Franklin Barbecue, a renowned barbecue restaurant in Austin, has a strong reputation, as seen by the epically lengthy three-hour queues. But the wait is well worth it since head chef and well-known local celebrity Aaron Franklin prepares some of the most flavorful beef ribs and sausages you’ve ever eaten. To spend the time more quickly, bring a folding chair, a deck of cards, and a cooler full of Lone Star tallboys.
2.Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum
Monthly after-dark events are held in the Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum, with free entry from 6 to 8 p.m. On the first Tuesday of every month, the seasonal programme offers guests the chance to take in the nighttime atmosphere of the sculpture garden, highlighted gallery exhibitions, as well as monthly themed activities, food, and entertainment. Yoga courses are also held there in the garden.
A visit here will not only place you in one of Texas’ most stunning structures with some of its greatest history, but it is also free to enter. You may join one of the 20- to 30-minute-long Capitol tours; the tour guides are quite knowledgeable and will be happy to answer anything about the structure or Texas history. You may also take a self-guided tour of the gorgeous building’s different rooms and hallways if you don’t have time for one of those.
4.Blanton Museum of Art
The Blanton, Austin’s premier art museum, houses more than 19,000 works in a stunning collection that spans a dizzying variety of genres. These works include Roman-era pottery, Renaissance paintings, contemporary Native American art, a sizable print collection, and one of the best Latin American collections in the nation. A 2,715 square foot (252 square metre) stone chapel with colourful glass windows and black and white marble panels, Austin is one of Ellsworth Kelly’s most famous creations.
The “last of the authentic Texas dance halls and darn sure proud of it!” is how this little Texas dive bar bills itself. The Broken Spoke has provided live music, dancing, beer, and traditional chicken-fried steak for more than 50 years. Learn the conventional two-step, the western swing, and the Cotton-Eyed Joe to join in on the fun. To prepare you for rocking out to the live band, classes are held from Wednesday through Saturday. Looking for SXSW information? Read our SXSW Festival Ultimate Guide.
6.Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
Explore the lovely natural flora and animals of the Lone Star State at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at the University of Texas at Austin. Additionally, it provides family activities that let kids practise gardening firsthand. Bring your young children to Sprouts, a preschool that runs on an ongoing basis and guides you around its Family Garden while focusing on a different subject each week, including “bug inquiry.” For older children, it offers free binoculars, books, magnifying glasses, and other resources to increase the likelihood of discovery.
7.The Continental Club
Since 1955, The Continental Club has earned a reputation as the region’s premier music venue; in fact, a branch is currently located in Houston. This area is truly a blend of Texan and American culture, making it a great spot to meet people and have a drink. Visitors are warmly welcomed and the local population is among the most diverse in the area.
8.Barton Springs Pool
Austinites from all over the world knew Barton Springs when Terrence Malick used it as the setting for a dramatic moment in Tree of Life (2011), a film about growing up in Texas. The location is an outdoor swimming pool for enjoyment that is three acres (1.2 hectares) in size. It is replenished with water from adjacent natural springs, which maintains its temperature year-round between 68F and 70F. (20C-21C).
A one-stop shop for all things Texan, this iconic boutique on the South Congress corridor was founded in 1977 and has more than 4,000 boots in addition to cowboy hats, clothes, and accessories. The family-run firm helps consumers select the ideal boot for every lifestyle, and the large red boot sign is a local symbol.
The South Congress version of Magnolia Cafe, famous for its “Sorry, We’re Open” neon sign and 24-hour diner service, is just across the street from Allens. Omelettry West, the first establishment, debuted on Lake Austin Boulevard in 1979. Since then, Austin residents have come to enjoy this cherished café. Barack Obama’s 2014 visit, during which he had coffee with a UT student, solidified the diner’s legacy as a neighbourhood landmark.
11.Mountain biking at Barton Creek Greenbelt
This outdoor location, which bears William Barton’s name because he founded the region in 1837, is home to several waterways, stunning limestone cliffs, and hiking trails through woodland regions. The distance from Zilker Park to the Woods of Westlake development is more than 7 miles (11 km). Enjoy beautiful natural scenery by going on a four-hour mountain bike excursion in the Texas Hill Country. There will be plenty of opportunity to pause, cool down in the emerald-colored natural swimming pools, and take in a little bit of the true Austin wilderness.
