Make no mistake about it, this is Texas. Visitors planning to come here on business will find a unique combination of state government, university and culture, all intertwined with a campaign that’s been circulating for years: “Keep Austin Weird.” Austinites, as they’re called, like it that way, thank you very much.

Austin boasts 20 million visitors a year, both leisure and business. For meetings and conventions, Austin offers a well thought-out infrastructure, unique meeting spaces and world-class hotels, all within a few walking blocks of the Austin Convention Center. From small corporate gatherings to large association conferences, Austin can handle any size event – in grand Texas style. After hours, the Lady Bird Lake hike and bike trail offers plenty of leisure activities, there’s a chance to hear great music, and dig in to some of the country’s best barbecue.

Austin is a town that celebrates creativity – a community of musicians, artists, and entrepreneurs. Think Michael Dell. Sandra Bullock. Willie Nelson and Matthew McConaughey. It’s a town for tekkies, and there’s a vibrant energy that pervades the city.

Facts about Austin hospitality

  • 30,000 hotel rooms in the city
  • 6,000 hotel rooms in the downtown district
  • Choose from bed and breakfast inns to historic hotels like Hotel Driskill to luxury hotels like the Omni with the latest contemporary amenities
  • Nearly 200 live music venues
  • World-class art collections and museums
  • 32 public golf courses around – “The Best Golf City in America”
  • Orbitz names Austin a travel hotspot in 2012 (January 2012)
  • Newsday calls Austin a foodie and family friendly destination. (January 2012)
  • Travel + Leisure ranks Austin among the top 3 of America’s Techiest Cities. (January 2012)

The Austin Convention and Visitor’s Bureau is available to work with meeting planners to create a successful event.

The Austin Convention Center

Built in 1992 and remodeled in 2002, the LEED® Gold certified Austin Convention Center offers the best of Texas hospitality for business meetings:

  • 900,000 square feet of high-tech, meeting space right in the heart of downtown
  • 246,000 sq. ft. of contiguous, column-free exhibit space; 2 ballrooms of 43,000 & 23,000 sq. ft. each; and 54 meeting rooms
  • One of the most technologically advanced convention centers in the country, capable of moving voice, video, and data at over 1 billion bits a second
  • Complimentary wireless internet service
  • A new 1,012 room convention-style JW Marriott has just broken ground

Conventions that have been hosted in Austin include the Formula4Media’s Running Event 2012, DELL Incorporated’s 2012 DELL World, and U.S. Green Building Council Central Texas. Austin COMIC CON is coming in November, 2013.

Easy access from all parts of the U.S.

  • Austin-Bergstrom International Airport is less than 20 minutes from downtown
  • One of the newest airports in the country
  • Serves more than 70 direct and non-stop destinations

The Live Music Capital of the World®

Austin is a town that rocks. One visit to the lively 6th St. entertainment district on any given night will show visitors that music is king here, with everything from country to bluegrass to jazz.

Business travelers lucky enough to visit in October should try to time their visit when Austin City Limits comes to town. This three-day, eight stage live event takes place in Zilker Park, Austin’s crown jewel. This festival hosts 130-plus performers from all over the world as well as incredible local fare, lots of activities and more. With hundreds of venues, the music wails ’til the wee hours of the morn.

For event planners who are interested, the Austin City Limits festival organizers offer a range of sponsorship packages and VIP ticket options.

A taste of Austin

Austin prides itself in being a foodie town where visitors can find almost anything their palate desires. Steak and seafood, Asian Fusion and French reign top among the city’s restaurants. The kitchens of the country’s best Tex-Mex and barbecue restaurants can be found here, as can a wide selection of local organic eateries. And Austin is vegetarian-friendly.

Whole Foods

The corporate headquarters of Whole Foods is based in Austin, and a trip to their flagship store is food heaven. There are plenty of different food stations throughout the place, and visitors will get lost trying to decide what they want. When they finally do, they can take it all outside and enjoy under the Texas sun.

Go batty!

No visit to Austin is complete without seeing the urban bats as they take flight every night from mid-March to November. Throngs of people line the Congress Avenue bridge at dusk to see more than a 1.5 million Mexican free-tail bats emerge from under the bridge to blanket the sky as they head out to look for food. Travel tip: Another way to see the bats is via boats on the water. Don’t miss it.

The Texas State Capitol – Standing Tall and Proud

Located at the foot of Congress Ave., this ornate building is an extraordinary example of late 19th-century public architecture and is widely recognized as one of the nation’s most distinguished state capitols. In 1970, it earned the distinction on the National Register of Historic Places. A stop at the Capitol Visitor’s Center, 112 E. 11th St., is a good place to start. Free Texas Capitol tours are available daily and feature information about the Capitol, Texas history, and the Texas legislature. Texas is one of the few states in the nation whose Capitol building is actually taller than the one in Washington, D.C.

Imagine what can an impressive event you could have at the Texas State Capitol. Various venues are available in the building’s Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum that can hold up to 1400. Events can be held in the Grand Lobby or the boardroom overlooking the Rotunda. .

Meaningful meetings

Check out the Capital City Event Center, located just ten minutes from downtown, ideal for large or small groups. Austin’s Texas Star is a great place for Texas-size meetings for up to 250 people.

See it all … and quick!

Catch all the major sites in Austin with Austin Overtures. This 90-minute tour takes you to more than 30 major historical and cultural points of interest, including historic downtown, University of Texas, Texas Hill Country, and more.

Travel tips go digital

Visitors to Austin now have a new digital tool to use. The Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau as just launched #TrueAustin, an interactive program that allows visitors to ask local experts for their advice on best restaurants, etc. and get responses back quickly.

In Austin, the people are friendly, the food is fantastic, and the music doesn’t get any better.

Initially published January 15, 2013.