This isn’t meant to be a comprehensive Austin guide, but just a list of some of the fun things I saw and did there this past weekend.
1. SXSW – I was already in Fort Worth last week, so why not go visit Austin during South by SouthWest? As a gal who’s mostly just been to political conferences, I was impressed. Really impressed! Sure, there were organizers, but it just seemed like a delightful spontaneous order of hipsters, tech-geek-types, and corporate sponsors. I didn’t have a pass to attend the actual sessions ($750 for the 1.5 days I was there? no thanks), but just being there and seeing the atmosphere was pretty great. Everyone was so friendly and low-key and it was socially acceptable to have your iPhone and laptop out at all times.
2. Food – some highlights of this trip were: the Hey Cupcake truck (how can you not love a mobile cupcake-mobile with a huge rotating cupcake on top?), excellent cocktails at Haddington’s, and my personal favorite, Austin’s famous Amy’s Ice Cream. Unfortunately, I was so full of ice cream and cupcakes, that I didn’t have an opportunity to visit Guero’s taco bar. Having amazing cupcakes, tacos, and ice cream all on the same street is almost too much of a good thing.
3. Weirdness – Sure, the motto is “Keep Austin Weird,” but I don’t even know where to begin explaining the weirdness. When you think Texas, you think cowboys, Mexican food, maybe even a George Bush or two, but Austin is just different. I’m sure SXSW brought lots of it’s own weirdness, but my biggest surprise came during an evening out on 6th Street. I thought I saw a guy wearing sequin briefs and nothing else. Given the other outfits, it was a little surprising, but no major shock. But upon getting closer, I realized that no, it wasn’t a guy, but a woman. And she wasn’t the only one I saw. Apparently, it’s legal to to be topless in Austin.
4. Cowboy boots – as a Pennsylvanian, I feel like a total poser in cowboy boots, but Allen’s Boots on South Congress is enough to make anyone feel like cowboy boots are a total necessity. They have everything from boots that are a little over $100 to boots that cost more than any furniture I own (or even ever expect to own).
5. State Capitol – Call me a dork, but I love visiting state capitols, and the Texas Capitol is a great one! It’s taller than the national capitol (by about 7 feet), and made of pink granite. I didn’t think it seemed particularly pink, but it was a great place to hang out on the lawn, watch people taking engagement pictures, and just enjoy the lovely weather.
In conclusion, Austin’s a fantastic, welcoming, interesting city that I’d happily recommend to anyone!