This weekend I’m travelling for work to the glorious city of Austin and the South by Southwest Film Festival, aka SXSW.

This is my first trip to Austin, or SXSW for that matter. Let me tell you, I’m overwhelmed! There is so much to do and see, you can’t possibly take it all in. I created a schedule of sessions to attend in the weeks leading up to this trip and I can honestly say I have missed EVERY SINGLE ONE. That’s not a bad thing, I’ve discovered alternative options that were far better than I could have expected.

Mt. Bonnell

A coworker who frequents both Austin and SXSW recommended that I take a trip to Mt. Bonnell. Totally worth it! This is a hidden gem of a park, I cannot recommend it enough. You can see the entire city laid out before you, as well as an incredible view of the homes of Austin’s rich & famous. If you have a chance, be sure to stop in, hike the stairs, and enjoy the view!

QUICK TIP: If you’re allergic to Mountain Cedar, you might want to wait in the car!

Mount Bonnell, Austin, TX
Mt. Bonnell – not my photo because I suck at taking pictures.

SXSW

Back to SXSW. If you have the means to attend, I highly recommend that you add a trip to Austin to your bucket list. The old-timers complain about how commercial the festival has gotten, and I’m sure they’re right. However, I don’t think the evolution is all bad. I’ve heard and seen some amazing things in the sessions and exhibit halls. Each presenter and company are bringing their “A” game. You are never without something to do or see. Bands, sessions, films, product releases, exhibitors hawking their wares, it’s like nothing I’ve ever experienced before.

Samsung Gear VR

The most impressive thing I’ve seen at SXSW so far has been Samsung’s Gear VR demo. I don’t know how to describe it beyond AMAZING! The fully immersive experience puts viewers in the middle of the action. From a roller coaster ride to court side during the NBA All Star Game 3-Point competition to snowboarding down a mountain with the Mt. Dew bros, Samsung doesn’t disappoint. I felt like I was there, isn’t that the ultimate in TV viewing? Now, the line took over an hour and a half because I was not a Samsung user. Was it worth it? Yes, because I’d do it again without hesitating! Free Carmel Corn didn’t hurt either!

 Samsung Gear VR 
The mass of humanity is the main downside to this adventure. There are people EVERYWHERE! You cannot move around without bumping into a sea of people. Restaurant wait times are ridiculous (make reservations well ahead of your trip!) and transportation is a joke. You need to leave an hour early to get anywhere around the city using a vehicle. The exception is that you’re just headed across the street or around the block, in which case I hope you’re walking WITH the flow and not against it. Good luck going against it!

Mark it down, add SXSW to your “To Do” list. Go, see, do, it’s amazing!

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