I’m not the first to say this, but if I were to live anywhere in Texas it would probably be Austin. Then again it’s possible my choice is premature since the only other place in Texas I’ve been is El Paso, and the rest of what I “know” about Texas is a bunch of stereotypes. But since it’s Texas we’re talking about, I’m thinking it wouldn’t be hard to determine if it’s a good fit for me or I should run far, far away.
Austin’s different though. Or at least it seems to be.
The Great Outdoors
The last time I visited Austin was a couple of months ago in late May. I was worried it would be all hot and muggy and I wouldn’t want to be outside, but it was surprisingly nice. Pleasant, even. And for the first time in months, I actually wore shorts. (I say this because I now live in Southern California where I expected shorts to be an everyday thing but it’s surprisingly chilly. And I say this after having lived in Alaska of all places so believe me – I know cold.)
I spent a lot of time outdoors. And I wasn’t the only one, either. Austin has a crazy amount of trails in the heart of the city, and on the weekend a good lot of them were packed with people. I’m talking busy like you see in the movies busy. Only this time it wasn’t fake busy but real busy. People biking, running, walking… It was awesome to see so many people spending time outside and being active in a place not exactly known for outdoor pursuits (as long as ya don’t count huntin’, anyway).
The Colorado River curves along the western and then southern part of downtown and many of the paths are along the shore. Over the few days I was there I walked different loops along the 10-mile long Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail at Lady Bird Lake (here’s a map) that took me across all 5 bridges and along the Boardwalk (towards the southeastern part of town). The bridges are great because you can make your outing as long or as short as you want since you have so many choices for crossing the river.
Along with a gazillion other tourists, I also tried to see the mass exodus of the bats from under the Congress Bridge, but as twilight turned to night I was only able to catch glimpses of a handful of them before they disappeared into the darkness. Still pretty cool, though.
Food & Coffee
My husband is the food person and coffee connoisseur, so he does the research and I’m happy to partake in his finds. And there were many good ones. Here are my favorites.
More than just coffee (lots of desserts and pastries, too) and very touristy feeling, but with a festive vibe and large outside seating area with great views of Lake Austin (and cute turtles in the water).
A vegetarian and vegan restaurant with a chill ambiance and expansive menu with lots of options to choose from.
Oh my goodness do they have delicious pancakes. Crispy on the edges and all buttery. It’s making my mouth water just writing about it. The omelet was tasty, too, but looked nothing like an omelet.
I only had a few days to explore Austin, so I didn’t do much besides walk around a lot, eat and repeat. Oh, and have coffee. But I was definitely charmed by Austin and, strangely enough, miss it a little bit. Kinda weird. Who knew I’d ever feel that way about Texas, of all places.
I definitely look forward to the next visit and I could even see living there for a while to get a better feel for the city (but definitely not long enough to say howdy. If it got to that point, then I know I best be fixin’ to leave).
So that’s my take on Austin. How ’bout y’all?