Category Archives: Austin

The ATX Bucket List

So it’s official…we’re moving to Richmond, VA in four months, which is NOT enough time to see all there is yet to be seen in our fair city of Austin, TX. We’ve come up with a short list of places we want to revisit – our all-time Austin favs so to speak. We hope you will help fill out the list with places that we may not have visited yet and that you think would be cardinal sin to leave ATX without experiencing. Thanks in advance for your comments!

Christian’s ATX Bucket List

  1. Eat at the Salt Lick BBQ
  2. Swim in Barton Springs Pool
  3. Take a guided tour of the Capitol building (this one we haven’t done yet)
  4. See a film at the IMAX

Sarah’s ATX Bucket List

  1. Swim in Blue Hole
  2. Eat a breakfast taco from a trailer
  3. See at least one more live show
  4. Have a beer at the Cactus Cafe
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Skirting around the Balcones

Yesterday afternoon we set out to hike the Bull Creek Preserve (map) – part of the greater Balcones Canyonlands Preserve (map). Upon arriving at the trail head, we noticed that a sign had been posted that the preserve could be accessed only by permit from March 1st through July 31st. Puzzled, Sarah picked up her cell phone and called the number on the sign. Amanda Ross, the Conservation Program Coordinator, informed her that the City of Austin now issues just 80 permits a year (the application process begins in January) to hikers wanting access to the preserve. Among the various reasons that the City limits access to the precious tract of land is because it’s home to nesting Golden-Cheeked Warblers and Black-Capped Vireos – two migratory tropical songbirds, both of which are on the Endangered Species list. In order to obtain a permit, we must enroll in a brief course with a biologist who would instruct us how to avoid disturbing the nesting birds and their fragile habitat.

Golden-Cheeked Warbler - Photo by John Ingram

Black-Capped Vireo - Photo by John Ingram

Thankfully, the beautiful sunny day was not wasted. Even though we weren’t able to enter, we skirted around the preserve, following the Bull Creek Greenbelt which borders the protected canyonlands. Below are some of the photos we took along the way…

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10 Reasons to Love Austin, TX

Everyone has their reasons for loving Austin, TX. There are the usual suspects, such as live music and Barton Springs Pool, but we’d like to share our own list of favorites. Anyone who’s ever lived on a small budget knows that you’ve got to create your own fun, and our list reflects the lifestyle of two graduate students trying to make it in a big city. The beauty of Austin is that if each resident wrote a list of why they loved the city, we’d end up with hundreds of thousands of different lists. That’s how much Austin has to offer. So if you see something missing from our list, add it in the comments section, or better yet…send us a copy of your own list, and we’ll put it on our blog!

1. Town Lake Trail – We’re blessed to live in Central Austin, just a short walk from the Mopac bridge entrance to Town Lake Trail. As a Minnesota native, Sarah maintains that the body of water encompassed by the trail is not a lake, but she still enjoys running around it each morning. Who needs a gym membership when you can hike, bike, run, and canoe right outside your front door?

Turf n Surf Po Boy (2nd Street & Congress Ave)

2. Food Trucks – What could be better-suited for a graduate student budget than dinner from a food truck? Much more glamorous than they sound, there are literally thousands of food trailers dotting the Austin landscape, serving up every kind of cuisine from breakfast tacos to duck confit. Here are a few of our favorites: The Mighty Cone, The Peached Tortilla, G’Raj Mahal, Turf n Surf Po Boy, and La Golondrina (corner of Airport Blvd and 51st Street).

Max is available for adoption from APA!

3. Doggies! – This one goes hand-in-hand with Town Lake Trail. We’re never bored running around the “lake” because we get to look at all the amazing dogs go by. Austinites love their canines, and they’re out in full force at Town Lake on Saturday mornings. We sometimes volunteer to run with dogs hanging out at the Austin Pets Alive! adoption table. Another great thing about Austin and dogs…you can bring your pets nearly everywhere. Dogs are welcome on most patios, and even inside some stores. It’s fun to meet so many furry friends when we’re out on the town.

Foodie heaven

4. Whole Foods Market – WFM is like Disney World for foodies, and its flagship store and corporate headquarters are located right here in ATX, just a few blocks from our home. We can’t afford to shop there with any degree of regularity, but just being in their space is like entering a world of food zen. Oh, and did we mention the “wow” policy? Anything we want to sample…free of charge. Now that’s customer service!

5. Alamo Drafthouse – We love this place so much that when faced with having to see a movie elsewhere, we usually pass. Where else can you get waited on by professional staff, served food prepared by a certified chef, and watch some badass films? And their pre-show programming is hilarious. We’ll take soundbites of Mark E Mark and old episodes of Julia Child over relentless advertising any day.

Happiness on a bun

6. P. Terry’s Burger Stand – California-style burgers, hand-cut fries, and chocolate shakes always put smiles on our faces. To the tune of less than $10 for two people…that’s enough to make us want to jump for joy.

7. KUT – We are so lucky to live in a town that has such amazing and varied radio programming. They play over 40,000 songs each year. Over 40,000! Sometimes we’re hard-pressed to hear the same song more than once a year, let alone once a day. We have eclectic tastes, and it’s great to have local DJs that can channel our same vibe. Hayes Carll? The Black Keys? The Texas Tornados? How about all three?

8. Thundercloud Subs – To quote the master sandwich-makers themselves, “Straight up genius on a bun.” That about sums it up. If they ask you, “do you want Thunder Sauce on that?” say yes.

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"The best part of waking up!" (and walking two blocks and paying $2.50)

9. Local coffee shops – Yea, we have Starbucks in every major neighborhood, but we also have Caffé Medici, Houndstooth, Mozart’s, Flight Path, Thunderbird, Cafe Caffeine, Lola Savannah, Dolce Vita, Little City, Halcyon, Juan Pelota, Pacha, Epoch, and about a dozen others to boot. And they all serve delicious brew.

10. Biking – Austin has miles of trails and bike routes that are mapped out for the cyclist’s convenience. If you wanted to, you could avoid traffic altogether, but most Austinites are acutely aware of cyclists, and they respect them on the road. Some residents spend more money on a bike than they do on a car. Crazy? Perhaps. Cool? Definitely. Tree-hugging granola heads? You bet.

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