Austin's been keeping it weird for years and years now. In fact, many locals say it's the one place in Texas where you go to actually leave Texas. No offense to the rest of the state, of course. If you're headed down south to escape Old Man Winter, Austin is an excellent place to end up for business or pleasure, offering some of the best after-hours food and entertainment in the nation. In an effort to get you outside of the boardroom and into the heart of The Lone Star State, we’re offering up two restaurants, two attractions, and one bar that you can hit with just a few extra hours between meetings.
Given that you're in Austin, you might as well give in and go local. And by that, I mean "forget the diet for a bit." Austin has some of the best food anywhere, and the Moonshine Patio Bar & Grill is an outstanding place to grab a quick lunch between meetings. It's just a short hop from the steps of the Austin Convention Center, and its calling card is "upscale southern food." Corn dog shrimp? Check. Macaroni and cheese? Only the best. It's also housed in a historic building that will do wonders for stress. The only challenge is resisting the urge to eat here daily.
If you're in need of a place that's a bit more fancy, Second Bar + Kitchen is tough to beat. In fact, Bar Congress, Second Bar + Kitchen, and Congress all share a kitchen, but have varying hours. The good news is that any of those three will fit the bill, and they all use locally sourced food to concoct the magic that ends up on your plate. A well-known secret about this place? Despite the upscale nature, you'll find one of Austin's best burgers here.
One of the benefits of doing business at the Austin Convention Center is just how centrally located it is. While I often recommend at least one gratis activity in each city, Austin's freebie is a real gem. Practically two blocks away from the concourses is Lady Bird Lake Trail, which provides outstanding views across the waterway and leads down to Shoal Beach, just west of where you started. A decent pair of walking shoes, a camera, and perhaps someone to FaceTime back home is all that's required for enjoyment.
Another must-do in Austin is the music scene. This place is considered the Live Music Capital of the World, after all. There's simply too much live music going on each and every night in the city to name just a single venue, but thankfully, the government of Austin has established a web portal that tracks local artists. Make plans to see a band – any band, really – while you're in town. Chances are you'll find a place offering the genre you're most fond of.
Before heading off, I'd recommend a stop by Cork & Co. As you've probably surmised from the title, it's a wine bar, and given that it's only a wine bar, they take their service seriously. You'll also find a plethora of gifts for that special someone you're returning to, and you'll be treated to live music if you show up on a Thursday.
This is a recurring feature exploring must-visit locales in a variety of cities. If you find yourself traveling to a place for business, why not venture out and enjoy your surroundings?