Photo courtesy of Visit Bastrop

Outdoor offerings are a major draw for Bastrop, a small community with big personality that's located on the outskirts of Austin. Specifically, all the fun things you can do based around the Colorado River, which runs through the city.

Here's a closer look at what life on the river is like here:

Best of both worlds
When in Bastrop, you don’t have to go far to catch a break in a beautiful outdoor setting. As you’re exploring the adorable shops and galleries of downtown, make a quick jaunt over to Fisherman’s Park to stroll along the river, rent a canoe or kayak, or take the family to the kiddie splash pad and playground. When you’re done, you can quickly pop back to town without missing a beat.

Seek out adventure
Explore the rolling box canyons, wildflower meadows, lazy river bends, and diverse wildlife at McKinney Roughs.

Check out its 1,100 acres by foot, horseback, or take a guided raft or kayak trip. The park also hosts interpretive hikes guided by naturalists, native animal presentations, and other community programs.

For a more daring adventure, let Rising Phoenix Adventure Tours and Events or Bastrop River Company set you up with a complete and memorable water-sports or biking experience. If you prefer to explore the outdoors from above, try zip lining at Zip Lost Pines.

Time for R&R
You can relax on the El Camino Real Paddling Trail and fish for Guadalupe bass and flathead catfish. Keep your eyes peeled for local wildlife sightings such as great blue herons, red-shouldered hawks, or kingfishers.

Bastrop is home to the famous loblolly pine trees, or “Lost Pines.” These trees are unique to the Texas Lost Pines Forest and are thought to have originated during the Ice Age. Explore this piece of natural history at the 600-acre Bastrop State Park.

The park covers nearly 6,000 total acres, so you can make a whole camping trip come to life. Go canoeing, swimming, golfing, wildlife viewing, or hiking, and camp at one of the park’s various campsites or historic cabins (built by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the 1930s).

Or go for a luxe option in the woods at the Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort & Spa. It embraces the outdoors with exterior “living rooms” along with private balconies and patios, and coordinates a long list of activities for its guests.

Make it your home
Neighborhoods in Bastrop highlight the local environment, including The Colony. It features an extensive system of hike and bike trails, beautiful parks, and a greenbelt dog park so you and your furry best friend can hang out outdoors together.

This new-home community features resort-style amenities — of course there are several pools — and first-class builders, including David Weekley Homes, Lennar Homes, Perry Homes, Terrata Homes, Gehan Homes, M/I Homes, Scott Felder Homes, Sitterle Homes, and Westin Homes.

There are homes in a range of price points, and all only a 30-minute drive to Austin-Bergstrom International Airport via Highway 71.

Find even more to love about The Colony and life on the river in Bastrop here.

Man looking at the Colorado River in Bastrop

Photo courtesy of Visit Bastrop

The Colorado River runs through Bastrop.

Photo by David Winslow

Nostalgia and natural beauty combine in tiny-but-terrific Alpine

Hit the Road

Way out west lies Alpine, a small town with big charm that's surrounded by a gorgeous desert mountain landscape. Equally desirable is the weather: The dry air and elevation keep the days fresh and cool year-round, especially in the mornings and evenings.

Though it may seem far from big cities, Alpine is centrally connected to the most scenic routes in the state, with easy day-trip access to Big Bend National Park, Marfa, Fort Davis, Marathon, McDonald Observatory, and more.

Whether you're passing through or parking your suitcase for a while, here's what to see in Alpine:

Play ball
Located north of downtown, Kokernot Field has been called the “best little ballpark in Texas” by Sports Illustrated. It's the home of the Alpine Cowboys, a nonprofit team that plays in the Pecos League, a professional baseball club which is not affiliated with the Major or Minor Baseball League.

The field dates back to 1947, when longtime rancher Herbert Kokernot Jr. built a baseball stadium to replicate Chicago's Wrigley Field, using materials from his own ranch to add that personal touch. The Cowboys' season typically starts in late May and continues until the end of July (unless they make the playoffs). The players are recruited from all over the United States, with some having come as far as Japan and Puerto Rico.

Lace up and explore
So much beautiful scenery demands to be explored, and Alpine has plenty of parks and trails to satisfy that urge.

Hancock Hill, behind Sul Ross State University, has a small system of hiking trails that feature scenic overlooks of the town and the path to The Desk.

