Austin, TX – Live Music, Attractions & Things to Do
Known as the Live Music Capital of the World, Austin, Texas is the No. 1 destination for travelers who have ears. There is music–good music–everywhere. The city of Austin itself is a dream, with award-winning restaurants and shopping, and music aside, there are tons of attractions and endless things to do.
To help you get the most of your time in Austin, we’ve put together this guide with things you should know about Austin, the best time to visit, year-round weather, top rated attractions, things to do, the best live music venues, top-rated restaurants, safety statistics and safety tips, where to stay, how to get around, current covid restrictions, and of course, the top music festivals to attend.
Things to Know About Austin, Texas
More than 30 million people visit Austin, Texas each year, drawn to the numberless festivals, bars, venues, and live music of every kind. Forbes ranks Austin the No. 1 place to live in America and is the fastest growing city in the United States. For tourism, it ranks in the top 15 of best cities to visit, and with so much to do all year, it’s really no surprise at all.
Austin ranks high for visitors of all types including male or female solo travelers, couples, families, and friends. Austin is ranked the 7th most LGBTQIA+ friendly city in the U.S.
Austin is also known as “Bat City,” and has the largest urban bat colony in all North America (Mexican free-tailed bats). Visitors like to wait on Congress Avenue Bridge in the evening and watch as 1.5 million bats emerge. On top of music, Austin also has a variety of museums and tours, featuring everything from waterfront ferry rides to trash museums. Most visitors report that you need at least three days to fully enjoy the city.
Austin is the capital of Texas and is home to the University of Texas. It is a city that offers something to visitors of all ages and likes.
Despite false rumors, Texas does have laws against public nudity. Most live music is family friendly, but you will see a lot of skin as people try to stay cool.
Best Time to Visit Austin
If you want to enjoy the city without the searing heat, the best time to visit is September-November, and March-May. These are the busiest months in Austin, so expect lots of people and higher-than-average booking. If you’re interested in live music, the two biggest festivals are Austin City Limits in October and South by Southwest (SXSW) in March.
The cheapest time to visit Austin is November through February.
Weather In Austin
Austin has a humid subtropical climate with long, hot summers and mild, but short winters. The warm seasons of spring and fall are merely transitional. The hottest months in Austin are July and August, with highs around 96F, and lows around 74F. The “coldest” month is January with highs around 61F and lows around 41F. There are less than 5 days of rain each month, making it one of the sunniest cities in the U.S.
As far as allergies go, Austin is consistently rated as one of the top five worst places to be (Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio rank higher). Pollen season begins in December and lasts through February. As if allergies weren’t bad enough, Austin is also notorious for bad mosquitos.
9 Must See Attractions and Things to Do in Austin, Texas
One of the city’s oldest and largest bakeries, this bakery has 60 years of success under its belt from a history of bread and pastries. Its baking days live only in the past though because the Emporium now serves as a museum, art gallery, and information center.
It’s an escape room with 60-minute adventures. Break out of prison or search for long-lost treasure. What makes this venue unique is its friendly staff and varying degrees of difficulty in its games.
This iconic museum follows the lives and legacy of one of the most influential couples America has ever seen—President Lyndon B. Johnson and Lady Bird Johnson, his wife. Learn the history of how their lives intertwined with American history and tour the exhibits which display how their actions still change America today.
Austin is known for more than its lively music scene—it’s also known for its beautiful waters and various water activities. Austin Rowing Club (formerly Congreve Avenue Kayaks) is the perfect tool in helping you explore those water activities. Rent paddle boards, kayaks, guides and more to explore Austin.
This historical baseball venue in Austin is a great place to catch a game as well as a bite to eat.
These beautiful gardens are a great, affordable option for individuals and families alike to explore. With themed gardens like the Taniguchi Japanese Gardens or the Rose Garden, there is something for everyone to enjoy.
Not only is this the longest running riverboat operation, spanning more than seventy years, but it’s also a fantastic place to experience an authentic riverboat ride. The boats are usually used to host events such as birthday parties, tours, or meetings but with each boat having A/C and heat, it’s a perfect adventure for any traveler, any season.
Haunted ATX is the only mobile ghost tour of Austin Texas. Join in with others on public van tours or book a private hearse limo to tour the historic Austin locations that are believed to be haunted or have been reported as having paranormal activity.
