Filled with perpetual sunshine, music festivals, and more swimming holes than you can count, most people choose to visit Austin in the summer. And while we'll support that 110 percent, it's worth noting that Austin actually (and unexpectedly) does fall just as well. The autumn here may be brief, but this transitional season is still packed with fun festivals, irresistible foods, and unbeatable views. So from quaint corn mazes to epic Halloween bashes, here are 8 reasons why Austin Rules at Fall.
Fall Festivals Galore
Whether you’re here for the music or the food, Austin has literally hundreds of festivals that take place during the fall. One of the most famous fall festivals in town is the iconic Austin City Limits festival, which is an incredible three-day live music expo that takes place in October at Zilker Park. The illustrious stages of ACL festival have seen some of the most talented musicians in the world and this year’s lineup is no exception, with scheduled performances by Jay-Z, Foster the People, The Gorillaz and The Killers. For those of you who are looking for a bratwurst and beer packed party, then head to Austin’s German-inspired Austoberfest, or to the Pecan Street Festival in downtown Austin, with food, live music, crafts and more. Lastly, the Austin Film Fest and Fantastic Fest are filled with movies of all genres, from horror to romance.
Spectacular Fall Menus
Once that first leaf falls, it’s time to bust out the pumpkin spice. In Austin, fall means a spectacular selection of cold-weather foods and special autumn menus. Restaurants all over the city start incorporating fresh harvest vegetables in their recipes, and even bars begin to mix it up with fall-inspired cocktails. If you’ve got a serious sweet tooth, stop by Sugar Mama’s Bake Shop and HeyCupcake for some scrumptious pumpkin spice cupcakes. Or, reserve a table at Odd Duck for a delectable seasonal farm to table menu. Then for dessert, grab a saucy drink of sugar and spice at Nightcap or Josephine House.
UT Football Frenzy
Texas is known for many things: BBQ, country music, and football included. For NFL fans, Texas is home to the Houston Texans and illustrious Dallas Cowboys. And for college football followers there’s dozens of renowned schools that host unforgettable games throughout the season. But during the fall, a serious UT football fever takes over the city, and even if you’re not particularly a sports fan, Longhorn fever is definitely contagious! Everywhere you look, folks are proudly donning UT’s signature burnt orange colors, ready to take on anyone who says the Longhorns aren’t the best. So if you’re in Austin during the fall, then it’s totally worth it to go to an awesome UT football game and watch the action unfold right on Texas’s home turf.
Way Cooler Weather
For most of the year, Texas is a humid hot plate. Winters in the south are notoriously brief and the falls virtually nonexistent, but there are a few precious weeks when the Texas heat lets up a little and a familiar fall breeze blows through the air. If you’re the outdoorsy type, this marks the perfect time of year to do things outside. While the northern half of the country is busy bundling up and hiding inside to escape the looming winter, people in Austin are hiking in shorts and t-shirts at Enchanted Rock and relaxing in kayas on Ladybird Lake. We recommend making the most of the time you've got during this season — book a blissful rooftop dinner at Iron Cactus or Eastside Tavern and enjoy a perfectly mild evening at the Blue Starlite Drive-in.
Kickass Halloween Parties
Austin is known for being an eccentric and lovably weird city — hence the slogan “Keep Austin Weird”. But, somehow, during Halloween Austin manages to get even weirder with bizarre haunted tours, Halloween-themed events and ghoulishly fun parties. If you’re not that into the scary stuff, then Austin’s Boo at the Zoo nighttime spectacular and Zilker Park’s haunted train ride are super cute ways to celebrate the holiday. For the true horror fans, HauntedATX will take you to Austin’s scariest haunted spots inside an actual hearse and a walk through the House of Torment will scare your socks off. After being petrified by a parade of poltergeists, you can dance 'til you drop at the popular Zombie Ball or head to The Highball for an all-night Halloween bash.
Beer, Beer and More Beer
One thing’s for sure, Texas does not mess around when it comes to craft beer. The state is filled with local breweries and beer hubs that specialize in celebrating the flavors and traditions of the south. While you can get a full-bodied Austin IPA or a blonde pale ale any time of the year, there are a few special flavors that are only released during the fall. Once the first hints of cold weather start, the beers gets darker and the flavors become more complex. From fruity hard ciders and amber ales to pints of lager that will put hair on your chest, Austin has a veritable bevy of fall beers that are sure to get you in the holiday spirit. Not to mention the Texas Craft Brewer’s festival: the largest outdoor annual beer expo in Texas, which takes places every fall right in the heart of Austin.
Fun Farms and Corn Mazes
The rolling hills and lush landscapes of central Texas provide some of the most beautiful views around. And Austin is surrounded by sprawling and fruitful farms in every direction. During the fall, these central Texas farms turn into super fun community hubs where you can find fun autumn activities like corn mazes, pumpkin patches, live music and more. Take a short drive to the beautiful Barton Hill Farms in Bastrop for their annual harvest festival with corn mazes, live shows, food and lawn games. Or, visit the historic living museum at Pioneer Farms, where you can get a glimpse of life on the Texas prairie, learn the age-old art of knife-making and blacksmithing, or even take a haunted ghost tour through the farm.
Breathtaking Southern Scenery
Austin’s autumn season may be fleeting, but it’s still one of the most glorious times to see the city. When fall rolls around, the shadows get a little longer and the ancient oaks and cedar trees turn from green to rich gold. Although there’s not much opportunity to see the foliage change in Austin’s city center, you can certainly find some spectacular views if you venture out a little further. Take a leisurely hike on majestic Mount Bonnell and gaze out over the iconic Pennybacker bridge and signature Austin skyline, or spend the day getting lost among the dozens of gorgeous vineyards in hill country. For even more fall scenery, head to the lovely McKinney Falls State Park to completely surround yourself in nature and take in the changing seasons.