If you haven’t heard the story of The Desk, it goes like this: In 1981, three Sul Ross students carried a desk up Hancock Hill to study. Soon they were spending hours on the hill, enjoying the beautiful surroundings. When one of them left a notebook in a desk drawer and later saw someone had written in it, he replied and soon the tradition of a notebook associated with The Desk was born. There have been dozens of notebooks filled since that are now stored at SRSU's Archives of the Big Bend.

Of course, Big Bend National Park is not to be missed, and neither are Big Bend Ranch State Park and Davis Mountains State Park. Make sure you're appropriately prepared, with proper hiking clothes, plenty of water, and an emergency plan before you head out.

You can also spend a day at the Chihuahuan Desert Nature Center, where in addition to hiking trails you'll find informative exhibits and programs, a greenhouse, and a botanical center.

Museum time
Eager to learn more? Head to Museum of the Big Bend on the Sul Ross State University campus for what director Mary Bones calls "your best introduction to the Big Bend area."

The museum celebrates natural and human history as well as cultures of the Big Bend region. Rotating exhibits include paintings, photography, and more. If you love maps, you’ll be fascinated by the historical pieces in the Yana and Marty Davis Map Collection.

Saddle up
In 1948, the Sul Ross State University rodeo team met with 11 other schools and formed the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association, or NIRA. Today, the university still hosts the annual Southwest Region competition and has several national championships under its belt.

Rodeo fans can also get their fill at the Big Bend Ranch Rodeo, held this year August 11-12.

More events
Get ready for a summer and fall filled with fun events, starting with the music festivals Viva Big Bend (July 26-30) and Fiesta 1888 (August 5). Art lovers should show up for Trappings of Texas September 14-16 at Museum of the Big Bend and Artwalk on November 17-18, while music fans will want to attend the Big Bend Bluegrass Festival October 6-7.

Round it all out
Wondering where to eat while you're here? There are several options for casual fine dining and plenty of spots that specialize in fresh seafood. Expect a lot of small, family-owned and operated restaurants and food trucks for a truly homemade flavor.

That's also the theme when it comes to shopping, with locally owned boutiques found throughout downtown, including a spot for vintage vinyl records and a fine independent bookstore with an attached coffee shop. While you're browsing, pause to snap pics at the more than 40 murals dotted throughout downtown.

Lay your head
Stay in the historic Holland Hotel, Alpine’s classic railroad hotel originally constructed in 1928. There were originally two railroad hotels: one for the ranchers and one for the workers.

In addition to trusted hotel chains, other hotels with unique vibes include Quarter Circle 7 at Hotel Parker, the Maverick Inn motor court, Alpine Bed & Breakfast, and more.

Learn more about Alpine and begin planning your visit here.

Kokernot baseball field

Photo by David Winslow

Kokernot Field has been called "the best little ballpark in Texas."

Photo by Ryan Kyte

Music lovers and foodies: Cruise to Austin for these can’t-miss summer experiences

Hit the Road

If the Live Music Capital of the World isn’t at the top of the list for your next road trip, you’re surely missing out.

With nearly 300 days of sunshine year-round, plenty of live music to keep you movin’ all night, and countless dining options, Austin always has more to discover.

After your first visit, you’ll want to come back for more — especially to avoid the FOMO (fear of missing out) on all these upcoming summertime events.

Live music to my ears

The music scene in Austin is unforgettable, with hundreds of live music venues all over the city.

Legendary icons like Willie Nelson, Janis Joplin, and Gary Clark Jr. all have their roots in the Live Music Capital of the World. Historic experiences are alive and well in one of Austin's oldest and most famed dance halls, the Broken Spoke, and don't forget Victory Grill, a staple on the historic Chitlin' Circuit where W. C. Clark and B. B. King once played.

Gear up for the week-long takeovers of free music across tons of Austin venues during Hot Summer Nights every summer, and Austin City Limits Music Festival in the fall.

For your first summer trip tradition, make sure you pack an extra picnic blanket to catch Austin’s largest free concert series: Blues on the Green at Zilker Park in June and July. The city’s top local bands perform to hundreds of attendees every year.

And if you can’t get enough of the park, make plans to visit the free Zilker Summer Musical by the Zilker Hillside Theatre. This outdoor troupe hosts performances Thursday through Sunday in July and August starting at 8:15 pm.

Festivities for the foodies

You shouldn’t visit Austin without trying what they're most known for: barbecue and Tex-Mex. For those who don't eat meat, don’t worry — many iconic restaurants around town serve up a selection of vegetarian and vegan options. Austin is also known for its unique food trucks, which can be found all over town.

Several James Beard award-winning chefs grace Austin with their culinary creations, such as Iliana De La Vega of El Naranjo, Edgar Rico of Nixta Taqueria (who was also named Austin's Chef of the Year at the 2022 CultureMap Tastemaker Awards), and Mashama Bailey of Diner Bar, who made it onto Texas Monthly’s list of best new restaurants of 2023. Bailey is also the executive chef of Grey Market.

Better Half Coffee & Cocktails also recently won CultureMap’s Tastemaker Award for Neighborhood Restaurant of the Year.

And you can’t say you had a true Central Texas experience without trying its signature cuisine. Franklin Barbecue is the most recognized name in town — and was even declared the best Texas barbecue by Southern Living — but others would put LeRoy and Lewis BBQ in the top spot after it was recognized by Texas Monthly in their list of best barbecue in the state.

Veracruz All Natural has been lauded by Food Network as one of the top taco shops in America, featured in the New York Times and winner of People’s Choice Best Food Truck and Best Tacos in the Austin Chronicle’s Best of Austin awards

If you're looking for a beautiful fusion of live music and food that hits deep in the soul, the Hot Luck Festival May 25-28, 2023, is your ticket to a picnic-and-party experience that spotlights culinary knowledge and music.

Can’t-miss summer experiences

The capital of Texas is a year-round outdoor enthusiast’s playground, and summer is the peak time to try your hand at stand-up paddleboarding or kayaking on Lady Bird Lake.

Go for a stroll along the Butler Hike and Bike Trail, then dip your toes into the eternally chilly waters of the spring-fed Barton Springs Pool, which was recently deemed the “most Instagrammable” pool in America. But before that great honor, the historic pool was once a sacred site for the Tonkawa people and later used as a mission site by Spanish explorers in the 17th century.

If you’re looking for an urban wildlife adventure, you won’t have to travel far. Austin is home to 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats, which is the largest urban bat colony in the entirety of North America.

The bats call the Ann Richards Congress Avenue Bridge their home, and you can watch them fly out for their nightly meal while lined up on the bridge or from a bat cruise or kayak on the river below.

Bat Fest in August is the city’s annual family-friendly celebration of the mammals’ nightly flights with live music, children's activities, a costume contest, and more.

Seek out the iconic murals and spectacular street art scene by exploring any of the city's neighborhoods. Look for iconic pieces like the "Greetings from Austin" mural, "I Love You So Much," or "You’re My Butter Half," along with hundreds of new and evolving pieces on nearly every corner.

Besides its endless music presence, Austin is also known as a film buff’s paradise. SXSW Conference & Festivals has a hand in that, but we can’t forget to give thanks to the Paramount Summer Classic Film Series at the historic Paramount Theatre in downtown Austin. From May through September, watch flicks that date back to the 1930s and go all the way up to the modern-day blockbuster. New films are announced every month, so you’ll be able to catch a classic or find your new underground favorite (to brag to your non-film friends about, of course).

Another can't-miss event, the Austin Pride Parade & Festival is celebrated every August (which is also Austin Pride Month) and is the largest annual LGBTQ+ advocacy and fundraising event in Central Texas. Gather with thousands of folks to show off your pride.

Whether you’re a painter or poet, musician or muse, tech guru or business icon, Austin is a city that will welcome you, engage you, and inspire you. Find more to do, eat, and see in Austin here.

Zilker Park

Photo by Ryan Kyte

Zilker Park is the site of many festivals.

Photo courtesy of Visit Brazosport

'Sea' yourself in Brazosport for a breezy summer getaway

Hit the Road

One beachy destination is nice, but five-in-one is even better. That's what you get with Brazosport, a coastal community located just 50 miles south of Houston that encompasses Clute, Freeport, Lake Jackson, Quintana, and Surfside Beach.

You can choose to concentrate on just one area, or spend your time city-hopping between them. Either way, there's plenty to do, see, eat, and explore with these recommended activities:

Surfside Beach
If the beach is your happy place, then Surfside Beach has got to be in your vacation plans. Miles of golden sand studded with seashells and marine life make Surfside Beach the perfect retreat for recreational athletes, sun worshipers, and nature lovers alike. With beach house rentals, motels, offshore fishing charters, restaurants, and souvenir shops all close at hand, Surfside Beach is a great spot for every type of beachgoer.

