Since TicketCity is based in Austin, home of the Austin City Limits Music Festival, it’s fair to say that we have a lot of ACL experts on staff. So instead of featuring tips from just one of us, we will be posting several different tips throughout the next seven days as we count down to ACL.
While this year marks the tenth anniversary of ACL Fest, it is my personal sixth anniversary of attending the festival. It has been six glorious years full of great music, delicious food, and unforgettable memories.
When my family and I decided to first attend the festival in 2005, I was a sophomore at LSU and had only visited Austin once before. Since that year’s lineup included Coldplay, Tom Petty, Ben Harper, Ray Lamontagne, and Kings of Leon, among others, there was something for everyone, so my whole family decided to attend. We all enjoyed it so much that we have made it an annual family tradition and are still doing it six years later. And I took my love even one step further than the rest of the fam by packing up and moving to Austin just as soon as I could.
In a sense, ACL is the perfect family vacation. No worrying about finding universally appealing activities, as every family member is sure to find something pleasing right there on the grounds of Zilker. Also, the fact that there is a set date each year means that there is no letting a year’s reunion slip through our fingers–we know the next year’s family reunion date approximately a year ahead of time, thanks to the miraculous logistical planning of the folks over at C3 presents.
But, my dad’s favorite thing about it, using a line from his favorite movie, Coupe de Ville, is that “We all got together.” So here I am to share what it is, exactly, that we must do, when we all get together, six years strong.
1: A night out at The Broken Spoke
My dad is a true country music connoisseur. Since my siblings and I were raised listening to albums of Willie, Waylon, and the boys, it only makes sense that The Broken Spoke is at the top of our Austin to-do list.
According to its web site, The Broken Spoke is the “Last of the True Texas Dance Halls,” and also the best chicken fried steak in Texas.
It features live music five nights a week, and dance lessons Wednesday through Saturday. Check out the calendar here to see which band is playing each night.
Go with an empty belly, and don’t forget your dancing boots!
2: Brunch at East Side Cafe
Ten years before I made the move to Austin, my sister lived in this amazing city, and while she did she earned a living by working at East Side Cafe. During our first tour of ACL, she suggested we brunch at this quaint restaurant, and the food was so life-changing we vowed to return each year.
As its name might let on, Eastside Cafe is located in a warm, old house with wood floors in Austin’s vibrant Eastside neighborhood. Many of the herbs and vegetables in its dishes are grown right outside the door in the restaurant’s own garden. The menu has something to please even the pickiest of eaters, including my own father, who finds even the very thought of soysauge, vegetarianism, or salad appalling. Check out the menu here.
Quick tips: Reservations are accepted for brunch, and are suggested. Also, if you’re looking for a souvenir, visit East Side Cafe’s gift shop, which is located just across the courtyard from the restaurant.
3: A quick dip in Barton Springs
While Texas is known for many things, our moderate climate ain’t one of ‘em. In fact, ACL Fest in September can downright blazing. Fear not, ACL goers, for there is a quick, affordable solution located right in Zilker Park. Allow me to introduce you to one of my favorite spots in Austin: Barton Springs.
For those that have purchased three-day passes to ACL (It’s not too late-get yours here), exiting and reentering the fest is permitted. This allows one to walk out the festival gates, cross Barton Springs Road to get to the other side of Zilker Park, and experience Mother Nature’s air conditioning. Barton Springs is fed by natural springs and maintains an average temperature of 68 degrees F. For a mere $3, you’ll gain entry to the pool side, or by walking a few extra yards, you can visit the creek side free of charge. Either way, you’re sure to enjoy this nice reprieve from the heat of the Texas sun in between festival acts. For more information on pricing and hours, click here.
While these are just a few highlights of the items on my family’s annual to-do list, they are some of our favorites. No matter which acts you see, foods you taste, or nightlife you experience, you can be sure that when you’re reliving your ACL memories at the festival’s end, you’ll at least be able to say one thing: “We all got together.”