I am currently driving my Chevy across Texas, in a ramshackle road trip towards the Rocky Mountains. Austin was my first stop, and I was told that coming from New Orleans I would just love the weird, crunchy vibe here.
My New Orleans friends were not lying! Austin is weird, fun, and easy on the eyes. Here is a short list of fun things to do while you visit. Put on your Chaco’s, rent a bike, and just lean into the ever-present hipster vibe that is Austin.
Barton Spring Pool: This man made pool is located within Zilker Park, and the water is consistently at a chipper 68* as it is fed from Barton Springs. The pool is difficult to place until you go, because it is hard to picture a spring fed, natural oasis just 2 miles from the downtown skyline. Parking is free and non-residents pay $4 to spend the day lounging on the grassy slopes and cooling off with the Austin skyline peeking above the quiet tree line—love it!
Spider house Café: Catch a bus or a Lyft ride over near the University of Texas area to visit this hip, funky café/bar. I went there for the weekly poetry slam on a Tuesday and was not disappointed; for $10 I scored a ticket into a sold out show of talented spoken word artists and a 512 pecan stout pint. Bam. Couchsurfing also hosts their weekly Austin meetup here on Friday nights in the courtyard starting at 6pm if you want to jive with fellow travelers.
Boardwalk Trail at Lady Bird Lake: Texas is HOT. It is September and it is still scorching. Why not siesta away the afternoon and emerge around dusk for an evening walk? Check out the Boardwalk Trail on Lady Bird Lake. This trail roughly connects the area of Lakeshore Park to Congress Avenue (downtown) by way of a boardwalk that runs parallel to the city skyline. People watch as you meander over the Colorado River and watch the sun reflect off the buildings. Read the leather belts (you’ll know once you go!). Time your walk to end at the overpass of Congress Avenue. This spot is home to North America’s largest community of bats in an urban area. No lie! They live under the bridge and at twilight massive amounts of tourists come out, decked out in bat souvenir t-shirts, to watch the bats do their thing. Austin… I love your weirdness!
Food Trucks: I think this goes without saying, since the food truck culture of Austin is pretty known, but please eat some food truck fare before heading to your next destination. There are “roundups” all over town; basically spots where a handful of food trucks converge and picnic tables form the gathering space. You can eat cheap or lux, lobster or vegan, Tex-Mex or Thai. Make sure to do an initial lap to see what your options are and take in the unique look of each truck. Funky deliciousness.
Sanctuary Yoga: Austin has a HUGE yoga community—hatha and acro alike. Whichever type of yoga you get your downward dogs from, make sure to attend a class. I chose Sanctuary Yoga on a recommendation from a local friend. Classes run around $12 for walk-ins and the venue is stunning; it felt like I was taking yoga in a tree house wonderland of Zen. If you are on a budget they offer daily $5 classes at 1:30pm. Mats are free and available onsite.
Whatever you choose, make sure you stop in Austin, and keep it weird with all the hospitable locals!