For those of you who are from Austin or have lived long enough in the city to have endured multiple SXSW festivals, then you probably find yourself groaning as the ides of March draw nigh. However, instead of scouring the dictionary for the definition of agoraphobia and hunkering down in your house for the better part of the week, it is time to take your city back.
There is no need to humor your new-in-town friends and venture into the bowls of downtown Austin as it is overflowing with a gluttonous cornucopia of keynote speakers, interactive exhibitions, and musical performances. In fact, with a little insider know-how, you can avoid the overstimulation and throngs of tourists altogether and instead enjoy a quiet, empty Austin.
The question is, where do you go?
The East Side
A great place to start is Cuvée Coffee over in East Austin. This trendy shop is in prime real-estate for South-by goers, but somehow it remains calm even as festival activities swirl around it.
The reason behind this anomaly is the coffee house’s Wi-Fi blackout policy. With no way to upload their latest Instagram selfies or send a geo-tagged Snapchat, very few festival fans will pick up their coffee here.
Another great option, if you’re on the Eastside is Nubian Queen Lola’s Cajun Soul Food Café. This long-time neighborhood staple has been dishing out some of the best soul food east of I-35 for years. Somehow though it remains perpetually under the radar – maybe it has to do with the restaurant’s facade?
However, if you are looking for good food, good conversation, and lots of locals, this is where you need to stop. Just be careful that you don’t show up on a Sunday or a Monday. The restaurant will be closed on these days to feed the homeless.
The North Side
Should you find yourself on the north side of downtown, there are plenty of places to choose from. Generally, SXSW doesn’t migrate too far to the north, so there is a good chance that you’ll find yourself safe spot without looking too hard. But just in case you want to be prepared before you venture out, a good place to plan a visit to is the Austin Film Society.
This venue hosts screenings that are just as avante garde as anything you’ll encounter at SXSW. Their events just come without the lines. Plus, you can totally purchase beer and wine to help you unwind as you get carried away by the dialogue of their latest feature film.
Out of Town
For those of you that are just ready to throw up your hands and say, “To hell with it all,” maybe it’s time you took a hike. No, seriously, take a hike.
The greater Austin area is filled with trails that wind through beautiful scenery that should be bursting with wildflowers this time of year. Regardless of which point on the compass rose you select, you will find yourself headed to a divine destination.
Just east of town you’ll find Webberville Park off FM 969. A bit further on, you’ll pass Bastrop State Park off the TX 21. If you head southbound, stop in Wimberly or Gruene. These two little towns have all the Texas charm with none of the Texas-sized crowds.