There’s so much to be said for Austin, Texas.
Most know it as the ‘Live Music Capital of the World’ or home of SXSW.
Does the music scene add to the vibe? Absolutely, but there’s more than just the music….
I spent twenty years living in Austin. Rich’s family lives there. Natalie was born there. We have many friends who live there. So we kinda know what we’re talking about when we talk about Austin.
Combining a survey of friends with our own experience, we’ve put together of what we think is a pretty damn good list that gives you the best of Austin.
Let’s call it: 14 Things the Locals Love About Austin, Texas.
The Green Parts of Austin:
Zilker Park Trail/Lady Bird Lake (a.k.a Town Lake)
Rowing, kayaking, hiking, jogging, stand-up paddle boarding… the list goes on. If you want to stop and enjoy Austin outdoors, Lady Bird Lake is the place.
Brushy Creek Regional Park – Cedar Park
This park stretches from Twin Lakes YMCA on Highway 183 and trails through to Brushy Creek for almost 7 miles. The park offers a plethora of options from trails for hiking or biking, soccer and baseballs fields, skate park, bocce course, volleyball nets, playscapes, waterscapes, fishing…The park is huge. And rarely busy. Wildlife includes a variety of water birds and deer who wander around at dusk.
A little bit of nature in the middle of the city! This is a popular park with the locals.
At the Fork in the road (literally), there stands a bar and grill. Famous for their fries, this place is a must visit in Austin. There is usually not much of a wait, which is amazing, as the place always seems busy. The vibe is homey, eclectic and the food is fresh, imaginative and delicious. Order the fries, the hibiscus mint tea and Wom Kim’s Peach Pudding for dessert. You won’t be disappointed.
Moonie’s has won the Best Burgers and Fries prize for 8 years straight. Their onion rings are also divine. Bring an appetite or a buddy, because their burgers are huge. And for the kids, a free snow cone comes with their order. How cool is that!
Mexican Food Everywhere
Yes. Austin is not that far from Mexico and every town in Texas boasts their own ‘Best Mexican”. And, while I’m sure there are some other great Mexican restaurants, Austin and its surrounding cities have plenty to choose from. After doing a lot of personal research, here are the local favorites:
– All over Austin: Maudies for rockin’ Margaritas.
– Cedar Park Area: Los Chiliquiles for the Botana Sampler.
– Central Austin: Chuys for Mexican martinis, Jalapeno Ranch Dip with chips, Queso.
– South Austin – Matt’s El Rancho for Smoked Chicken Enchiladas, Bob Armstrong Dip.
From the middle of December to Christmas Eve, the Parmer Events Center hosts a unique Austin experience. It’s called the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar. Here, you can buy or admire arts and crafts, made from local/regional artisans. Enjoy live music as you wander the aisles with a beer in hand. There is never pressure to buy and the offerings range from eclectic to classic. The show provides the definitive Austin atmosphere.
Another Austin iconic art and craft festival, The Old Pecan Street Festival website says it best: “The Pecan Street Festival is a free, bi-annual juried arts and crafts festival held on 6th Street in Austin, Texas. The show features artisans from all over the United States who display and sell homemade art and craftwork. Festival goers can find paintings, sculpture, woodwork, candles, jewelry, cowboy hats, home decor, games, and other useful and whimsical household items.”
What Makes Austin, Austin
Where else can you enjoy a natural springs pool in the middle of the city? With an average temperature of 68 degrees year-round, it’s heaven during the searing temperatures of summer or the cool days of winter. This is nature’s offering to Austin.
In the spring, this is an all-time favorite, must-go place in Austin. The Wildflower Center is stunning after plenty of rain over the winter. Visit early in the spring to avoid the crowds and see the best display of wildflowers in bloom that Austin has to offer of. This place is Austin for us, bluebonnets abound.
How great is it that you can go to a movie, order a beer, a milkshake or potato skins at the same price as a normal movie (food and drinks are extra, of course)? Sure, popcorn is available, if you prefer. This is an Austin icon. Everyone loves Alamo Draft House. Also at Alamo are sing-a-long nights to those old cheesy movies that we all secretly love.
Thinkery is a fun, interactive learning center for kids. It has art, science, health and more! If you are in Austin and have kids, this is a great place to check out!
Austinites are unlike Texans anywhere else. They are friendly (think ‘hi, how y’all doin’?’ when your waitress meets your table), earthy (organic, eco-friendly), and fun (think quirky). I stumbled into Texas and stayed for 20 years. I’ve visited other places in Texas and while the friendliness can be found elsewhere, Austin is truly unique. If you don’t believe me, look to the cities unofficial slogan, ‘Keep Austin Weird’, but that’s why we like it.
Day Trips a’Plenty
From Austin, you can go to the beach (Gulf Coast); Take a drive in the scenic Hill Country ; Walk your feet off with a day of shopping (Central Market and Specs for your choice of cheese and wine); Go boating on Lake Travis… No matter what kind of enthusiast you are, there is an option for you.