Texas | January 4, 2022 12:47 pm

25 Great, IRL Things to Look Forward to in Texas in 2022

Find your inspiration to eat, drink, explore and celebrate everything the Lone Star State has to offer

Big Bend National Park
Big Bend National Park
Andrew Jenkins/Unsplash

After nearly two years of pandemic-related uncertainty and spending way more time at home than usual, things are still pretty confusing. There’s no telling what this next year will bring, but here’s hoping for more in-person hangouts, live events and, please god, fewer Zoom calls. In that spirit, these are 25 IRL things we’re looking forward to in 2022, from iconic concerts and live sports to public pools and revisiting some favorite bars.

Catch Elton John’s Farewell Tour

Sir Elton was forced to cancel dozens of tour dates due to COVID and an injury, but now his Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour is back on track. The schedule includes two-night stops at the Toyota Center in Houston (January 21-22) and the American Airlines Center in Dallas (January 25-26).

Finally See Hamilton 

If you haven’t yet witnessed this modern classic, now’s the time — and you can do so without heading to Broadway. Hamilton has Texas tour dates in San Antonio, Fort Worth, and Houston in January and February. 

See a Film Premiere at SXSW 

Canceled in 2020 and hosted online in 2021, SXSW is back in Austin, once again holding its in-person conference that celebrates music, movies and tech. Attend a few panels, watch some live music and comedy, or attend a film premiere. (March 11-22)

SXSW banners are seen in the Red River Cultural District on March 6, 2020
SXSW banners are seen in the Red River Cultural District on March 6, 2020
AFP/Getty

Attend the Dallas St. Patricks’ Day Parade

After being canceled in 2020 and 2021, the southwest’s largest St Patrick’s Day parade is back on the calendar. Expect floats, live music, a block party and plenty to drink, as attendees exercise two year’s worth of pent up St. Paddy’s revelry. (March 12)

Get Some Sun at Barton Springs

Austin’s favorite watering hole is fed from a natural spring and maintains a refreshing 68-70 degrees year-round. Head to the three-acre pool to swim, peoplewatch, and soak up some vitamin D.

Do Drinks and a Show in Deep Ellum

Dive bars, beer bars, cocktail bars … Deep Ellum has a lot of bars. Get drinks and then head for a show at iconic venues like The Factory, Club Dada or Trees.

Take a Dip at FOE

Summer always arrives too soon, but fortunately the hot temperatures are accompanied by pool openings. When the time comes, head for FOE in Dallas. The fun pool serves food and drinks, so you have everything you need for a productive day outdoors.

Catch a Baseball Game

Houston looks promising again, but the real story is that the Rangers spent more than a half billion dollars in free agency. Pair that with their shiny new climate-controlled ballpark, and let’s play ball. (Opening day is March 31)

.. and a Basketball Game

With 2020 played in the Orlando bubble, the shortened NBA season was viewed from afar. Now that games are back in stadiums for the ’21-’22 season, it’s time to support the Mavs, Rockets and Spurs.

Eat Your Weight in BBQ

Texas stalwarts like Franklin and Cattleack will always be much-loved favorites, and for good reason. But newer entrants, including Goldee’s in Fort Worth and Interstellar in Austin, are taking up the mantle with perfectly-smoked brisket and fall-off-the-bone ribs.

salt lick smoker texas
Behind the scenes at Salt Lick BBQ in Austin, Texas
Mike Falco for InsideHook

Go Wine Tasting in the Hill Country

The Texas Hill Country is teeming with wineries ready and willing to serve you tastes and sell you bottles. Find a hotel, plot your course, and taste your way through Fredericksburg, Wimberley, Driftwood, and the surrounding, wine-soaked towns.

Visit as Many Breweries as Possible

Texas is a brewing powerhouse. Hundreds of breweries are spread across the state, with concentrations in DFW, Austin, and Houston. After too many months drinking beer at home, go sample local suds straight from the source.

Drink Whiskey at Poison Girl

Houston’s favorite whiskey-soaked dive bar is still one of the best spots in town to drink and converse with your fellow patrons. 

See a Movie at Alamo Drafthouse

After extended closures, most of the Texas-based theater’s locations are back open. Pair your movie with a craft beer and surprisingly good pizza.

Eat Omakase at Otoko

This 12-seat Japanese restaurant in Austin serves an omakase-only menu that blends Tokyo-style sushi and Kyoto-style kaiseki. The ticketed dinners sell out fast, so plan ahead.

Spend All Day at the Korean Spa

Houston’s Gangnam Spa has dry and steam saunas, hot and cold baths, massage and scrub treatments, and plenty more to keep you occupied. That includes the country’s only Bul-Ga-Ma rooms, extra-hot stone huts that emit infrared rays and minerals to heal the body. Show up early, stay late, and leave any puritanical feelings about nudity at the door.

Walk Into a Random Show in Downtown Austin

With major festivals and national touring acts, there’s always someone to see in Austin. But arguably more fun is wandering into a local club downtown to hear live music from smaller but still great performers at venues like The Continental Club, Hotel Vegas and Antone’s.  

Dion Lunadon of A Place to Bury Strangers performs on the Hotel Vegas Patio on March 15, 2018
Dion Lunadon of A Place to Bury Strangers performs on the Hotel Vegas Patio on March 15, 2018
Getty Images for SXSW

Hoist a Stein at Addison Oktoberfest

Texas’s biggest and best Oktoberfest is back for 2022, with beer tents, live music on multiple stages, German food and other revelry, including dachshund races. It’s enough to make you don a pair of lederhosen and treat yourself to a third pretzel. (September 15-18)

See Billy Joel at Minute Maid Park

Currently, Billy Joel’s only Texas tour date brings him to Houston’s Minute Maid Park. It’s a rare opportunity to see the legendary piano man himself, whose live shows are mostly limited to New York these days. (September 23)

Rock Out at ACL

Why see one concert when you can see 100? The Austin City Limits Festival will bring eight stages and more than 100 acts to Zilker Park this fall. (October 7-9 and 14-16)

Eat Too Much at Meat Fight

After moving online in 2021, Might Fight is aiming for an in-person event in 2022, once more bringing great chefs and good meat together in a fun and irreverent BBQ competition that raises money for those living with multiple sclerosis. (Date TBD)

Occupy a Bar Stool at The Esquire Tavern

San Antonio’s Esquire Tavern houses the longest wooden bar top in Texas. Find a spot, post up, and prepare to stay awhile — the beer, cocktails, and food are some of the best in the city.

Drink Underground at Midnight Rambler

The list of beautiful subterranean hotel bars serving inventive cocktails and spinning vinyl records is short. But Midnight Rambler in Dallas tops that list.

Drink and Dance at the White Horse

Austin’s favorite little honky tonk is a no-frills dive with good music, fun people and cold beer. Also tacos (OK, so maybe there are a couple frills). Join the crowd and two-step until closing time.

Stroll Through the Kimbell Art Museum

The Kimbell in Fort Worth and the Modern Art Museum right across the street provide a peaceful one-two punch of permanent installations and special collections, so there’s always something new to see.