Thursday, August 16, 2012

A Tourists Guide To Austin


I'm in love with my city.

I'm originally from Houston, and when I first moved to Austin, I was shocked at how different the two cities were. In Houston, everything and everyone moves at a fast pace. It's main industry is oil and it seems as though everything is made of concrete. Don't get me wrong, there are some cool places in Houston but they seem to be few and far between. Oh the city is filled with asshole drivers, so that's fun.

Austin is totally different. The air is cleaner, the people are nicer, and the food is out of this world. The whole city is active and yet chill at the same time. You can catch live music any night of the week while sipping on the coldest beer in the world. "Keep Austin Weird" is the city's tagline, because well... people here are weird. Everyone here is an individual and I love it. It doesn't matter if you're outdoorsy, indoorsy, weird, normal, adventurous, or boring, there's something here for you.

Below, I've compiled a list of some of my favorite things to do and places to go in Austin.

1. Mt. Bonnell 

I loveeee going up here. On one side, you can see downtown and on the other, you get a gorgeous view of Town Lake. Don't even get me started on the perfect sunset you can see up here over the hills. 

2. The Capitol

Austin is the capital of Texas, so naturally a day trip to the Texas State Capitol is in order. It's fun going in and seeing where all the magic legislation happens. I would not advise going to the top and looking down if you are afraid of heights. Lesson learned. 

3. Stand Up Paddle-Boarding On The Lake

SUP ATX is a sweet paddle boarding company based out of Austin that specializes in Stand Up Paddle Boarding. Never heard of it? Neither had I until I moved here. It's essentially a surfboard that you stand up and paddle yourself around on. So much fun! Especially on a lake as pretty as Town Lake. Plus, it's a workout! Usually, I borrow a friends board (cause it's free, duh), but on this particular day, we rented them from Texas Rowing Center for $10 an hour. Maybe one day I'll have my own board!

Speaking of the water, I recently went water-biking with my boyfriend's and it was so fun. You just ride it like a bike. You don't get wet and it requires minimal effort :) This would be really fun to do while watching the bats under the SoCo bridge during the summer!

4. Blues On The Green

Every other Wednesday throughout the summer, 93.3 KGSR puts on a free concert series in Zilker Park. It's a fun event to go to with friends, sip some wine (or beer, it gets HOT OUT!), and people watch. Plus, the music is great! It's a family AND dog friendly event, so bring who/whatever you want! One downside is parking is a pain in the ass, so make sure you leave early!

5. 6th Street

Everyone needs to have a crazy night out on 6th Street. It's a sight. Drinks are cheap (and strong!) and the people you see are so diverse. The majority of the crowd consists of college students, but sometimes you'll see the occasional old man in a Texas Flag thong roaming the streets. 

7. The UT Campus

I may be a little biased because I'm a UT alum, but our campus is beautiful. You see some of the most detailed architecture in the city. I brought my younger cousin here (she aspires to be a Longhorn one day) and she fell in love. The view of that tower never gets old, especially when it's lit up burnt orange after a win ;)

8. See The Bats at the South Congress Bridge

The bats kind of freaked me out. I didn't expect them to be so small! This location is home to the largest colony of Mexican free-tailed bats in North America! Around 8pm during the summer months, you'll see them take flight. It's so bizarre, but definitely a cool sight to see!

9. McKinney Falls Park

Yet another nature beauty of Austin. McKinney Falls has awesome swimming holes, waterfalls, and caves. We went in the wintertime and didn't get to enjoy the water, but it was fun nonetheless! Plus, the area has tons of walking and biking trails with scenic views. 

10. Eat Trailer Park Food

Austin offers tons of variety when it comes to trailer park food. It sounds nasty, but trust me, you can find some truly gourmet food. My personal favorite food trailer park is in West Campus. In the picture above, I'm at The Mighty Cone. I highly recommend the Hot and Crunchy Chicken Cone with a side of fries and their delicious red pepper ketchup! Another one of my favorite food trucks is Gourdough's (see pic below). They specialize in gourmet donuts and they are FABULOUS. I'm craving one right now!

11. Eat at Juan In A Million

This place is the They've been featured on The Food Network and everything. Their speciality is called the "Don Juan," which is this HUGE breakfast taco filled with eggs, cheese, bacon, and potatoes. Going on a Saturday morning can be a bit overwhelming--the wait is usually long, but the handshake you get from owner, Juan Mesa is so worth it. He actually got voted Best Handshake In Austin. If that ain't some Southern hospitality, I don't know what is!

12. Barton Springs

This place is the perfect place to cool off when it's super hot out. You have to pay a small fee to get in, but once you hit the water, it's soo worth it. Owen Wilson was spotted swimming here not too long ago  ;)

13. Mozart's Coffee

The photo above was taken in January. The temperature was PERFECT that day! I take advantage of Mozart's amazing outdoor patio to study. Not only is the coffee delicious, they have a variety of yummy pastries and desserts to enjoy outside. 

14. Catch A Sunset at The Oasis

The Oasis on Lake Travis offers the best sunset in all of Central Texas, as you can see above. The food ain't too bad either ;) Actually, it's freakin awesome. You should go. Right now.

15. Wurstfest 

Ok so Wurstfest is SO fun! It's held in New Braunfels, which is about 45 minutes outside of Austin. It's held in the fall and feature tons of crazy beers, sausage, czech music, carnival attractions, and more. It's essentially a shitshow every year because people (like my friends) drink a whole pitcher of beer by themselves. I, on the other hand, was more into my sausage... but to each their own haha. 

16. Lucy in Disguise 

Aka the best costume shop in the world. It's on South Congress and it has some of the most bizarre costumes ever. So much fun to go in there on a Saturday to try on some wild stuff! During Halloween, you can save yourself a ton of money by going there and renting a costume. It gets a little hectic around that time of year, so don't say I didn't warn you!

17. ACL Fest

Best concert festival ever. I mean I've really only been to two... but still. Crazy awesome line-ups, crazy people, and usually crazy weather. It never fails, but that's what makes it so fun. This year (2013), it will be held over the course of two weekends, so that makes it all the more awesome!

18. Cathedral of Junk

This man in South Austin turned his entire backyard into literally, a cathedral of junk. But it's artsy and organized in a super junky, hoarder way. It's so awesome. It reminds me of the scene in that movie Harriet The Spy where Harriet's nanny takes them to that crazy cool yard with all the crap in it. This place is a must see.

19. The Trail Around Town Lake

I usually park at the dog park at Auditorium Shores and start there. Fortunately, there are tons of bridges to cross, so your walk/run/bike ride can be as short or as long as you want it to. Some friends and I made the rookie mistake once of never crossing the bridge... the trail turned out to be like 9 miles. Whooops! But on the plus side, we saw Colt McCoy, so all wasn't lost.

20. Jacob's Well

This is actually in Wimberley, about a 30 minute drive south of Austin. It's this little swimming hole with a 40 ft deep well right in the middle. The water is icccccccy, but it's so cool watching people swim to the bottom.

21. Top Notch

If you're like me and love the movie Dazed and Confused, you'll love this little gem. The movie was filmed here in Austin, and they hang out at Top Notch on the reg. 

There are obviously PLENTTYYY of more places, but I'm in a rush to get out the door, so this post will continually be updated!

What are some of your favorite places around Austin?


  1. Wow... Austin Texas looks gorgeous! & so does your school! :)

    Follow each other?

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