12.The White Horse
There is yet another honky-tonk on this list, in typical Austin flair. While both The Broken Spoke and The White Horse are excellent, The White Horse is where you should go to enjoy a riotous good time you’ll remember for years. The White Horse is the East Side’s wonderfully grungy, no-frills alternative (unless you drink too many cheap whiskey shots, that is). While enjoying the live country and western music, let an elderly cowboy spin you around the dance floor. Alternatively, join up for one of the free weekly Texas two-stepping courses.
On the campus of the University of Texas in Austin, Spider House is easily recognised by its antique, distinctive design. The outside patio has swings, garden sculptures, twinkle lights, and art works. The hotspot’s ballroom frequently hosts upcoming performers, and despite the fact that guests are permitted to stay inside until 2am, it is said to be haunted. Along with fruit-based JuiceLand drinks, it has a wide selection of locally brewed beers on tap. Excellent beer specials are available during happy hour (2pm to 6pm), so stop by.
14.Harry Ransom Center
One of the biggest collections of authentic manuscripts and other historical materials is housed at the Harry Ransom Center. A first edition of the Gutenberg Bible and The Niépce Heliograph, the oldest surviving image shot in France in 1826, are among the year-round changing exhibits that are available at the museum. You can only speculate as to what more gems are kept inside this mid-century building with so much to see.
15.Kayaking and bat-watching at Congress Avenue Bridge
The Congress Avenue Bridge, dedicated to Ann W. Richards, the 45th governor of Texas and a longtime resident of Austin, is also home to a few other longtime residents of Austin: Mexican free-tailed bats. The migratory colony, with between 750,000 and 1.5 million bats that spend the summer under the bridge and the winter in Mexico, is the biggest urban bat colony in the whole world. Up to 100,000 visitors watch the bats emerge at dusk and traverse Lady Bird Lake to find food each year. Take a kayak excursion in the evening to observe this phenomena away from the throng and enjoy the dazzling city lights on your way back if you want to experience this momentous occasion in a totally unique way.
16.Circuit of the Americas
The Formula One United States Grand Prix, the Motorcycle Grand Prix of the Americas, and several other racing championships are held annually at the 3.41-mile (5.49-kilometer) long Circuit of the Americas. Mumford & Sons, Taylor Swift, and Chance the Rapper have all played on the Germania Insurance Amphitheater stage, which is onsite.
Since Austin is the live music capital of the world, any list of must-see sites in the city should include more than one music venue. In 2011, the live performance that made the Austin music scene famous relocated from the University of Texas campus to its new location in the city centre right adjacent to the W Austin hotel. The bigger facility nevertheless maintains Austin City Limits’ reputation as an intimate environment for live music with a seating capacity of around 2,700, and many of the ACL live events are rebroadcast on PBS. Before climbing the stairs to the theatre, be sure to have a look at the well-known Willie Nelson monument.
18.Peter Pan Mini-Golf
With its enormous T-Rex and Peter Pan maintaining watch over the junction of Barton Springs and South Lamar since 1948, Peter Pan Mini-Golf is an Austin classic. The family-run business embodies the city’s carefree, hipster vibe to a tee. Several new fixtures have been added to the course in recent years, and it often gets a facelift with fresh coats of vibrant paint. It’s also BYOB.
19.Guided boat tour of Lake Austin and sunset views on Mount Bonnell
Mount Bonnell, one of Austin’s highest observation spots at 775 feet (236 metres) above the Colorado River (Lake Austin), offers some of the city’s greatest vistas, particularly around dusk. The location, also known as Covert Park, is one of Austin’s oldest tourist destinations and has been awe-inspiring tourists with its views since the 1850s. Gaze east into Downtown from the top of the hill, or look west to see the Colorado River meandering towards Pennybacker Bridge on Loop 360. For an additional 22 miles (35 km) of breathtaking Austin waterfront vistas, combine this journey with a guided boat tour of Lake Austin.