5 Apps for Visiting Austin
The capital of Texas is far from a traditional Southern city full of governmental buildings and courthouses. On the contrary, Austin enjoys the title “Live Music Capital of the World.” The city acts as the perfect home to the famous annual conference and festival South By Southwest, but year-round, its residents embrace music, art, film, food carts and more. It goes without saying: Austin makes for a fun trip.
Whether you’re attending SXSW in March or visiting for a long weekend, we’ve gathered five apps to help you navigate the central Texas city and enjoy pretty close to all it has to offer. Rest up (you’ll need it before you attend the mass of concerts and nightlife spots) and you may want to consider fasting for a day or two (the city’s food carts are must-tries). But most of all, enjoy your trip to Austin, or start planning one if you haven’t been there yet.
You may think travel guides for tourists are boring, and for the most part, you’re right. We’ll grab visitor pamphlets only to throw them away five minutes later, after briefly glancing at those ginormous, complicated maps. So trust us when we say that the Austin Travel Guide app is different. It’s worth your pennies if you truly want to experience Austin.
Our favorite part of the app is the Hello Austin section, which gathers a few of the guide’s top recommendations for a variety of categories. If you just want to check out cool places to chill out, this section has some names and locations for you, or if you want the best margarita in town, it has that too. You can browse suggested itineraries, facts about the town and random “did you know” tidbits that help explain the city’s tagline, “Keep Austin Weird.” ($5.99 for iPhone)
According to the Austin Travel Guide app, the city’s plethora of food trailers is “a symbol of the low-key entrepreneurialism that represents Austin at its best.”
Symbol or no symbol, how can you resist gourmet hot dogs, cupcakes, crépes and tacos served from decked-out food trucks? There’s even a whole show on Food Network devoted to these things. If you’re in Austin, please do us a favor and skip Applebee’s for one of these unique eateries on wheels.
To help you sort through the trucks, trailers and silver bullets that scatter the city, download AustinFoodCarts. This free app lets you search for food carts by cuisine or location, and it provides plenty of information about the places, including directions, menus and hours of operation (yes, some will be open when you leave the bar at 2 a.m.). Have fun trying Austin’s local (mobile) delicacies. (Free for iPhone)
If we can’t convince you to try some grub from a food truck, then at least give inBloom a whirl. inBloom is a Yelp-like app that lets you search for organic and sustainable locations. It first launched early this year for the New York City area, but lucky for us (and you), it just rolled out for Austin. And while Austin is the “Live Music Capital of the World,” it’s fitting that the app was created and developed by two musicians: Andy Ross of OK Go and Eytan Oren of Eytan and the Embassy.
To find eateries, you can search by a variety of specific diets, such as vegan or locavore, or by cuisine, price and eco status (if the restaurant composts, recycles, has energy-efficient lighting, etc.). You can search for shopping destinations such as grocery stores or apparel shops, or you can browse B&Bs, hotels, fuel stops and more within the Travel section.
Whether you live by a strict diet or you simply like to live a green lifestyle, inBloom is your app to track down desirable places quickly and easily. (Free for iPhone)
You can’t visit Austin without catching some local concerts. Well, you could, but we don’t recommend it. To help you search by date, artist and location easily, we give you the free JamBase app.
JamBase is incredibly simple to use, yet it provides an extensive, impressive list of live gigs. Check out the bands performing in Austin during the weekend you visit, and purchase tickets from the app. Or if you’re in Austin, the app’s GPS search capabilities will produce a listing of what’s playing around you and when. (Free for Android and iPhone)
This is an essential location-finder app for any city, really. Poynt locates nearly anything you want to find. All locations are divided into seven basic categories, including Businesses, Restaurants and Events.
If you want to do some research before you visit, set Austin as the city of focus within the app‘s settings. But once you’re in Austin, you can easily find anything you need via GPS location. You can search for events such as live concerts or rodeos, plus you can obtain useful basics such as the weather. Poynt helps round up all of this information in one place, so no matter where you go in Austin, you’ll know the closest places to you. Then, when you find a place, use the app to snag directions, phone numbers and websites. And, you can share your check-ins with your social networks to rub in the fact that you’re indulging in Austin’s hotspots. (Free for Android, BlackBerry and iPhone)