Austin: Barbecue, Bars, and Music Make This Texas Capital Stand Out

Austin is far more than the “Live Music Capital of the World.”

With one of the nation’s largest universities in the heart of town, this capital city has a way of bringing out the college kid in us all. From each city block to the back-road livestock, Austin stands apart from traditional Texas culture with its music scene and modern bars intermixed with old-time joints. Lined with food trucks throughout and home to a famous hill covered with walls of graffiti art (dubbed “Castle Hill” by locals), Austin is far more than the “Live Music Capital of the World.”

TASTE THE ORIGINAL

Dishing out 6,000 sausage rings a week, Black’s Barbecue is known for its authentic Texas barbecue. You can order a beef rib the size of your forearm or taste the popular brisket ($11 to $30), smoked daily for 14 hours. Though there is a location in Austin, locals advise heading 30 miles south to the original Black’s in Lockhart, which has been serving the famous meats since 1932.

COOL OFF NATURALLY

Dealing with temperatures higher than 80 degrees starting in April, and headed into the 100s by August, Austinites praise the natural pool at Barton Springs. With three smaller springs and one main pool, Barton Springs makes up a segment of the Edwards Aquifer. For $8, you can dive into the 68- to 70-degree water for as long as it takes you to recover from the humid heat of the streets.

A UNIQUE SIGHT

From March to November, folks gather on the Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge at dusk to witness the awe of the bat colony emerging from roosts underneath. As the cloud of bats soars east, catch views of Lady Bird Lake below and the downtown
Austin skyline above.

A DIFFERENT KIND OF GREAT PARK

Like New York City’s Central Park, Zilker Park offers similar recreation, but features a more desirable year-round climate. One of the most easily accessed areas is the Great Lawn, where you’ll likely catch youth soccer games and weekend picnickers scoring prime seating to get a tan and a city view.

Broken Spoke is an authentic Texas dance hall. Photo by Winker Withaneye


DANCE LIKE A LOCAL

Broken Spoke is where to get down and bring out your inner Texan. In addition to the two-stepping and line dancing that goes with live music, this spot features chicken‑fried steak ($12.75) and cold beer to fuel your Friday night.

VERACRUZ ALL NATURAL

A trip to Austin wouldn’t be complete without some greasy, foil-wrapped tacos. Veracruz All Natural operates from a food truck, but the location is semi‑permanent and notorious for its long lines. The migas, chicken tacos, and aguas frescas ($3 to $4) are well worth the wait.

EUROPEAN ESCAPE

Hotel Granduca ($179 and up) offers a taste of Europe. Poolside cabanas, grandiose staircases, a spacious courtyard, Italian architecture, and sweeping views of Texas hill country suggest you’re much farther than 9 miles northwest of downtown at this luxurious retreat.

MUSICAL CENTER

As the heart of Austin’s music scene, center for barhopping students, and playground for history junkies, Sixth Street is its essence. From speakeasies to beer gardens and reggae to country, there’s something for everyone. Casino El Camino is a bar with horror-themed decor, and The Jackalope is centered around a larger-than-life antlered rabbit statue waiting to greet you as you indulge.

The Four Seasons’ plush downtown digs // Photo by Christian Horan


SMALL TASTES OF TEXAS

On the banks of Lady Bird Lake, with hammocks lining the premises for guests to take in
the view, the Four Seasons Austin ($575 and up) is a resort-level retreat in the heart of downtown. Nods to the state—cornhole games, cowhide couches, and a fire pit—are scattered throughout.

BANGER’S SAUSAGE HOUSE AND BEER GARDEN

Though the name sounds more like a pit stop for a beer and hot dog, the Sunday brunch here takes you from Southern biscuits and gravy ($10) to California avocado toast ($8).

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