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Inside Beat

Find out what makes Austin, Texas, 'weird' with this ultimate travel guide

With great food, awesome music and cool shops, Austin, Texas, should be your next travel destination.  – Photo by @VisitAustinTX / Twitter

Austin, Texas, is the second fastest-growing city in the U.S., and that's for good reason. While the Lone Star State is famed for its cowboys, cookouts and country music, its state capital has much more to offer than that.

Being raised in Austin for 16 years, I hold the opinion that it is the best city in Texas. The food and nightlife are unparalleled and the people are always fun and lively.


South Congress, a neighborhood in Austin, is the place to be for shopping. While it doesn't have many popular, well-known stores, it does highlight some of Austin's best local businesses. Each shop is eclectic, and you never know what you're going to find.

South Congress hosts one of Austin’s most famous stores, Allens Boots. Visited by hundreds of thousands of people every year, Allens Boots is the ultimate southern boot store for all the cowboys and cowgirls out there. You can spend hours walking through the various aisles of boots and cowboy hats as the smell of leather permeates the room.

South Congress is also home to many other iconic Texan stores, such as South Congress Books, Big Top Candy Shop, Monkey See Monkey Do! and much more. You could spend the entire day alone exploring all of the neighborhood's shops and still have more to do.

If you love thrifting, look no further than Pavement and Uptown Cheapskate. With various locations throughout the downtown area, you're sure to find unique pieces for a great price.

For a more traditional shopping experience, with stores like Zara, H&M and Sephora, you should visit The Domain. The Domain is almost like a mini city with apartments, restaurants and shops that cater to younger generations.

Food and bars

One of the main ways Austinites socialize is by eating out at restaurants, and they pride themselves on locally founded eateries. One of the most popular food categories is obviously barbeque.

When getting BBQ, you can't go wrong with Terry Black’s BBQ or Rudy's Country Store and Bar-B-Q. Both places act as butchers, where you pick out the meat and sides that you want, and you see them make it right in front of you. They then give you a thin sheet of wax paper with your meal for you to simply dig in!

Other famous local Austin restaurants include Torchy’s Tacos, Barley Swine and Kerbey Lane Cafe, which serves its customers the fluffiest pancakes ever. For a more luxurious dining experience, try The Oasis, an idyllic restaurant on the side of a mountain overlooking Lake Travis, a reservoir in Texas.

For those with a sweet tooth, Amy’s Ice Cream is a make-your-own ice creamery where you choose your ice cream and toppings, and you watch them mash the toppings into the desert on a cold table. Voodoo Doughnut is also delicious, offering donuts with kooky flavors and designs.

Austin’s nightlife is huge, so if you're over 21, do a bar crawl through Rainy Street and 6th Street. There, you'll taste beautifully crafted drinks while listening to fantastic live music.


If there are two things Austin is known for, it's live music and the outdoors. Austin is known as the live music capital of the world and hosts various events throughout the year, such as the Austin City Limits music festival and the SXSW conference.

If you prefer a more intimate live music experience, Austin has got that covered too! No matter where you are in the city, you can find live music at nearly every bar and restaurant, usually with local performers.

Many of Austin’s residents are tree-hugging nature lovers, so the number of outdoor activities is plentiful. Some favorites are kayaking or paddleboarding on downtown’s Lady Bird Lake, boating on Lake Travis, hiking up Mount Bonnell, taking a dip in Barton Springs and exploring the Zilker Botanical Garden.

If you want to learn a little more about history, visit Inner Space Cavern, one of the best-preserved caves in Texas. Untouched for more than 10,000 years, you can see beautiful formations, large rooms and prehistoric animal bones.

If you're more interested in learning about the government's history, visit the beautiful Texas Capitol building where some of the state's leaders currently work.

Many tourists in Austin love to visit the Congress Avenue Bridge at dusk to watch the bats fly out from under the bridge. It truly is a beautiful sight to see as thousands of Mexican free-tailed bats fly out beneath the bridge.


Despite Austin having various franchise hotels, if you truly want to try the city's authentic and eccentric aesthetic, you’ll want to stay at one of Austin’s boutique hotels.

Hotel San José and Austin Motel are both located near each other on the iconic South Congress Street. In either hotel, you'll be in the heart of Austin with downtown right at your fingertips.

Hotel San José is almost like a secret garden, with ivy-covered walls and serene fountains. This hotel is like an eye in the middle of the bustling city's storm. Austin Motel is vibrant and 60s inspired, with pops of color at every turn. The motel is best known for its recognizable sign outside the building that has a funny caption every day.

Situated among the tall buildings of Austin is the new Austin Proper Hotel, a luxury hotel in one of the most popular areas in the city. With beautiful architecture and fantastic rooms, there's not one inch of this lavish hotel that isn't Instagram-worthy.

Another newly built hotel is the Commodore Perry Estate, which looks like it was pulled out of an Agatha Christie novel. With beautiful designs and 10 acres, the Commodore Perry Estate was voted the No. 1 hotel in Austin in 2022.

Austin is constantly developing and expanding by the minute, giving you plenty to do and see each time you visit. I hope you enjoy the city just as much as I did growing up there.

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