Don’t worry, it’s not a tour of ducks. Austin Duck Adventures offers tours of the downtown scene of the city as well as of the beautiful surrounding lake.
Live Music in Austin, Texas
On top of all the popular music festivals (listed further down), Austin has a ton of live music venues which visitors enjoy all year round. Because of the diversity of venues (including restaurants, bars, clubs, concerts, etc.), these places are great for a date, guys/girls’ night, or for family fun.
- Stubb’s Bar-B-Q: amazing bar-b-q, amazing music, both in a spacious outdoor amphitheater.
- Nutty Brown Amphitheater: catch country fried comfort food as well as southern music.
- Scoot Inn: an original venue of Austin, this space is great for touring musicians who prefer intimate casual vibes.
- Far Out Lounge & Stage: amped up party in the backyard vibes mixed with a relaxed patio stage make for an interesting music experience with this venue.
- Mohawk (in Red River Cultural District): classic rock-n-roll here, ‘nough said.
- Cedar Street Courtyard: the calming atmosphere created by soft hanging lights and warm cobbled patios is reflected in the great musicians who play here—original artists, cover bands, and everything in between hit up this beautiful courtyard in the Warehouse District.
- Antone’s: grab a drink and a spot on the dance floor at one of Austin’s most historic musical places.
- Parish: cheer on rising stars and cult classics at this exclusive bar in East Austin.
- Emo’s: located in Riverside, this rock-n-roll joint molded music in Austin.
- Austin City Limits (ACL) Live at the Moody Theater: one of the most sought-after concert venues in the city and filming location for “Austin City Limits” is a must-see spot for music lovers and tourists alike.
- 3TEN ACL LIVE: the sister venue to ACL Live which hosts cover bands and smaller acts.
- The Roosevelt Room: like the vibe of a listening room, this place is perfect to get to know your musical entertainment and enjoy cocktails that consistently win awards.
- Elephant Room: jazz, experienced trios, chanteuse sit-ins—what more could you want from this cozy basement atmosphere.
- Speakeasy: this ain’t your mama’s speakeasy, with three stages: music lounge, mezzanine, and rooftop terrace (with amazing views of Austin)—it’s hard to turn down this location.
- Cactus Cafe (on the UT campus): One of Austin’s best kept secrets is this niche spot; however, the serious music comes with a serious quiet policy, so no socializing or rocking out.
- Swan Dive: live music and dance parties on the small-scale.
- Volstead Lounge: known for hosting CD releases for local artists as well as its unique decor, this lounge is great for cocktails and listening to a genuine vinyl DJ.
- Saxon Pub: another beloved original establishment of Austin, this pub offers great food and front row seats.
- The Continental Club: Five words: the Iconic Hippie Happy Hour.
- C-Boy’s Heart & Soul: From bluegrass to funk, come check out this diverse host of musicians.
- Donn’s Depot: 70’s themed to the max—yes, they have shag carpet—with free popcorn and attractive to the locals, this is a hard place to miss.
- Mean Eyed Cat: A great spot for sports fanatics on Sundays but the barbecue and Bloody Marys pair just as well with their house band, Band in Black.
- Spider House (just north of UT Campus): coffee, music, weird furniture—dig it.
- Electric Church: tiny space, big sounds. Psychedelic atmosphere, unforgettable music.
- Cheer Up Charlies: dance parties and kombucha—it’s a date. Oh, and there’s an amazing vegan food truck out back. Better make it a double date.
- Hole in the Wall: indie singer-songwriters, graffiti bathrooms? No, you’re not in high school, it’s a haven for indie music lovers which has hosted big names like Spoon, Black Joe Lewis and Shakey Graves.
- White Horse: classic country Americana vibes and plenty boot scootin’ boogieing.
Best Restaurants in Austin, Texas
The following restaurants are the highest rated in Austin. They are luxury style eats that will cost you a bit more. Dress is semi-formal, and young children are discouraged.
