Austin prides itself on being very different to the rest of Texas and its ‘Keep Austin Weird’ slogan points to its strong identity as a liberal, left-field, slightly hippyish college town that’s also home to some of the world’s major tech companies.
Now, we will warn you that the great US pastime of rampant capitalism clicks into overdrive during race week, so downtown hotel prices balloon to the size of everything else in Texas, so either get in early, surf over to a certain house and room rental website or be prepared to drift beyond the fringes of downtown to find more affordable digs. If you do have to do that, don't panic, there are plenty of good accommodation options within a 15-minute cab ride of the downtown area.
Eating and Drinking
Austin is a bit of a foodie's paradise if you like Tex Mex, BBQ or steak. There are countless good places to dine in around Austin, though in our opinion you should try to avoid the big chain restaurants lining the highways. Instead, opt for some of our favourites below. And when it comes to nightlife, well few cities do it better than Austin. We've handpicked a few outstanding venues that are definitely worth seeking out...
612 W 6th St Austin, TX 78701. T: 512 474 2194
The Mediterranean-inspired menu includes flatbreads, salads, mezze and plenty of meat and fish entrées at this West Sixth Street restaurant, which also serves a vast selection of vino from its wine wall. Lunch, brunch, dinner and happy hour are offered in a space decked out in wood, neutral tones and mood lighting – plus there's an expansive ground-floor patio and a rooftop lounge.
Bob's Steak and Chop House
301 Lavaca St, Austin, Tx 78701T: 512-222-2627
Cool down on their roof top bar with a signature cocktail; this is considered one of the country's top steakhouses for a reason, serving nothing but the best prime steak. Servers are experienced, the wine list is extensive and the drinks are stiff. If you're not a regular already, come by and let them prove why they're so proud of what they do.
315 Congress Ave. Suite 200 Austin, TX 78701. T: 512 482 8842
The restaurant opened by C.K. Chin and Stuart Thomajan, offers an ebullient escape from the bustling city streets below and the restaurant group has become 'one to watch' among Austin diners. Now in its third year of service under the skillful hands of executive chef, Zack Northcutt; chef de cuisine, Matthew Taylor and pastry chef, Callie Speer; Swift's shareable small plates menu has been warmly embraced on local, regional and national levels. Swift's Attic was nominated for Food & Wine Magazine's People's Choice Best New Chef in 2013 and 2014 and Best New Pastry Chef in 201
415 Colorado St, Austin, TX 78701 T: 512-394-8000
Searsucker boasts a relaxed, inviting atmosphere, with the emphasis on approachable and unpretentious dishes. The space includes an open-air kitchen, stylish modern rustic décor which creates a one-of-a-kind social dining experience.
323 East 6Th St, Austin, TX 78701-3627 T: 512-478-8541
Live music every night, three stages, sports bar with big screens, authentic English pub, New Orleans style courtyard, rooftop under the stars, amazing downtown views, art gallery and special events shows.
715 West 6Th St, Austin, TX 78701 T: 512-531-9062
Offering by far the best patio in town and a great bar space within, Dogwood is the ultimate indoor/outdoor entertainment space. Outdoors is a full service bar with big screens for sport and an elevated stage area for live music.
318 Colorado St, Austin, TX 7870. T: 512 474 4264
Hangar Lounge is a mid-century, modern, airport-themed lounge with a great rooftop patio view in Austin's Warehouse District. Think of a nice and comfy first-class passenger lounge at the airport in the 1950's. Each of its three storeys has a slightly different take on the theme.
103 East 5Th St, Austin, TX 78701 T: 512-653-2546
Looking for the best late night after-party? Kingdom is a boutique dance club located in the heart of downtown Austin. It serves as a home for all dance genres, with an emphasis on sound, lighting and architectural design to enhance the experience for all guests. Open until 4am.
90 Rainey Street Austin, TX 7870. T: 512 320 0820
Container Bar Austin... seven stacked shipping containers, great vibes, and a new way of creating party space. Bridget Dunlap, a pioneer of the Rainey Street bar scene (Lustre Pearl, Clive Bar, Bar 96), brings to life this three-years-in-the-making nightlife spot, painstakingly created out of stacked shipyard containers. The industrial-chic result casts a jagged, modern profile and offers a playful, colourful space with event-friendly courtyard and patio areas for DJs and other acts – with a bar for eclectic cocktails and Thai eats from their food truck Thaitanium.
Live Music Capital of the World
Austin's superb vibe is only enhanced by the city's self-appointed status as 'Live Music Capital of the World'. Home to the massive Austin City Limits and South by Southwest music festivals, Austin has built a worldwide reputation on the huge amount of live music on offer across the city every day of the week. The bonus is that the quality is invariably superb.
In the 1930s and 40s Austin was a centre for western swing music, and its revival in the '70s partly gave rise to outlaw country legends such as Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings. Blues got a shot in the arm through the likes of local heroes Janis Joplin and Stevie Ray Vaughan. Latterly its become the heartland of the alt-country and Americana genres through a stead stream of artists and also an indie-rock hothouse in which Texas bands such as White Denim, Midlake, Spoon, ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead, Explosions in the Sky and Okkervil River have blossomed.
Music of all of these genres as well as the Mexican influenced sounds of Conjunto and Tejano can be heard every night of the week in the city's 250+ music venues. This week alone you could check out Blitzen Trapper on Wednesday, My Morning Jacket, Gang of Four or Snoop Dogg, and that's not even taking into account the gigs laid on as part of the grand prix, which include Trombone Shorty, Public Enemy, and Elton John.
For a full list of the Circuit of the Americas 2015 Fanfest events, including concerts click here.