Are you asking yourself, “where do locals go in Austin?”. Whether you’re here visiting, you’re new to town, or about to plan a trip, we want to help you figure out how to not act like a tourist in Austin, Texas. If you want to know how to act like a local in Austin, we’ve got you.

First, consider everything you heard about Austin prior to your arrival as a stereotype. What we mean is that if you think Austin is standing in a 10-mile line at Franklin’s for BBQ, getting wasted on Sixth Street, and waking up in the morning to jog along Lake Austin means being a local, point yourself in the other direction.

Sure, we do all of those things, but a day of Austin tropes does not an Austinite make.

Two things we know you’re going to say (but you shouldn’t)

First, we know you’re going to say, “hey, I’m here for the breakfast tacos and live music,” and that’s cool, but we’ll tell you some of the places normal locals hit up so your Austiny dreams can come true.

Second, you’re going to say “Keep Austin Weird,” and we’re going to immediately ask you to stop. Don’t. It doesn’t mean what you think it means, it’s a 20-year old campaign to support independent businesses that launched in the face of growing pains of big businesses killing small competitors.

Get off of the beaten path

We’re big fans of making sure you know where locals go in Austin because real locals don’t stick to party districts, we get off of the beaten path for the real gems.

We’ve told you about the lesser known Dino Park, where to get REAL sausage, how to find the best (and lesser known) murals, we’ve let you in on where the secret bird observatory is, where locals have gone for generations to two step, how to get mochi donuts that are the cutest ever, and about the IRL shooter games.

Off the beaten path, Eater outlines the 17 best breakfast taco joints in town, and we think the top spot is easily Veracruz All Natural. Ask any local where the best tacos are and you’re going to get a different answer every time – Female Foodie has shared the 23 best taco places which features Valentina’s (which many think is the best), but we have a soft spot for Dos Batos up north because they smoke their meats (well great, now my mouth is watering).

The taco topic is extremely controversial here, and it’s kind of a joke, kind of not a joke, that it’s an opinion we’re all willing to die on a hill for. So one way to be a real Austinite is to have an obscenely strong and unwavering opinion on the topic of tacos.

You’re going to likely spend time on South Congress Avenue (SoCo), and for your first visit, hit up the classics like the South Congress Hotel, Lucy in Disguise, and Allen’s Boots, but on the regular, head one street over to 1st street and like a local hit up:

people swimming at Barton Springs Pool with the Austin skyline visible in the background
image courtesy of flickr.com

Jump in the deep end

You’ve heard of Barton Springs Pool, it’s the best swimming hole around.

But if you want to avoid the tourists, don’t start at the shallow end, go down to the diving board and jump into the deep end. It’s an all-natural limestone bottom, and it’s 18 feet deep at the deepest end, so you aren’t going to hit bottom after doing a flip. Keeping your towels laid out on the south side of the 3-acre pool is another way to get out of the tourist trap end of the springs.

While there, you’re within walking distance of Zilker Park, and as an adult, you’re thinking you don’t want to ride the kiddie train, but there’s a new one that is fully electric and zips you all around the park. It’s a cute little date move, despite kiddos being around – take the last ride of the day to mitigate that risk.

The best way to tell if someone is new to town or not is which lake they spend their time on. Lake Austin is fabulous and the best for kayaking or stand up paddle boarding, but boating? That’s all Lake Travis.

There are two flavors of Lake Travis days – chill relaxation (and we know where the quiet coves are and where to see Texas wilderness), or mega party (on Devil’s Cove where you tie your boat to others and everyone’s immediately best friends and there’s beer and music, it’s amazing).

Word of warning, though: There are a lot of janky boat rental companies on Lake Travis (here are the red flags to watch out for), and obviously, we’re the best so just skip the hunting, you’re already in the right place.

Drinking beer and coffee

You’re going to want to go to Jo’s coffee and take a selfie with the “I love you so much” mural, and that’s fine for your first day, but be a local and try Medici, they’ve been around forever and have a handful of locations. Or take a drive out to Casa Costa in Leander, it’s the best.

Here are 50 coffee shops to try on for size.

On the topic of drinking liquids, beer is a legit part of the local culture. On one hand that’s difficult for people in addiction recovery, but magical for anyone who has the luxury of enjoying a really really really high quality IPA. Rainey Street has some great small bar options, as does East Austin, but Brewtorium is a local brewery that has amazing beer, food, and the best service.

We point out service because Austin still has fabulous food and drink options, but some of the companies that have been around for decades might have slower or inferior service (and you’re not going there for the corporate vibe, so you’d never expect it). But Brewtorium stands out for high quality product AND service without feeling like a gd Chili’s – a rare combo here.

Now you can also get creative, as many locals do, and go to one of the badass coffee shops slash brew houses, many of which also feature live music. We absolutely love Red Horn up north, but also add to your list:

You can also consume fabulous alcoholic liquids at Alamo Drafthouse movie theater when it’s 8,000 degrees out and you just want to sit indoors and watch a movie. It’s a classic locals’ move.

Remember: Do all of the touristy things when you first get here or visit, but also take time to head out to the locals’ favorite hotspots, keeping in mind that they’re favorites for a reason. Enjoy, we’re glad you’re here!