Sea Center Texas, Lake Jackson
At this marine development, aquarium, and education center you'll find vast aquariums that include the Gulf of Mexico, Salt Marsh, Coastal Bay, Jetty, and Artificial Reefs. Visit the 20-foot touch pool and handle marine animals such as blue crabs, hermit crabs, urchins, and anemones. The hatchery at Sea Center can produce 20 million fingerlings annually, primarily red drum and spotted sea trout, for release into Texas coastal waters.

Center for the Arts & Sciences, Clute
An art gallery, science museum, planetarium, and two performance theaters make up this mecca of culture. Featuring work by local, regional, and international artists, the gallery regularly updates its collection. The Center’s Museum of Natural Science contains one of the South’s largest seashell collections, as well as fossils of dinosaur and mammoth bone. The museum also features Texas coastal wildlife and a unique jade and ivory collection.

The BASF Planetarium offers a star show every Tuesday and on the fourth Friday of each month. Visitors can also view images from the Hubble telescope in the lobby through View-Space. The Center is also home to the longest-running community theater on the Texas Gulf Coast: Brazosport Center Stages, which offer five major productions each season. Pro tip: The Center is closed on Mondays.

Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge
This extensive, 43,000-acre refuge has a varied habitat of salt grass prairies, mud flats, fresh and saltwater marshes and lakes, and salt cedars. These habitats make it a favorite for many species of coastal and migratory birds. Meanwhile, an auto tour, boardwalks, and air conditioned discovery center make it a favorite for Texas birders. Open daily from sunrise to sunset, it's also a great spot for kayaking.

Surfside Jetty Park, Surfside Beach
More than half a mile long, with flat surface walkway about five feet above the water, this is a great place to go saltwater fishing for redfish, sheepshead, shark, and spotted sea trout.

Surfside Bird & Butterfly Trail, Surfside Beach
Stroll 2.5 miles surrounded by native plants and woodland, and bordered by the Freeport Harbor. Opened in 2019, this is a great place to spot butterflies, herons, pelicans, egrets, terns and more.

Quintana Neotropical Bird Sanctuary, Quintana
Home to salt cedars, beach dunes, gulf frontage, and brackish marshes, and with an observation tower and trails open daily from sunrise to sunset, this quaint beach community offers one of the hottest birding spots on the Texas Gulf Coast. During the month of April, the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory staff and volunteers provide local birding information, bird checklists, lead tours, and help identify birds for visitors at this site.

Christmas Bay Paddling Trail, near Surfside Beach
Find extensive oyster reefs and salt marshes ideal for fishing, bird watching, or just simply enjoying nature. It is very shallow and most paddlers can comfortably stand in its waters in most areas. But beware: If you wade or fish, wear ray-proof wading boots or shuffle your feet to avoid a stingray strike! The total trail length is 19.1 miles, with a 3.8-mile route and a 10.3-mile route. Launch sites are along Bluewater Highway between Surfside Beach and San Luis Pass on County Roads 257J, 257S, and at San Luis Pass County Park.

Gulf Coast Bird Observatory, Lake Jackson
Be sure to return in the fall for the annual Xtreme Hummingbird Xtravaganza, which is held at the peak of ruby-throated hummingbird migration. It features symbolic hummingbird adoptions and live hummingbird banding, where you get the opportunity to see these amazing birds up close and in the hand.

Where to feed your hunger
Being located along the Gulf of Mexico, of course you'll find some of the freshest seafood around. But don't forget about Tex-Mex and dishes that reflect Texas' original German settlements. After browsing the locally owned boutiques in downtown Lake Jackson or a day immersed in nature, you'll want to dig in. Find an extensive list of restaurant's here.

Where to rest your head
Stay right next to the sand with beach house rentals at Surfside Beach. Staying a little longer? Check out Beach Resort Services for short-term rentals in Surfside. In Lake Jackson, post up at the Best Western Plus and Staybridge Suites.

Explore more about Brazosport and start planning your next vacation here.

Surfing man on Brazosport beach

Photo courtesy of Visit Brazosport

Feel those beach vibes.

Photo by Andy Austin

Soak up the sun with a breezy getaway to historic and outdoorsy El Paso

Sun City

Out in Far West Texas, the city of El Paso experiences more than 300 days of sunshine, making the self-proclaimed “Sun City” the ideal destination for outdoor adventure and experiences.

