Whether you’re looking for a new adventure or reliving the glory days of your college years, a football-focused weekend in Austin promises a good time for all. Most home games are played on Saturday, but if you arrive on Friday, you can make a long weekend of it.
Day 1 - Scholz Garten
Check in at the Residence Inn Austin-University Area (1200 Barbara Jordan Boulevard, 512-469-7842). Located about three miles north of Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, the Residence Inn is close enough to be convenient without being in the middle of Longhorn football madness. Also, it’s hidden behind a Home Depot, so maybe it will take a while longer before other fans discover this hotel. The hotel is a mid-priced property that gets all the basics right: clean rooms, free hot breakfast, comfortable beds, and a friendly staff. Outside, you’ll find a large pool and an inviting firepit surrounded by big cushioned chairs.
On the first night, University of Texas alums might want to visit one of their old haunts. Generations of Longhorn fans have flocked to Scholz Garten (1607 San Jacinto Boulevard, 512-474-1958) to drink beer, devour some schnitzel and talk sports. The food gets mixed reviews, but the camaraderie and sense of history are hard to beat. The restaurant/bar was founded in 1866, and it has long been a favorite hangout for state legislators. You never know who you might run into (or what you may overhear). The large outdoor beer garden is an ideal spot for catching up with old friends while enjoying a few brews.
Day 2 - Game Day
Most home games are in the late afternoon or early evening, so you’ll probably have plenty of time to relax before the game. After enjoying your complimentary breakfast, you can work out at the hotel’s small fitness center, which includes treadmills, stationary bikes and free weights. Fall weather in Austin varies widely, so you may be able to take a dip in the pool if it’s warm enough.
If you plan to participate in the time-honored tradition of tailgating, now is your chance to prepare. If you’re a serious tailgater and need tongs or other grilling equipment, the Home Depot is within walking distance of the hotel. If you need meat or snacks, there’s an HEB grocery store (1801 East 51st Street, 512-474-2199) a few blocks away. Of course, if you don’t want to deal with the hassles of actually cooking something, you can always just show up at any of the parking lots around the stadium and join in the revelry. No one’s a stranger for long at a UT tailgating party (although a few established tailgaters actually have wristbands to identify their people; stay away from them).
Regardless of your drinking/tailgating plans, it’s wise to have a big lunch before the game. Former UT students might find it tempting to go to Chuy’s or Trudy’s before the game, but you’ll end up waiting for hours. Fortunately, there’s an excellent burger joint near the hotel: Smashburger (1200 Barbara Jordan Boulevard, Building 3, Suite 380, 512-872-2926). They use only Angus beef that has never been frozen. Both the burgers and the fries are top-notch.
After a nap back at the hotel, you should be ready for game time. Try to arrive at the stadium at least 30 minutes before kickoff. The pre-game warm-up is usually accompanied by music, and you can get a chance to assess how your favorite players are looking.
At press time, Jerrod Heard and Tyrone Swoopes are still competing for the starting quarterback position. They were essentially co-quarterbacks in the 2015 season, with Swoopes coming in for short-yardage situations.
If the Longhorns win, that’s when the serious partying starts. Your options are to quickly retreat to your hotel or join the festivities. Most post-game revelers flock to 6th Street. You may want to check out our safety tips before heading that way. If you’re looking for a bar that’s in the middle of the action but not too crazy, BD Riley’s (204 East 6th Street, 512-494-1335) is a good option. The Irish pub usually attracts a slightly older crowd that can handle its liquor. If you want a place that’s just a touch wilder, try Lavaca Street Bar (405 Lavaca Street, 512-469-0106), which is a few blocks away in the 4th Street Warehouse District.
Day 3 - Trudy’s and Lady Bird Lake
Depending on how much fun you had the night before, you might be more than willing to wait a while for breakfast. Trudy’s original location (409 West 30th Street, 512-477-2935) will undoubtedly be packed, but you can wait for your table in the large bar and sip coffee or bloody Marys. The migas plate may not cure your hangover, but it’s a deeply satisfying dish, if you like a spicy breakfast. The eggs are mixed with serrano peppers and tomatoes and smothered in a blend of cheeses, and served with potatoes and refried beans.
To further clear your head, a relaxing walk at Lady Bird Lake is a nice way to wrap up the trip. Paid parking is available at the Austin American-Statesman parking lot at 305 South Congress Avenue. However, there are also free spots next to the South 1st Street Bridge and along Riverside Drive. On the South shore near 1st Street, the Stevie Ray Vaughan statue attracts a steady stream of blues fans and curious tourists. The leash-free dog park is also in the same area.
While the entire trail is 10 miles long, you can follow a loop that’s only about a mile long by crossing to the north side of the lake at Lamar Boulevard and then back to the south side at 1st Street. Along this mellow stretch of the lake, you can see kayakers, joggers, turtles and plenty of birds.
If you stick around long enough to work up an appetite again, you’re walking distance from several restaurants, most notably Threadgill’s World Headquarters (301 West Riverside Drive, 512-472-9304). In addition to serving up excellent comfort food, Threadgill’s is packed with Austin music memorabilia dating back to the Cosmic Cowboy era.