When I was recently down in Austin, I got a chance to have a beer with Erica, the female half of the couple that does the great travel and photography website, Over Yonderlust. I asked her to do a guest post for my site and she promptly put together these list of suggestions for one of my favorite cities in the world, Austin, Texas. I went to college there and if I settle down in any city in the States in the near future, it’s right up at the top of my list. Enjoy.
5 Things You MUST DO in Austin
Yes, I will be the first to admit that I am one of those annoying Texans that are proud of their culture and where they live. If you lived in Austin, Texas too, you would feel the same way. There are a few must-dos when you come into town and I make sure to show off the following whenever I have friends come and visit.
1.) Texas Rollerderby/Lonestar Rollergirls
Sure, I may be a bit biased since I am a referee, however, this is unlike any experience you will ever have. The girls here in Austin started the current rollerderby revival and we have two leagues in town – banked track and flat track. I personally prefer the banked track (TXRD) since the girls are able to be a little more dramatic. Think hockey meets wrestling… with chicks… and beer.
2.) Trailer Eats
There is a culinary revolution going on in Austin. Young 20-somethings are opening food trailers offering gourmet cheap eats that easily rival some of the best and most expensive places to eat in town. My personal favorites are Gourgough’s Donuts – offering amazing freshly made fried dough with yummy toppings – and Graj Mahal – an Indian food dive.
But what is Austin really known for? Great BBQ of course. And here is a post from a good friend with the best BBQ in Austin.
3.) Mexican Martinis at Trudy’s
There is one thing that I have high expectations of – TexMex. Trudy’s has amazing food and my most favorite thing to partake is the renowned Mexican Martini. They limit you to purchasing only TWO due to the potency of these things. It is like a condensed margarita in a shaker complete with green olives and unlimited chips and salsa to make your night perfect.
4.) The Greenbelt and Hamilton’s Pool
Not all of Texas is desert and wasteland. Austin is full of trees, lakes, swimming holes and hike and bike trails. My “zen” place is Sculpture Falls – a 2 mile hike into the Barton Creek Greenbelt. Kick back in the water with a beer in hand while soaking up some rays. It is one of my favorite things to do during the spring and summer months.
5.) South Congress Avenue
This part of Congress not only overlooks the capitol and downtown, but also has the most swanky vintage stores and oddities you can find anywhere in town. Treat yourself to Homeslice’s awesome New York style pizza (that wins awards every year) or to a piece of chocolate covered bacon from Big Top, a 1930s pharmacy inspired candy store, owned by the White Ghost Shivers’ 7 ft tall ukulele player.
While there are a billion things to do in Austin, and each experience can vary widely, these are definitely some of my most favorite things to do while here.
I “discovered” Hamilton Pool on my last visit to Austin. So nice! I will have to allot more time next visit because I saw all of those food trailers when I went to Chuy’s. I have to mention The Donut Hole in Lakeway; perhaps the best doughnut(s) I have ever had. Plenty of Mexican food trainers out there, too. Now, I am hungry!
Chuy’s is pretty amazing! Did you get the amazing creamy jalapeno dip for your chips? YUM! Austin definitely takes a while if you want to see much of it. I always tell my visiting friends to expect to gain weight!
Maybe its because i’m from Europe, but I had never heard of Texas Rollerderby in my life. Looks awesome though 🙂
@Tijmen: There are a few girls in the league working with some EU communities to get people involved and a rollerderby league going!
I have been so many times & I love Austin!!! The city is amazing and so damn pretty. I am lucky to have a few friends living there that have always been able to show me a different side of it each time I go.
I’m a bit jealous that y’all met each other!
Hey now – we were only like 2 1/2 hours away! You could have taken a sick day!
I’ve only been to San Antonio in Texas, but I keep hearing about how many things there are to do in Austin. A friend of mine was just there and loved it. Those Mexican Martinis look really good.
@Steve: San Antonio is a very different city. My dad lives there so I get to visit every now and then but my heart is in Austin. 😀
Rollerderby!! Always wanted to play… but I weigh 95 lbs and would likely get pulverized. 😛
My partner loves Austin, but my first time visiting will be in March for SXSW. So this list is timely – I’m definitely going to pull it out and try all of your suggestions while we’re there!
