• Enjoying a Massage: With a little planning ahead for that idle hour, you can change the whole complexion of the rest of your day. This is very much a common practice here, and when in Rome (er, Austin) . . . Most independent hotels can arrange an appointment with a massage therapist.
  • Strolling up South Congress: You never know what you're going to find when walking along this row of shops, eateries, and galleries. It's the best window-shopping in Austin. You'll be hard-pressed to keep it to just an hour.
  • Browsing through Tesoros: This store is one of a kind, but, as it deals in imports, has nothing in the way of local goods. Still, visitors and locals are fascinated by the variety of crafts and folk art for sale. There's plenty to capture the eye across a wide range of prices.
  • The B Scene at the Blanton Museum: On the first Friday of every other month, local art lovers socialize over wine and finger food at the new Blanton Museum. Music, too, is provided, but not so much that it puts a damper on the conversation.
  • Early Evenings at Scholz Garten: At Austin's oldest drinking establishment, you can buy a pint of draft beer and claim your spot at one of the large picnic tables that fill the outdoor patio. People show up after work to slow down and enjoy some casual conversation. On Thursday evenings in cool weather, a brass band will play for beer, and they're not bad.
  • First Thursdays in SoCo: The first Thursday of every month is a lively time on South Congress. Crowds show up to hear the free music, look over the goods at the street stalls, and enter the shops that stay open late for the occasion. You never know who or what will show up, and everyone is in the mood to have a good time.
  • The Broken Spoke: There are a lot of dance halls in central Texas, but you would be hard-pressed to find a better, more fun place to go than this one. You'll see lots of local color and enjoy the easygoing society that Austin is known for. Everybody has a good time.
  • Best State Jingoism (Austin): It’s far from tasteless or badly done, but the huge star that fronts the Bullock Texas State History Museum announces that you’re entering a temple to the Lone Star State. The exhibits are laser focused on Texas’s many accomplishments, and a film in the Spirit Theater proudly proclaims, “We’re all Texans.” I defy you to walk away from here without hankering for a pair of cowboy boots. 
  • Best Evidence of Barbecue Addiction (Austin): The arguments over who has the best barbecue in town and whether the Austin branches meet the standards of the originals in rural Texas are endless—and sometimes rancorous. But the true sign of serious addiction is the willingness to line up for hours to buy the brisket at Franklin Barbecue. Lots of people bring chairs and coolers with drinks and settle in. It’s a way to make friends with fellow members of the city’s smoked meat cult.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.