Austin Rocks: Even the Airport is Cool

Austin airport live music with David Holt (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

(Part of the Austin Rocks series of posts by a local about things to do and see in Austin, Texas)

I live in Austin, and when I travel, I’m bummed that my early morning departures and late night arrivals back home usually mean that I can’t spend more time at the Austin airport.

Yes, I know that’s a bit weird, but there are good reasons to hang out at ABIA (except for the lack of free WiFi, which seems rather strange in such a tech-savvy city.)

The amenities inside the Barbara Jordan terminal at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport are a snapshot of some of the goodies available in the Austin metro area. You won’t find many chain stores, but you will find branches of Austin-tacious local stores and restaurants once you get through security, plus live music all over the place.

Some airports are so boring and featureless, they could be located anywhere on the planet (this includes parts of LAX in Los Angeles and La Guardia in New York; why such distinctive cities have such generally bland airports is a mystery to me.)

A support Texas music T-shirt at the Austin airport (photo by Sheila Scarborough)Airports have a captive and often bored audience;  during limited layover times, people usually don’t want to leave its confines to explore the city beyond.  Why not bring the city to them? I’m not sure this makes them hot new vacation spots, but they can enhance your travels rather than add to the misery level.

At Austin’s airport, you’ll find live music playing from a performance area located behind Ray Benson’s Asleep at the Wheel Road House.  From an article in the Austin Business Journal, Musical Acts Help Austin Airport Shine:

“Austin-Bergstrom’s music program, which began when the airport opened in 1999, has grown from two shows a week at one location to 11 shows a week at four different airport venues.

In comparison, Nashville International Airport’s live music program has an average of two to three shows a week.”

Barbara Jordan statue in the Austin airport baggage claim (photo by Sheila Scarborough)There are four airport venues for live music:  Ray Benson’s Roadhouse, Monday through Friday afternoons, Lefty’s Bar & Grille on 6th Street Wednesday and Thursday afternoons,  Earl Campbell’s Sports Bar, late afternoon Wednesdays through Fridays and the Waterloo Records/Austin City Limits store early on Friday afternoons.

Food choices at ABIA include Salt Lick BBQ, Schlotzsky’s Deli, Maudie’s Tex-Mex and the ever-awesome Amy’s Ice Cream, plus Austin Java Coffee and even one place selling those sugary delights, Round Rock Donuts.

Not a nasty ol’ Burger King in sight….


  1. Kay July 17, 2009
    • Sheila July 17, 2009
  2. Antonia Malchik July 17, 2009
  3. Metalchick July 19, 2009
  4. Perter July 20, 2009
  5. Samuel Peterson July 20, 2009

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