A few years ago my sister got married and moved to Texas, which sucks because now my best friend lives on the other side of the country, but I’ll be honest, visiting her is the perfect opportunity to explore some of the coolest cities the great state of Texas has to offer. Our latest adventure: ATX for the South by Southwest Festival.
SXSW is a 10 day mega-event that takes over Austin, TX every year. It’s a conglomerate of film screenings, interactive media, music festivals, tech conferences and so much more. One of our Uber drivers told us that on any given day there are about 300,000 people in Austin for the festival. I obviously have no way to fact check that, but I believe it. And because the festival draws so many people, vendors flock to the city hoping to promote their products, events, future endeavors, etc., which, for a tourist like me, means: free events, free drinks, free swag bags and a never ending list of things to do and places to go.
Austin In a Nutshell:
- “Keep Austin Weird” is the city’s unofficial motto
- It’s a foodie mecca
- It’s the live music capital of the world
- It just might have more hipsters per capita than tacos
Top things to do in Austin during SXSW:
- Experience the local flavor
- Capture iconic street art
- Listen to live music
- Explore the city
- Take advantage of free events (and drinks)
Bars: Rainey Street – Picture a grown-up frat row (minus the assholes). It’s an adorable, neighborhood-y street with bungalow bars and more food trucks than you can count. It’s where sipping cocktails and back porch chilling meets yard games and house parties – and it’s awesome!
Sixth Street – One of the most iconic streets in Austin and the epicenter of what made Austin the “Live Music Capital of the World”. There are three sections of Sixth Street, East West and what locals refer to as “Dirty Sixth”. Think Broadway meets Bourbon Street.
Dirty Sixth Street (Credit: Ian Aberle via Flickr CC)
Eats: Torchy’s Tacos, Via 313, Happy Lobster, South Congress Café, Red’s Porch, Hey Cupcake, Voodoo Donuts, Snooze, Holy Macaroni, Lavaca & Street
Coffee: Mozart’s & Jo’s
Murals: Historic sixth street, you’re my butter half, I love you so much, Greetings from Austin, Austin TX, Willie for President
Shopping: The South Congress Neighborhood is the beating heart of Austin’s hipness with no shortage of cozy coffee joints, authentic Austin eateries, dive bars and vintage shops. There are TONS of places to shop in Austin, but with a strong emphasis on the “shop local” initiate, it seems like the boutique type stores yield the coolest finds.
The coolest thing we did tho, hands down, was the interactive Westworld experience. It was an elaborate event created to promote the second season of HBO’s hit series Westworld. When I say elaborate, I mean they bused participants 40 minutes out of the city to a town they built from the ground up. Honestly, I’m not sure anything I’d say (or the pictures I took) could do the experience justice, but check out this article published by Business Insider about the one of a kind experience.
Austin is a one of a kind place. It has a vibe and a culture all it’s own. It also has incredible food, amazing craft beers, endless bars and restaurants to try, a thriving (and inspiring) art scene, history all it’s own, & an unrivaled music scene. Oh and did I mention it’s sunny 300+ days a year? Do you really need anymore reason than that to visit?
We also spent a fun filled family day in Deep Ellum that looked a little something like this: