It could be said that Austin is one of Texas' most unique cities. While its classic Southern charm is clearly evident on the surface, below that is an eclectic mix consisting of one of the greatest live music scenes in the country, hipster vibes from clothing to dining, and an array of artistic avenues. Many Austin first-timers are surprised to realize how different this city feels from the rest of the state and how easy it is to enjoy all the unique things it has to offer.

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While Texas, as a whole, is practically blazing in temperature during the summer, it's also one of the most popular times for people to visit. Fall weather brings cooler temps but the summer season is when all the best events kick-off. Before planning your first Austin trip, there are some things to know if you want to explore the city like a local. With a list of do's and don'ts to guide you, you'll be living it up like you've been there your whole life.

Nitty-Gritty: Traveling Around Austin Is An Adventure

Just like in any city, the roads in Austin are a bit of a hassle to navigate. Traffic is inevitable and there really are no shortcuts or insider tricks to avoiding it, it's just one of those things. Therefore, just as you would in L.A. or New York City, care should be taken to put aside at least 15 extra minutes aside to account for slow-going travel. If a reservation is at 6:30 PM, do your best to leave by 6:15, if not 6 PM.

While renting a car is a perfectly practical option any other year, rental prices have skyrocketed thanks to the pandemic and the number of people traveling this year. This means that the cost of a car rental could rival that of your booking costs, so options such as Lyft, Uber, and rideshare services are a better, cost-efficient way of traveling. The other alternative to this is to book a place that's central to most of the things you're trying to see and do - this will be costly in the short term but will keep travel costs very low.

Make Food A Priority And Dress Casual

One of the great things about Austin is its food scene. Anything you want to try is really at your disposal and with so many options, it can definitely be overwhelming. However, with it being a city, it's not just overwhelming to you - which means reservations at most places should be considered unless you want to wait in a line for an hour. That's not to say that you can't get into a casual restaurant or find outdoor seating somewhere but, if it's a big-name restaurant, chances are, you'll have to put your name down. The best way to go about this is to search the restaurant or food joint on Yelp and see what other people have to say. If there's a specific time that's less crowded then plan your meals around that.

In terms of how to dress for Austin and what to bring, for the most part, thanks to its hot temperatures, everything is fairly casual. Flip-flops are a must and are common attire for many locals, but sneakers to walk in are also a good thing especially if you plan on any nature-type stops. Unless you're planning to attend a formal dinner or go to an upscale restaurant, there's really no need to pack anything past nice tee shirts or tank tops, shorts or skirts, and walking shoes. If nothing else, the restaurants will have dress codes and there are plenty - plenty - of stores in Austin in the event you need to dress up or down.

What To Experience

Austin has a little bit of something for everyone but it is the kind of city where, in order to experience something, you need to actually go out and do things. By this, we mean heading to that specific spot (such as Stay Gold in East Austin for soul music, or The White Horse for country, according to Condé Nast Traveler) in order to hear live music, watch shows, or attend festivals and events.

It might take a little bit of internet research and asking the locals, but you're sure to find something exciting. Trying the BBQ in Texas is also a must, especially in Austin - but there's so much good food to try, that you'll surely leave with a full stomach and some new favorite dishes. When it comes to nature, the Greenbelt nature reserve and Umlauf Sculpture Garden have you covered as far as a temporary escape from the city noise.

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