How To Escape SXSW In Austin

by Georgia Bobley · March 8, 2012

We know it's only the beginning, but eventually you will need a time out from SXSW. So when you can't take one more SXSW show or after-party (or maybe you just want to experience how weird Austin really is), Austin won't disappoint you. There's an endless amount of things to see, do, eat, and of course, drink, and we're here to help you navigate your way through. If you can pull yourself away from the festivities of SXSW, here's what you need to know to really enjoy this cool city.

[Sixth Street, Austin, photo via]

Eat:

Shady Grove: This restaurant is so unlike anything in Manhattan that just going to the bathroom (it's in a trailer!) is enough to give you culture shock. While the tex-mex food is as delicious as it is caloric (Frito Pie actually appears on the menu), the must-have is the restaurant's namesake drink, the Shady Thing. I have no idea what's in it but it's huge and delicious and after just one you will be drunk enough to think that eating a pie made of Fritos is a good idea. Shady Grove, 1624 Barton Springs Road [Photo via]

Polvos Restaurant: It's unclear whether this is authentic Mexican or authentic Tex-Mex (they describe their food as "interior Mexican cuisine"), but whatever it is, Polvos is the place to go to get a real taste of Austin. The outdoor seating area is basically in the restaurant's parking lot, but that's all part of the appeal. Polvos, 2004 South 1st Street  [Photo via]

Stubbs BBQ: You can't go to Texas and not have BBQ, and if you want the real thing, Stubb's is the place to go. This restaurant is also conveniently located in Austin's downtown neighborhood, making it an easy place to grab a post-show meal. Stubbs BBQ, 801 Red River Street

Drink:

Sixth Street: Sixth Street is Austin's original party district, and the nine-block area is home to some of the city's oldest and rowdiest bars. No visit to Austin is complete without a drunken stroll down this historic street.

Warehouse District: Austin's newer nightlife area is the Warehouse District, and the bars here are a bit more expensive than on Sixth Street. Lance Armstrong owns a popular bar called Six in the Warehouse District, but if you're looking for something really different go to Qua, where there are live sharks under the glass dance floor.

Do:

Barton Springs: Swim (or sleep) your hangover away at Barton Springs Pool, a natural spring where the water is 67 degrees year round. Practice your cannon balls off the diving board or just lounge around on the grassy hills that surround the spring. [Photo via]

Shopping on South Congress Avenue: South Congress Ave. is where much of Austin's signature weirdness can be found. This is the place to find cowboy boots and other Texan-things, but two can't miss stores are Lucy in Disguise With Diamonds and Uncommon Objects, both of which are great places to discover just how weird (and great) Austin really is.

Lake Travis: If the weather is nice enough and you have time to spend a few hours on a lake (who doesn't?) head out to Lake Travis, where there are a number of companies to rent boats from. If you're with a big group, renting a party barge is the way to go.