Digital Nomad's Guide to Austin, Texas
Everything’s bigger in Texas – including all the opportunities the booming city of Austin has to offer. People from all over are flocking to Austin to work, play, and experience the intersection of tech and Old Texas charm.
On top of being a mecca for live music and great food, Austin, Texas has become a destination for entrepreneurs, startups, techies, and remote workers. Not to mention, Austin sees even more visitors every March when the giant festival and conference SXSW comes to town.
Here are some tips and recommendations for you if you’re planning on spending some time as a digital nomad in Austin, Texas, plus some tips on SXSW events and where to stay during SXSW.
Getting around Austin
It’s easy to get around town as an Austin digital nomad. Of course, renting a car is an option, but if you don’t want to drive, there are several other ways to get around and explore the city.
Outsite Austin - Bouldin Creek is in the Bouldin Creek neighborhood of Austin, which has a walk score of 81, meaning it’s pretty walkable, and most errands (like grocery shopping and coffee shop runs) can be accomplished on foot.
Renting a bike in Austin
Austin is a very bike friendly city, with plenty of bike lanes that make it easy and safe to get around. The city also has its own bike share program, called Austin BCycle which has 75 stations throughout the city, including Bouldin Creek. Uber Jump electric bikes are available in Austin, too.
E-scooters are a fun and eco-friendly way to get around Austin. Just download the Lime, Bird, or Uber Jump app to get started. Find a parked scooter, scan the QR code, and get riding. These scooters can go up to 15MPH and get you around locally pretty easily.
Uber or Lyft in Austin
Public Transportation in Austin
Getting around Austin with public transportation is simple. You can take either the bus or train. There is the Capital Metro bus system (which includes the MetroBus, MetroRapid, and MetroExpress) as well as the MetroRail.
Cafes with Wifi in Austin
This spot close by Outsite Austin is great for working. It’s bright, spacious, and there’s an outdoor patio. You can get all the classic drinks here, plus a house made nitro cold brew, and delicious local made pastries to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Ever heard of wood fired coffee? Summer Moon’s coffee is unique because they roast their organic coffee beans over an open flame in a brick roaster over Texas oak. You can get specialty drinks like a Cinnamoon latte, latte with “Moon Milk,” lavender infused lattes, and more. Bonus: It’s open until midnight on Monday through Friday!
Mañana is a trendy coffee shop inside of the South Congress Hotel. You’ll be able to drink coffee that’s locally roasted in Austin, as well as fresh cold pressed juice. The indoor space is bright and great for working, as is the spacious outdoor patio with plentiful outdoor seating with umbrella coverage.
If you want coffee with a view, head to the lakeside Mozart’s Coffee Roasters, where you can work with your laptop outside overlooking the water. They get their coffee beans from all around the world, and roast them in house. There’s an excellent assortment of pastries, as well.
Coffee, beer, and wifi – what more could you need? The spot is open ‘till midnight, so you can hang whether you’re working late to meet deadlines or just relaxing with a pint. The place has a great vibe, plenty of seating, and fan favorite Veracruz taco truck out back.
Where to eat in Austin
Matt’s El Rancho has been a city staple for authentic Tex-Mex fare ever since it opened in 1952. This is the place to go for all your taco, enchilada, and margarita cravings. Be sure to try the queso – it’s award winning!
If you’re a breakfast lover, this spot is for you. This vegetarian cafe serves up breakfast all day, and everything on the menu has a vegan version. They’re known for their tofu bacon, and the vegan BLT is a popular choice. As a bonus, there’s a monthly rotating art show, too.
Texans love their BBQ food, and you can bet you’ll find some of the best in Austin, whether you’re looking for the perfect brisket sandwich or beef ribs by the pound. Plus, they have classic sides, like delicious mac and cheese.
You wouldn’t expect to find authentic, delicious New York style pizza in Texas, but Home Slice is a pleasant surprise. They make home made hand tossed pizza that you can get by the slice or pie. You’ll find all the NY staples like Eggplant Parmesan pie and Margherita, along with essential sides like calzones.
You’ll find no shortage of amazing food trucks in Austin. There are plenty in the South First Street area, right nearby Outsite, perfect for quick lunch break bites. Around the city, there are some pretty well known food trucks, like The Vegan Nom, Austin’s original vegan tacos, a favorite of plant based locals and tourists alike.
Nightlife in Austin
The Continental Club is a must-see if you’re a music lover in Austin. You can catch live music every night of the week at this dive bar meets music venue. This spot has history, and plenty of legends have graced the stage in the past. Johnny Cash, anyone?
