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Photo: Justine

Places

What to do outside of SXSW

Sure, SXSW is one of the coolest festivals in the country, but why not take a break and see what else is going on?

Artsy activity

The Contemporary Austin is composed of both the distinctive Jones Center downtown, and Laguna Gloria, a huge sculpture park and museum on Lake Austin. Pop into the Jones Center to take a break from the SXSW madness and peruse the well-curated, often ­eclectic exhibits here.

The Contemporary Austin

700 Congress Avenue, Austin

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Photo: Jester King Brewery

Hill Country scenery and sour beer

Nestled on the outskirts of Austin in the heart of the Hill Country, Jester King is the picture-perfect spot to enjoy a local brew or three. This authentic farmhouse brewery serves year-round and limited-edition beers (which are mostly sours) to thirsty patrons, while the onsite Stanley’s Farmhouse Pizza cooks up crispy wood-fired pies topped with tons of tasty local ingredients. Surrounded by gnarled live oak trees, soft grasses and fields of sunflowers, Jester King also boasts one of the most Instagrammable locations around town.Tip: Get. The. Garlic. Knots.

Jester King Brewery

13187 Fitzhugh Road, Austin

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Photo: Shutterstock

Baptism at Barton Springs

Cleanse your soul and cool your bod at Barton Springs, the city’s iconic spring-fed pool in Zilker Park. This sprawling swimming hole is kept at a cool 20°C throughout the year, which makes for an ice-cold yet ultra-refreshing dip. Plus, the pool is surrounded by rolling lawns and plenty of trees that provide the perfect ­coverage from the white-hot Texas sun.Tip: If it’s not too chilly, the nighttime swim, 9–10pm, is best.

Barton Springs Pool

2131 William Barton Drive, Austin

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Photo: Shutterstock

Hightail it to San Antone

If you truly want to “get the hell outta Dodge,” San Antonio’s highlights can easily be experienced in a day. The bustling Riverwalk and the Alamo are certainly worth a visit, but be sure to tour around the Pearl District as well – the city’s trendiest neighborhood is home to a vibrant cultural scene that includes the historic Pearl Brewery and a number of notable restaurants, in addition to the Culinary Institute of America campus and the popular Pearl Weekend ­Market on Sundays.

Photo: Olamaie

Tradition with a twist

At Olamaie, elevated Southern fare is the name of the game. If you think of food from the South as being laden with fat, sugar, and salt, think again – the menu at this acclaimed spot is a game-changer. Traditional dishes, such as pork chops and hush puppies are transformed into creative (and insanely delicious) concoctions whose ingredients are all sourced from within a 300km radius. Olamaie’s chefs, Michael Fojtasek and Grae Nonas, are almost more famous around these parts than Matthew McConaughey.Tip: Save room for the off-the-menu biscuits, which are the fluffiest, tastiest biscuits known to humankind.

Olamaie

1610 San Antonio Street, Austin

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Photo: Stubb’s

Sing for your supper

Both a mid-sized music venue and a decent BBQ joint, Stubb’s boasts some yummy fare – the pulled pork sandwich is a crowd fave, but it’s the Gospel Brunch on Sundays that’s really worth checking out. Featuring live gospel music, a giant Southern-style buffet, and a decadent Bloody Mary bar, the Stubb’s Gospel Brunch is an experience everyone should have at least once.

Stubb’s

802 Red River Street

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Photo: The White Horse

Two-steppin’ the night away

Some people will tell you to check out the Broken Spoke if you’re hankering for two-stepping and country tunes—and they wouldn’t be totally wrong. However, if you could only pick one place to go, our money would definitely be on The White Horse, a laid-back East Austin honky-tonk with killer live music and free dance lessons (every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at 7pm.) The whiskey shots and Lone Star tallboys flow like water in this shadowy, endearingly gritty joint, and the crowd is made up of equal parts tattooed hipsters and grizzled cowboys ready to take you for a spin.

The White Horse

500 Comal Street, Austin

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Photo: Skylark Lounge

Groovin’ to the blues

If you’re feeling crowd-weary, it may be time to seek solace at the Skylark Lounge, which showcases some of the best live blues in the city. Nondescript and decidedly no-frills, this East Side dive bar (a former car garage) is a favorite among locals, but it’s worlds away from the SXSW circuit. Aside from the reliably awesome music, the drinks are cheap and the atmosphere is chill and friendly at this off-the-beaten-path neighborhood hotspot.

Skylark Lounge

2039 Airport Boulevard, Austin

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Photo: River Place Nature Trail

Hit the trail

Atone for your SXSW-related sins by taking a hike. Yes, you could hit up the Greenbelt or McKinney State Park (both are lovely), but we like River Place Nature Trail for its diverse scenery – lush greenery, clusters of Spanish oaks and ash junipers, moss-rimmed waterfalls, dramatic limestone cliffs – and tranquil vibes. This is a 5km out-and-back trail, and it’s fairly steep in sections, so you’re guaranteed to burn off those day-drinking calories in no time.

River Place Nature Trail

4740 River Place Boulevard, Austin

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Photo: Justine’s Brasserie

Escargot and French champagne

Deep in the concrete jungle of the East Side lies the hipper-than-hip restaurant, Justine’s Brasserie. This sexy, surreal, dimly lit French bistro could easily be the backdrop in a scene from a David Lynch film. Wait until at least 10m to show up (Justine’s is well-known for its late-night dinner service) and gorge yourself silly on buttery escargot and silky steak tartare.

Justine’s Brasserie

4710 E. 5th Street, Austin

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Last edited: October 30, 2018

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