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?
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.