It also contains thousands of years of history while experiencing unprecedented growth, especially with a focus on the already booming downtown area.

Here's what to check out on your next trip to El Paso:

Vibe with Mother Nature
Towering above the city of El Paso is Franklin Mountains State Park, the largest state park in an urban setting. Here you can hike over 37 square miles of desert wilderness, scrub vegetation, and open space.

From Red Sands to Hueco Tanks State Park and the Rio Bosque Wetlands Park, El Paso offers an impressive number of outdoor and eco-tourism attractions and sites.

At Hueco Tanks, visitors can hike, try rock climbing and bouldering, bird watch, study nature and history, picnic, and stargaze. Also available are guided and self-guided tours to view ancient rock glyphs.

And don’t forget your mountain bike, because El Paso’s 125 miles of multi-use trails and rugged mountain terrains are more than a picturesque backdrop to the thriving international border metroplex.

Step back in time
Take a half-day trip to the historic Mission Trail area on El Paso’s far east side to see three historic churches, originally built during the 1600-1700s. Some are still used regularly for services!

Along the Mission Trail you’ll also find the Los Portales Museum in San Elizario, the Tigua Cultural Center, and Licon Dairy.

Dive into downtown
El Paso is home to more than 10,000 hotel rooms, multiple museums, and countless attractions. Most of these sites — as well as an abundance of restaurants, bars, and sports and entertainment venues — are located within walking distance from one another in downtown El Paso.

Hop aboard the El Paso Streetcar to explore both downtown and uptown, or wander on foot to view Henry Trost’s iconic architecture and local artists’ murals.

Head over to Southwest University Park, home of the El Paso Chihuahuas Triple-A baseball team and United Soccer League team, the El Paso Locomotive FC.

Or take a walk through San Jacinto Plaza where, besides splashing around, you can challenge friends to a game of chess or table tennis, or simply enjoy the public art honoring the park's unique history.

Must-see museums
Dive deeper into El Paso’s history with a tour of the Magoffin Home State Historic Site, or learn about the U.S./Mexico border region at the El Paso Museum of History.

Of course, a guided tour at the El Paso Museum of Art is a must. Catch a special performance at the historical Plaza Theatre in downtown El Paso for even more culture.

Time to dine
Feast on steak, barbecue, and seafood at the cowboy-style Cattleman’s Steakhouse, or opt for Mexican cuisine at Los Bandidos de Carlos & Mickey’s.

Indulge in a wine tasting at Zin Valle Vineyards after testing your cooking skills at a Texas Culinary Institute class.

Where to rest your head
The Plaza Hotel at Pioneer Park, Conrad Hilton’s first high-rise hotel, has been renovated to its original historic beauty. The property offers 131 guest rooms, stunning views of Mexico, two restaurants and bars, one of the area's largest tequila collections, and it is located within easy walking distance of the El Paso Convention Center.

Now reborn as part of the Marriott Autograph Collection, the multi-million-dollar renovation of Hotel Paso Del Norte embodies the spirit of independence, channeling El Paso’s eclectic past through its design with vibrant restaurants, a rooftop bar, pool, and refreshed guest rooms and suites.

Learn more
Explore thousands of years of history and let your imagination run wild in the Sun City. Start planning your trip now.

People hiking in El Paso

Photo by Andy Austin

El Paso offers an impressive number of outdoor activities.

Photo courtesy of Visit Frisco

Sink a hole-in-one with a Frisco golf getaway that's fit for the pros

The New Home of Golf

If you're someone who likes to hit the links and dreams of a vacay where "driving" isn't just a way of getting there, consider Frisco for your next golf getaway.

World-class courses designed by Tom Fazio, Gil Hanse, and Beau Welling, coupled with remarkable golf resorts, make Frisco an unmatched Texas golf destination.

Of course, this North Texas community is also the home of PGA Frisco, a public-private partnership that brings together PGA of America, Omni Hotels & Resorts, the City of Frisco, and the Frisco Independent School District.

Those not ready to get on the golf course will find plenty to love about their Frisco golf getaway. An array of dining options, poolside experiences, luxurious spa treatments, shopping, and more await, along with everything from family-friendly outings to music and art.

