Texas has a number of amazing cities, from Dallas to Houston to San Antonio. Even among these, Austin stands apart. Despite emerging as one of the fastest-growing cities in the United States, Austin still maintains a laidback, small-town feel that many tourists adore. Plus, the city has gained a reputation for its food, arts, and live music scenes, which means that it’s never a boring place to visit. Austinites are warm and welcoming people that make tourists feel right at home while they explore the many attractions in the city.
Some of the top reasons to visit Austin this year include:
1. A massive music scene
Long known as the Live Music Capital of the World, Austin continues to stay true to its musical roots. Here, you’ll find a wide range of performers, from country crooners to indie rock bands and jazz and blues ensembles. Some of the most prominent Austin musicians include Janis Joplin, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Willie Nelson. Tourists may want to spend some time at the Continental Club, a legendary venue that’s one of the oldest in town. Since 1955, the club has hosted a wide range of different acts—so if you’re a music lover, don’t miss it. You may also want to align your visit to Austin with one of the many musical festivals in the city, the largest of which are South by Southwest (SXSW) and Austin City Limits.
2. Abundant outdoor adventures
Don’t neglect the many outdoor adventures that Austin offers when you visit the city. One of the most popular options is the 10-mile Hike-and-Bike Trail, which encircles Lady Bird Lake, a reservoir on the Colorado River. Stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking, and canoeing are also common activities here. Other noteworthy parks and outdoor attractions include the Barton Creek Greenbelt, Shoal Creek, and Mount Bonnell, the highest vantage point in the area. For a particularly beautiful view of the city skyline, visit one of the pedestrian bridges crossing Lady Bird Lake at sunrise or sunset, when a pinkish glow falls over the town. The effect is a unique atmospheric phenomenon that has earned Austin the title “City of the Violet Crown.”
3. A burgeoning creative community
With its warm weather, natural beauty, and progressive attitude,Austin attracts creative minds from across the country. While people may think of the city as a major hub for technological innovation, it has also become home to top designers, artists, writers, photographers, and more. The city nourishes its creative community and provides residents with a number of opportunities to support area artists, including events like Create + Cultivate and the Texas Book Festival. Plus, the city hosts various seasonal festivals and exhibitions both downtown and in nearby Hill Country throughout the year. Visitors can also get a sense of the rich arts community by checking out some of the many galleries scattered around town.
4. Amazing food and beverage options
Foodies across the nation have started to recognize Austin as a major culinary destination with excellent taco joints and food trucks, as well as world-renowned chefs working at prominent restaurants. Be sure not to ignore the food trucks while you’re visiting the city, as these small kitchens turn out an impressive variety of delicious food, from Peruvian snacks to Texas barbecue. Of course, the barbecue in Austin is world-famous, with Franklin Barbecue serving as the cornerstone of the scene. Fans of beer will also find a number of options in Austin, which boasts several prominent microbreweries. Wine aficionados should take a side trip to the nearby Hill Country, which is home to many vineyards.
5. An incredible coffee culture
Perhaps more people think of Seattle when it comes to coffee, but the truth is that Austin has become one of the country’s capitals of caffeine. When Houndstooth Coffee opened in 2010, it set off a chain reaction, with several other local roasteries opening to battle for market share. Houndstooth now has four locations in the city. Some other local shops that visitors should check out include Caffé Medici, Fleet Coffee Co., and Figure 8 Coffee Purveyors. Austin also hosts a monthly throwdown among local baristas to see who can create the best latte art, and the event is open to the public.
6. A bustling nightlife
If you like to go out and have fun until the wee hours of the morning, Austin is the city for you. Perhaps the heart of nightlife in Austin is the Sixth Street District, but a number of other areas are generating their own buzz, including South Congress, East Sixth, Rainey Street, and East Cesar Chavez. Each of these neighborhoods has its own unique vibe, so you should try to check out as many as you can. All have interesting bars, as well as live music venues that host shows all week long. Checking out these bustling neighborhoods is a great way to get a feel for the diversity of the city.