Hipster pleasures abound on South Congress Avenue, where ByGeorge (below) lets you dress the part, and Uncommon Objects is chock-a-block with antique and vintage gift and decor items. Or chill over a michelada (beer cocktail) in the courtyard of Hotel San Jose, renovated from its classic 1936 frame with 21st-century downtown cool befitting what is – to the surprise of many – America’s 11th largest city with 932,000 residents.
The world’s live music capital
Austin proudly calls itself the Live Music Capital of the World. Walk past clubs along Sixth Street (fondly nicknamed Dirty Sixth) and you’ll know why. The Parish (below) has hosted acts from The Who’s Pete Townshend to up-and-comers. Maggie Mae’s offers live music daily and lounge rooms to enjoy it in. If music’s not your scene, catch a mix of comedy and magic at Esther’s Follies and The Velveeta Room.
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As the state capital, Austin is the repository of Texas’ unique and fascinating history. Tour the Texas Capitol for both grand architecture and facts including how six different flags have flown over the state. Nearby, stroll the massive campus of the University of Texas, the world’s second wealthiest university (Harvard’s in the top spot). Or for something more personal, visit the LBJ Presidential Library (below) for exhibits about this famous son of the Lone Star State.
Eat, drink and be merry
Perhaps no phenomenon typifies Austin more than its food trucks: More than 1,000 vendors hawk cupcakes, tacos and hot chocolate in “food-court trailer parks”. You may not expect the best sushi in landlocked central Texas, but Uchi offers one of America’s most renowned Japanese food experiences (below). And if you can’t venture to the Hill Country for the classic, half-century-old Salt Lick BBQ, there’s another location to get your fix right at the airport.
Big city aside, there’s plenty of green spaces in Austin. By day, go hiking, running or biking on the banks of the Colorado River – or kayak and paddleboat on it. At dusk every day, about 1.5 million bats put on a show (below) as they swarm from their colony under the Congress Avenue Bridge. Or drive out to the Texas Hill Country to see its semi-arid landscapes of rolling hills, cliffs and watering holes.
– TEXT BY ANDREW BENDER
PHOTOS: ERICA WILKINS, NICK SIMONITE, JAY GODWIN, 123RF.COM
This article was originally published by Singapore Press Holdings.