There’s nowhere quite like Texas, and even though Austin has been keeping it weird for decades, it’s still rich in Texan culture. Take a look at our Texan tour of Austin for the top typically Texan things to do in the capital city.
Barbecue and Tex-Mex
Austin has grown into quite the foodie paradise, but there are still plenty of truly Texan classics to be found. Franklin Barbecue is arguably the most famous, with lines that start early in the morning and can stretch around the block; they often sell out before lunch. Just outside of town in Driftwood, get a real Texas country barbecue experience at The Salt Lick, with family recipes dating back to the mid-1800s.
Another staple cuisine here is Tex-Mex, rooted in the state’s unique Tejano culture. Tex-Mex predominantly features tortillas, chili sauces and shredded or melted cheese; enchiladas and breakfast tacos are king here. Local favourites to get your fix include Curra’s Grill, Joe’s Bakery & Coffee Shop, Habanero Mexican Café and local favourite, Tamale House East.
If there’s anything Texas is known for, it’s country-western dancing. There are many historic dance halls throughout the state, of which Austin has its share. The definitive one is The Broken Spoke, called the “Best Honky-Tonk in Texas” by many. It’s been around since 1964 and its history covers the walls with photos, autographs and memorabilia with everyone from Willie Nelson and Dolly Parton to Clint Eastwood and Robert Duvall. They also serve a mean chicken-fried-steak (another Texas classic food). If you’re shy about your dancing skills, The Broken Spoke offers free line-dance lessons on Friday afternoons.
To gear yourself up, you must have your dancing boots. Head over to Allens Boots, an Austin institution on South Congress since 1977. They have more than 4,000 boots on display, as well as doing custom orders, and you can also pick up other western wear including hats, belts and apparel.
With Austin as its capital, this is the perfect place to explore the history of the Lone Star State. Start at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum, where you can explore three floors of exhibitions showcasing more than 700 original artefacts from the 17th century through to modern day. The Texas Spirit Theater is Austin’s only 4D special effects cinema and the largest IMAX® screen in Texas is here, showing films that tell the story of Texas alongside current blockbuster releases.
From there you can mosey down the street to the State Capitol, an architecturally stunning building that opened in 1888 to much pomp and ceremony and remains one of the great symbols of Texas history and politics. Come in for a free guided or self-guided tour and you just might catch a few politicians roaming the halls.
High School Football
American Football is huge throughout the country, but there is something uniquely Texas about the popularity of high school football. It’s such a big deal that it has inspired the movie and television show Friday Night Lights. Westlake and Lake Travis High Schools are the powerhouse teams to watch on Friday nights during season play. And of course, Austin is Longhorn crazy when it comes to college football; catching a University of Texas game (where tailgating is a sport all its own) or visiting the University Co-op store are always fun.
Header image: Texas State Capitol in Austin, Texas © Nclauzing/Thinkstock/iStock
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Have you been to any of the places on our Texan tour of Austin? Have we missed any of your favourite locations off our list? Let us know in the comments section below.
Written by Shelley Seale