First-timer Survival Tips.

Plan your schedule. Review the panels listed on SXSW.com and click "Add to Schedule" while logged in. This will create an easy guide to the talks you want to attend, and allow you to see your days at a glance.

RSVP for the "unofficial" parties. While there are a bunch of official parties a SXSW Interactive that don't require an RSVP, many companies also host their own events in Austin without the help of SXSW. You can find a lot of of these "unofficial" parties on GarysGuide or Eventbrite, but RSVP early because the guest lists fill up fast.

Upload your headshot. Log into your SXSocial.com account and upload a headshot to your profile before you leave for Austin. If you don't, you'll be forced to pose for a blurry, unflattering photo when you pick up your badge, which will just take up more of your time.

Skip the airport cab line. At peak times, braving the taxi line can take awhile. Consider calling a local Austin cab company and scheduling a car to pick you up at the airport when you land. Or take the MetroAirport bus downtown, which takes about 30 minutes.

Show up early. The most popular SXSW sessions (particularly the keynotes or anything involving a celebrity) fill up fast—and they’re first come, first served. If there's a speaker you really want to see, consider lining up early to ensure you get in.

Bring cash for pedicabs. Ever since Uber and Lyft were banned in Austin, pedicabs have become the best bet for getting around downtown Austin. There's also too much car traffic for actual cabs to be useful (and they're impossible to catch). Though some pedicab drivers take credit card payments via Square, most take only cash. Fares are negotiable and vary by driver, so make sure you agree on an amount before you begin your ride. And, remember that they’re physically hauling you around the city, so tip well.

Rideshare. Uber and Lyft stopped operating in Austin last year, but check out local rideshare options Ride Austin and Fasten when you need a lift.

Get your own power source. At many SXSW event locations, electrical outlets are few and far between and usually fiercely guarded by someone who got there first. Sponsors sometimes set up free charging stations in and around the Convention Center, but you'll probably have to fight for an outlet. It's worth purchasing an extra battery pack for your phone, like a Mophie Juice Pack for the iPhone.

Rent a bike. Beats walking, right?

Pack for comfort (and weather). It often rains (and sometimes pours) in March, so it’s worth packing a light raincoat and umbrella for your trip. Unless you’re renting a bike, expect to spend a lot of time on your feet, so bring shoes that won’t make you suffer.

Make the most of Midnight Cowboy. If you’re a client or friend of Huge, escape the insanity and get some work done at our exclusive hangout spot on 6th Street. Take advantage of the complementary wifi, meeting rooms, breakfast tacos, and bottomless bar. Email sxsw@hugeinc.com for more info.

Where's good.

For fun times and good eats.

Barley Swine

Barley Swine

2024 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78704

$$$

512.394.8150

Locals know this highbrow gastropub emanates the weirdness that Austinites prize above all else. Come early to avoid the crowd.


The Driskill

The Driskill

604 Brazos St. Austin, TX 78701

$$$

512.391.7039

The central hub of the SXSW scene, with the 1886 Café & Bakery, Driskill Grill and The Driskill Bar. Beware! It's the most haunted hotel in Texas.


East Side King

East Side King

$$

Hole in the Wall:
2538 Guadalupe St, Austin, TX 78705

512.363.5365

Asian fusion options from Top Chef chef Paul Qui.


Easy Tiger

Easy Tiger

709 E 6th St, Austin, TX 78701

$$

512.614.4972

Head to the bar downstairs, which has an excellent selection of beers and a German beer hall-styled menu. Don't miss the airy patio out back.


Frank

Frank

407 Colorado St, Austin, TX 78701

$

512.494.6916

Skip the gut-buster grease fest for one of the best cups of coffee in Downtown Austin.


Hillside Farmacy

Hillside Farmacy

1209 E 11th St, Austin, TX 78702

$$$

512.628.0168

A restaurant/bar housed in an old pharmacy. Need we go on?


