Visit Like an Austinite
Study Your Maps
Many of our roads have 3 names: the street number, then the actual name, plus there’s the name or abbreviation locals use. Getting around can feel like you’re looking for a road that isn’t there. For example: Loop 1 -which isn’t a loop at all - is called Mopac, but it’s also 45. So, um... yeah... study your map!
No, there isn’t a less congested way to wherever you’re headed. Just be patient and stick with your original route. Our city has grown pretty quickly, so there are a lot of cars, and every time I feel like I could get somewhere faster by trying another way, I end up waiting longer than if I’d just stayed in traffic Purgatory in the first place.
Snag any parking spot you can find. It doesn’t matter if it’s a “good” spot. An empty parking spot is a “good” spot in our vehicle-saturated city. Don’t be picky! But do check for towing zone signs first. Duh.
You may have heard we don't have Uber or Lyft. Well, we didn't for awhile. Long story short, the people of Austin voted in early 2016 to expand background checks for the drivers and both Uber and Lyft bolted. But in May 2017, the Governor signed new legislation to limit background checks, and Uber and Lyft returned immediately. If you want to use a rideshare service you can use Uber, Lyft, Fasten, Wingz, GetMe, Fare, Hail a Cab, InstaRyde or RideAustin. Personally, I use Fasten.
Many restaurants have a wait time of 90 minutes or more. Believe me, the food is worth the wait, but if you’re whupped from a day at ACL or SXSW, you should try to make reservations. Not every restaurant uses Open Table, so you should call the restaurant directly. Go Austin includes the phone numbers of each restaurant and you can call by simply tapping on the phone number.
We love our Drafthouse, and you will too! But you won’t be able to just walk up and buy tickets for any movie that’s about to start. My husband and I get a good giggle out of folks who try that. Unless it’s Tuesday at 2pm, they’re all sold out. Trust me. Get your tickets in advance. You can do this through the Alamo Drafthouse app.
Embrace the Culture!
Look for the weird
Keep your eyes peeled for some of the things that make Austin... well, Austin. Once, when walking my dogs around Lady Bird Lake, I saw women leading miniature horses, a group of transvestite vampires chilling in the shade (of course), and cyclists wearing Mexican wrestling masks.
Don’t be afraid
We do have a homeless community, and there’s a very large shelter downtown close to trendy spots and other tourist draws. You may see some of these folks, or they may ask you for change. Don’t freak out. I’ve become acquaintances with a few people who are regularly at corners along my commute, and I have never felt threatened. They’re friendly people.
Photo courtesy of Jose Gonzales / Flickr