Off-Track Activities – US Grand Prix

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Central Austin is bursting with activity day and night. There are plenty of things to do away from the track during the 2016 US Grand Prix weekend on October 21-23.

There’s a reason Austin is called the “live music capital of the world”: at practically any time of day you can hear live bands playing throughout downtown. So when you’re away from the track, make sure you take in all the city has to offer; have some time to take in a gig, eat some famous Tex-Mex or BBQ from a food truck, catch a film at the Alamo Drafthouse or go shopping on South Congress.

COTA Fan Fest in downtown Austin

The Fan Fest is a huge party in the center of Austin (check the location) that takes place over the Grand Prix weekend. You’ll find F1 and other motorsport displays, rides and other activities for the kids plus concerts on three stages all afternoon and evening (Friday-Saturday). Last year, Joan Jett and De La Soul played. Some F1 drivers also make an appearance and sign a few autographs. Details of this year’s Fan Fest have not yet been released. Watch out for updates on the COTA website.

Music on 6th Street and Red River

What began as one small street full of rock, folk and jazz clubs has exploded into and entire city of live music. Walk around between 2nd and 8th Streets or on Red River, home of some of the most famous clubs in the country, and catch the next Johnny Cash or Willie Nelson (or Willie Nelson himself). South Congress also has some famous locales, such as the Continental Club, where you can hear up and coming musicians making a name for themselves. Click here to learn more.

Shopping on South Congress

South Austin has turned from a hip alternative to the bustle of downtown into an attraction in its own right. The street that begins at the Austin Capitol building takes on a distinctive character once you cross the river and head south, and it’s there that you’ll find boutique stores offering unique gifts and traditional Texan favorites such as cowboy boots and hats. You can also stop for a bite to eat at the South Congress trailer park (Pictured above: image courtesy, where you’ll find food trucks with everything from Indian to Mexican to Thai food, or a more upscale selection of eateries on the street itself. More info on Tripadvisor.

The University of Texas

Whether you’re a former student remembering the good old days or a tourist wanting to see something new, it’s worth visiting the UT campus. The massive campus is the home to the largest public university in the U.S. and spans miles, on which you’ll find beautiful parks, ponds, interesting architecture, tons of cafes, restaurants and bars, and of course the UT Tower, from which you can get a bird’s eye view of the city. The campus is located just north of downtown, within walking distance. More information on the attractions of UT can be found here.

Zilker Park and the Greenbelt

Nature lovers will adore Austin’s green spaces and family-friendly activities. Start at Zilker Park (picture above courtesy, which is just south of downtown and offers fantastic views of the skyline. The park has a botanical garden as well as the famous Barton Springs, a natural spring where you can cool off nearly year-round. If you’re up for an adventure, rent a canoe or kayak and head out to Barton Creek, which flows out to the Colorado River that runs through the city. Or, explore the wild area known as the Greenbelt, where you can go hiking, mountain biking or kayaking.

Other things to do in Austin

Holiday Ideas

If you have a few extra days in your holiday itinerary, it’s worth hiring a car and taking a few day trips out of Austin to see more of what the Texas hill country has to offer:

  • Head south on I-35 for about an hour and you’ll be in San Antonio, home of the Alamo and the Riverwalk.
  • Head west for about two hours and you can visit Fredericksburg, Texas, a historic German settlement with a quaint downtown (pictured above: image courtesy
  • The Enchanted Rock State Recreation Area features plenty for the outdoor lover, especially if you fancy a climb
  • Lockhart is the heart of BBQ country near Austin, and is not to be missed if you love smoked meats and the best BBQ sauces in the country
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About the Author ()

Andrew Balfour is the Founder and Editor of He originally hails from Adelaide, where he went to his first F1 race way back in 1987. He's been resident in Europe for almost 15 years and travels regularly to F1 races around the world.

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