How to escape from SXSW?
January 31, 2006 7:52 AM   Subscribe

Help me escape from SXSW! In live in Austin and for reasons I won't get into, I find the city intolerable during the week of SXSW. The music portion of the conference (March 15-19) is the most miserable and nearly impossible for me to avoid, and I'd like to just leave town and skip the whole thing this year. Any ideas on where to go for a few days? Something relatively cheap?

My car isn't too reliable, so a long drive by myself to, say, Marfa is out of the question. I'm willing to fly and thought about visiting friends in Montreal for a few days, but a $450-500 plane ticket is a bit out of my range right now. Actually, I'm thinking I might like to go somewhere more rural, or to a good walking city...just somewhere I can relax for a few days.
posted by lunalaguna to Travel & Transportation (26 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If I lived in Texas I would probably go to the happiest place on earth: Tihuana.
posted by dobie at 8:11 AM on January 31, 2006

Response by poster: Ah, unfortunately Tihuana is where you go if you live in California. If you live in Texas, you have fabulous Nuevo Laredo! Whee!
posted by lunalaguna at 8:21 AM on January 31, 2006

Since your place in Austin will definitely be in demand those nine days, you could probably easily arrange a HomeExchange.
posted by glibhamdreck at 8:27 AM on January 31, 2006

Go skiing -- Colorado, Utah, etc.

Go to San Francisco. Not a bad walking city.
posted by frogan at 8:32 AM on January 31, 2006

Jefferson, Texas is lovely little historic town, neat shops and such, plenty of peace and quiet.
posted by LarryC at 8:43 AM on January 31, 2006

What about Ft. Worth? Great art museums and downtown area. Only 2.5 hour drive or so from Austin.
posted by delladlux at 8:50 AM on January 31, 2006

Put an ad in the paper to rent your place out for SXSW and use the money to get out of town.

Or surf a friend's couch, if it's really that bad.
posted by SlyBevel at 9:00 AM on January 31, 2006

Well, both New York and LA are usually pretty devoid of nightlifers and industry folk during SXSW, since they're all down where you are... Might be a good time to take in the scenery and culture while it still exists.
posted by softlord at 9:00 AM on January 31, 2006

i suggest some place like gruene or fredericksburg. not too far from austin, good beds-and-breakfasts, enough decent wineries to spend some days making trips among them, lots of wide open spaces for you to spend your time, reading, writing, or just looking.

i'd also recommend wimberely, but i get the feeling some sxsw visitors are starting to creep in that direction.
posted by lord_wolf at 9:10 AM on January 31, 2006

Come to New Mexico. If you have the appropriate gear you could camp in the southern part of the state without much problem.

You could also get a decent room in ABQ for $50 or less per night. Santa Fe and Taos would be more spendy, but also could be done as day trips from ABQ.

email is in my profile if you need more infomation.
posted by FlamingBore at 9:14 AM on January 31, 2006

To add to what lunalaguna and SlyBevel already said, the austin craigslist housing-swap and housing wanted forums are crawling with activity.
posted by medpt at 9:36 AM on January 31, 2006

This is funny, SXSW is one of the reasons I STAY in Austin. The college kids are gone and the rest of world fills in the gaps. Note to others, it's really one of the best festivals going. Every year is different.

But to your question - the weather's always perfect in March - maybe an extended weekend in Port Aransas?
posted by Peter H at 9:48 AM on January 31, 2006

I feel your pain. I spouted off at an undeserving denizen of LA online yesterday because I am already tweaking about how those LA cowboys are gonna fuck up this city.

2.5 hours to Fort Worth. I haven't been able to make in under 3.5 in about 5 years. Traffic sucks.

I say, "Head West, young...person." Avoid Mexico unless you intend to go deep. N. Laredo's getting a bad reputation. Though you could bus it to Real de Catorce in a 12 hour overnight bus trip. Livin's cheap there.

Gruene and Fredericksburg are going to be too close and too busy.

If you want to backpack, you can go to the Gila NF in Southern NM and never be too far from a well travelled road. I usually park on the side of the road and hike a section of the CDT. Cheap way to avoid those abysmal weeks in this city. I've done that before. Ne prepared for desert cold.

Northern NM is also great that time of year. Hiking in the Carson NF or hanging around in Taos or Santa Fe. If you decide to do the urban thing, I suggest the Laughing Horse Inn in Taos. Avoid the hot springs around Arroyo Hondo, they have turned into a place for people to get wasted and mug you. And that's on good days.