Looking for an LGBTQIA+ friendly spot? Cheer Up Charlies is the spot for live music, DJs, and drag shows. They also have some great happy hour deals, like $2 tall boys between 4 and 6. Can’t beat that, can you?
Like The Continental, Antone’s is a requirement to visit as a music lover in Austin. For over 40 years, this place has been a place where plenty of musical legends have performed – think B.B. King, Ray Charles, and Stevie Ray Vaughan. The club specializes in blues, and is open until 2 AM every night!
If you want something a bit swankier, head to Summit Rooftop Lounge where you can dance, sip on cocktails, and take in the downtown Austin skyline. The emphasis here is more on electronic music and DJs.
Love craft beer? Craft pride has over 50 unique draft beers on tap, and the bartenders are very knowledgeable about beer and can help you choose the perfect one for you. The bar is on Rainey Street, where you’ll find plenty of other fun bars to venture to, including the famous bungalow bars (residential houses that have been converted into bars!)
Startups in Austin
Texas is the number one US state to start a business in, and it shows! There are so many startups, and plenty of other entrepreneurs around to network with. Here are a few Austin startups to watch.
If you’ve been to a US airport lately, you might’ve seen some CLEAR kiosks. This Austin startup is a security company that makes getting through security at the airport or stadiums by using your eyes and fingerprints to confirm your identity.
This startup caters to shoppers who are looking to save a few bucks. This online coupon site shows you deals and promotions for basically every online store you can think of, both in person and online.
Vrbo, short for vacation rentals by owner, is similar to Airbnb but more focused on full houses rather than a room in the owner’s home. There are over two million rentals worldwide, and 24/7 customer service support. You'll find everything from beachside villas to unique cabins in the woods.
Looking to eat more healthy foods, reduce your waste, and be more sustainable? Lettuce is a meal kit delivery service – but the packaging is zero waste. Their produce is grown hyper-locally, and they turn underused yards and green spaces into mini farms. You can feel good about using this meal delivery service.
This Austin startup is a leader in the city’s fintech scene. They offer alternatives to traditional retirement funds and investments. Through Rocket Dollar, users can open a Self-Directed Solo 401(k) or Self-Directed IRA.
Where to stay for SXSW
Depending on your budget and the vibe you’re going for, you can find accommodation that’s perfect for you during your trip to Austin for SXSW.
The convention center where much of SXSW takes place is in Downtown Austin, so you’ll be super close to that if you stay downtown...but keep in mind, that means big crowds and likely higher rates for accommodation. Downtown is very walkable, and there will be no shortage of restaurants and nightlife to experience.
Across the river from downtown is the trendy neighborhood of South Congress, sometimes referred to as “SoCo.” This neighborhood is probably a lot of what you’ve seen on Instagram – trendy cafes and restaurants, street art, and murals.
This neighborhood is also right across the river from Downtown, and the buses make it easy to get from Bouldin Creek to Downtown in about 15 minutes. Here you’ll find the famous Greetings from Austin postcard mural, plenty of shopping, and delicious cafes and restaurants. This neighborhood is also home to Outsite Austin - Bouldin Creek.
East Austin is probably “The Brooklyn” of Austin, with an unmistakably hipster vibe. The neighborhood has a quieter, more laid back feel than Downtown Austin has, and it’s very walkable, filled with cafes and artists.
One of the coolest things about SXSW is how diverse all the programming is. There really is something for everybody. Here are some of the SXSW events that you can check out.
SXSW Music Festival: March 16–22, 2020
The SXSW music festival spans all genres and showcases musicians from over 60 countries. Showcases and performances take place all throughout Downtown Austin, not just in music venues, but also in parks, churches, and hotels.
SXSW Film Festival: March 13–21, 2020
Be the first to see tons of new movies and shorts, whether you prefer comedies or documentaries or anything in between. There are also competitions for films ranging from music videos to animated shorts to narrative features.
SXSW Comedy Festival: March 13-21, 2020
The SXSW comedy festival used to be one night only, and now it’s grown into an epic week long event. You’ll be able to see up-and-comers and established comedians perform standup, improv, and more.
SXSW Conference: March 13-21, 2020
While networking events and panels aren’t many peoples’ usual idea of a festival, the SXSW conference is an exciting opportunity to learn and network. There are 22 tracks of programming, including climate & social action, startups, game industry, future of music, and cannabusiness.
SXSW Exhibitions: March 14–21
On top of all the entertainment at SXSW, you have many options for exhibitions to check out, including trade shows, a huge marketplace, the SXSW wellness expo, and art installations.