The capital city of Texas, Austin, has a saying: “Keep Austin Weird.” That’s because when you arrive this city in the middle of Texas, you feel like you’re in a different state. Sure, you’ll see more cowboy boots, barbeque and Longhorns here than most other places in the U.S. But Austin prides itself on being different than the rest of Texas. You’ll find lots of liberals, live music, even more food trucks, and hipsters aplenty in this town. Check out our interview with local, Katie, for more reasons to love Austin, and how to see it all on your trip to this fun and unique city.
WHY YOU SHOULD TRUST HER: Katie, 29, has lived in Austin for almost 2 years, after moving from Chicago. She currently works on contract for Facebook, and since moving, has fallen in love with all that Austin has to offer.
(From Katie) Since moving to Austin, I’ve learned so much about the city’s culture, people, traditions, and what makes the city unique, or as the locals say, “weird.” I loved living in Chicago, so when I moved, I had to step out of my comfort zone and remember not to compare everything to my old home.
Before I moved, I assumed that Austin would fit the typical Texas stereotype as a boot-wearing, two-stepping town. Well, I was wrong! Instead, what I appreciate the most about Austin is the unexpected. Austin surprises you in so many ways, and there truly is something for everyone here. There’s a vast range of people and styles from all over the U.S., ranging from southern prepsters to emo hipsters. People are moving here daily for a change of pace and for job opportunities; Austin’s booming tech industry has been a major attraction for newcomers. It’s also constantly changing and improving. I like to think of it as an eclectic little oasis, offering both the city and country feel.
Some new foods I’ve grown to love since moving here are breakfast tacos, tex-mex and barbeque. Austin never has a shortage of any of these! I’ve also grown to appreciate Austin’s music scene. From the live music on 6th Street to the popular festivals such as ACL and SxSW, there is always something happening around town. Although I do miss the authentic four seasons, especially the Fall, I have come to love the consistent climate and lack of harsh winters here. The city is also very dog-friendly, so we wasted no time at all in adopting a puppy from a local shelter.
The best advice I can give to someone traveling here is to be open-minded and adventurous. There is so much to do outside the city limits too, such as wine tasting in Hill Country, home decor shopping at Magnolia Market in Waco (100 miles North of Austin), and floating the Guadalupe River in San Marcos. I don’t know many people (if any!) who have visited Austin and didn’t want to come back. Explore and enjoy every minute you have in this city!
1. Favorite Street to Wander/Stroll in Austin: My favorite spot is South Congress, also known by locals as ‘SoCo’. You can’t leave without getting a photo at the Jo’s Coffee “ILYSM” Wall (i love you so much)
2. Best Coffee Shop or Bakery: Radio Coffee. You MUST try the breakfast tacos!
3. Best Area to Shop Local: The 2nd Street District
4. Favorite Sunny Day Agenda: I would start with an outdoor morning yoga class on the Whole Foods rooftop (offered Tues & Thurs at 7am). Then, grab brunch and mimosas at Josephine House. Afterwards, head to Zilker Park (dog-friendly!) to play, and stroll along the Barton Creek Greenbelt. After your walk, venture to a swimming hole to hike and swim (Lost Creek is my favorite).For dinner, go early to Perla’s, then finish with some gelato at Dolce Neve, which is just a few blocks away. If you’d rather do a picnic-style dinner, set up at Congress Ave Bridge and watch the sunset (and bats!). If you still have energy after dinner, pedi-cab to Rainey Street to sip on a delicious moscow mule at Lucille Patio (the best mule in town!) If you’re in town on a Monday, definitely stop by Open Mic at House Wine and order a a glass of rose.
5. Most Essential Austin Tip: If you have time during your visit, go to Mount Bonnell for the view view of Lake Austin (Colorado River). The 300-step long staircase to the top also tells a story. I promise, you won’t regret it!
TRIP ADVISOR’S TOP FIVE AUSTIN ATTRACTIONS
1. Lady Bird Lake Hike-and-Bike Trail– Thumbs Up
2. State Capitol– Thumbs Up
3. Sightseeing Tours (Rocket Electrics Austin Tours, PubCrawler of Austin, etc)- Thumbs up, but I also highly recommend Austin Duck Adventures, a land and water tour that takes you through Downtown Austin and even INTO Lake Austin!
4. LBJ Presidential Library– Thumbs Down. This is cool, but I wouldn’t put it in the top 5. Rather than continuing to sightsee, I would encourage visitors to explore Austin’s amazing outdoor scene, which you can enjoy almost all year round. I recommend stand up paddle boarding (SUP), kayaking, hiking, water bikes (yes they exist) and swimming in a Texas swimming hole.
5. Bullock Texas State History Museum– Thumbs Up
TRIPADVISOR’S TOP FIVE AUSTIN RESTAURANTS
1. Uchi Thumbs Up. Their happy hour is awesome!
2. Franklin Barbecue– Thumbs Up! The tailgate wait is totally worth it.
3. Eddie V’s Edgewater Grille– Thumbs Down. I wouldn’t put this in the top 5 either…
4. Whole Foods Market– Thumbs Up. It’s an Austin experience you shouldn’t miss, even if you don’t eat there. Every type of food imaginable is there (sandwiches, tacos, asian bowls, bbq, salads, etc), and there’s even a bar inside!
5. Uchiko– Thumbs Up