes of traveling in Austin, with a number of bike paths and hundreds of bicycle racks in the downtown.