If everything is bigger in Texas, it is particularly true in Austin, the state capital. As the owner of the title "Live Music Capital of the World, Austin’s music scene is bigger and more diverse than anywhere else in the world. The food, also, is bigger: quantity wise but also in flavor. Home to Franklin Barbecue, a modest joint with mind-blowing brisket that has been hailed "Best Barbecue in America" by Bon Appétit Magazine. Famously weird and host to events like the big-time music festival SXSW and also the day-long Eeyore’s Birthday Party, an annual tradition in Austin’s hippie subculture that features the Eeyore of Liberty, which combine’s the famous fictional character’s head on the Statue of Liberty. See what else the city has to offer with our sample itinerary of all that can be seen and done in just 24 hours in Austin.
Before visiting anything else in Austin, it helps to get a feel for the lay of the land. The best way to do that is to view it from above. The 313-foot-tall Main Building (or The Tower) in the University of Texas, completed in 1937, has made its indelible puncture in the skyline of the city and in turn, offers sweeping panoramic views of the entire city, including the Texas State Capitol, from its observation deck. As well, this majestic Victorian-Gothic building includes a 56-bell carillon, the largest in all of Texas, and floors upon floors of elegant embellishments in the interior design, including carved walls, ceiling decorations, paintings, ornate light fixtures and marble floors. The Tower tour involves a 45 minute self-guided tour of of the floors and then a trip up the elevator to the 27th floor of the Tower, where visitors ascend three flights of stairs to get to the observation deck.
Visitors who want to get in on some of the best barbecue in the country should book a morning off and get to Franklin’s early. Despite the restaurant opening at 11:00, lines can be seen beginning at 9:30, and by the time they open shop, the line has already snaked around the corner, tail-ended by hungry customers who only have a ghost of a chance of getting that brisket. Franklin’s is that good. The business first began in a trailer on an East Austin parking lot in 2009 and by Spring of that year, the queues were growing longer, people were hailing Franklin the BBQ King and the press followed hot on their heels. However, the torrent of sudden fame was not uncalled for: it’s just the way the Franklins slow-smokes their Montana beef brisket for 18 hours in white oak with a salt and pepper rub seals in maximum moistness and perfectly smoky flavor. The prime cuts and the artistic and meticulous attention to details in the smoke and the cut of fat and moisture of the smoker. So rise and shine, because whatever your cut, whatever your kind of animal – whether it’s turkey, cow, chicken, pigs or delicious nondescript Texas sausage – Franklin Barbecue is the one place guaranteed to know what to do with it.
Beyond getting a chance to examine and admire the stately 1888 Renaissance Revival building and its immaculate structural details from the inside, including its cast-iron columns and masonry walls, visitors to the Texas Capitol can also see the home of the local government get to know more about the area and its history. Walking around the important offices, the courtroom and the agricultural museum on the first floor west wing, observing the passing art and historic artifacts peppered around the monumental building. Directly in front of the building is a lush lawn upon which various monuments and statues are proudly displayed. One of the best places in Austin for a stroll, the Texas State Capitol is not to be missed.
This ‘50s-style Southern restaurant specializes in perfectly crispy chicken, classic pies, mac’n’cheese, catfish sandwiches and other similar heart-stopping goodies. Accompanied by nightly cocktail and and beer specials, and Lucy’s will have any patron’s heart before they slide off the wooden benches. Their cocktails are concocted with the same precision they apply to their specialty dishes, too – "Where there’s smoke…" is a simple but strong cocktail made with the agave-based Mestizo Joven, Paula’s Texas Orange liqueur, lime with habanero bitter and a habanero-sugar rim. Along with their innovative cocktail list, Lucy’s also has a curated wine list and some local craft beers. For a small but highly indulgent app, try the deep-fried deviled eggs served with chicken skin aioli or the fried chicken gizzards, which is totally not as gross as one might think because it’s marinated in Lucy’s "Secret Buttermilk Blend" and deep fried, and served with dill cream sauce.
Easily one of Texas’ better known streets, 6th Street buzzes with music of every genre, bars, live entertainment venues, tattoo parlors, art galleries, upscale restaurants and casual cafés, all housed in a row of historical turn-of-the-century buildings and houses. These seven blocks of arts and culture once helped win Austin the reputation of "The Live Music Capital of the World" and it’s still a major hub for hanging out. Students from the nearby University of Texas keep the young spirit alive between major events and there’s still always something for everyone on the vibrant 6th Street.