Austin – known for being a quirkier and more liberal slice of Texas- is home to 988,218 people, making it the current fastest growing US city. Austin even has its own slogan: ‘Keep Austin Weird’. Residents and tourists alike replicate this mantra on everything from t-shirts to graffiti art on the sides of buildings. This declaration against all things ‘normal’ is part of the charm that encourages people to both visit and move there.
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Before visiting any town or city make sure you know the basics. General details and important information.
- Emergency Services: 911
- Language: English
- Currency: US Dollar
- Country Code: US
- Travel Visa: Required
- Population: 988,218
Researching various official sources, we perceive the risk to holiday makers and travellers are as follows;
Top travel advice and interesting tip bits of information from experienced travellers.
- In Texas, it is legal to carry a licenced handgun with you. They can be carried in the street, in public areas like the library and even in the Texas State Capitol. These weapons can also be concealed if the owner chooses. They cannot be carried near schools or polling stations. Do not panic if you see a random person with a gun, if they are acting normally then you're not in danger- you're just in Texas
- Americans take football (not 'soccer') very seriously. If you are in any American city during college football season expect it to be busier and filled with college students drinking and sporting their team colours.
- Want the most American experience you've ever had but in the best way possible? Try Gourdough’s. Food truck culture is big in the US. Fresh decadent doughnuts made in a travel trailer and then decked out with meat or fruit or whatever you can think of. They serve brunch, dinner, dessert and it’s all doughnuts- sweet and savoury! There's doughnut sandwiches, doughnut nachos, doughnut burgers. You'd never think that it would work but it is truly is an excellent culinary experience!
For the Emergency services just dial 911 from any phone, for not so serious situations please dial 311.
Hospitals in Austin
Ascension Senton Northwest Hospital: 0015123246000
St. David’s Medical Center: 001512476-7111
University Medical Center Brackenridge: 0015123247000
Austin Visitor Center: 0015124780098
Austin has one major airport, Austin-Bergstrom International Airport and is connected from North Austin to Downtown by its very own MetroRail. Dockless eScooters are also available to rent across the city.
Austin-Bergstrom International Airport: Airport (AUS) | AustinTexas.gov
Austin Amtrak Station: Austin, TX (AUS) | Amtrak
What’s the weather like?
Austin is located in southern Texas and, therefore, will be very sunny.
It rains more often than other parts of Texas, still less than the US average, and can be quite humid, especially in May and June.
The average summer temperature is 30 °C whilst the average winter temperature is 11 °C.
For the most reasonable weather, visit in the just before or just after the height of summer.
Dress and plan accordingly.
What are some top safety tips?
Be prepared for heat!
Austin is in South Texas which means the summers are dry and hot whilst the winters are- at coldest- mild. In summer, temperatures can remain around 30°C all day with clear blue skies. As idyllic as that sounds, it also means you must remember to bring with you sufficient water for any outing you plan (or at least know where you can get a refill) and be applying (and reapplying) sun cream all day! Also, make sure you have snacks on you as you burn more calories in heat than you would think.
Remember: nothing ruins a holiday like sunburn and heatstroke!
What areas should I avoid?
Austin is a fairly safe city as American cities go but it still has areas that should be avoided, especially at night. The Pleasant Valley area, the Montopolis and the Martin Luther King area, in addition to Lamar Boulevard, all have higher crime rates than the rest of Austin. If you need to go through these places, make sure you don’t draw too much attention to yourself and drive rather than walk if you can. Use a trusted taxi service, such as Pronto Rides or Yellow Cab Austin, to travel around.
What’s the night life like?
6th street (also known as Dirty 6th) is a street of bars and clubs that are central to Austin’s nightlife. Of course, any big night out comes with certain risk factors but the later it gets the more chaotic it can be and 6th streets’ reputation has a pretty firm foundation.
Stay as a group and try not to become too intoxicated.
Have a pre-made/pre-agreed time and method for getting home. Booking a taxi in advance is always a good idea.
Walk around in the day time so you have a well lit and sober mental picture of where everything is.
Keep an eye on your drinks and who is near them.
Annual events allow a city come together for some amazing experiences. If visiting at this time, make sure you have your accommodation booked and are always aware of your surroundings when travelling around.
