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Music Festivals in Austin and Portland

Music has the power to transport you, so why not put your family in the heart of where the music is! Few places offer better music scenes than our two picks for this month, from the live music capital of the world to one of the best locations to find indie music. But these spots offer more than just a killer music scene, there’s a ton to do with your kids after catching a concert … or two!

BY CAR: Austin, Texas

What to do
Austin is known for two main things, live music and awesome food. This month those two worlds collide with the Austin City Limits Music Festival, from September 16–18 at Zilker Park. Local art and food vendors will line the festival grounds as bands like Arcade Fire, Coldplay, Stevie Wonder, Alison Krauss & Union Station, Ray LaMontagne, and more take over the multiple concert stages. There’s plenty to keep the kiddos entertained as well with the amazing Austin Kiddie Limits stage and play area, complete with face painting, interactive instruments, art projects, and more! Tickets start at $90 and are going fast!
888/512-7469; aclfestival.com

Where to stay
Although the Hotel San Jose and the Four Seasons are within walking distance to most of the festival fun, if proximity isn’t high on your priority list, book a stay at the super kid-friendly Barton Creek Resort and Spa. Planned activities include geocaching, scavenger hunts, swimming, mini golf, hiking, and more. The resort also offers a Kids Club room for ages 6-months to 8-years where mom and dad can drop the kids off for a maximum of four and a half hours so they can enjoy the city while their kids have a blast with the professional and fun staff.
866/572-7369; bartoncreek.com

What to eat
Just a short, scenic drive from busy downtown lies one of the best-kept secrets in Texas barbeque: The Salt Lick Bar-B-Que restaurant. This family-friendly joint has a rich family history all its own. With roots dating back to the 1800s, The Salt Lick has become a staple to all in the greater Austin area, with mouth-watering family recipes flooding the menu. Heaping helpings of barbeque is served à-la-cart or family style with kids three and under eating free. Kids enjoy scouting out the massive open BBQ pit in this Hill Country location, set in what looks like an historic barn. Sides include potato salad, coleslaw, beans, bread and more, but the real star of the menu are their desserts: homemade pecan pie or peach cobbler!
512/858-4959; saltlickbbq.com

BY PLANE: Portland, Oregon

What to do
Portland, Oregon, may be located an hour-and-a-half east from the coast and the same distance west from the ski resorts, but this City of Roses is a destination all its own … with a music scene that’s just as independent. MusicFestNW is one festival you and your family can’t miss if you’re around Portland September 7–11. Concerts run indoors all afternoon and evening in varying venues ranging from kid-friendly to 21-and-over, so make sure to check the website for details before heading out. Bands include Band of Horses, Iron & Wine, Brand New, the Portland Cello Project, and more!

(Note: while you’re in the city, make sure to also check out the fountains at the Portland Saturday Market and plan to spend some time at the abnormally-cool-and-super-interactive Portland Children’s Museum.)

503/223-6500; portlandcm.org

Where to stay
Not only is the McMenamins Kennedy School one of the venues during MusicFestNW, it’s also a hotel with more than 35 guestrooms. This isn’t your average hotel though; it’s been renovated/converted from a 1915 school house to include a hotel, concert venue, brewery, restaurant, movie theatre, soaking pool, and more. Your kids will love falling asleep in a classroom after catching a $3 movie at the theatre, where they serve food and drinks (order the tots with ranch to eat like a local!) while you and your family lounge on comfy sofas. Their brewery is top notch as well … try the Hammerhead—you won’t regret it!
888/249-3983; mcmenamins.com

What to eat
Looking to dine with the locals? Then head to Le Bistro Montage. Referred to by Portlanders as simply “The Montage,” this quirky Cajun restaurant is a feast for the mouth and eyes with funky décor and decadent twists on simple dishes (try the Spicy Mac with Andouille Sausage). No worries if you can’t finish the meal, because the waiters here are specialists in wrapping food to go inside crafty tin foil creature creations! Just want a quick bite out? Try the many food carts around downtown or head to the Grilled Cheese Grille, a restaurant inside a converted school bus that specializes in gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches.
503/234-1324; montageportland.com
503/206-8959; grilledcheesegrill.com