You just arrived in Austin, TX for famed music, film and interactive conference SXSW. Sure you have tons of bands to see and parties to attend, but Austin is also an wonderful city that needs to be explored for its amazing restaurants, shopping and natural beauty. Ditch the travel guide and listen up: we visited this incredibly cool city more than a few times and asked some locals to give us an insider’s look on where to eat, drink and shop. Check out our recommendations below and get the most out of your SXSW journey this year.ShopSTAG ProvisionsAs the “modern-day general store for every man,” it doesn’t get better than STAG. Stocking everything from clothing, antiques, accessories and grooming essentials from the best and brightest brands, they pair high end with low, mix vintage classics with new collections and meld the unexpected with the nostalgic. And with brands like Billykirk, Burkman Bros and Kika NY, it’s the one-stop-shop for everything cool.Service MenswearIf STAG represents the East Coast, Service Menswear definitely holds down the West. Swimwear from brands like Sundek and Quiksilver Originals will have you ready to dive into Barton Springs, and street wear like RVCA and Vans have your outdoorsy side covered.Room Service VintageIf thrifting is more your thing, stray from the string of vintage haunts on South Congress to find much better deals. There are a ton of great stores, but Room Service Vintage was a personal favorite. With everything from cowboy boots to barware to vintage Playboys, you could spend hours searching every nook and cranny.EatSa-TénLocated in the Canopy creative community, this cool new spot serves up coffee, tea and delicious Japanese toasts and plates. There’s a type for everyone, from the extra savory Pork Sausage or Sriracha Mayo Smoked Salmon toasts to the vegetarian-friendly mushroom and egg varieties. Don’t miss the Chicken Katsu with Curry, best ordered with a side of anchovy toast for the full menu experience.Odd DuckIt’s a tale as old as time in Austin, when a great food trailer turns into a brick-and-mortar restaurant, and Chef Bryce Gilmore did the most with his shiny new outpost of Odd Duck. The menu is focused on seasonal and local ingredients with dishes like goat lasagna with spinach, béchamel and brussels sprouts and a refreshing risotto with cauliflower, goat cheese and grapefruit.Rudy’s Country Store and Bar-B-QAs pork rib enthusiasts, we did our research before heading down south and conjured a list of BBQ places to try. But our Austin friends suggested we ditch the hyped joints and hit this tried and true spot, and the locals are always right. Order at the counter, cafeteria style, by the rib, slice or pound. Tell the crew you’re a newcomer and they’ll let you try before you buy.Thai-KunNamed one of America’s Best New Restaurants in 2014 by Bon Appétit, this food truck specializes in “O.G. Thai” from chef Thai Changthong. Located at Whisler’s on the East Side, be prepared to eat some of the spiciest food in town with dishes like Beef Panang Curry and Waterfall Pork, grilled and sliced with Tiger Cry sauce. Grilled Bread with Peanut Curry Sauce and Black Noodles will help put out the fire.Related: Best BBQ Spots Across the U.S.DrinkThe Driskill Hotel BarIf you’re looking for a good date spot or just a strong cocktail in a swanky lounge, the Driskill Hotel bar is the epitome of Southern charm. Pony hair upholstery, stained glass ceilings and a haunted grand staircase lend ambiance as a live bluegrass band provides the entertainment.Rio RitaHead to the East Side of Austin for, in our opinion, pretty much the best bar patios in the country. But our favorite has to be Rio Rita for a colorful backyard and killer cocktail menu. You won’t regret ordering the Bloody Mary, or any of their concoctions for that matter. Try the sinus-clearing habanero shot if you dare.BarbarellaIf you’re looking to dance and go a little HAM, Barbarella is the place to drop it like it’s hot. Unpretentious for a club, busy nights feature three DJs – upstairs, downstairs and patio – so you can choose your own musical adventure. The Side BarDrinks here are cheap, and we mean like really cheap. Located right in the middle of downtown, it’s the perfect place to stop in for a drink or shot in-between shows. Like most of the other watering holes in Austin, The Side Bar has a huge backyard full of picnic tables to rest your tired legs.ChillBarton Springs PoolEven though the icy waters of Barton Springs might be too cold to swim in this time of year, grab some friends and relax on the grassy hill while taking in the view. The Best American Liqueur Jameson Releases Two New Caskmates Editions The Absolute Best Rye Whiskey Brands for Under $50 Editors’ Recommendations The Oasis on Lake TravisThis incredible lookout spot may be a 30 minute drive from Austin city proper, but it’s worth the time spent on the road if you need a break from SXSW madness. Stay to eat or just come for a view of the sunset. The Manual Spirit Awards 2019: The Best Craft Liquor Made in America If You Haven’t Visited the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, What Are You Waiting For?
Brock University is taking action to address the rapidly growing demand for student mental health services.The need for mental health counselling traditionally spikes after the University’s February Reading Week, when schoolwork tends to intensify in preparation for end of term. Through new funding from the Niagara Community Foundation’s David S. Howes Fund, counsellors from the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) will soon be available on campus to assist students with their academic, personal and professional mental health concerns during this busy time.Operating in addition to the existing mental health options in Student Health Services, Personal Counselling Services and the 24-hour Good 2 Talk hotline, the new service will be offered Monday to Thursday in the James A. Gibson Library from Feb. 25 until April 18, with drop-in sessions running from 4 to 7 p.m.Sarah Pennisi, Director of Brock’s Student Wellness and Accessibility Centre, said the additional services in the Library serve two purposes.“Having the CMHA counsellors on site will offer more hours of service during peak demand times and make mental health services highly visible in a central location,” she said. “By making the services visible, we are hoping to increase the likelihood of students seeking help when they need it.”The partnership with the University will provide more comprehensive counselling services to students both on campus and in the community, said Tara McKendrick, Executive Director of CMHA Niagara.“Working with Brock has been an excellent opportunity to ensure that mental health supports are timely and accessible to maximize options for student support,” she said. “During these times, it can be extremely helpful to speak with a professional who can help explore tools and options for increased support. CMHA Niagara being on campus also provides an opportunity for students to become aware of resources available off campus if needed.”The central location of the available services was key in the decision to locate counsellors within the Library’s Matheson Learning Commons, said University Librarian Mark Robertson.“It’s a very visible space that will help students to easily discover the available counselling options,” he said. “We are about supporting learning, and we see the connection between curricular learning and determinants like mental health that can positively affect it.”For Pennisi, the new service further demonstrates the University’s commitment to its students through internal and external partnerships.“Brock is known for being a caring community, and we show our caring and commitment to student success by responding to their needs,” she said. “We recognize there are stakeholders, such as the CMHA and the Library, who bring skills and resources that help us to continue to demonstrate our commitment to student success and well-being.”To learn more about the many mental health resources available at Brock, visit brockmentalhealth.ca or brocku.ca/swac