@Christy: You can do it! One of my favorite skaters is super tiny. She uses her small stature to weave in and out! Not sure when you’re going to be in town but I know there is a bout on March 12!
Austin always sounds like so much fun! I’ve only ever been to Dallas, but if we ever get around to our cross-country US road trip, we’re definitely going to spend some time there. Growing up in Alabama, I’m ashamed I missed it.
Dallas is… different. Completely different culture and people. 😛 If you ever need suggestions on places to eat or things to do, I’m your woman!
i could go and see Texas Rollerderby/Lonestar Rollergirls
@Zablon: It is so awesome!
I grew up in Austin, and I’m always amazed with how much more there is to discover! It’s a regular stop in our full time travels, and I’m so looking forward to our trip there this March where we’ll speak on the topic of nomadism at SXSW! Now.. to decide where to eat first 🙂
@Cherie: I can only imagine how hard it will be to pick the first restaurant to enjoy while “home”. Too many to choose from!
We’ll see you soon! Miss your faces!
#6- Attend SXSW!!!!
Agree about SXSW, the best music festival in the world (IMHO); also a film festival and multimedia/hi-tech conference. I’ve lived in Austin since the 90’s and try never to miss SXSW but will this year to be in Patagonia.
LOVE Austin. Spent a week there working at the end of 2009 but didn’t get to see as much as I’d like, so I plan to return… And do all these things!
simply a great, great city — enjoy
Ok. So. This is probably the best concise big picture list of places to go in Austin that I’ve seen. I spent my college days in this great city as well and am constantly trying to convey to people how amazing it is. But it’s a hard city to pin down. How do you really give people a feel for what this city has to offer? I lived there 4 years and hardly saw everything I wanted to see. But I found it a bit easier recently when I went to Austin for a weekend and got to pick my top list of things to do while I was there. Though I’ve never been to a rollerderby there (though I am a big fan in general) I did hit soco, Trudy’s, the Salt Lick trailer off MLK and the green belt, so I can’t argue more that those should be on the list. I’d add 6th street on a weekend (because… duh… beer) and maybe a coffee at Spiderhouse just to get a feel for the weirder side of Austin.
We love Austin. There is always something to do and it is such a unique town. One of our favorite local places to visit is the Texas Hill Country. The Texas Hill Country is beautiful and offers great homesites and communities for families to live in.
SALT LICK! Is a MUST!
BTW it’s BYOB
Me+hubby might visit Austin for a short trip (5-7 days) at the end of March or early April, mostly for his company training purposes so 3 days at least I will be exploring the city by myself. Most likely we will be staying in downtown Austion. We are from Honolulu. I’m interested in arts & cultures (museums, historic buildings and outdoor festivals with food vendors), vintage shops, flea markets, and dining out. Any suggestions? 🙂
Love the list! 2 questions: where is the best place to find food trucks? 2) food recommendations? We are staying at the downtown marriott would love to do mainly walking. Ps: i’m pregnant so not too much walking (haha).
Elizabeth, it has been a while since I was down in Austin, but… I can hook you up with the experts. Click on the link on this post to Over Yonderlust. They have been back in Austin for a while and they are awesome folks. They will answer any of your Austin questions quickly. Have fun!
Pss: ive been drooling over pics of hamilton for months! Cant wait to finally make it to austin to go!!
I just returned from a trip to Austin. I found this blog post before i left and i am now a Trudy’s freak! I never would have know if i hadnt started here.
Oh, awesome – we’re headed there this fall so will have to take these suggestions
I’m imagining this to be an epic hangout between you guys. Looks like I need to head to Austin immediately.
I love Austin so much, and I am thrilled to see other people spreading the Austin love! 🙂 And yes, the roller derby girls rock!
Ive never made it to the USA yet. But when I do eventually, Austin is definitely on my list of cities to visit. Which may sound strange to some people who don’t know about it. But I heard from so many texans iv’e met travelling how good it is there!
Sculpture Falls looks lush! What a lovely place to kick back and relax! 🙂