- Citizen Eatery
- Acre 41
- Otopia Rooftop Lounge
- Stella San Jac
- Cypress Grill
- Eddie V’s Prime Seafood
- Red Ash
- Lonesome Dove Western Bistro
Best Music Festivals in Austin
The following is a list of the most popular and most widely attended music festivals in Austin. They are held yearly and offer live performances from popular artists from around the world. The music scene is diverse, with something for everyone. Pop, Latina, jazz, hip-hop, and blues are the most popular genres, but you won’t have to look hard if you’re into other genres.
- Free Week (January)
- No Idea Festival (February)
- OUTsider Fest (February)
- SXSW (March)
- Babes Fest (March)
- Urban Music Festival (March)
- RedGorilla (March)
- Chingona Fest Texas (April)
- Austin Reggae Festival (April)
- iHeartCountry Festival (May)
- Campfire Gathering (May)
- Euphoria (May)
- Blues on the Green (June)
- Camp Nowhere (June)
- Carnaval Brasileiro (June)
- Fourth of July Fireworks & Symphony (July)
- Hot Summer Nights (August)
- Austin Pride (August)
- JMBLYA (September)
- Austin City Limits Music Festival (October)
- Levitation (October)
- Austin Area Jazz Festival (November)
- Viva La Vida Festival & Parade (November)
- Austin Celtic Festival (November)
- Armadillo Christmas Bazaar (December)
- Austin’s New Year (December)
Is Austin Safe to Visit?
Austin, Texas is ranked one of the safest big cities in the country. Most crime is property damage. Catalytic converters, being the number one theft. Residents report feeling safe in the neighborhoods. Music festivals always employ armed and unarmed security, but the biggest danger is the sun.
Safety Tips for Visiting Austin
- Wear sunscreen and drink plenty of water! Nothing kills a vacation like heatstroke and a sunburn.
- Take sunglasses! Eyes get sunburned too.
- Always keep your belongings on you. Pickpockets are common. Fanny Packs are absolutely the best deterrent of theft.
- Don’t walk alone at night and don’t go exploring. Stay in well-lit areas.
- Know your route before you leave. Don’t take shortcuts.
- Lock doors, hotel doors, car doors. Keep keys in a safe place.
- Put away phones while walking. Too many people get hit because they are distracted.
Safest Parts of Austin, Texas
The following neighborhoods are rated the safest parts of Austin. There aren’t many tourist attractions in these areas, but it can be nice if you’re planning a family or group trip and want to Airbnb. The safest neighborhoods are: The Hills, Barton Creek, Briarcliff, Hudson Bend, Driftwood, Pflugerville, Leander, Manchaca, Round Rock, and Bushy Creek.
Most Dangerous Parts of Austin
The following areas are ranked the most dangerous neighborhoods in Austin: Montopolis, Martin Luther King-Highway 183, Georgian Acre, Johnston Terrace, Riverside, and Saint Johns. These areas have high crime rates and are not safe for travelers. Be cautious traveling through these areas.
Where to Stay in Austin
Austin’s neighborhoods are diverse, offering travelers a unique experience depending on where you stay. For solo travelers and couples, we recommend staying in the downtown area in popular hotels. This might be a bit more expensive upfront, but it is safer and puts you within walking distance of most attractions. Even if you don’t book your hotels in these areas, they are worth the visit. The following areas are the highest ranked for tourists:
For Nightlife and Music: 6th Street
For Trendy Part Life: Rainey Street
For Shopping: 2nd Street District
For Art and Culture: East Austin
For Galleries and Antique Shops: South Congress Avenue.
For Green Space and Trails: Zilker
For Sightseeing: Downtown
Getting Around Austin, Texas
Austin’s public transportation system is well developed, but not as good as cities like Boston or New York. Find out why you should travel to boston. If you stay downtown, the best way to travel is by bus or light rail. Public transportation is relatively cheap, and has good reach, but if you want to get to the more out-of-the-way attractions, you may want to consider renting a car (or driving your own) or using rideshare services like Uber and Lyft. Traffic in Austin is rated among the worst of the United States, on par with cities like New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Discover some of the best attractions and things to do alone in New York city! You’ll love these tips on what to do when visiting New York!
Covid Restrictions and Guidelines
The mask mandate and vaccination requirements for Texas have been lifted. Social distancing is still encouraged, but not required in public and private spaces. Individual businesses may have their own policies about mask requirements and social distancing that customers are obligated to follow for entry.