Every year tens of thousands of people descend on Austin, TX for the now world-famous SXSW festival. Whether you are in town for Interactive, Film, Music, or just to take in everything that keeps this city weird, FoundersCard has created the definitive check list of totally Austin things to make the most out of your time during SXSW or any other part of the year.
A year ago, we moved our headquarters from New York to Austin. Our local Austin staff has put together the only list you need to survive the chaos of this year’s SXSW, aside from attending our exclusive Members-only event hosted at our partner property the W Austin, of course. Not a FoundersCard member yet? Inquire here for a preferred Membership invite.
1) Break out your cowboy boots at Broken Spoke
Broken Spoke’s website claims to be the last of the true Texas dance halls, so head out to this must stop honky tonk for a true Texas experience.
2) Treat yourself to Franklin Barbecue
Barbecue so good, Chase Sapphire features it on a TV commercial. This famous barbecue spot is one not to be missed. Open 11am until they sell out (which has sold out every day of their existence since its debut in 2009), Franklin Barbecue has mouthwatering brisket so good that people line up for hours before they open. Can’t stand in line for hours? No problem, use your TaskRabbit benefits to skip the lines or as a back up head over to nearby and almost as delicious Le Barbecue.
3) Enjoy Austin from Lady Bird Lake
With many different options and a couple of boat houses to rent kayaks, stand-up paddle boards, and paddle boats. on a gorgeous day, you’ll see plenty of hard bodies getting out on SUP’s and maybe even a few oversized swans paddling about.
4) Try the Avocado Margarita at Curra’s
At mexican hotspot Curra’s in Austin, you can get a uniquely tex-mex Avocado Margarita. Both refreshing and a little more creamy than the sweet and salty standard margarita, it is a must try.
5) Eat and Drink your way down Rainey Street
Old houses converted into bars make this uniquely Austin street just south of downtown a popular sponsored party spot as well. Previously, Amazon & Dickies took over one of our favorites, Bangers, for an unforgettable party featuring Ludacris. Follow your hashtags and you may find your way into similar this year. An FC favorite Indian food stop on Rainey is G’raj Mahal or plan your tasting and imbibing tour via this comprehensive guide to Rainey Street.
6) Drink a classic cocktail at The Driskill
History runs deep in The Driskill, which hosted the first date of Lyndon Johnson and his future wife Claudia Taylor. Opened in 1886 by cattle baron Jesse Driskill at a cost of $400,000, it aimed to be the best hotel south of St. Louis. Rooms were rented at the then astronomical price of $2.50 to $5.00 per night, but the biggest cost was how Driskill supposedly lost the property to a bad hand of poker. The dark and historic bar that was once a speakeasy serves up classic cocktails that ranked it as Food & Wine’s Top US hotel bar, you may even be able to share your drink with the ghost of Driskill himself at this haunted hotel.
7) Find a way into Midnight Cowboy, a modern speakeasy
Start your evening with a drink at The Driskill, then mosey your way down the infamous “Dirty Sixth” street to the Midnight Cowboy. The reservations required and a buzzer marked “Harry Craddock” is your is your ticket to the mixologists of this underground modern speakeasy.
8) Hook ’em Horns with the mechanical bull at The Trophy Club
We’re not sure which will hurt more after the bull has its way with you, your pride or your body, but one thing is for certain, The Trophy Club is one of East Sixth’s notorious stops. Ride the bull and if you want to impress the college students, support their longhorns and throw out the Hook ’em Horns hand signal before you’re bucked to the ground.
9) Live luxuriously with a post-SXSW hangover Sunday brunch at TRIO
Housed in the Four Seasons, this epic brunch will help ease the pains of SXSW’s illustrious hangovers. TRIO is a favorite among locals for its extravagant Sunday brunch spread, so be sure to save a few dollars over the weekend to treat yourself before heading home. An affordable staff favorite: South Congress Cafe.
10) Cool off at Barton Springs
Underground springs keep this natural pool cooled to 70 degrees throughout the year. If your accommodations lack a pool on a hot day, grab a Zipcar, Car2Go or Austin B-cycle (the Austin bike share) out to Barton Springs for a refreshing dip.
BONUS: Actually attend SXSW
As badge prices climb and climb each year, SXSW has also turned into the social intersection of the tech, film and music world’s see and be seen. Those able to afford or have their company support their badge purchase get bonus points for this year. We look forward to seeing everyone in Austin and encourage non-Members to learn more about FoundersCard here.