Blogger Summer Huggins shares what she loves about Austin and the can’t-miss hot spots for music, dining and more for living like a local in the Lone Star State’s capital.
My parents and I lived in Austin for a couple of years when I was a kid, I mean a little kid, around 3 years old. I don’t remember much about life here then, but I love hearing the stories. For instance: I danced on stage with Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble when I was a toddler. Stevie Ray picked me up, sang to me and danced with me in his arms. Oh, how I wish there were pictures around to show off to my friends.
Kids who live in Austin today should encourage their parents to carry cameras with them when they visit local music venues. Then such stories will have photographic evidence to back them up.
We Love Live Music
Known as the “Live Music Capital of the World,” Austin has no shortage of singers and songwriters on their way to fame. Who knows when you might waltz into the right place at the right time when you’re visiting and see such a headliner! From restaurants to outdoor venues to internationally famous stages, great music can be found around every corner.
For great music, don’t miss:
— The Continental Club on South Congress Ave., open since 1957.
— Stubb’s BBQ on Red River. Incredible outdoor stage, plus a smaller indoor stage for Gospel Brunch on Sunday mornings.
— Gruene Hall, Texas’ oldest dance hall, just about 20 minutes outside of Austin.
Get Outside and Play
Before you head out for music, why not have some fun outdoors? Austin is an active and healthy city, filled with state and national parks, beautiful lakes and lots of outdoor activities. From walking and hiking to relaxing in the cool grass and watching more than a million Mexican free-tailed bats fly overhead, there is always something to get into on the town.
With so much to choose from, it might be a hard decision to make, but if you want to head outside, don’t miss:
— Stand-up paddling on Lady Bird Lake. A great way to see the city and get some exercise at the same time.
— A bike ride on the Veloway or the Shoal Creek Bike Path.
— A cool dip in Hamilton Pool, Barton Springs Pool or Deep Eddy Pool, Austin’s favorite natural wonders.
Grab a bite to eat from one of Austin's 1,500 food trailers.
I don’t even know where to start when it comes to dining out in Austin, but if you come to town and eat at a national chain restaurant, you’re not trying very hard to enjoy our delicious city. Tex-Mex, pizza, burgers, bar-b-que, sushi, international cuisine, even gourmet doughnuts. If you’re craving it, Austin can serve it up. Perhaps it comes out of a trailer, it can possibly be delivered, and you might even be able to enjoy a good movie (and a beer) while you eat.
If you’re heading out for a bite, don’t miss:
— The Alamo Drafthouse. With several locations around town, the “Alamo” is the only way to catch a movie. While you watch the best of blockbuster movies and independent films, enjoy a local draft beer, veggie burger, grilled cheese sandwich, specialty salad or even fresh-from-the-oven chocolate chip cookies (and, oh so much more).
— BBQ, burgers and beer. Find a hole-in-the-wall dive bar for a cold one, and chances are you’ll find good food inside too. Chicken-fried steak at the Broken Spoke? Yes, please!
— Food trailers. See that food trailer over there? There is probably something delicious and surprising cooking up inside. The last number I heard was 1,500. Fifteen hundred food trailers in town ready to feed your belly.
Austin Loves Pets
Go just about anywhere in Austin, and you’re likely to see a dog or two. Walking around downtown, shopping in pet-specific stores or lounging on patios at our favorite local restaurants, dogs (and other pets) are simply a part of life around here. Don’t be surprised when you see horses walking around town either.
If you visit Austin with your whole family — including the four-legged members — don’t miss:
— Auditorium Shores. A quick walk from downtown, Auditorium Shores is a beautiful outdoor music venue that doubles as a doggie paradise. Dogs can run and wrestle with each other off-leash, swim and retrieve tennis balls from the lake.
— Bow-Wow Chow. Yep, even the dogs have their own food trailer now.
— The Canine Center for Training and Behavior offers multi-week courses for dog agility and training, but their calendar is also full of camping weekends, full-day hikes and even yoga with your dog. Doga!
Come visit Austin. Eat well, play hard, enjoy the music and bring your dog! I know you’ll want to visit again. That’s if you can ever make yourself leave in the first place…
For even more visuals or to create a travel board for your trip to Austin, check out our latest Pinterest board featuring Summer’s picks!