July 23, 2024 7:45 AM
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The D.E.A.L.: Austin

Dining

We could easily fill this entire magazine with Austin food recommendations. Do not leave its borders without indulging in some classic Texas BBQ or Tex-Mex, but if you’re looking for the places the locals love, we’ve got you covered. Kerbey Lane Cafe (various locations) is an Austin classic. This diner is populated by studying students, late-night diners and people just out looking for a good meal. Their buttermilk pancakes are what dreams are made of. They’re fluffy and gorgeous, and the cafe offers daily pancake specials. And when your server asked if you’d like a side of queso, the answer is “yes.” 

If splurge-worthy food is more your style for a post-convention client dinner, try Olamaie (1610 San Antonio Street). The menu is made up of Southern favorites with a gourmet flair. Think Gulf shrimp and rice or smoked eggplant with barbecue sauce. The restaurant offers patio seating so diners can take advantage of Austin’s nearly year-round outdoor dining weather.  

Entertainment

Austin earned its reputation as Texas’ live music capital—some would argue it should hold that title for the whole country. Visitors can hear everything from country to hip-hop in the city’s borders. Purists say that Antone’s (305 E 5th Street) isn’t the same since it moved from 6th street to 5th street, but there’s no doubt it still brings the same world-class blues and roots music to its 450-capacity room. Visitors who prefer the local music scene should check out Cheer Up Charlies (900 Red River Street) where local acts put on intimate indoor performances. The outdoor stage is backed by a limestone cliff face where musicians often enhance their performances with projection art. 

There are so many bars within walking distance of each other, but maybe your feet are wrecked after walking the tradeshow floor all day. Enter PubCrawler of Austin. These pedal-powered vehicles can take a group around town, stopping at bars, murals and food trucks. And if even pedaling feels like too much for your barking dogs, fear not. These vehicles have electric pedal assist to back you up.  

Attractions

If you’re looking for a unique Austin experience, head straight to the Congress Avenue Bridge. Austin is home to the largest urban bat population in North America and many of them take up residence under the bridge. Through October, visitors gather at sunset under the bridge to watch the bats fly out in unison to begin their nighttime hunting. So many bats fly out at once that they block out the sky. 

While in Austin, a visit to the state capitol is a fun thing to do. Its claim to fame is that it’s the tallest capitol building in the country. And as you’re touring the city, don’t miss a walk down South Congress Avenue. It’s fully of funky second-hand shops and used bookstores. It also has about a dozen murals up its length and offers a spectacular view of the State House. Buy a pair of cowboy boots while you’re there! 

Lodging

Austin Motel (1220 South Congress Avenue) is the stuff of legend in the city. The motel’s motto is “So close, yet so far out.” The hotel has 41 guest rooms, none of which has a speck of hotel art on the walls, and is part of the South Congress neighborhood, where visitors can find some of the best dining, nightlife and shopping in the city. It’s also convenient to bus lines, which makes it easy to get around the city. 

That’s certainly not the only unique lodging option in Austin. Hotel Ella (1900 Rio Grande) is a renovated private mansion that’s convenient to downtown and a favorite among Austin visitors. Origin Hotel Austin (1825 McBee Street) is a Wyndham property decorated in a style of Lone Star spunk that proves its commitment to keeping Austin weird.  

Eat, Sleep, Play Near the Austin Convention Center

Eat: If you’re looking for the perfect lunch spot, take the 5-minute walk from the convention center to Downtown Burgers (503 E. Cesar Chavez Street). It isn’t much to look at, but locals say the best burgers in town come from this stand. 

Sleep: Both the Hilton and Fairmont hotels are connected to the convention center via overhead walkways. The Hilton Overhead Walkway at 4th street and the Fairmont Canopy Walk make the morning commute to the convention center a breeze. 

Play: An entrance to the Hike and Bike Trail at Lady Bird Lake is just steps away from the convention center. It winds through downtown, making it easy to choose a distance or destination, all while taking in  incredible views of the Austin skyline. 

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