Moonshine Patio Bar & Grill

Moonshine Patio Bar & Grill

303 Red River Street. Austin, TX 78701

$$

512.236.9599

Enjoy Austin's best breakfast buffet at Moonshine’s spacious outdoor patio.


Perla’s

Perla’s

1400 S. Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704

$$

512.291.7300

Book it

Sit outside and eat seafood.


Bangers

Banger’s Sausage House and Beer Garden

79 & 81 Rainey St, Austin, TX 78701

$$

512.386.1656

The largest tap wall in Austin, turducken sausage, and live music playing in the backyard.


Taco Trucks & Trailers

Taco trucks & trailers.

Pueblo Viejo · El Primo · Veracruz

Sit-down Tex-Mex.

Curra’s Grill · Polvos · El Alma · La Condesa · Takoba

Pizza.

Home Slice · The Backspace

BBQ.

Franklin BBQ

Franklin BBQ

900 E 11th St, Austin, TX 78702

$$

512.653.1187

Franklin's is an institution--and it’s hard to get in. Line up at 9 am for a shot at that legendary brisket.


Kerlin BBQ

Kerlin BBQ

1700 E Cesar Chavez St, Austin, TX 78702

$

512.412.5588

Thrillist calls Kerlin one of the 15 best BBQ joints in the United States.


La Barbeque

La Barbeque

902 E Cesar Chavez St, Austin, TX 78702

$$

512.605.9696

Recently rated the best BBQ in Austin, so expect a ridiculous line.


Lambert's

Lambert's

401 W 2nd St, Austin, TX 78701

$$

512.494.1500

Lambert's consistently turns out quality food and drinks within walking distance of the convention center. Ask for the Frito Pie.


Micklethwait Craft Meats

Micklethwait Craft Meats

1309 Rosewood Ave, Austin, TX 78702

$

512.791.5961

The “th” is silent at this local joint where everything is made from scratch.


Stubb's Bar-B-Q

Stubb's Bar-B-Q

801 Red River St, Austin TX, 78702

$$

512.480.8341

A classic barbecue spot with all the meat you could want.


For entertaining clients and whatnot.

Contigo Texas

Contigo Texas

2027 Anchor Lane, Austin, TX 78723

$$

512.614.2260

Book it.

Eat outside at this East Austin joint modeled on a Texan ranch.


Jeffrey’s of Austin

Jeffrey’s of Austin

1204 W Lynn St Austin, TX 78703

$$$

512.477.5584

Book it.

Zagat describes Jeffrey’s as one of the classiest restaurants in Austin, so bring the corporate card.


Odd Duck

Odd Duck

1201 S Lamar Boulevard, Austin, TX 78704

$$

512.433.6521

Book it.

Farm-to-table goodness.


Olive & June

Olive & June

3411 Glenview Ave, Austin, TX 78703

$$

512.467.9898

Book it.

The newest Italian restaurant from Parkside chef Shawn Cirkiel.


Parkside

Parkside

301 E 6th St, Austin, TX 78701

$$

512.474.9898

Book it.

Conveniently located and perfect for a nice seafood meal (or an even better happy hour). It’s guaranteed to be busy but the service is always professional.


Uchi & Uchiko

Uchi & Uchiko

Uchi: 801 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78704

Uchiko: 4200 N Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78756

$$$

512.916.4808

Book 'em.

Two of the best Japanese restaurants in the United States. Book ahead or take advantage of any invitation that comes your way.


For playing hooky.

Allen’s Boots

Allen’s Boots

1522 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704

512.447.1413

Where better to pick up a pair of cowboy boots, than in Texas?


Lady Bird Lake

Lady Bird Lake

Central Austin

If you're in need of a quick escape to nature, Lady Bird Lake is a few minutes away from all of the action Downtown. The trail that surrounds Lady Bird is a must for runners.


Uncommon Objects

Uncommon Objects

1512 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704

512.442.4000

This South Congress shop is considered by some to be one of the best places for antiques, curios and collectibles.