Texas, United States
Dusty boots and killer apps let you know you've arrived in Austin, along with its changing downtown skyline, East Austin honky-tonks, Dirty Sixth bars and Rainey Street bungalows. Even between annual editions of SXSW, the crowd stays loud and interactive in Austin's Warehouse District.
Getting Around Austin
Private cars are the easiest way to move around Austin. CapMetro operates a bus (100-Airport Flyer Inbound) directly from the airport that costs $2.00 and takes about 30 minutes. Parking in downtown Austin is metered. Hours differ depending on the day of the week: Monday through Wednesday are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Thursday and Friday are 8 a.m. to midnight; Saturday is 11 a.m. to midnight; and Sunday is free. Austin features a parking app ( to help determine rates for specific areas in advance. Taxis are available throughout town with a $2.50 flag drop and $0.40 per additional 1/6 mile. Pedicabs pedal around downtown. Rates are negotiated individually with operators. Two bike rental companies are ready to get you pedaling Austin starting at $28.50 per day. ( and Capital Metro (CapMetro) operates the city's public transit system and generally operates between 4 a.m. and 12:30 a.m. on weekdays; 5:30 a.m. and 12:30 a.m. on Saturday; 6 a.m. and 12 a.m. on Sunday. CapMetro's website offers extensive ride planning and mobile app options. (
Nearby Airports
  • Austin-Bergstrom International Airport-ABI
Airport Taxis
  • $23
Things to Do and See in Austin
Rainey StreetSixth StreetSouth LamarSecond StreetNorth LamarSouth CongressDowntownWarehouse District
The southeast corner of downtown has exploded with bars housed in historic 1930s bungalows—one is actually named Bungalow. The charming small houses have front and back porches and makeshift stages for bands to perform, and there's an ATM on the sidewalk where there once was a mailbox. Banger's Sausage House and Beer Garden offers something for everyone, including menu items for dogs like homemade biscuits and brats. Big nights in the neighborhood include Lustre Pearl for ping-pong and hula hoops, and food trucks and cocktails under Patron bottle chandeliers at cowboy-elegant Clive Bar.
Austin's first skyscrapers were erected near Sixth and Congress Avenue: the Littlefield and the Scarborough buildings. But late Friday and Saturday nights turn the area into "Dirty Sixth," where people bounce like pinballs from bar to bar. Practically every doorway opens to a pub or a club, with a doorperson beckoning revelers. Police officers are in force and alert, on horse, car, or foot. Instant gratification foods include walk-up windows with pizza slices, food trucks, and plenty of pub grub. Escape the fray at the intimate French restaurant Chez Nous or the opulent 1886 Driskill Hotel, with a friendly piano bar and elegant food and drink menu. Come morning, one of the best bloody mary's is served at Casino El Camino.
Originally named Old Fredericksburg Road, South Lamar was once mostly commercial and industrial—but now every patch of land has been snapped up to serve the public and house the people. South Lamar anticipates your every need with day spas, hobby stores, cafes, hair salons, even a pet taxidermist. Lamar is home to Broken Spoke, a genuine honky tonk where celebrities Robert Plant and Vince Vaughn have been known to two-step. Aviary Decor is a wine bar with a European feel, housed inside a modern furniture mecca with jewelry and home accessories handpicked from local and global artists. Carry out slices from Mercury Pizza or order a 20-inch pie with inspired toppings like bacon, then chill out with farm-to-table ice creams at Lick. Of all the food trucks park along the strip, look for Lulu B's for traditional banh mi (Vietnamese sandwiches).
Look closely and notice that City Hall is shaped like an armadillo, covered in an intentionally rusted patina. Across the street is the larger-than-life bronze monument of Willie Nelson on guitar marking the entrance of Austin City Limits Live at the Moody Theatre. The statue was unveiled April 20th, 2012 at 4:20 pm (get it?) by the mayor, who introduced Willie as "the man who more than others made Austin the live music capitol of the world." Foodies converge on La Condesa for award-winning contemporary Mexican, Second Bar + Kitchen for buffalo fried pickles, and Lambert's for high-end BBQ. Cafes fuel shopping expeditions at independent women's boutiques along the street.