Wondering where to stay? Here are two top-notch suggestions:

The Westin Stonebriar Golf Resort & Spa
Renovated in 2020, The Westin Stonebriar Golf Resort & Spa features a WestinWORKOUT fitness studio, pool area with private cabanas, water slide, and splash pad, plus a full-service Well & Being Spa, Westin Family Kids Club, and an activities lawn with games for all ages. Golfers can play the Fazio Course and at the unique Topgolf Swing Suite.

Omni PGA Frisco Resort
The recently opened Omni PGA Frisco Resort is steps away from the new PGA of America headquarters and offers golf for players of all ages and skill level. In addition to the two championship courses, Fields Ranch East and Fields Ranch West, golfers can enjoy a lighted 10-hole par 3 short course, a two-acre putting green, and virtual game experiences.

Omni PGA Frisco Resort has four pools, including an adults-only rooftop infinity pool, plus a full-service Mokara Spa, 13 dining options, a retail village, meeting and event space, 10 four-bedroom ranch houses, and 500 guest rooms.

Itching to play a public course while in town? Reserve a tee time at Frisco Lakes Golf Club, Plantation Golf Club, and The Trails of Frisco Golf Club.

Start planning your golf getaway to Frisco now.

Omni PGA Frisco Resort

Photo courtesy of Visit Frisco

Omni PGA Frisco Resort has two championship courses.

Ad Placement 300x100
Ad Placement 300x600

CultureMap Emails are Awesome

This is how big Austin apartments get for $1,500 a month


We all know what renters dream about when they’re not thinking about the logistics of owning a home: low rent prices with the perfect amount of space. In a city like Austin, that’s getting harder and harder to come by.

In fact, for renters who have a budget of $1,500 a month, the average apartment size they can get in Austin spans about 714 square feet. That’s according to a new study by apartment rental marketplace RentCafe. The study looked at data from their sister site, Yardi Matrix, to determine the average size and price per square foot for a $1,500 monthly budget in 200 of the largest American cities.

Austin is at the bottom of the list in the overall analysis of Texas cities with the smallest space for the price. In Killeen, which is only 70 miles north, renters can find apartments that span a whopping 1,095 square feet. San Antonio renters can similarly find apartments that are nearly 300 square feet larger for the same budget.

If you head to the Houston area, Pasadena residents get an average of 1,180 square feet of space for $1,500 a month, whereas renters searching for apartments in Houston proper will only get about 997 square feet.

Renters looking to live in Fort Worth or Dallas will notice a nearly 100 square foot difference between apartments, at 909 and 805 square feet, respectively. Residents can get the most bang for their buck in the suburbs with an average apartment size well into the 900-square-foot range. Mesquite residents, by far, get the most space, at 999 square feet, whereas renters in Garland and Arlington get an average of 937 and 928 square feet for the same budget.

Elsewhere in Texas, apartments in the Rio Grande Valley have the best price per square foot in the state. McAllen residents get the most space out of any other Texas city with an average apartment size of 1,471 square feet. Renters in Brownsville, which is 60 miles east on the border, can get a similarly sized apartment that’s 1,307 square feet for the same $1,500 a month budget.

Here’s how much space you can rent for $1,500 a month in other Texas cities:

  • Amarillo – 1,318 square feet
  • El Paso – 1,222 square feet
  • Lubbock – 1,218 square feet
  • Corpus Christi – 1,126 square feet
  • Grand Prairie – 873 square feet
  • Denton – 868 square feet
  • Irving – 848 square feet
  • McKinney – 809 square feet
  • Plano – 766 square feet
  • Frisco – 740 square feet

The full report can be found on rentcafe.com.

ATX TV Festival cooperates with WGA strike by hosting panel and adjusting programming

Not Written Off

Anyone on social media or the news has likely heard of the 2023 Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike. This demonstration since May 2 has had TV writers stepping away from creating content, while getting out in the streets to protest entertainment industry practices that put writers in a tough position.

Like any strike, it can be hard to understand the depth of the problem or the nuances of proposed solutions. But this is an important topic; Not only do most people benefit from the work of TV writers (who create what almost everyone uses to unwind at some point in their week), but the conversations occurring tackle subjects that apply to workers in many more industries, especially as AI content proliferates.

The ATX Television Festival (June 1-4) is making sure Austinites have local access to this discourse, using its "Season 12" programming as a platform for some of the WGA leaders to explain their goals and concerns. A panel conversation will cover what problems writers have been seeing in their daily work, what changes they want to see, and what this means for non-writers.

