16 Things to Do in Austin When You’re Not Catching Sets at ACL Fest

Great food, fun and activities near Austin City Limits Music Festival

By Meher Qazilbash
What To Do Besides ACL Fest
Photo by Roger Ho

When ACL Fest arrives, Austinites tend to forget about all the exciting things available to us besides the live music sets. For those looking for delights outside of the concerts, there are plenty of opportunities to make memories and amuse ourselves. Here are some of our favorite events and happenings around town for good eats, good fun and good causes during the upcoming ACL weekends.

Where to eat

Carpenter Biergarten

Carpenter Hotel, October 1-3 & October 8-10

Join in on Oktoberfest activities at the unique Carpenter Hotel which will be transforming its property into a Biergarten for both weekends of ACL. For locals and festival-goers looking for a weekend pit-stop, the Carpenter Biergarten will be free to enter with bites and beverage offerings from 4:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. Try some of their pretzels, brats, and beer and wine (available to purchase with Biergarten Bucks) or enjoy brunch each morning of the festival from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

TLC Oyster Festival

TLC Austin, October 2nd

Attend TLC Oyster Festival for a full day of all things oysters! Hosted by one of Austin’s best spots for Texas comfort food, TLC’s East Coast, West Coast, and Gulf oyster specials will be accompanied by live music, cocktail and Tattinger champagne specials, along with oyster shucking and eating competitions with cash pot prizes. Head over from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. and experience a delicious festival without the crowds of ACL.

Smash ATX

Opening October 6

Pick up your paddle and check out the brand new restaurant, ping-pong bar and event space Smash ATX. Located downtown, the restaurant will offer eclectic menus for lunches, dinners, Sunday brunches and happy hours while inviting ping pong players of all levels to challenge one another in a relaxed urban setting. Amuse yourself with a few rounds of table tennis while enjoying menu highlights like the ATX Hot Chicken Sandwich or The Cali Burrito.

Austin Eastciders

1530 Barton Springs Rd.

Stop by Austin Eastciders’ new restaurant for some tasty bites and sips. The Barton Springs location gives guests the option of tasting all of the cidery’s fabulous drinks along with pizzas, sandwiches and snacks. This food and beverage treasure is located right by Zilker, giving festival-goers a great option for a pre-ACL meal.

Home Slice

September 30 – October 3 & October 7-10

Visitors hoping to check Home Slice off their Austin bucket list will be happy to know the pizza place will be offering extended hours during both ACL weekends. All locations of the Austin staple will be serving slices of New York style pizza from 11:00 a.m. to midnight. Sink your teeth into the award-winning pies to remind yourself why this pizza joint is so highly sought after.

 

What to do

Spider House Ballroom’s Market

October 2nd

Be a part of the grand re-opening of one of Austin’s legendary event venues! Spider House Ballroom will be celebrating its return as well as kicking off its new monthly vendor market. From 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., explore this free event featuring over 25 amazing vendors selling vintage goods, oddities and collectables. You can also find tattoos, tooth gems, a photo booth and free beer at the event while supplies last.

Butler Pitch & Putt Night Golf

September 29 – October 29

Spend your evening at Butler Pitch & Putt’s golf course and participate in Night Golf. This shotgun-style 9-hole round is played in the moonlight with glow-in-the-dark golf balls. Fun and challenging, the after-dark activity will be held on multiple dates throughout the month of October. For those that prefer a round of golf in the daylight, the park will also be keeping up with their normal hours.

Kendra Scott’s ACL Festival Pre-Party & Styling Event

October 1 – 10

If you’ve been stressing about styling your ACL outfit, worry no more. Finalize your festival look at the Kendra Scott Flagship on South Congress with complimentary dry hair styling. The ongoing event includes a Braid Bar, temporary festival tattoos, happy hour specials from Sips & Sweets Cafe and more treats in-store. The recent Wanderlust Collection is also available now, giving shoppers a chance to add some sparkle to their weekend activities.

Pumpkin Nights at Pioneer Farms

September 30 – October 31

Experience Pumpkin Nights, where those who dare will set out to discover spooky surprises built by artists using over 5,000 hand-carved pumpkins. The unforgettable Halloween walking path features 10 foot-tall Jack o’ Lanterns, the world’s largest pumpkin guitar, a flying 40-foot handmade dragon, and a life-size pumpkin pirate. Rain or shine, guests will be able to stroll and gaze at the pumpkin sculptures every evening of October at 5:30 p.m.

Texas Farmer’s Market

Every Sunday

This ongoing event at Mueller Lake Park is arguably Austin’s favorite farmer’s market. On Sundays starting at 9:00 a.m., you can peruse fresh vegetables and artisan foods from local vendors and farmers, all of whom sell only what they grow or produce without reselling or repackaging. Visitors can enjoy their goods from this weekly market without guilt, knowing that what they consume has been created using sustainable practices and humane treatment of animals.

Open Studios at Canopy

October 2, November 6 & December 4

Let inspiration strike, and admire the stunning work of Austin artists at Canopy, the creative complex located in East Austin. Visitors will be able to freely explore the artist studios, creative office spaces, art galleries and the cafe, all linked together with communal courtyards. This community artistic experience is available on the first Saturday of each month, starting at 1:00 p.m.

 

Non-concert activities at ACL

Party For The Parks

October 6

Listen to great music for a great cause at Austin Parks Foundation’s annual fundraiser, Party for the Parks. The celebration will be bringing Austin’s own Black Pumas to perform. Whether you choose to join in person or live stream the concert from home, know that your support is critical to our parks, which have become even more important for our community since the beginning of the pandemic.

Bumble Hive Pop-up

October 1-3 & October 8-10

When taking a break from dancing, the Bumble Hive pop-up activation is a great place to recharge. Available on both weekends of ACL, the space will allow you to charge your phone, snag free merch, and update your profile with the Bumble profile photobooth. Simply show your Bumble profile to enjoy the lounge with other festival-goers, and possibly connect with a new match.

American Express Market

October 1-3 & October 8-10

Support small businesses and explore the open-air Shop Small Market from American Express. The outdoor market will feature various pop-up shops from local businesses such as Austin Art Garage, Exit 82, Espacio Handmade, LeighElana, Mana Culture, and Teyshaand Ubuntu Life. Fans can also receive special perks by scanning the Amex QR codes located throughout ACL Fest grounds, including a clear sling bag, custom monogramming and more.

Aviator Nation

October 1-3 & October 8-10

Take a break from ACL festivities at the Aviator Nation booth to get cool, comfy and colorful looks from the California lifestyle brand. Kick back and follow @AviatorNation for special giveaways all week long as well as discounted festival pricing on limited edition merchandise.

Tito’s Party In The Shack

October 1-3 & October 8-10

Go on an adventure outside of ACL Fest and shake things up at Tito’s Party in the Shack. The event will offer custom swag, personalized dog tags and a glimpse into the brand’s history in Austin. Visitors also get the chance to sign up and become an official Tito’s Taster for free WiFi, giving ACL attendees the perfect compliment to the festivities.


Read More From the Style Issue | September 2021


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