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Seven awesome reasons to go to Austin

Seven awesome reasons to go to Austin

Texas was my first “new” state on this trip, and Austin was the city I was most excited to visit.

Christine Amorose on the Texas state border

It didn’t disappoint; in fact, it exceeded all of my expectations. If New York City doesn’t work out, don’t be too surprised if I decide to give Austin a try…here’s why:

Acai bowl and Yerba Mate at Blenders and Bowls in Austin, Texas

Eat breakfast at Blenders & Bowls

Full disclaimer: Blenders & Bowls is owned by one of my friends from college. But even if I wasn’t friends with Erin—who is one of the uber friendly girls behind the counter chopping up fruit and tossing in granola—I’d still come here ALL THE TIME. First of all, it’s probably the healthiest thing we ate all trip: antioxidant overload! Secondly, it was absolutely delicious. And third, the space is awesome: they started out as a food truck, but now they share a permanent space with a yoga studio. You can’t help but get good vibes from this place.

Lustre Pearl backyard bar on Rainey Street in Austin, Texas

Hang out at a backyard bar

 When Erin mentioned heading to a backyard bar, Renee and I were both a bit uncertain as to what that meant but keen to check it out. Holy moley, are we glad we did! Lustre Pearl was the single coolest bar we went to on this road trip: essentially, it’s an old house that’s been converted into a bar with backyard seating and a taco truck. There are also hula hoops–and I used my incredible hula hooping talent to score a free drink or two. It’s a super laid-back vibe that’s a nice change from brash, loud, in-your-face Sixth Street (the popular live music and nightlife strip downtown). Can’t recommend the Rainey Street neighborhood enough!

South end of Lady Bird Lake with Austin, Texas skyline

Take a bike ride along the river

So, Austin is one of those cities that looks really bike-friendly on a map and then you head outside and realize that a) there are lot of deceivingly steep and difficult hills and b) it’s really sticky hot in July. We cycled all over the place: the city isn’t extraordinarily bike-friendly, but it is the most efficient way to get around. If you just want something simple, stick to the gorgeous (and fairly flat) riverside Hike & Bike Trail. And if you want to get off ground and into the water for your work-out: Erin says it’s a kick-ass place to stand-up paddle board!

Pulled pork sandwich and spicy coleslaw at Whole Foods Market in Austin, Texas

Eat healthfully at Whole Foods

The health food emporium was founded in Austin, and the flagship does not disappoint. It’s absolutely enormous, stuffed full of foods free of high fructose corn syrup. You can load up on healthy road trip goodies (we went straight for the fresh fruit and Lara bars), pick up ready-made picnic fixings (we swooned over the cherry chicken salad) or eat in at the wide variety of counters. I opted for a pulled pork sandwich and spicy coleslaw with root beer fresh from the tap, while Renee had delicious crab cakes from the seafood counter. There is honestly something for whatever your heart desires, from a mile-long salad bar to cupcakes and gelato. Add in outdoor courtyard seating and an on-site cooking school—and what more could you ask for?

Texas State Capitol building exterior on a sunny day in Austin, Texas

Visit the State Capitol

Even if you’re not into politics or gorgeous architecture, just go and try to count all the Lone Stars. It’ll keep you busy in a nice air-conditioned space.

Lone Star beers at Black Sheep Lodge in Austin, Texas

Drink cheap beers

We knew it was going to be a good night when Erica and Shaun of Over Yonderlust invited us for $1 beers and fried cheese curds. While it might not be its classiest beer, a cold can of “national” beer of Texas was just what we needed in the hot summer heat as we chatted travel with these Austin natives. They also had us try fried cheese curds and fried dill pickles at Black Sheep Lodge. Verdict: fried cheese curds taste like grilled cheese without the bread (yum!) and fried dill pickles taste like…fried dill pickles. If you can’t escape the deep-fried culture of Texas, might as well embrace it!

Sunset over the Colorado River and Austin skyline in Texas

Catch a sunset from the HI

The Hostelling International Youth Hostel in Austin is located on the south shores of Lady Bird Lake: it’s about a 10-minute drive to the center of the city (hence why we rented bikes almost immediately). While it might not be the most convenient location-wise, the serene natural setting makes up for it. We snapped this photo from right behind the hostel: you can’t beat those skyline views! The hostel is really similar to what you’d find in Europe or Australia: a mix of dorms and private rooms with sheets and towels provided, a big kitchen, free Wifi and lots of lounging space, inside and out.

Note: HI Austin kindly offered us complimentary accommodation, but all opinions are my own. 

  • Austin’s been on my radar for years now ever since i heard about their awesome music festivals! One of my close friends who’s Brooklyn born-n-bred recently moved to Texas for grad school and she said Austin was the one place where she met the most NY’ers; she mentioned how it’s almost turning into a Williamsburg kind-of-town.

  • Oh I SO want to go. I had hoped to go in July but everyone told me not to. Maybe this fall…

  • Bridger Reif Hammond

    I’m moving to Austin in 4 days! My family who lives there just sent me this haha

  • camorose

    A lot of people mentioned the influx of NYers (Williamsburg-ers, specifically) into Austin: some love it, other locals hate it. Definitely an awesome destination if you’re into live music.

  • camorose

    It was REALLY hot. Fall would probably be the perfect time 🙂

  • camorose

    Lucky! You’ll love it!

  • I went once when I was 7 so not in a place to appreciate it! But I am going back for a conference next Feb and I can’t wait! Going to save some of these suggestions!

  • camorose

    Definitely check out Rainey Street and Blenders & Bowls–so much fun!

  • There are so many great gems to find in Austin! As a native Texan it is my favorite city in the state, and I love what you had to say about it! South Congress St is a great street to walk down, too – there’s tons of great food stands, cafés, secondhand shops, and more 🙂

  • I was living in Austin before starting my travels. I am heading back for a visit this weekend for the first time in 2.5 years. I’m looking forward to seeing the changes. And, thanks for the tip about your friends place. I see they specialize in Açai. I completely fell in love with Açai during my six months in Brazil and haven’t been able to find it since. I suspect they’ll be seeing me there regularly!

  • camorose

    Ohhh I will keep that in mind for my next trip to Austin–I certainly think I’ll be heading back at some point 🙂 Loved that city!

  • camorose

    Oohhh awesome! Please let me know how you like Blenders and Bowls, I totally wish we had one in NYC!

  • I did make it to Blenders and Bowls and it was super delicious. Your friend wasn’t there, her partner was, but we had a nice little chat. I only made it once because it is downtown and the hours are very limited. Every time I was craving it, the store was closed. Still, I definitely second your recommendation to anyone else reading.

  • camorose

    Awesome! I’m so glad that you enjoyed it 🙂

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