Festival-free fun

7 Austin-tatious ways to spend festival days unplugged from the crowds

7 Austin-tatious ways to spend festival days unplugged from the crowds

William Chris Vineyards
Soak up the Hill Country at William Chris Vineyards. Courtesy of William Chris Vineyards
Big Green Egg Backyard BBQ
Dine on the best of barbecue on the Four Seasons lawn. Courtesy of Four Seasons Hotel Austin
Hello Kitty Cafe Truck
Spend a purr-fect day at the Hello Kitty Cafe Truck. Courtesy of Hello Kitty Cafe Truck
MotoGP
Gear up for some serious racing action at MotoGP at COTA. Courtesy of Circuit of the Americas
Dreamland
Play a round of mini golf after picking the perfect pumpkin at Dreamland. Photo by Omarr Cantú
Swift Fit Sundown Soundsets
Bliss out during Sundown Soundsets. Courtesy of Swift Fit Events
SFC farmers market
Pick from the freshsest of the fresh at SFC's area farmers markets. Sustainable Food Center/Instagram
William Chris Vineyards
Big Green Egg Backyard BBQ
Hello Kitty Cafe Truck
MotoGP
Dreamland
Swift Fit Sundown Soundsets
SFC farmers market

If unlike everyone else in Austin, this festival-y time of the year does not strike the right chord with you, perhaps you’d prefer to march to the beat of your own drum.

Never fear, intrepid outlier. We get you. That’s why we’ve curated this list of cool happenings and spots to check out that aren’t related to that famous music festival staged at Zilker Park the first and second weekends of October.

From high-speed adventures to pumpkin pickin’ and wine sippin’ to a backyard barbecue and a few moments of Zen, Austin and the surrounding areas offer plenty of fest-free activities to fall for.

MotoGP, October 1-3, Circuit of the Americas
The fastest and most wicked show on two wheels revs up Austin for three days of mind-blowing motorcycle racing action featuring the greatest riders in the world. As they say at COTA, there is fun at every turn, and MotoGP is a speed-demon-loaded, adrenaline-fueled exhilaration fest not to be missed. Tickets start at $99 and are available through the COTA website.

Hello Kitty Cafe Truck, October 2, The Domain
Here’s a good rule of paw: When you’re bored, bumming, or just scratching your whiskers about how to have a little fun, seek out a cool cat. Sure to make you purr, this Saturday at the Domain from 10 am-7 pm, the Hello Kitty Cafe Truck rolls back into town for one day only with a bounty of exclusive fan goodies and limited-edition collectibles, from Hello Kitty T-shirts and hand-decorated cookie sets to Sprinkle Mugs and even a Hello Kitty Cafe rainbow thermos. Follow the Hello Kitty Cafe Truck on Instagram for details and updates. 

Big Green Egg Backyard BBQ, October 2, Four Seasons Hotel Austin
From 6-9 pm this Saturday at luxury downtown property Four Seasons, celebrate the beginning of just one season, fall, with a one-of-a-kind backyard barbecue on the hotel’s lush lawn. Take in gorgeous views of Lady Bird Lake while Big Green Egg’s official pitmaster and guest chef, Jack Arnold, serves up a full menu of barbecue favorites like hickory-smoked rib-eye, brisket sliders, and tri-tip tacos. Chef Gerardo Lopez of Ciclo, the Four Seasons’ onsite restaurant, will also be on hand to help share grilling tips and Big Green Egg techniques with attendees, who’ll be treated to live music and a refreshing welcome cocktail. Tickets are $95 per person. Reservations are required and can be made by calling 512-685-8300.

SFC Farmers Markets, Saturdays in October, Toney Burger Center and Republic Square
The Sustainable Food Center’s Sunset Valley Farmers Market returns to its regular spot at the Toney Burger Center in South Austin this weekend, where more than 35 local vendors will offer in-season produce, pasture-raised meat, eggs, locally made pastries, and handcrafted artisan goods. If you opt for the farmer-forward lineup at SFC’s open-air marketplace downtown at Republic Square — which features live music each week — SFC warns you should “be prepared for some additional company,” as ACL Festival shuttle service runs from the park. Fest shuttles start running at 11 am on Saturday and the market opens at 9 am, so consider going early to avoid the crowds. Visit the SFC website for more info.

Swift Fit Sundown Soundsets, October 7, Lamar Union
Before the madness of ACL Music Fest weekend two kicks into high gear, find some Zen at Swift Fit Events’ Sundown Soundsets, which begins at the peak of sunset on a rooftop at the Lamar Union development in South Austin. While taking in some spectacular views of the Austin skyline, bliss out during a 60-minute meditative movement and healing sound bath experience. Then wrap it up with a nighttime dance party, Ranch Rider Spirits, CBD cocktails, and free gifts throughout the evening. Tickets are $30 and are available online.

Pumpkin picking, October 1-31, Dreamland
Stop in for a spell at Dreamland, the massive outdoor entertainment complex in Dripping Springs, as a slew of fun fall activities are happening all October, including pumpkin patch pickin’, pickleball and mini golf games, fall specials on seasonal beers, and more. Pumpkin pickers will get 50 percent off their mini golf game, and each weekend in October, Dreamland will host additional Halloween activities, like pumpkin painting. You can even explore a nearby wooded area (if you dare). It all culminates in Halloween Bash on October 30, which will include a costume contest, face and body painting, and a performance from band Hair Metal Giants. Spooky games will also be available all month long. Visit the Dreamland website for more info.

Fall for the Hill Country, October, William Chris Vineyards
ACL Fest not your thing? Get out of town. No seriously, take advantage of the changing season with a trip out to the gorgeous Texas Hill Country, where fall colors, stunning sunsets, and peaceful panoramas abound, not to mention tons of spectacular wines at the area’s dozens of wineries, including William Chris Vineyards. Here, you can leave all the hustle and bustle of Austin festival days behind you as you sip a variety of wines amid the natural beauty and historic setting of the vineyard, set against the backdrop of the Pedernales River Basin. Make reservations for a William Chris Vineyards wine tasting experience here.