THERE IS DEFINITELY no shortage of things to do in Austin: music festivals, BBQ, and outdoor activities. But after you’re done hitting 6th Street or seeing the bats under South Congress Bridge, check out some of the more overlooked spots around town.
Karaoke at Ego’s
For the best karaoke in Austin, head to a parking garage under a nondescript office building on South Congress. There you’ll find the karaoke bar Ego’s. In a cave-like setting, people will belt out songs from a massive song list, ranging from “Total Eclipse of the Heart” to “Be Our Guest.” Make sure to get there before 10:00 on the weekends to get your name on the performer list.
Deep Eddy Pool
When Barton Springs near Zilker Park fills up, head to Deep Eddy Pool, the oldest man-made swimming pool in Texas. The pool is spring-fed and constantly between 65-75 degrees. They have lanes set aside for lap swimmers and a shallow end for kids or people looking to just hang out in the water. After a quick swim, head up the street to Deep Eddy Cabaret. Open since 1951, this dive bar is the quintessential spot to grab a pitcher of Lonestar, the national beer of Texas.
There are plenty of unbelievable breakfast tacos in Austin. Head north of UT’s campus to Tyson’s, an all-outdoor spot with funky decor and a ton of menu options. Order the Avocado Abogado, a taco filled with eggs, ribeye, avocado, and potatoes. Or opt for the simpler B is for Bacon, a delicious double-bacon breakfast taco. Tyson’s has all the staples, but also surprises like pork belly, fried avocado, and Takis. Takis are to be avoided.
Antone’s Record Shop
Antone’s on Guadalupe is a classic record shop started by the founder of the well-known Antone’s Nightclub. They focus on blues, jazz, and Texas artists, with an awesome selection of unique albums at good prices.
The Texas Chili Parlor
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When you walk into the Texas Chili Parlor, you’ll feel like you’re stepping back in time. Guy Clark immortalized this near-downtown spot in “Dublin Blues” — wishing he had a Mad Dog Margarita. Order one and along with your drink, order a spicy bowl of red. It’s a mixture of hearty meat and hot chilis, nothing unnecessary like beans.
Two-Stepping at White Horse
Every Friday and Saturday night, White Horse Saloon in East Austin hosts two-step lessons. It’s an easy, free way for beginners to learn some of the basic steps. A band always comes on later so you can show off your newly perfected moves. After getting some two-stepping in, head out to one of the delicious food trucks on East 6th. I like East Side King behind Liberty Bar. Order the brussel sprout salad and beet fries.
Master Pancake at Alamo Drafthouse
Draft house has six locations in Austin, and it’s the go-to movie theater. At their downtown location Friday and Saturday evenings, they host a Master Pancake. Think Mystery Science Theater, but live with 3 or 4 comedians ripping on the movie shown for a few hours. I saw Tremors a while back and will never think about Kevin Bacon the same again. Ever.
Quack’s 43rd Street Bakery
Quack’s is a homey, neighborhood bakery found in Hyde Park, north of UT’s campus. They have delicious baked goods and you can among locals sipping on coffee and eating huge slices of pie. If you’re there in the morning, make sure to get their Jalapeno Cheddar croissant.
Micklethwait Craft Meats
Instead of waiting four hours for BBQ at Franklin’s, head up the street a half mile to Micklethwait Craft Meats. It’s a small trailer that churns out tender and moist brisket along with other unique options like Frito pie — and goat. On Saturdays, they always offer free beer from local breweries which makes the already short wait in line even easier.
Austin Moonlight Towers
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Remember that scene in Dazed and Confused where Matt McConaughey tells everybody to party at the moon tower? Well those moon towers are real and all over town. In the late 1800’s Austin purchased 31 of these as street lamps. Today, 17 of the 31 remain scattered across Austin and still light up every night. And if you’re around at Christmas, the tower in Zilker Park serves as the base of the Trail of Lights christmas tree.
Turkey Creek Trail
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The Turkey Creek Trail is a little bit west of town in Emma Long Park. Drive out on 2222 into the rolling hills of Austin. Once there you’ll find a secluded and mostly flat trail set along a creek. It’s particularly good for a trail run with some creek crossings and slight elevation gains. After your hike, drive a little further to Oasis Brewery where you can drink a beer while you look out over Lake Travis.