We love Austin. We love the vibe. We love its rock-‘n’-roll lifestyle. And most of all, we love heading there every year to enjoy South By Southwest. At this point, navigating the city is an old hat to us, but there are plenty of newbies out there (or old hats looking to spruce up their trip) who are trying to find a unique, fun, a truly Texan way to enjoy the festival. Whether you are looking for a bit of culture in between shows, living on a budget, or hoping to thrift something special, here are three killer ways to do the festival. Warning: Addiction to breakfast tacos is imminent.
Even though it’s one of our largest states, anyone from Texas will tell you: It’s another country down there. Austin is an amazing hybrid of indie ingenuity and Texan culture, and if you are going to be headed to the capital of the Lone Star State, you ought to embrace the particularly unique flavor.
The Harry Ransom Center
It’s important to remember that the University of Texas at Austin is one of the finest institutions in the U.S., and its facilities are beyond awesome. The best case in point is the gorgeous, hallowed Ransom Center, which, in its most basic iteration, is set up to preserve documents. Think 16th century literature, country-shaping political documents, and original manuscripts by writers like Beckett, Kipling, and Vidal. The Ransom Center is, in many ways, dedicated to living history.
Harry Ransom Center at The University of Texas at Austin, 300 West 21st Street (Between Guadalupe Street and Whitis Avenue); 512-471-8944. hrc.utexas.edu.
Juan In A Million
Are you ready for a breakfast taco? We said…are you ready for a breakfast taco?! Californians and New Yorkers are always shocked to try Austin’s Mexican food, which is so different from their own regional takes on the cuisine, because Austin serves straight-up, rib-stickin’ Tex Mex — with a particular down-home flair. The perfect example is the breakfast taco, a filling, delicious, and totally Texan offering filled with eggs, potatoes, and whatever-else. And nowhere does a morning taco quite like Juan In A Million.
Juan In A Million, 2300 East Cesar Chavez Street (at Mildred Street); 512-472-3872. juaninamillion.com.
Every city has the bookstore — a super-curated collection of tomes, art books, and magazines that immediately makes visitors realize how much more they need to read. DOMY has a couple of Texas locations, but the Austin outpost is quirky, gorgeous, calming, and is known for its own SXSW showcases with a particular DIY spin. The only problem: Once you buy your book, you’ll have to carry it around all night. Alas.
DOMY Books, 913 East Cesar Chavez Street (at San Marcos Street), 713-523-3669. domystore.com
Photo: (From left) Courtesy of Harry Ransom Center, DOMY-Austin, and Juan In A Million