Austin Two-Step with Justin Marler

1. How would you describe the spirit of Austin, San Antonio & The Hill Country?

The spirit of Austin is John Wayne meets Andy Warhol, San Antonio is Davy Crockett, and the Hill Country is Willie Nelson.

2. Austin is considered to be the live music capital of the world. Where is the best place to go see a show?

For every genre of music there is a different answer. The best place to hear country and dance the two-step is The Broken Spoke. The best blues is found at Antone’s, and the best alternative rock is at Emo’s. The best place to hear pop? Well, actually you can’t find pop here.

3. Where should BBQ fans go to get the best?

The best BBQ is at Rudy’s. The cutters choice is supreme. Don’t be turned off by the fact that Rudy’s is located in a gas station. For overall BBQ experience the best place is a short drive west from Austin in the small town of Driftwood. The Salt Lick is famous for their Civil War period receipt, and the patina on the walls. Oh, and the amazing BBQ that’s been featured on numerous travel shows.

4. Name three can’t-miss sights.

When visiting Austin you have to visit the LBJ Library and Museum. The name sounds boring, but a visit here will make you laugh when you hear a mechanical replica of LBJ tell jokes, and possibly choke up a little when you hear the audio tapes from the time JFK was assassinated. Also, a visit to Austin is not complete without a trip the state capitol, and a stroll down South Congress Avenue, which is home to lots of locally owned shops and restaurants.

5. What do you consider the best place, or places, to stay on a budget?

Best place to stay on a shoestring is Austin Motel—hands down. This old school hotel is cheap, slightly comfortable, and extremely hip. Did I mention it’s located on South Congress and affords easy access to just about everything?

6. Which music festivals in the area top the charts?

Anyone that knows anything about music should already know the answer to this question. Let me prime the pump: South by Southwest, Austin City Limits Music Festival and the Kerrville Folk Festival are a few to start. Bring lots of water, wear sun screen, and leave your iPod at home.

7. What are some of the best activities to do with kids?

Austin, and all of Texas for that matter, is a family friendly corner of the US. A day with the kids could include a visit to the Natural History Museum where there is a giant dinosaur armadillo the size of a VW bug. A ride around Zilker Park on the kiddy train called the “Zilker Zephyr” is always a hit, even for shoe-gazing teenagers. If you have a car and are up for a road trip, you can always head into the Hill Country and explore underground caves at Natural Bridge Caverns, zip through Cypress tree tops at Cypress Canopy Tours, or even spend a couple nights in a genuine dude ranch. No matter what you chose, your adventures must be capped off with a trip to Amy’s Ice Cream, where they spank candy into the ice cream.

8. What’s the best way to get around town?

The best free way to get around Austin is by Dillo. These trolley-like busses have limited routes that circle around the central area of Austin. Besides this, the best way to get around is walking, that is if you are staying at the Austin Motel, or are lodging in the downtown area. However, if you want to leave the city center, you’ll probably want to have a car.

9. When is the best time of the year to visit?

Austin has amazing weather for 9 months out of the year, so you can visit almost any time. However, things are little quiet in the winter months (December and January). That said, the best time to visit is in March and April because all the wildflowers are in bloom, the trees are green, and the weather is not too hot. Be ready for the heat if you come in the summer months and pack accordingly.

10. What would people be surprised to know about Austin, San Antonio or the Hill Country?

The thing that surprises folks about Austin is that this progressive, crazy little city is located in Texas. Because of the arts, music, and overall liberal leaning, Austin seems like it’s a country version of Berkeley, Calif. This can be shocking to the system for some. Shocking, not as in electric chair (Texas is famous for this), but shocking as in adding a little electricity and zap to your world view.

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