Don't let the strip mall stretch be a deterrent. The moment you pass your keys to the valet, your experience begins at Uchiko, serving fish flown in daily from Tokyo. The prices are high at the sister to Austin's world-class sushi restaurant Uchi, but the meal is memorable. Nearby is Central Market, a grocery store where you can practically hear birds singing in the produce section. Belly up to the wine bar for a cheese plate and a wine flight. A five-minute drive to North Loop Boulevard is worthwhile for pedestrian-friendly shopping at independent stores and vintage boutiques stocking Mad Men-style furnishings.
Downtown first expanded south in 1910, when the concrete bridge was built across the Colorado River and South Congress Avenue opened to streetcars and pedestrians. To this day, it's the most pedestrian-friendly zone in town. If you have only one afternoon to explore, spend it strolling and window-shopping here. Browse meticulously curated menswear at Stag, and mostly black clothing and accessories straight out of a Tim Burton film at Blackmail. Discover international candies at Big Top, snack on oysters and fried okra at Perla's seafood restaurant, and spot celebrities eating carrot cake French toast at South Congress Café. Mosey over or under "Bat Bridge," where 1 million bats come out at dusk to forage from mid-March to November. If your shoes are comfortable, follow the seven-mile Ladybird Lake Hike and Bike Trail for views of the water and the ever-changing downtown skyline.
The defining feature of the Austin skyline is change. Blink and you'll miss another skyscraper appear, like the 56-story residential tower Austonian, the 44-floor 360 Condos and the architecturally stunning new Courthouse. Austonians joke that the city bird is the construction crane. But where the skyline meets the shoreline of Lady Bird Lake (formerly Town Lake), buff locals hit the Hike and Bike Trail. Flat lake waters are ideal for the latest trend: stand-up paddling. Pedestrians dodge orange construction cones on city streets to get hot dogs at Frank and prime seafood and steak at Eddie V's. Ditch your car at the State Capitol, which welcomes visitors with free parking.
There is no shortage of walkable nightlife just west of downtown. On Fourth near Lavaca is a club that Out magazine dubbed one of the "50 Greatest Gay Bars": Oil Can Harry's, featuring DJs, drag queens, and karaoke. Absinthe bar Peché has an apothecary feel, with high tin ceilings and brick walls framing the selection of Swiss, French, and domestic absinthe. Next door, the popular pickup joint Cedar Street Courtyard hosts fun party bands. Local legends Stevie Ray Vaughan, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Ian Moore, and Los Lonely Boys have launched their careers from the stage at Antone's, helping make Austin's name as "Live Music Capitol of the World."
Our friends at pick the city's best restaurants each quarter, and we trust their opinion. See full list »
Second Bar + Kitchen
The more casual sibling to David Bull's Congress, Second makes an art of bar food. See: the spicy fried pickles, the Bar Congress that you can add foie gras, an egg, avocado, smoked pork belly, double meat and double cheese to, should you so choose.
La Condesa
Chef Rene Ortiz's take on modern Mexican cuisine in the Second Street District. Not to be missed: the riffs on guacamole, the wild tacos, the cocktails, and pastry chef Laura Sawicki's ice creams.
Daruma Ramen
This cozy little downtown spot from Komé's Take and Kayo Asazu softly opened in early April, serving a somewhat lighter take on traditional ramen than other noodle shops in town. They're currently the only ramen restaurant in Austin that serves vegan ramen on the regular.
Franklin Barbecue
The brick-and-mortar location of Aaron Franklin's beloved barbecue truck produces what has quickly become one of Texas's, if not the country's, most talked-about barbecue. It's so good, they regularly run out of meat shortly after opening; get there early.