The Lone Star State, and Austin in particular, are inundated with tourists looking for a little flavor of Texas. Everywhere I go in the world, Austin has built itself a reputation for being the most and least Texas city, with crazy people, amazing food, and live music like no other. When you visit, be sure not to embarrass yourself with these mistakes.
1. Eat at national chain restaurants.
Austinities are proud of their food, from breakfast tacos, to… well, other taco-related foods. For the life of me, I can’t understand why someone would let their taste buds suffer by eating at Taco Bell when a Pueblo Viejo, Kerby Lane, Trudy’s, Baby A’s, Chuy’s, or Torchy’s is around the corner. Or buy Dreyer’s when Amy’s Ice Cream is nearby. There is no reason to resort to national chains or brands when you’re in Austin.
2. Be uptight.
Keep Austin Weird. That’s our motto. It’s true the city is also the state capital, so there are bound to be financial types wearing oxford blue shirts and khakis by day, but plenty of them succumb to the craziness that is Austin by night.
As locals, we’re used to the fact there aren’t any convenient buses late at night and the temperature can be uncomfortably hot in August. Some tourists who visit during peak weirdness season — SXSW, ACL, Eeyore’s Birthday — and don’t let their hair down even a little or allow any complaints to fade away are quickly cast aside.
3. Get angry at vegetarians.
…or vegans, or anyone with any dietary restrictions. I don’t know why some tourists feel as though they have a responsibility to show their outrage when there are just too many choices on menus in Austin restaurants, or when a waiter asks if they have any allergies. Be grateful so many places offer paleo/raw/non-GMO/vegan/gluten-free/no-MSG/lead-free dishes.
4. Talk about moving without any forethought.
Everyone who has ever visited Austin has floated the idea of moving there. Every. Single. Person. Setting aside the fact the city is pretty crowded as it is (drive on Mopac or 35 and tell me otherwise) and rents are rising, there are only so many newcomers Austin can actually accommodate before making everyone miserable with New York-esque lines at restaurants and the struggle to find an apartment at a reasonable price close to downtown… which is happening now.
5. Take over our favorite spots.
We know how tourism works — everyone wants to go off the beaten path and find something that only locals do, but eventually, when word gets around, the place is packed with out-of-towners, promoted on bus tours, and made a mandatory stop for your Instagram pictures of the area.
Austin doesn’t really have too many insider places anymore. The difference between a lot of high profile tourist attractions in other places — Alcatraz, Times Square, the Alamo — is that Austinities actually enjoy spending time in theirs, and still want to, even though the crowds are building. With festivals like SXSW bringing a massive international audience and watering holes like Hamilton Pool and Barton Springs leaving you struggling to find a place to set your towel down, we’re lamenting tourists… but not their money.
6. Talk about us like we’re not from Texas.
“Wow, people from Austin aren’t like others in Texas” or the like sometimes comes up when interacting with non-Texans and foreign nationals. Let’s be clear: we ARE Texans. It’s not as though we aren’t embarrassed when our politicians try to set marriage equality or education back to the 1950s, and we certainly enjoy the differences that make Austin weird, but at our core, we are Texans. And proud of it.