||Quick Guide to Texas/AustinOkay, here's a quick guide to Texas for those of you who have never been here. My qualifications: I'm a 32 year old born-and-bred Texan who lived in Austin for six years. For those who attended RTX2011, you'll remember me as the guy who wrote a similar guide last year including frequent weather updates (you'll also probably remember me as the drunken fat jackass, but I was in a bad place in my life last year and while I'm still fat and still drunk (usually), I do expect at least 80% less jackassery this year..at least the bad kind).|
It's going to be hot and humid. July in Texas can literally kill you. If you're not from the Gulf Coast, the jungles of Southwest Asia, or the Brazilian Rainforest, you do not know what to expect. Highs in the summer in Texas range typically from 90-110F (32-43C) with humidity typically over 80%. Make sure to drink lots of fluids (and no, sodas and beer do not count) and bring at least 2 changes of clothes per day along with plenty of antiperspirant because you will be sweating a lot. The following is not an exaggeration:
Austin has a lot of amazing restaurants in every price category, so anyone eating at a chain fast food place or "casual dining" restaurant should be ashamed of themselves. This really deserves its own thread, but I would like to point out specifically Casino el Camino which is located on 6th Street and Red River, which is a great bar which serves the best hamburgers in the world. It's less than two blocks from the convention center and has been talked about both on the Drunk Tank/RoosterTeeth Podcast as well as featured in a RoosterTeeth Webcomic.
The legal drinking age in Texas is 21 years of age. The only legal way to drink in Texas under the age of 21 is if your parent or legal guardian who is over the age of 21 purchases the alcoholic beverage and serves it to you, and the bar can still request that you not do this.
Alcohol may be purchased in bars until 2 AM, at which time no more alcohol may be served and all unfinished drinks must be collected. There are no such things as "to-go" cups and bouncers will get mean if you try to leave a location with a drink in your hand.
For purchasing for consumption at your hotel room, beverages containing more than 10% alcohol by volume (liquor) may be purchased only from liquor stores which may only sell alcohol between the hours of 10 AM and 9 PM Monday through Saturday (no sales on Sunday). Beverages containing less than 10% alcohol by volume (beer, wine, those weird pre-mixed margarita thingies, etc.) may be purchased at any store with a license to sell them (convenience stores, grocery stores, etc.) between the hours of 7 AM and 12 midnight Monday-Saturday and 12 noon to 12 midnight on Sunday. You must be 21 years of age to purchase and many places will not sell to you if you are with someone who is under 21 years of age.
Acceptable IDs: State-issued driver's license or ID card with photo, military ID, and passport.
Texas does not limit the amount of alcohol you can take out of the state, but you can only bring certain amounts of alcohol into the state from other states/countries (the law's very specific here, but generally it's around 24 bottles/cans of beer, 4 bottles of wine, or 2 bottles of liquor). US Customs may have different laws, so you international folks will want to look into that.
Open containers are illegal. You must be indoors or in a clearly defined outdoor patio area in order to consume alcohol or have an open container. Drunk driving is not cool and Austin has plenty of cabs/buses so I'm not even going to get into the drunk driving laws because if you drink and drive, you're a dick end of story.
Capital Metro (bus/train) http://www.capmetro.org/
Yellow Cab: 512-452-9999
Austin Cab: 512-478-2222
Lone Star Cab: 512-836-4900
There is a Capital Metro bus that runs from the airport to downtown. Check the website for specific times for your flight, but the ride from the airport to downtown last time I took it (3 years ago), it took around 20-30 minutes early Sunday morning with zero traffic. All the cab companies charge the same rate by city law based on mileage and "idle time", and there is a surcharge to get a cab from the airport. The total trip should cost around $20-30 plus tip. Yellow Cab and Austin Cab both accept credit/debit cards, but (as of last year) only Yellow Cab had real life grown-up card sliders (Austin Cab had those old school giant things with carbon papers that take an imprint of the card), so keep track of your charges because they won't show up immediately in your account. Also, many hotels in the area offer airport shuttles either included in your room rate or for an additional charge.
Tipping is expected at all sit-down restaurants and all bars. Expected is 15% at restaurants and 25% at bars (with a minimum of $1/drink). This isn't required by law, but if you're at a bar and don't tip, expect crappy service and for your drinks to be poured "light" (more soda/mixer than alcohol).
Smoking is not allowed in any indoor public area in Austin including but not limited to restaurants, hotel lobbies, convention centers, bars, and public transportation. You must be further than 15 ft from any entrance/exit to a public building. You must be 18 years of age with ID to purchase tobacco, and there are many specialty smoke shops in downtown Austin that carry imported cigarettes if you're from overseas. State law dictates that you can bring no more than 4 cartons of cigarettes or 9 loose packs with you when entering the state.
If you're wondering about your specific hotel/airline/etc., contact them directly as they are the only ones with the correct information
If anyone has any other questions, ask away!
Post edited 2/17/12 9:45AM