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Avoid the traffic: When to shop during the holiday season, according to Google Maps


Though Austin's temperate weather may not show it, the holiday season is right around the corner. Black Friday may have been awash in 2020 but now, it's time to prepare for the city's comeback traffic.

Google Maps' wealth of information narrows down the best and worst times to do your holiday duties.

This year, some of the top-searched attractions include the Museum of Weird, the Bullock Texas State History Museum, the Blanton Museum of Art, the Thinkery and the Austin Aquarium, so expect lines over the holidays. Depending on where you're coming from, you might hit high traffic at the most-crowded intersection of Burnet Road and S. Lamar Blvd.

If you're ordering takeout for the holidays (we won't tell), try ordering anything other than Chinese food on Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve for the fastest service. On Jan. 1, Chinese food is greenlit since Mexican is the most popular option of the New Year.

As we roll into such a busy time of year, stay one step ahead of the traffic with these insights.


Whichever bakery is your favorite in the city, stay away from it on Sunday afternoons. Google Maps found that bakeries are at their busiest at 3 p.m. on Sundays, though you might want to steer clear on Saturdays too for good measure. Head to the bakery around 2 p.m. on Fridays for the shortest wait.


Surprisingly, the busiest time of the week for bars isn't on Friday or Saturday nights. Instead, bars are at their most busy at midnight on Sundays and the least busy time clocks in at 7 p.m. on Saturdays. You can get to bars early, avoid having to fight for a drink and stay until dawn, or leave as the crowd trickles in.

Department stores and outlets

The dreaded holiday shopping season is nigh, so start shopping early for the best bet on avoiding crowds. The best and worst shopping times fall on Saturdays: most crowds flock to shop in the mid-afternoon around 2 p.m. but will have died down by 6 p.m.

Grocery stores

Your best bet is to avoid grocery stores like the plague on days leading up to Thanksgiving and Christmas, but if you must, avoid Sunday afternoons. The best time to get your grub is Saturday evenings, specifically around 5 p.m.

Hair and nail salons

While a day at the spa sounds nice, an evening at the spa will prove more tranquil. Getting your hair and nails done after 11 a.m. on Saturday will result in the longest wait. Wait until 5 p.m. and the salon will have emptied out.

Movie theaters

A Friday night at the movies is a classic way to spend your weekend but according to Google, 8 p.m. at the start of the weekend is the busiest time to go. Movie theaters are at their emptiest at 3 p.m. on Saturday—if you can stand seeing a movie in the daytime.

Post offices

For those of us with family and friends outside the great state of Texas, the holiday season is the busiest time of year for our USPS friends. A very narrow window separates the post offices' busiest from least busy: Saturdays at 10 a.m. and 11 a.m., respectively. Opt for later if you can!


Restaurants tend to be busiest at—you guessed it—dinnertime, so if you want to avoid the rush, sneak in just a few minutes early. Restaurants hit their busiest time at 7 p.m. on Fridays, meaning arriving at 5 p.m. makes all the difference.

Take that, traffic!

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