Two-step at an authentic honky-tonk, eat the best dang BBQ you've ever tasted, picnic among fields of bluebonnets, throw back a beer at the city's oldest beer garden, and have a true-blue Texas time on your trip to Austin. Located right on the edge of the Texas Hill Country, a special little slice of Texas that has a distinctive culture and a deep love for the past, there are plenty of ways to get really authentic in Austin. Yeehaw!
Known as a true Texas honky-tonk, Broken Spoke is a great place to get your boots scootin’ and learn the two-step. The venue dates back to the days of Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys, and now it’s home to great, authentic, live country music. Broken Spoke is famous for its chicken-fried steak, and it’s often named as the best in all of Texas. Get ready for some cheap, cold beer and a rollickin’ good time!
From humble beginnings in 1991, Uncommon Objects is now a mecca for antique collectors. With 20 antique sellers under one roof, it’s been described as, “your eccentric uncle’s attic on steroids.” A lot of the antiques here have their roots in Texas’s past, so if you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind souvenir, this is the place for you. Boots, guitars, belt buckles, badges, taxidermy, jewelry, old photos, and more can be found by anyone willing to dig around the displays. If you’re not big on shopping, the place has been compared to a museum with its bizarre displays, so this is definitely an offbeat place to get some free afternoon entertainment.
Of course, if you're looking for a classic cowboy experience in Texas, it helps to look the part, so stop by Allens Boots to get your kicks in order. They have an incredible selection of shoes, ranging from classic brown boots to bedazzled heels in a rainbow of colors. Since authentic cowboy boots are a little different than any old shoes, the employees are more than happy to help you find a pair that fits properly and matches your style... and since this is the largest collection of cowboy boots in the country, with more than 4,000 pairs, don't be afraid to ask for help!
In the spring, the Texas Hill Country region explodes in a burst of color from the fields of wildflowers that can be found around the area. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center preserves the unique plant life native to Texas Hill Country in one beautiful place! Walk along the trails to see the different species of wildflower, learn about the importance of bugs and critters at the insectary, see the interactive exhibits on display at the visitor center, and take in the views from a swing at the Mollie Steves Zachry Texas Arboretum.
Beer gardens are a favorite of Texans, and aren't too hard to find, but Easy Tiger is more than just a bar with a great patio... it's also a bakeshop, serving up home-baked breads and pretzels. You can also pick up some house-made corned beef and sausage here as well... or just enjoy a nice cheese plate and a craft beer outside!
A trip to Texas isn’t complete without some authentic BBQ. Franklin Barbecue is about as real as it gets. You’ll probably have to stand in line for hours for your food, but we promise it’ll be worth it as this joint is home to the country’s most renowned barbecue. You know it’s good when the brisket sells out every single day! Plan to get in line in the morning and enjoy your ‘cue for lunch… we’re serious when we say that they sell out of food before dinner rolls around.
With the impressive title of oldest restaurant and music venue in Texas, Scholz Garten definitely knows what it’s doing. The Biergarten is known for its brews and burgers and has been host to many radio and TV broadcasts, commercials, and even movie premieres over the years. The outdoor dining experience allows you to enjoy the cool Texas night, too. Scholz is packed during game days, as it’s a popular spot to watch sporting events. The Garten also has live music every week, so make sure to check their website to see which artists will be performing: Austin is a great city for live music, so make a point to catch a show.
It’s important to know the history behind the places that you visit. The Bullock Texas State History Museum teaches visitors about the continually unfolding (and totally unique) story of Texas, starting with the Native Americans who called the region home, going through its revolution for independence, to today. Visitors will get to know the true story of Texas through three floors of exhibits, an IMAX theatre, and films about Texas culture and history. Texas has a wild and interesting history that is just waiting to be discovered.
If you’re more into local dive bars than honky tonks, then you’ll want to grab a drink at the Mean-Eyed Cat. A former chainsaw repair shop-turned-bar (which explains the chainsaw décor), this drinkery has a distinctive Johnny Cash theme (the name even came from a song by the Man in Black). It might look grungy from the outside, but they serve up some unexpectedly delicious craft cocktails and great barbecue as well. Oh, and don’t be surprised if you stumble across live music here, as well!
When in Texas, do as the Texans do! Great barbecue, sharp-looking boots, line-dancing, cheap beer, and live music make for the ultimate authentic Lone Star experience. You might even find yourself leaving with a Southern drawl and a 10 gallon hat!
The secret is out. Everyone who visits Austin leaves with something great to say. They can't stop talking about our legendary live music, burgeoning restaurant scene and unique culture. And a list of other things that you have to experience for yourself to truly understand what makes Austin so Austin.