Quick, what’s the capital of Texas? Did you guess Dallas? Many people would, and many people would be wrong. Dallas enjoys a higher profile than the state capital of Austin, as do Houston and San Antonio. Nonetheless, Austin, with its status as capital, has become a vibrant—and quirky—city that has plenty to offer everyone, from the most casual tourist to the serious cultural traveler.
Austin is, in a lot of ways, the heart of Texas, celebrating Texan culture and history, as well as the uniqueness of the state, from its origins as a Mexican territory to its independence and, finally, to its incorporation into the U.S. If you want to experience a little bit of Texas—and a little bit of Americana in the process—Austin is your next stop. Whether you want to try some Texan cuisine, visit Native American monuments or learn more about people from Austin and its surrounding areas, the city is all too happy to oblige. Here are just 11 of the activities that make Austin a great vacation destination.
11. Enjoy a Real Cowboy Steak
Git along little doggie! The Lone Star state has a long history of ranching and Texan cuisine evolved around one of the state’s most abundant resources: cattle. Of course, there are plenty of ranching states (Wyoming, Montana), but the Texan steakhouse offers up bolder tastes, many of them heavily influenced by the nuances of Mexican cuisine. There’s a reason it’s called Tex-Mex!
Austin has its fair share (or perhaps more than its fair share) of spots offering up prime cuts, but some of the most well-regarded joints are Perry’s Steakhouse & Grille, Austin Land and Cattle (ALC) Steakhouse and downtown’s Roaring Fork, an establishment that cooks all of their steaks over a wood fire. Roaring Fork offers some Mexican-style dishes as well, though the influence can be seen on the menus of other steakhouses in their use of chili and jalapeno. Vegetarians, you’ve been warned—salad will seem dull and uninspired next to these meaty entrees.