For a relaxing vacation closer to home, try Balmorhea State Park. It's right off I-10 and there are springs in which to swim. Being springs they ought to be tolerable in March too. The springs are an oasis in the desert and therefore home to many intersting animals and plants. Worth a trip.

I got tons of ideas if'n you want more.

On preview, I like the Port A idea. There is the Laughing Horse Lodge in Port A that's pretty good. Completely unrelated to the one in Taos (and I may have mixed up which cities they're in).
posted by Seamus at 9:55 AM on January 31, 2006

I used to feel the same way about the Kentucky Derby. Of course, it was the one time a year that the city picked up the trash, so there was that.
posted by craniac at 10:04 AM on January 31, 2006

I'm surprised that no one has mentioned San Antonio. It's closer than Ft. Worth, a really a beautiful city, and exactly the opposite of the hipster-opolis that Austin is. There's good Mexican food, lots of history, and even some decent art museums.
posted by Gilbert at 10:09 AM on January 31, 2006

You should go to San Francisco, since everyone here is going to Austin. You could trade an attendee houses for the week. Same work work in LA during the music festival.
posted by anildash at 10:21 AM on January 31, 2006

I live in Austin and had a blast taking the bus down to Guanajuato and San Miguel de Allende. The aforementioned Real de Catorce is also along the way. A good overview of the Austin to Mexico bus lines can be found here, though I found the border crossing pretty painless because we took a direct line.
posted by kmel at 10:49 AM on January 31, 2006

Response by poster: Seamus, thanks for all the great suggestions. I actually have a trip planned to Real de Catorce in May that I'm really excited about.

I think Sante Fe or Taos may be the place to go. I went to NM with my family when I was younger, and I remember the skies just being enormous and beautiful. Plus, this fits with my recent obsession with "The Man Who Fell to Earth," which was filmed in NM.
posted by lunalaguna at 10:56 AM on January 31, 2006

San Antonio is the exact opposite of 'beautiful city', in my opinion. I'd rather be in Houston, and that's saying something.

I, too, feel your pain. Last year, I lived within walking distance of 6th Street and the capitol, and had trouble going ANYwhere during the music festival week. Unfortunately (fortunately?) my band was playing that year, so it made it more tolerable.

Were I in the same position this year, I would go camping at Enchanted Rock state park. A very unique experience.

If you want to play some poker/casino games, Shreveport isn't too far off either.
posted by Espoo2 at 10:58 AM on January 31, 2006

Fort Worth's not a terrible suggestion - late winter/early spring is nice around here. You can spend the better part of a day at the zoo and another at the botanic gardens (particularly the Japanese gardens), as much time as you want at the museums, take the train into downtown Dallas for a day.

New Orleans might also be an option. I don't know what hotel rates will be like in March, but that's during Lent when it's traditionally been a better, quieter time to go and the weather's not wiltingly hot yet.

The house-swap suggestions don't sound bad, though. We waited until a couple of weeks ago to get our hotel room and the situation was dire - and that's for the Interactive weekend before Music even swings into gear. You could probably work out a pretty sweet deal there.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:00 AM on January 31, 2006

If you decide to rent your place, please shoot me an email with the details. I'm looking for a place to stay during the music part of SXSW, and so far I'm coming up empty.
posted by spilon at 11:13 AM on January 31, 2006

Usually I do the same thing you're wanting to do-I go hide at my mom's at the lake. Lake Buchanan has some nice inexpensive cottages & fishing, as well as the eagles- don't know if they're there this time of year. And it's about an hour away.

This year, however, I'm giving in: using my vacation time and jumping into the fray full force.
posted by green herring at 11:51 AM on January 31, 2006

Hey, if you do come to NM you should give a shout out and we can do a mini (very mini) meetup!
posted by FlamingBore at 12:10 PM on January 31, 2006

Luckily you live in Austin, so Southwest will fly outside Wright Amendment boundaries. I would recommend a jaunt to Chicago if you're feeling cosmopolitan. I went for the first time over Thanksgiving and I loved the city. If you're looking to go somewhere really out of the way, Buffalo Gap has a fantastic B&B called Buffalo Gap Bed & Breakfast, natch. I could tell you plenty to do in Abilene and the neighboring Big Country area. San Antonio also sounds like a really great idea.
posted by jxpx777 at 12:53 PM on January 31, 2006

Do some volunteer work in New Orleans, Biloxi, etc.
posted by sourwookie at 1:26 PM on January 31, 2006

Wanna let me stay at your place so I can affordably attend SXSW? So far I'm not going because hotels are just retarded expensive...
posted by twiggy at 2:45 PM on January 31, 2006

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