By Expedia, on February 19, 2020

What to Know for Seeing Live Music in Austin, Texas

Known as the “Live Music Capital of the World,” Austin, Texas, is a prime destination for music lovers, whether you prefer indie, country, or anything in between. If you’re planning a trip to Austin and want to experience the legendary music culture, take a look at these travel tips for traveling in Austin, Texas, and advice on seeing live music during your visit.

Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue in Downtown Austin at night
Downtown Austin

Austin’s music culture

Austin is renowned for its vibrant live music scene and boasts some of the most well-known music venues in the United States. Austin has numerous nightclubs and some of the largest music festivals in the world, including South by Southwest. The city also has the long-running concert music “Austin City Limits” television show. The city’s self-appointed slogan, Live Music Capital of the World, has been around since 1991, and there are over 1,900 bands and artists living in or near the city.

When to visit

If you’re looking for live music, you’ll find entertainment in Austin year-round. From September to November and March to May, the temperatures are warm and comfortable, averaging in the 70s. In summer, you’ll wish you knew that daily temperatures average in the 90s, which can be excessively hot for some people. If you’re looking for festivals and concert parades, they tend to take place in the spring and fall. What to know is that if you want to avoid crowds and high travel rates, it’s best to avoid Austin in the spring and fall seasons.

What to pack

Even in winter, Austin has a warm climate that rarely sees chilly days. Still, the nights can get cooler, so it’s good to anticipate and pack a few lightweight jackets or sweaters. Otherwise, you can dress however you want in Austin, so it really depends on what you want to do. Pack your favorite band tees and shorts or jeans, but you can also bring some funky pieces that you don’t get to wear often. If you need something new for clubbing, Latin dance, a country-western bar, or otherwise, you’ll find plenty of shops and boutiques for your new look.

Where to stay in Austin

Much of Austin’s nightlife and music scene is concentrated around the downtown area, but you could find bars and live music venues throughout the city. The city is relatively small and walkable as well. If you want to stay in the heart of the city and close to music, bars, museums, and restaurants, know before you go and choose the downtown area. If you’re going to shop and sightsee during the day, South Congress is the best place. Friendly dive bars and independent galleries are concentrated in East Austin, while the best outdoor attractions are found in South Lamar.

Try a club crawl

With so much live music in Austin, you’ll wish you knew the best places to visit to make the most of the trip. With a club crawl, such as the Red River Club Crawl, you’ll tour some of the top spots in the city and make some friends along the way. Club crawls usually take place in the historic heart of the city and its concentration of live music venues, including Beerland, Elysium, Mohawk, and Empire Control Room, which always have something on the schedule.

Closeup of The Hideout sign in Downtown Austin
The Hideout

Tour the iconic institutions

In addition to new and refreshing venues, Austin has some legendary live music spots that you must visit on your trip. Places like The Hole in the Wall and the Continental Club have been popular for decades and helped some local bands get their start. The Saxon Pub is another haven for folk artists, singer-songwriters, and roots musicians that’s been around for over 25 years. Many of these mainstays have seen some of the top names in the business, including Robert Plant, James McMurtry, Muddy Waters, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Gary Clark Jr.

Learn to line dance

Line dancing is a popular pastime in Texas, and there’s no shortage of authentic honky-tonks in the city. Bring your cowboy hats and boots and head to The Broken Spoke, an old dance hall that’s hosted bands like Texas Playboys, to learn some line dancing and western swing. If you want something more modern, The White Horse has local country bands performing each night and a lively dance crowd. The White Horse also has free Cajun dance, swing dance, and two-step lessons.

Visit record stores

Along with the live music venues, Austin is also home to numerous record stores filled with vinyl. You could find everything from vintage record shops to specialty shops and stores with audio accessories like speakers and turntables. The most famous shops in the city include End of an Ear, Waterloo Records, and Antone’s Records, but you should also take a trip to Sound Gallery or Whetstone Audio for a unique and upscale experience. Niche shops are everywhere, from Breakaway Records with its soul music to Groovers’ Paradise and its nostalgic tunes.

Shop for music souvenirs

Whether you’re a musician or you just want to get in the spirit of the city’s culture, there’s no better way to remember your trip than with music memorabilia. With so many musicians in and near the city, you can find high-end music stores virtually everywhere for guitars and other stringed instruments and accessories. Check out Switched On Electronics, an emporium of vintage synthesizers and analog audio equipment, which is frequented by touring musicians. For a real splurge, head to Austin Vintage Guitars and get yourself a nice guitar.

Have a bite in Threadgill’s

One of the best travel tips is, before you leave the city, visit one of Austin’s most culturally valuable restaurants. Threadgill’s is as much a part of Austin’s music scene as the bars and clubs. The charming restaurant dates back to the ’60s and played a significant role in defining the city’s culture. The original owner hosted live music and even helped the legendary Janis Joplin start her career. Now, the restaurant has 2 locations with memorabilia of Austin’s music history and portraits of significant Austin musicians and concerts for a dose of nostalgia.

Group of people with an RV camping in Austin
People camping in Austin

Plan your music trip

Austin has no shortage of exciting live music experiences and an array of other things to see and do, making it an ideal destination for music and culture lovers. If you’re planning a trip to see live music, you have all the essential information you need before visiting Austin, Texas. Take a look at Austin vacations from Expedia and get ready for your trip!