A Beginner’s Guide to Austin

By: Greg Ackerman

January 14, 2014

These days when travellers think about Austin, the thriving live music scene is often what comes to mind. But Austin offers visitors much more than that. Take a look at our beginner’s guide to Austin for a little local inspiration…

Located in the beautiful Texas Hill Country, the city has both rolling hills and the imposing Colorado River, which runs through the centre of town. Austin enjoys mild winters, beautiful spring and fall seasons and hot, dry summers. Home to an exciting restaurant scene – made popular by celebrity chefs Tyson Cole (Uchi, Uchiko), David Bull (Congress Austin, Second Bar) and Paul Qui (Eastside King, Qui) – there’s a wealth of great culinary offerings to sink your teeth into. And for active types, there’s plenty to do outdoors – from boating on Town Lake and swimming in the fresh water of Barton Springs Pool, to exploring the many parks, gardens and hike and bike trails throughout the city.

Music Scene

Guide to Austin | Austin City Limits

Crowds gather for the Austin City Limits Music Festival © Kent

Live music may not be the only thing to see in Austin, but music remains the focal point of “The Live Music Capital of the World”, with over 200 venues featuring local and national touring acts year-round. The city hosts two major music festivals – South By Southwest (SXSW) and Austin City Limits Festival (ACL) – which each draw thousands of music fans to the area. ACL festival borrows its name from television’s longest-running music show, “Austin City Limits” which airs on PBS and films at ACL Live, located in the 2nd Street District adjacent to the W Hotel Austin. Other live music venues worth checking out include; Stubb’s BBQ, The Mohawk, The Continental Club and The Parish.

Culinary Scene

Guide to Austin | Austin City Skyline

Austin Skyline © Stuart Seeger

While there are plenty of great barbeque restaurants in Austin (Franklin, John Mueller, Live Oak), the culinary scene is diverse and exciting. Eastside King founder Paul Qui boasts a several locations serving his trademark Asian fusion dishes such as Poor Qui Buns (roasted pork belly and Hoisin sauce) and Fried Brussels Sprout Salad. Chef Qui recently opened upscale restaurant Qui, down the street from the original ESK location at The Liberty. Other restaurants to visit include; Second Bar, Wink, Uchi and Lenoir.

Outdoor Activities

Guide to Austin | Barton Springs Pool

Outdoor bathers at Barton Pool Springs © Timothy J Carroll

The jewel of the Austin public parks is Zilker Park on the south side of Town Lake. The park is home to a botanical garden, nature and science centre and Barton Springs Pool, and a visit to the gigantic spring-fed fresh water pool is a must during warmer months. Visitors can enjoy Town Lake by renting kayaks, canoes and paddle boards from Zilker Boats, which has been located close to the pool since 1969. From March to November folks can watch as nearly 1.5 million Mexican free-tail bats emerge from under the Congress Avenue Bridge to feed on insects. The spectacle of watching the largest urban colony of bats in the world emerge each sunset is truly spectacular.



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Written by Greg Ackerman


Greg Ackerman

Greg writes about live music in Austin for Other publications he has written for include; MSN's Live Music Blog, CultureMap Austin, Vivogig, The Round Rock Leader, The Leander Ledger and Corner Table. When he is not writing or working for clients, Greg enjoys playing tennis, swimming at Barton Springs Pool, volunteering for Austin non-profits and dining at local restaurants.

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