You will soon have visitors

This is a prediction that never fails to come true for people who live in Austin. Living in Austin is a lot like living in Boulder, Santa Fe, or anywhere on the beach. You will have visitors, and they will prolong their stays. It’s always a bit surprising what people want to do or see, left to their own devices. The charter oak, or at least the site of its former splendor? Yes; they want to see it. Ditto, Mount Bonnell. And the bats. People get these ideas from the free-literature rack at the Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Today’s Wall Street Journal “Off the Beaten Track” column features a brief list of recommendations, with comments, by WSJ staff reporter Amy Chozick. For “where to stay,” she recommends The Austin Motel or the Driskill; for “where to eat, Las Manitas and the Salt Lick; “where to shop,” Tesoros; “what to do,” the Bob Bullock museum and Barton Springs; and “where to go for live music,” an Austin City Limits taping, Antone’s, and Stubbs.

Keeping to the categories and the number of selections, I wonder what others find that their visitors want to see and do.

There’s no disagreement about places to stay, other than that two other excellent choices, depending on means, are the San José and the Four Seasons. Out-of-staters love Luby’s, and flyover people demand Katz’s, in both cases for people-watching. When it comes to restaurants, though, there are scores that that people love and that are not to be found elsewhere. Visitors from the Valley or other border locations have no interest in Tesoros; it’s Central Market and Whole Foods where they want to shop. Sites to be visited always include the Capitol and sometimes some particular portion of the campus (a great photo-taking location is by the mustang sculpture and lawn at the Texas Memorial Museum). For live music, it’s the Broken Spoke and Jovita’s, unless there’s music outdoors somewhere.

The column did not have a watering-hole category. It’s an important one, but the selections must depend on the visitors. If it’s merely a question of Austin atmosphere, then the Driskill piano bar and Scholz’s could go on the list.

We tend to have multi-generational groups of visitors, usually including people who want to hear conversation and hear themselves think. Other visitors have other ideas about what makes them happy.

5 Comments so far

  1. wae (unregistered) on August 23rd, 2005 @ 7:21 pm

    I’m partial to taking out-of-towners to Ego’s for a heavy dose of Austin lounge style, and usually some good music to boot. On one memorable occasion, a psychotic drunk hag repeatedly felt my Dad up under the table with her foot. You can’t buy Austin atmosphere like that.


  2. Paul (unregistered) on August 24th, 2005 @ 1:00 am

    Um… how about a link to that WSJ article? ;-) Thanks.


  3. Rantor (unregistered) on August 24th, 2005 @ 4:00 am

    The link is:

    It’s available to registered, paid subscribers. The reporter’s brief annotations may be seen there, but there are no additional recommendations.


  4. Rantor (unregistered) on August 24th, 2005 @ 4:04 am

    Well, the link is lengthy and did not appear in the comment, even though it was pasted in. The brief piece is on page D5 of the 8/23 edition, top right corner. Other recent columns of the same type have covered Banff, Tel Aviv, and San Antonio. Some of these columns have a “what to avoid” section; the one on Austin didn’t.


  5. ttrentham (unregistered) on August 24th, 2005 @ 2:39 pm

    We usually try and hit Mount Bonnell with the first timers. The Capital, Bob Bullock and LBJ Library seem to be the most common tourist attractions for us. Barton Springs/Zilker or Hamilton Pool are good destinations in the summer.

    San Jose or Austin Motel are good suggestions for places to stay. There are a couple of bed and breakfasts near campus if I recall correctly.

    We’ll take people to Amy’s, Trudy’s/Guero’s/Curra’s, Salt Lick/Cooper’s, Casino El Camino, Ruta Maya/Spider House among other places. One of the Alamo Drafthouse locations might be another stop depending on what they’ve got going on.

    I mentioned in another post that I’ve never been to the Broken Spoke, but that must be a common place to take out-of-towners as well.



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