South by Southwest® is a unique music, independent film, and emerging technologies conference and festival. With so much going on during the event, it’s easy to get lost, especially if you aren’t from the Austin area.
SXSW has launched megahit movies like Neighbors, Bridesmaids, and 21 Jump Street, as well as best-seller apps like Foursquare, which was launched in 2009 at the Interactive conference. It has also launched bands such as John Mayer, Hanson, and Bob Schneider.
Now, there are many events to attend, but what else should you explore while you’re in town? Below you’ll find the ultimate list of restaurants, places to see, and events in Austin at South by Southwest®.
Best Restaurants in Austin
The restaurants below are rated as some of the best according to Tripadvisor.
- Pieous is an Italian pizza place that doesn’t just make and sell pizza. They also sell pastrami, sandwiches, salads, and beer. They’ve won many awards and are the highest rated place to eat in Austin on TripAdvisor.
- Uchi is a Japanese dining and sushi restaurant. Head chef Tyson Cole trained for more than 10 years in Tokyo, NYC, and Austin under two different sushi masters.
- Eddie V’s Prime Seafood has the finest seafood and steaks. Come and enjoy the live jazz in the V lounge that is offered nightly. The fish arrives daily including swordfish from Block Island, scallops from George Banks, and yellowfin tuna from the Caribbean.
- Truluck’s invites you to escape the norms of everyday life. Come and enjoy the freshest crab, direct from our own fisheries. Proper attire is required, so please wear business casual, and remove your hat when entering the restaurant.
- Franklin Barbecue is award winning BBQ in the Austin area. Aaron Franklin, the owner, has his own show on PBS, where he teaches you how to make award winning bbq. Texas Monthly awarded them as #1 barbecue in Texas.
- Torchy’s Tacos is living the damn good taco dream, or at least that’s what they claim. With awards won regularly, their tacos live up to the “Damn Good” phrase that seems to keep them in business.
- La Barbecue is an authentic Texan barbecue. With short wait times, prices in the low-mid range, and amazing food, why wouldn’t you come here to get your meat fix?
- Hopdoddy is the place if you’re wanting a delicious burger. With locations across the nation, these burgers are never given hormones or antibiotics, so you know you’re getting the best quality burger around.
- Jack Allens Kitchen has a home grown feel for food. If the Texan spirit doesn’t lure you in, I’m sure the Southern-inspired flavors and cuisine will.
Best Bars in Austin
After an exhausting day of music, movies and just straight-up partying, end the day at some of the best bars that Austin has to offer. Check out the hottest bars to attend below:
- The Townsend is a classy new bar serving thoughtful dishes and cocktails at the historic building on Congress Avenue.
- With a newly remodeled billiard and cocktail room, The Roosevelt Room will meet all of your expectations of an upscale bar. Featuring live music most nights, book your event or reserve your table, so you’ll have a place to sit.
- Fukumoto is more than just amazing sushi, they also have over 20 types of curated sakes for you to choose from.
- The Golden Goose gives you the option of creative cocktails, and must drink cocktails like “The Pickle Drip”.
- Get away from the rowdiness of Rainey Street and enjoy a drink at The Drafting Room. It’s located behind the L’Estelle House.
- Lala’s came back from the dead after it was almost closed down, but the locals rallied behind them and kept them in business. Now they are one of the best dive bars around, with their signature Bloody Mary.
- Are you looking for a quieter bar? Midnight Cowboy has you covered. With their relaxing environment they ask that you take your smoking and phone calls outside to help with the calming feel. Make sure to reserve your room today.
- Half Step bar is located on Rainey Street. They feature the only Clinebell ice machine in town. With vintage details, wooden booths, and low lights, enjoy your drink here.
- Looking for a home grown brewing company? Zilker Brewing Co. offers their very own line of craft brews. Made in house, drink your beer right by the machines that just made it.
Top Attractions in Austin
If you’re coming to Austin for SXSW, but are looking to do outside of the festival, check out some of the following spots. You won’t be disappointed.
- Enjoy a relaxing swim at Hamilton Pool, a natural swimming hole. It has waterfalls, cliff diving and warm water swimming.
- See the bats. Most nights at dusk on the Congress Bridge, you can see around 1.5 million bats fly out from under the bridge. It’s their feeding time and they eat around 10,000-20,000 pounds of insects each night.
- Go to Uncommon Objects. This place is packed from ceiling to floor with dolls, furniture, animals, and mysterious antique photos of strangers whose memories are just waiting for you to come buy them.
- Hike to Mount Bonnell. With no skill required, this mild hike will give you breath-taking views of the river below and the entire valley.
- We are all guilty of people watching. Check out Spiderhouse to do the best people watching in Texas.
- Do you like singing? Then go to The Karaoke Underground to sing your favorite ballad. Specializing in indie and punk music, their library is unlike anyone else’s.
- Going to an arcade is a thing of the past, unless you go to Pinballz. They offer a vast assortment of classic and new arcade games. With over 150 pinball machines, they know you’ll find something there you’ll enjoy.
- Peter Pan mini-golf has been open since 1946. Bring your own beer and come play a round of golf. Make sure to call before you come and you can get your name on the big marquee out front.
- The Yarn-Bombing movement in Austin is as unique as the state itself. Take a tour of Austin and see how many trees you can spot that are covered in yarn.
- Nude beaches aren’t just for Europe. At Hippie Hollow, you’ll get some beautiful scenery and if you don’t mind seeing naked people, you’ll see them as well.
- Escape the normal Austin scene and go to Longhorn Caverns. These beautiful limestone caverns were created over thousands of years. Great for a day trip.
SXSW can get exhausting and a lot of people each year suffer from heat exhaustion. If you’re hurt or feel like you are in need of medical assistance, head to one of the hospitals or urgent care facilities listed below:
- Cornerstone Hospital – Austin
- 4207 Burnet Road, Austin TX, (512) 706-1900
- Austin State Hospital
- 4110 Guadalupe St. Austin TX, (512) 452-0381
- Fastmed Urgent Care
- 1920 E Riverside Dr, A110, Austin, TX (512) 326-1600
At SXSW, there’s often a lot of drinking and people can get careless. This can lead to DWI, car accidents, days spent in jail, and you’ll need someone to help you out. Eric Harron at Harron Law can help you when you need help. He will even give you a FREE consultation to help you with your case. You can check out his website or call him at (512) 963-8855.