- Posted by Jason Cohen
See the Bats of Congress Bridge
From mid-March until November, The Congress Avenue Bridge in downtown Austin is home to 1.5 million furry flying Mexican free-tail bats. So head down to the Town Lake waterfront at dusk and watch these beauties head out for their nightly foraging.
Eat Barbecue at Nine in the Morning
All of the best barbecue requires a bit of driving, so skip that afterparty on Friday and head 50 miles east to Snow's BBQ for brisket, pork steaks, ribs and sausage, cooked up by seventysomething pit mistress Tootsie Tomanetz. Celebrated by both Texas Monthly and The New Yorker's Calvin Trillin, Snow's is open on Saturdays only, "from 8 am till sold out."
Mark Thomas/Getty Images
Relive the Horror of Charles Whitman
The Texas Tower, where a deranged Charles Whitman opened fire and killed 15 people on the University of Texas campus in 1966, is available for tours, and you can still see a few remaining bullet marks on one of its limestone walls. A brand-new documentary about the killings, 'Sniper '66,' is playing at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum until the end of March.
AP Photo/Harry Cabluck
Support the (Outsider) Arts
In addition to being one of first places to hold SXSW day parties, Yard Dog Gallery shows the work of musician-artists Rico Bell, Daniel Johnston and Jad Fair, as well as countless folk art practitioners from across America. The March exhibit features Jon Langford of Meekons and Waco Brothers, and several of his finest paintings.
Michael Connell / Flickr
Eat a Dirty Sanchez Taco
It's better than it sounds. Torchy's Tacos serves some of the best in Austin, breakfast or otherwise. And if you don't want the Dirty Sanchez (scrambled eggs with guacamole, fried poblano chili, escabeche carrots and shredded cheese served on a flour tortilla with poblano ranch sauce) or one of Torchy's more appealingly named specials, build your own.
swanksalot / Flickr
Get Naked and Swim
Barton Springs Pool is the city's main aquatic treasure, and Hamilton Pool is an excellent nearby out-of-town option. But if you really want to revel in nature, Hippie Hollow on Lake Travis is the only choice.
Play Chicken S--- Bingo
Stick around Austin on Sunday after SXSW and you'll get the best that Ginny's Little Longhorn Saloon offers: the honky-tonk and rockabilly of Dale Watson (notice him on 'Friday Night Lights' as the junkyard owner), and the chance to win some money gambling on the bathroom habits of a chicken.
AP Photo/Seth Perlman, File
Beware the Feral Parakeets!
Amid the many attractions around Zilker Park and Lady Bird Lake (including the hike and bike trail, the aforementioned Stevie Ray Vaughan statue and, in Butler Park, a hill named after Texas music great Doug Sahm and a Bellagio-like water and light fountain), you'll find a colony of monk parakeets, purportedly released into the wild in 1991.
Phil Cole/Getty Images
Go Vinyl Shopping
Beyond Waterloo Records, Austin still supports a bunch of little stores that focus on punk, indie and experimental music, including End of an Ear, Friends of Sound and Trailer Space. The latter is also a live music venue on many nights, and further nurtures an indie-rock clubhouse vibe with arcade games and pinball.
opethpainter / Flickr