Perhaps most importantly, this will become a tactical conversation not just about creative rights, but what a strike can achieve, and how. (WGA Negotiating Committee member Adam Conover of Adam Ruins Everything briefly explains the logistics on YouTube, with a hopeful spin and some strong language.)

Panelists will include Zoanne Clack, Damon Lindelof, and Julie Plec of WGA West, plus Negotiating Committee member Greg Iwinski of the WGA East. Beau Willimon of WGA East will moderate the panel.

The WGA's demands, nearly unanimously agreed upon at 98.4 percent approval, are publicly listed and include increases of minimum compensation, adjustment of compensation after writing is finished (in reuse cases and excerpts, for example), and regulation of AI use for producing scripts.

“ATX TV Festival has always been a place of celebration and community," said co-presidents and founders Caitlin McFarland and Emily Gipson in a statement. "It is where important conversations are had about the history and future of television in a safe and inclusive environment. We will maintain these tenets as we believe education and conversation between both Industry and Consumers are needed now more than ever."

"There wouldn’t be television without writers," the statement continues. "They have always been the rock stars of our festival, and though this year will look a little different, it will continue to be a place to showcase their talents and importance. The stories and characters we care so deeply about would not exist without them, and neither would this festival.”

Being careful not to figuratively cross the picket line, the festival has cleared the rest of the programming with the WGA, adding and removing coverage as necessary. It has also been sure to include content that focuses on a writer's experience outside the strike conditions, such as the panel “Why Do You Write?” The programming track "Hollywood, Health and Society" steps away from show business itself to discuss "social issues in storytelling."

Finally, the festival's sponsored pitch competition is still on the books, even though pitching shows is currently barred as part of the strike. In this case, the goal is not to sell any shows, but to receive feedback from mentors, inclduign other writers, showrunners, and producers. Hopefully, this advice can be applied in the future when participants return to business as usual — or rather, business in a whole new way.

More information, tickets, and badges are now available at atxfestival.com.

Clarification on added and canceled programming, from the announcement in its original language:

Programming Additions:

  • WGA on Strike!
  • Beyond the Page
  • Why Do You Write?
  • Queer Stories We Want To See
  • …The End Programming

Please Note: These members of the WGA support and believe in their series and teams, but stand with the WGA at this time and will not be attending.

  • Late Night with Seth Meyers
  • Andor: A Conversation with Tony Gilroy
  • Tiny Beautiful Things with Liz Tigelaar and Cheryl Strayed
  • Dawson’s Creek 25th Anniversary Screening & Conversation

Hill Country resort hosts fun whodunnits for guests eager to embrace their inner Sherlock

The butler did it?

Crime is afoot at the Cactus Oak Tavern, and the Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and Spa needs your help to find out whodunnit.

From May 27 to August 12, the San Antonio-area resort will be hosting an interactive murder mystery every Saturday at the Cactus Oak Tavern. Doors open at 6:45 pm with the event itself starting promptly at 7 pm sharp. Each $60 ticket includes the ability to participate in solving the murder mystery of the night (and yes, the theme of each week's murder mystery will rotate!) full access to an open bar, and a selection of appetizers.

There will be prizes for guests who correctly guess the murderer as well! (Whoever pulls off the most convincing "I'm not the murderer" act of the night may also win a prize for their Academy Award-winning acting skills.)

You don't actually have to stay at the Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and Spa in order to reserve a spot (or two) at one of the Saturday murder mystery events. However, if you do book a staycation there, you'll get to enjoy $50 million dollars worth of recent renovations.

Another option to extend the night after the murder mystery is solved is by dining in at one of the Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and Spa's in-house restaurants. Guests can choose from two options if mystery-solving stirs up your appetite: For anyone craving classic bar fare, head to Charlie's Long Bar, which features a menu full of comfort food favorites, from nachos, ribs, pulled pork tacos, fish and chips, and more. Charlie's serves food until 10 pm on Saturday nights (they're open until midnight otherwise.)

Option two is for the fine dining foodie guest: Antler's Lodge is open Saturday nights until 9:30 pm and features a menu full of wild-game centric cuisine, from a wild game sausage trio appetizer to main courses like chili coffee rubbed elk tenderloin, multiple cuts of fine steak, and more.

In other words – if you're looking for a fun, full Saturday night this summer, the Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and Spa has you covered.