5 reasons why Austin is the new LA and you can spot Harry Potters Daniel Radcliffe07/31/2022
There’s no better place in the world to tip your cowboy hat and shout “yeehaw” than Texas. The Lone Star state boasts almost 300,000 square miles of southern charm and the city of Austin is considered the live music capital of the world. Take that, Nashville…
From Tex-Mex barbecues to whip-cracking honky-tonk, the state capital is a must-see holiday spot that’s become a rival to Los Angeles. Austin hosts the famous South by Southwest Festival – visitors glimpsed Sandra Bullock, Nicholas Cage and Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe at this year’s event – fancy!
And, apparently, it’s the fastest growing metropolitan in the country and Elon Musk is inspiring a new Silicon Valley by building a Tesla factory in the area.
Until recently, a trip to Austin was a slog, with Brits spending more than 13 hours in the air with a change or two en route. But with Virgin Atlantic now flying direct from London four times a week, it’s time to saddle up and start sightseeing.
Here's a few more reasons why we're Austin comes out on top for us…
The super sunny city is a celeb-magnet!
Over a million people call Austin home – and for good reason.
It’s one of the sunniest cities in America (300 days of rays a year), giving sunshine state Florida a run for its money. It’s pretty famous, too – Hollywood hits Boyhood, Miss Congeniality, Kill Bill: Vol 1 and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape were all filmed on its streets, while Willie Nelson and Stevie Ray Vaughan settled here to reimagine country music.
Oh, and there’s a chance you could bump into Matthew McConaughey who’s got a mansion nearby.
You’ll find live acts singing at speakeasy joints and enough breakfast tacos to cure sore heads on a Sunday morning. We recommend Veracruz All Natural to try tacos filled with egg, bacon, pinto beans and Monterey Jack cheese. Delicious!
The hotels are incredible
Tourists love the motel experience in America but sometimes a little bit of luxury goes a long way. The Fairmont Hotel delivers serious pizazz with contemporary rooms and a rooftop pool.
We spent an afternoon sipping pina coladas from hollowed-out coconuts and soaking up panoramic views of the city skyline. With temperatures soaring up to 43°C (110°F) in summer, the pool is a welcome relief.
It's a hippie haven
For all you free spirits, it’s legal for women to whip off their tops in public in Austin, which is home to the only nudist beach in Texas. Follow the Colorado River to Hippie Hollow Park for a clothing-optional dip or cover up and dive into Barton Springs – a set of four natural water springs in Zilker Park.
The sunsets are spectacular
We saddled up with Mike’s Bikes for a two-wheeled tour of the urban jungle and followed the sound of squeaking bats to Congress Avenue bridge. The largest urban bat colony in the US roosts in the structure above Lady Bird Lake during spring and summer. At sunset each evening, you can see 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats take flight. The sight is like nothing we’d experienced before.
You meet real cowboys
Horseback riding, archery and axe throwing are just some of the rootin’ tootin’ activities on offer at Lone Star Ranch.
Located minutes from downtown Austin, it has idyllic bridleways and delicious sizzling slow-cooked brisket, sausage and beans. I took a heavenly trot through the wild ranch land on my trusty steed Taquito before kicking back with a Texan beer. Bliss!
And you can’t be a cowboy without the right clothes, so a trip to Allens Boots is in order. The Western wares store sits on South Congress Avenue, the city’s retail strip, boasting concept stores and open markets full of handmade souvenirs. I tried a range of cowboy hats and shirts at Allens before settling on a pair of hot red boots – my cowgirl transformation was complete!
How to book
Virgin Atlantic flies from London Heathrow to Austin four times a week, increasing to daily from spring 2023. For further information and to book, visit virginatlantic.com. Return economy fares start at £516 per person.
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