Austin City Guide

Fast cars, big football & darn good live music. Gosh it’s hard to get bored in this town.

As an Austin-based sports fan, I know this city is more than just the live music capitol of the world. Football Saturdays in Austin are a bucket list item for any college football fan, and with North America’s only Formula One US Grand Prix, Austin is a sports lovers haven in the fall.

If you’re thinking about visiting Austin, or just looking for something to do this weekend, here’s my list of the must-see events and venues in this big-little town.

Austin’s Newest Concert Venue: Tower Amphitheater

Tower Amphitheater, Austin’s newest concert venue, has the potential to significantly shake-up the music scene in the live music capital of the world.  Despite its nearly 200 live music venues, some mid-to-large bands may have previously bypassed Austin because there wasn’t a dedicated 12,000+ capacity venue to play.  As the largest outdoor entertainment venue in Central Texas, Tower Amphitheater is sure to mean more major, nationally-touring events coming through town.  Based on the opening season lineup, which includes county music’s #1 ticket seller Kenny Chesney and recently announced performances from Jimmy Buffet and The Lumineers, Tower Amphitheater is on track to draw an impressive list of shows in 2013.

Tower Amphitheater is situated within Circuit of The Americas’ 1,300-acre sports and entertainment complex.  Circuit of The Americas’ is the first motor racing circuit in the United States to be purpose-built for Formula One, which it hosted in November 2012.  The amphitheater is located underneath a 220-foot tall observation tower, with views of downtown Austin. The open-air venue includes best practices and design elements from iconic outdoor venues like the Hollywood Bowl, Red Rocks Amphitheater in Colorado, and Live Nation’s massively successful Woodlands Pavilion.

Expected to host 15-20 shows during its inaugural year, tickets are currently available for Kenny Chesney, Zac Brown Band, and The Avett Brothers. Tickets for The Lumineers and Jimmy Buffet will be available for purchase starting this weekend, February 15th and 16th, respectively.

Where to sit
Tower Amphitheater - Seating Chart

General admission lawn seats are the least expensive ticket in the house, situated behind the reserved seating areas.  But be sure to bring a blanket or lawn chair that sits directly on the ground as chairs with legs won’t be permitted inside the park.  If you want to be closest to the action, GA Pit tickets are the way to go for Zac Brown Band or The Avett Brothers.  While GA pit tickets are not available for Kenny Chesney, a limited number of premium floor seats will get you closest to the stage (known as the “golden circle”).

Where to eat

In addition to hot dog and burger stands typically available at event venues, Tower Amphitheater will also offer local vendors including Salt Lick BBQ and Gatti’s Pizza.  Concessions are available on both sides of the stage and throughout the Grand Plaza.

Where to park

Buy parking in advance.  Not only will you be able to get into the show faster, but you’re more likely to get a spot closer to the venue entry (and at a discounted rate).

When to arrive

Gate open times vary based on the event. For most shows, the main entrance gates to the Grand Plaza will open two hours before the show time and the interior gates to the amphitheater seating area will open one hour after that. If you’re planning on attending the upcoming Kenny Chesney show, don’t forget to arrive early for the pre-show tailgate party featuring a buffet of Kenny’s favorite food, drinks, and music starting at 5 PM.

Insider Austin Tips for October

Austin during the Fall is one of the best times of year to visit - the weather is cooler, there’s plenty of great food to be had, live events to catch, and most importantly, one of the best music festivals in the country is held. Check out these insider tips for having an unforgettable ACL experience or if you’re just visiting Austin in October.

Tips from TicketCity: ACL

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.

Part of the fam at ACL Fest.

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.

Get ready for some two steppin' at The Broken Spoke,

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.

The always refreshing Barton Springs.

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.”

Cactus Peach

Local band, Cactus Peach is playing at Headhunters [21+] (Red River & 8th St.) on Friday, July 31st @ 9:45.

Check them out on Myspace!