Known as the "Live Music Capital of the World," Austin boasts more live music venues per capita than anywhere else in the nation. It has witnessed the early careers of several famous musicians, including Stevie Ray Vaughan, Janis Joplin and the Dixie Chicks. Despite significant growth in recent years, Austin maintains a quirky, laid-back atmosphere that you won't find in other Texan cities. Outsiders tend to see the city as a home base for wacky characters, but Austinites revel in their eccentricity and proudly flaunt the city's motto, "Keep Austin Weird."
Aside from its buzzing live music and nightlife scenes, the main reason to visit is to enjoy the outdoors. With an average of about 230 sunny days per year and large swaths of green space like Zilker Metropolitan Park, many experts consider Austin one of the Best Places to Live in America. It's probably because there's something here for everybody: Whether you're a history buff (LBJ's library is here as well as the Lone Star State-sized Texas State History Museum) an art lover (Blanton Museum of Art), a sports fan (University of Texas at Austin football) or a budding musician (Sixth Street). After your visit, you might be asking: Why don't I live here?
The best times to visit Austin are September to November or March to May, when 70s and 80s are the anticipated daytime temperatures. As temperatures climb into the mid- to high 90s with high humidity, the Texan summer (June through August) is barely tolerable for unaccustomed visitors. Winter (December to February) is relatively mild and dry, with temperatures that hover in the low to mid-60s. Festivals are an integral part of Austin's culture. If your travel plans are flexible, then plan on attending a festival that interests you – just be prepared for inflated lodging rates.
Data sourced from the National Climatic Data Center
"Keep Austin Weird" is a phrase that was adopted to promote the independently owned businesses in the city, but it's taken on a life of its own. Austin presents the perfect mash up of the city's Texas-sized history, an expanding foodie scene with exceptional barbecue, a diverse music scene, a haven for die-hard college football fans, a vibrant arts scene and of course the copyrighted title of "Live Music Capital of the World." With so many areas of interest, it's likely that there's something for everyone in the capital of Texas.
A city formerly overrun with barbecue joints and chop houses, Austin has since welcomed a more diverse dining scene featuring more upscale restaurants as well as a wide array of international cuisine. However, the traditional barbecue joints continue to thrive alongside sushi bars and European bistros. Many say you'll find the best smoked meats in the city at Lamberts, but head to Freedmen's if you want your barbecue served with a side of craft beer. Unsurprisingly, Tex-Mex is also popular, and for some of the best check out Isalia's Tex-Mex Restaurant or Z'Tejas Southwestern Grill. Austin's proximity to Mexico has allowed for the infiltration of south-of-the-border favorites, such as fish tacos, burritos and fajitas.
If you're looking to dine like the Austinites, Second Street and Sixth Street are packed with saucy joints serving hearty portions of spicy ribs and savory beef brisket accompanied by live music. For a late night slice of pizza, head to Hoboken Pie on Red River Street two blocks north of Sixth Street. For a tasty meal on a budget, experts recommend checking out the restaurants near the University of Texas and along The Drag. If it's the fiery flavors of Mexico that you crave, head to the East Side where Tex-Mex joints abound. If you're in the mood for fine dining, check out the new American cuisine at Qui or the new takes on classic Western food at Lonesome Dove.
Compared to other U.S. cities of its size, Austin is relatively safe for visitors, but it's still necessary to exercise precautions. Make sure to keep your car doors locked and your valuables in a secure location, and avoid dimly lit streets after sundown.
Those who are not used to Texas' climate should be mindful of heat stroke. Common symptoms include dizziness, headache and exhaustion. To prevent illness, wear sunscreen and drink plenty of water.
Visitors to Austin should be aware that they will be sharing the city with some intimidating creepy-crawlies, including scorpions and snakes. The types of scorpions that are sometimes spotted within the city cannot inflict as much damage as other species, but experts do recommend keeping your distance. If you head out into the countryside, you may encounter rattlesnakes and water moccasins. If you're stung by a scorpion or bitten by a snake, contact a medical professional immediately.
The best way to get around Austin is by bus and light rail. Some travelers recommend a car; however, the expense and pains of one are enough to encourage many travelers to use Capital Metro Transit. The MetroAirport bus line connects the downtown area with Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS), where you'll likely be greeted by music as soon as you exit the plane, to the heart of downtown about 10 miles northwest. Amtrak provides train service to the city via the Texas Eagle line. If you’ll be centrally located downtown between the Convention Center and the University of Texas at Austin, you should be able to walk or bike.See details for Getting Around
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