Wed, December 28th, 2011 - By

Spotlight: Austin, Texas


They say that Austin isn’t in Texas – it’s just Austin.  I’d agree; if you have any preconceived notions about one of America’s largest states, a trip to Austin is in order. Home to many tech companies and well known conferences, Austin has well established itself with a reputation for food and fun. Here are some highlights – come hungry.

Food Cart Fun

Austin must be one of America’s premier stops for food cart tomfoolery. There are food carts springing up everywhere, offering a smorgasbord of choices from cake lollipops to devilish-sounding tacos.  Here are some of my fave choices, great for a morning stop or a afternoon snack while sightseeing:

  • Gourdough:  This is a doughnut-themed airstream trailer, but this is not your typical doughnut – think fried chicken and honey, or bacon doughnuts. I didn’t say anything about them being healthy.
  • Torchy’s: Some of the best taco’ in town – there is usually a queue, but it is worth the wait.
  • Flip Happy Crepes:  How can you go wrong with such a friendly name like that? One of the long-standing food trucks here in town.

That’s just a few to get you started. Many food trucks now hover in the downtown corridor, where you will be likely to be spending the night, but there are a number on South Congress and South 1st street.

Weird Austin Culture

There’s a local movement called “Keep Austin Weird” and you will definitely want to take advantage of some of the city’s more unique attractions. A few favourites:

  • Alamo Drafthouse: Great place for some tasty beverages and a movie. They recently made Internet famous-ness because of their ultra-strict policy on mobile phones, so turn yours off or risk getting kicked out.
  • The Cathedral of Junk: Sort of an unofficial attraction, this cathedral is a massive, Gaudi-esque structure a guy has built in his backyard. Opening hours aren’t official, and the neighbours are trying to shut this guy down, but regardless, it is worth a peek.
  • The Austin Bats:  Under the Congress Avenue Bridge in downtown Austin lives nearly 1.5 million bats. From around March right through Halloween you’ll find the bats very active around sunset – it’s an incredible sight.

The Cathedral of Junk

Other Must Sees

There are, of course, other attractions that aren’t that weird but are still worthy of your attention.

  • State Capitol:  This building is gorgeous – the Americans certainly know how to build their domed capitol buildings. There are some interesting aspects of this particular architecture – you might want to take advantage of one of the short guided tours which run regularly for a full run-down.
  • Town Lake:  When I’m in Austin I try to make it a point to run/walk around this lake; it’s simply gorgeous and gives you a very different perspective on the city. At night there’s also a good vantage point for taking photos of the skyline.
  • Austin Museum of Art: Austin’s small but notable downtown art museum. On a hot day it can be nice to get indoors, but you’ll be pleasantly surprised at this gallery’s collection.

Texas State Capitol

Last but not least, I encourage you – in between tacos and food stops – to explore Austin’s 6th Street Entertainment district. It’s one of the best places in the world to see live music, and you can hop from venue to venue and see who’s playing. You’ll love it.

Photo credits: Matthew Rutledge, Andy Hayes, Fuzzy Gerdes, Matt Squirrell

Andy Hayes

Andy Hayes is a travel journalist currently based in Seattle, Washington. When not soaking up the Pacific Northwest lifestyle or enjoying life on the road, he is spending time hanging out on his own travel lifestyle magazine, Sharing Travel Experiences.

Posted : Wednesday, December 28th, 2011 at 11:00
Category : Spotlight
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One Response to “Spotlight: Austin, Texas”

  1. I’ve always wanted to go to Austin Andy. Thanks for the tips!

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