Austin for First Timers

Photo by J Dimas

Find out what all the fuss is about in Austin

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Finally planning your first trip to Austin? Well, it’s about time! From live music to Tex-Mex, dive bars to art museums, there are plenty of things to discover and explore—during your downtime from just hanging out, of course. If you’re ready to have some fun but not sure where to start, read on for some of Austin’s must-do experiences.

See live music in Austin

When you come home from your trip to Austin, you can practically guarantee that someone’s going to ask you if you saw any live music while you were there. It’s what the city’s most known for, after all. Check out the Austin Chronicle for music listings, or go during South by Southwest or Austin City Limits Festival for nonstop toe-tapping fun. Need more ideas? Check out our Austin for Music Lovers itinerary.

Try Austin’s barbecue

Number two on your list of must-dos? Barbecue. You can wait in line for a couple of hours at Franklin’s Barbecue, provided you get there early enough that they’re not sold out. Or you can get all fancy pants at Lamberts. Get it with all the fixin’s at County Line or Stiles Switch. Or make the pilgrimage south to Lockhart, the self proclaimed Barbecue Capital of Texas, just about half an hour away.

Cool off

Austin’s hot, but they have good coping mechanisms. Stop by local favorite Amy’s Ice Creams (trust us on this one) or take a dip in Barton Springs, an icy natural spring that’s so cold you will forget that you were just complaining about the heat.

Hit South Congress

This formerly seedy strip is now the hippest spot in town, with views of the State Capitol to boot. “SoCo”—as some people insist on calling it—is lined with boutiques, restaurants, art galleries and more. Stroll along with the masses until you find something worth Tweeting about.

Check out a museum

The Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum is a good way to get acquainted with the state’s history, and the LBJ Library and Museum offers a fascinating look at our 36th president. Art lovers can try the Blanton Museum of Art or The Contemporary Austin.

Embrace the quirk

The bumper stickers you’ll see all around town say it best: Keep Austin Weird. Do your part by making a pilgrimage to the Cathedral of Junk, catching a Master Pancake Theater show or any other offbeat event at Alamo Drafthouse, or anteing up for Chicken Shit Bingo at Ginny’s Little Longhorn.

Taste some Tex-Mex

You can’t swing a chimichanga without hitting a Tex-Mex restaurant ‘round these parts. You could try to resist the lure of the seemingly endless combinations of tortillas, meat, cheese and salsa, but why? Start with a basket of chips and queso, and polish it off with a frozen margarita for dessert. You’re welcome.

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