texas food photography

Seven reasons to visit Austin

Austin might be shifting shape from a laid-back, hippy town to a booming tech hub, but it still retains all of its character. Austin local Caitlin M. Ryan shares the best reasons to visit.


Hot sounds

When you’re officially known as the Live Music Capital of the World®, the bar is set high. You can catch scores of talented bands any day of the week here – even at the airport. Two-step to local, lauded honky tonk bands such as Mike and the Moonpies at The White Horse, or for a litany of indie rock try hip haunts Mohawk and Emo’s

Also, always pop your name into the digital draw to try and win tickets to live tapings of the Austin City Limits TV show; it’s featured the likes of the late, great Johnny Cash and Etta James, plus current big-hitters Radiohead.


A frenzy of festivals

Photo by SteveHopson at English Wikipedia

Beyond the dive bars, black box theatres and music halls is a roster of now-iconic music festivals. Austin City Limits Festival, held in leafy Zilker Park across the first two weekends in October, is always a magnet for international heavyweight talent. In March, the world’s creative elite congregate for SXSW, a heady fusion of talks and performance spanning film, music and digital innovation. If camping’s your thing, make for Old Settler’s or Euphoria where impromptu jam sessions reign supreme.


Great sports

Photo by Seefrank at Wiki Commons

Music might be what it’s famed for, but there’s a thriving sport culture in the heart of Texas too. Petrolheads must visit the state-of-the-art Circuit of The Americas™ track for adrenaline-fuelled competitions such as MotoGP and the United States Grand Prix. For a true Austin experience, join the crowds at a sporting event hosted at the University of Texas. The most buzzy atmosphere is found during the autumn’s football season. As the weather cools down, tailgate parties pop up, and Longhorn fans and students  dressed in the team’s burnt orange kit descend upon the stadium just north of the state capitol building.


Foodie heaven

Tex-Mex is, of course a must, and Matt’s El Rancho is one of the best joints to try it. But Austin’s culinary scene is about so much more than just tamales and tacos. Uchi serves top-notch sushi; ask the chef for their special recommendations. For the best meat this side of the Mississippi, join the snaking lines outside Franklin’s Barbecue. Tasting carts at Emmer & Rye are stacked high with gourmet bites, crafted from the best seasonal and local produce. Cap off the lot with a sweet something at mod bistro Launderette overseen by acclaimed pastry chef Laura Sawicki.


The great outdoors

Photo by Larry D. Moore at Wiki Commons

To cut to the chase, Austinites are fit. There’s nothing they love more than hiking, biking, and rowing their way across the city. Zilker Park is the best patch for throwing down a picnic blanket and tossing a Frisbee with friends. Take a dip in Barton Springs, a refreshing spring-fed pool in the centre of the city, or catch some gnarly waves (albeit artificial ones), out of town at NLand Surf Park. You can choose from bay or reef swells, dependent on your skills.

Or, work off all that Tex-Mex with a jog around peaceful Lady Bird Lake, on summer nights at sunset you’ll find crowds at the Congress Avenue bridge – all gathered to watch the largest urban bat colony in North America take flight. Seeing some 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats spiral into the sky is quite something.


Bed down in style

Music lovers won’t find a cooler spot to snooze than the W Hotel in downtown’s 2ND Street District. It not only adjoins Austin City Limits Live at the Moody Theater, but also draws a cool crowd to its vinyl-packed records room. If boutique hotels are more your cup of tea, check in to South Congress Hotel, which has a clutch of neighbourhood restaurants next door; sip on rainbow-coloured cold-press juices at Mañana then feast on Japanese grub at Otoko. A hotel to watch out for is the Fairmont Austin, which opens this autumn. At 1.4 million square feet, it will be the largest Fairmont hotel in the world.


Find your style

Photo by skeeze on Pixabay

The crowd here dresses snappily no matter what the season; locals are known for their bold sartorial statements and love of vintage threads. Find old-school stonewash Levi’s, leather vests, quirky boots and prairie dresses at Feather’s Boutique and Prototype Vintage Design. Over on the east side at Charm School Vintage stocks colourful, eclectic garb from the 1890s to 1990s.

Plan your trip to Austin with British Airways


Words by Caitlin M. Ryan

Header Photo by KBaucherel on Pixabay

Having wrapped up the photography for Paul Petronella’s (Paulie’s Restaurant) highly anticipated 20th Year Anniversary Cookbook earlier this summer, it is always intriguing to see the photography intertwined in the layout of the book!

All your favorite recipes from Paulie’s will be within the binding of this book, PLUS some of his personal family favorites.

Available late 2017, just in time for your seasonal gift giving!

Featuring Camerata at Paulie’s
and Paulie’s Cookies.

2017 © debora smail