Welcome to Austin! I’m a 10 year Austin resident and an F1 fan. (Go Lewis!) Here are some thoughts about how to take advantage of the unique aspects of Austin while you’re here.
I have no commercial interest in any of this advice. Red Bull has a much more sophisticated list of restaurants here.
Don’t eat a meal in your hotel or at a chain! Get out to Taco Deli, Magnolia Café, Kerby Lane Café for breakfast.
There’s a plethora of great food in Austin, but in my opinion there are two primary food groups that Austin does really well: tacos and barbeque. Try the tacos at Torchy’s, Taco Deli, Wahoo’s Fish Tacos, Curra’s Grill, Gueros Taco Bar.
Try the BBQ at Iron Works, Franklin’s (is the line worth it? I don’t know), Green Mesquite, Stubb’s, Black’s. Rudy’s is a chain, but they do a good job.
Want a burger? P. Terry’s (focused on organic local ingredients), Hat Creek Burger Company and Phil’s Ice House (co-located with local favorite Amy’s Ice Cream) are local and great, as is Top Notch on Burnett (cool cars show up on Saturday nights). Shake Shack has invaded from NYC (try the Shack Stack), and In-n-Out from California is in the general area, but not yet open in Austin. Oh, and Hopdoddy Burger Bar. Amazing.
Matt’s El Rancho is our favorite Tex-Mex. Order a “Large Bob” dip. The Tacos El Pastor is really awesome.
In an eclectic mood? Find a food truck (maybe not the best choice this rainy 2015 F1 weekend)
While you’re near the track, head over to Wild Bubba’s Wild Game Grill. Don’t let the exterior fool you, the food is great! Check out all the racing memorabilia. Bubba was there before COTA, and is twice as cool.
Will Buxton’s Big Time Bash, Thursday, October 22nd at the Rattle Inn
For live music, I enjoy the Continental Club on South Congress. Austin’s lousy with music venues. Go drink a beer and listen to some music… and not in the lobby of your hotel.
The Blanton Museum of Art has pretty stuff. The Bullock Texas State History Museum is always interesting, and they have an IMAX theater.
The Alamo Draft House is a growing local chain of movie theaters/restaurants. You can order great food and drinks at your seat.
Dick’s Classic Car Museum (120 Stagecoach Trl, San Marcos, TX 78666) is 33 miles from downtown Austin. Well worth the trip. On your way there or back, stop by Cabela’s (in Buda on I35) to fulfill all of your camo needs.
This is a little odd I know, but the Whole Foods on 5th and Lamar is their headquarters location. My Dad, who was a foodie, always enjoyed going there when he visited from Connecticut. Book People is a great book store right next door.
K1 Speed is a chain of indoor electric go cart tracks. Their Austin track is fun and has a terrific staff. Get there first thing in the morning or call ahead to find out how busy they are. How much fun will your race be? That depends on the other knuckleheads on track with you, and how often they crash each other.
Hike the green belts
Run (walk, ride) the Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail.
Paddle Lady Bird Lake
Lady Bird Lake is the dammed portion of the Colorado river that flows through downtown Austin. Take a look at http://www.rowingdock.com or http://www.zilkerboats.com to rent a canoe or kayak for a couple of hours and relax on the water. Great writeup here: http://tpwd.texas.gov/fishboat/boat/paddlingtrails/inland/lady_bird_lake/
Indoor Sky Diving
iFLY Austin is a lot of fun.
Want to shoot? Red’s Indoor range has two locations in the Austin area where you can rent guns and targets, buy ammo, and shoot under the watchful eye of a range master. The folks there are great, but it can be loud and crowded.
For a different experience, I’d suggest hopping on the Texas Autobahn (Toll 130) 20 minutes from COTA to Lone Star Gun Range just north of Lockhart either before or after lunch. Wonderful people there. At Lone Star Gun Range, you can rent a handgun or rifle, buy ammunition, buy a target or two, and go shoot. Ask for help if you’re new to it, and they’ll be glad to offer advice. The people to your left and right at the range will also offer advice, especially if you’re obviously new to it, because new shooters can be scary. [edit: it’s going to be muddy this weekend, so bring your wellies.] Remember and exercise the four rules of gun safety and you’ll be fine. Have lunch at Kreutz Market in Lockhart. Try the ribs.
Ammunition is typically less expensive at Academy Sports & Outdoors, Walmart, or McBride’s Guns than at the ranges. Get a box each of .22 long rifle and 9mm luger.
Watch this video first.
The Waze app (www.waze.com) does a good job of showing current traffic conditions around Austin. Mo-Pac (named after the Missouri-Pacific railroad along which it is built) is slow heading south toward downtown from 7-10am, heading north toward downtown in the morning, and heading north from downtown from 2-6:30pm every weekday. I-35 is slow… a lot. Stay off of it if you can.
Apparently the murder rate is way up this year in Austin, but that rate of increase is over a very small denominator. Austin was the third safest large city in the U.S. a couple of years ago. Decrease your risk of being a victim by being aware of your surroundings and staying away from the drunk idiots on 6th street in the wee hours of the morning.
It’s going to be thunder-stormy. Flash-floods are a real danger here and people die in them every year, usually by trying to drive through running water. The authorities say “turn around, don’t drown.”