16 Things You Should Know About Austin If You're Coming To Town For SXSW
With SXSW kicking off this week, Austinites and visitors alike can expect a bit of chaos. If you’re a newbie headed to the festival, no worries. We've compiled a list of stories to help orient you to the city.
Consider this a little guide on how to get the most out of Austin.
Music Is All Around — Not Just During SXSW
Regardless of what you think of Austin calling itself the “Live Music Capital of the World,” you've got to admit it is pretty effective branding. Even people who don't like music, and who've never been here, equate the city with a vibrant scene.
Austin's Once And Future Weirdness
"Keep Austin Weird." The phrase is printed on T-shirts, bumper stickers, posters; it's part of Austin's national reputation. Some residents say that the city is losing its unique weirdness; some lament that it’s already gone.
Others say the weirdness is alive and well.
Austinites Talk Funny
Sure, Austin is full of weird little tics that make Austin Austin. How can you tell natives from newcomers?
Listen to how they pronounce street names.
There's Lots To Do Here
In 2016, The New York Times published a travel guide to Austin, "36 Hours in Austin, Texas.” It recommended barbecue, guitars and food – lots of it. That guide inspired one "traveler" to hop on a plane and follow the Grey Lady's itinerary to a T.
This is that hypothetical traveler's (satirical) story.
You Can Crack A Cold One On Some Streets
One of our listeners had a hunch that it might be legal to walk down the street with an open beer in most of Austin’s residential neighborhoods.
We answered his question as part of our crowdsourced reporting project.
Beware The Grackles
Some birds are well-liked. Some are considered pests. Many just slip under the radar. But not the grackle.
The grackle demands that you take notice – and you'll notice many grackles around Austin.
Austin's Black Population Is Shrinking
Even though the population of Austin is booming, thousands of black residents have moved away in recent years.
A listener wanted to know why, so we investigated.
Come On In, The Water's Fine
There are a number of swimming holes in Central Texas, so grab your swimsuit and take a splash.
But Wait, Don't Swim At Lady Bird Lake
Don't accept an invite to take a swim at Lady Bird Lake (formerly known as Town Lake). There are plenty of beautiful (legal) places to swim in Austin – but this isn't one of them.
Feel The Beat Miles Away From Downtown
Even if you're staying at an Airbnb in Hyde Park, you might still hear bands playing at clubs all the way downtown.
Wind and heat enable the noise to travel to residential areas. And that might be the small price to pay for staying closer to SXSW festivities.
You Can Probably Spot The Capitol Anywhere
Over the years, Austin's skyline has changed, and new skyscrapers have sprung up all around the Capitol. But there are some places you just can't build.
Art Is Hidden In Plain Sight
On the underpass walls along Lamar Boulevard near Fifth Street, you'll notice a row of blank blue panels on either side. What the heck are those things?
Austin Is Hot
Remember that water bottle during SXSW. Austin is hot – it is Texas after all.
A longtime Austinite says it wasn't always this way. We gathered data that prove she's right.
Festivalgoers Leave Loads Of Trash
SXSW-related trash has increased as more and more attendees flock to Austin for the festival.
Meet the people who clean up after the festivities.
You'll Get Tons Of Free Swag
Prepare to walk out of SXSW with sunglasses, stickers, tote bags, koozies and more.
Companies give out a lot of free stuff, but does it help their brands?
Don't Move Here. (But If You Do, Get Ready To Spend A Lot On Rent.)
We’d say, “Don’t even think about it,” but it wouldn’t do us any good. People keep moving here, and that population explosion hasn’t been kind to Austin’s renters – who make up more than half the city’s population.