South by Southwest (SXSW) is a set of film, interactive, and music festivals and conferences that take place early each year in mid-March in Austin. It began in 1987, and has continued to grow in both scope and size every year. It is the busiest time to be in Austin as people travel from all over the world to either showcase their art or simply enjoy the festivities.
The Fun Stop 5K and Festival- formerly known as the ‘Keep Austin Weird Fest & 5K’- is an amazing event held in June, and is one of the biggest events to take place in Austin. Participant’s dress outlandishly, run 5k and then proceed to take part in an array of games and entertainment- all alongside a music festival being performed! This event is an attempt to capture the essence of Austin: a range of food, music, culture and- most importantly of all- a general silliness that is worn with pride by all Austinites.
The Trail of Lights combines everyone’s two favourite things: Christmas and exercise! Those in Austin get to experience a beautiful array of lights across a large stretch of the city every December. The tree is lit and then followed a 5k run, allowing the Trail of Lights to be appreciated in all of its glory. The event is produced by an independent non-profit corporation that works to bring the community together every holiday season. It is free to attend and is funded by donations via the website.
Looking for a free family event? Visit the Zilker Kite Festival and the whole family can have fun watching as various kites fly above them. Zilker Park is home to a number of events throughout the year but few are as breath-taking. Proceeds go towards featured children’s charities: The Moss Pieratt Foundation and Communities In Schools. Don’t forget to bring your own kites to fly and maybe even enter the contest!
RTX, a convention set up by Austin based production company RoosterTeeth, showcases an array of media and internet personalities. Taking place at the Austin Convention Center, this event is a celebration of animation, comedy, gaming, and internet culture that happens every summer. RTX features panels, shows, music events and interactive games- it is even kicked off by a rave every year.
What museums should I visit?
George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center
Austin is full of unique and interesting museums! The George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center is certainly one of the more significant ones. This museum is dedicated to highlighting and celebrating the achievements of African-Americans- both local and global. Free to enter, this establishment has a range of exhibits for a range of ages. There is a children’s exhibit about African-American scientists and inventors whilst there are also art galleries and a genealogy centre. The genealogy centre is coupled with an extensive public database where visitors are encouraged to research their own family histories. There is no doubt you will learn something new, be it about yourself or history, when you visit.
The Mexic-Arte Museum is a dazzling fine arts museum that showcases both traditional and contemporary Latino and Mexican art and culture. It is a beautiful and colourful scene in which to immerse and educate yourself about the intersection of Latino, Mexican and American culture. They also offer tours if you wish to get the most out of the experience and come away with new knowledge and appreciation for art that is typically not under the spotlight. This is one of a very small number of Mexican art museums in the whole country so it will be a valuable and unique experience.
How many festivals happen in Austin?
Here is a list created by the city of Austin that contains every music festival that happens in a normal year. There are simply too many to put on this page, but the highlights include South by SouthWest, the Austin City Limits Music Festival and the Austin Reggae Festival. There is a festival at least once a month and some months have up to 5 different events. There is even a rodeo event coupled with a music festival in which the riders spend the day performing and then trade off with music artists in the evening.
They really do have a music festival for as many genres as you can think of!
Are there any Austin staples I should visit?
Founded in 1948 and ran by the same local family for generations, the Peter Pan Mini Golf course is a gem in Austin’s weird collection. It is made up of two wacky 18 hole courses that feature obstacles in the shapes of dinosaurs, pirates and armadillos- all brightly painted, of course. Depending on your situation, it can be a jolly family day out or an antic filled day with your mates. The website states that you can even bring your own booze (no glass containers allowed though!) so you have something to blame your bad shot on.
What are some natural attractions in Austin?
Lady Bird Lake is a reservoir created in 1960 out of the Colorado river that runs through Austin. The lake is a centre of recreational activity. It has a large hiking and bike trail that creates a circuit around the water that does not allow access to motorised traffic- a very popular and scenic way to exercise. There are various vendors around the lake to rent boats from if you wish to spend a warm afternoon on the water. You can even fish in the lake, however you are advised not to eat anything you catch.
The banks of the lake are also home to various musical events throughout the year.