There’s something about Austin – the state capital of Texas – that I can’t quite put my finger on.
Maybe it’s because I resonate with the city’s unofficial slogan – “Keep Austin Weird”, which was adopted in recent years to preserve small, unique, and local businesses from being replaced by large corporations.
If someone is telling me that I can be weird and celebrate it at the same time, yes – I’d like that.
One of the fastest growing city in USA, Austin is a big city but somehow managed to retain its charming small-town core, winning hearts with outdoor adventures, live music, a dynamic dining scene, along with a sociable urban population.
It’s not hard to understand why the city is officially labeled as the “Live Music Capital of the World”. Two music festivals, South by Southwest (SXSW) and the Austin City Limits Festival, gather music revelers from around the world annually but you can still enjoy a quality live performance every single night in one of the countless restaurants and bars.
The outdoor explorer in me appreciates the omnipresent spirit for activity and adventure in the Austin air. Home to more than 300 parks, with more than 30 miles of urban trails open to runners, walkers and cyclists, the city makes it real tough for me to conjure any excuse not to get up and out.
Lady Bird Lake is probably the most recognized and popular recreational hotspot to enjoy both a touch of nature and the city’s striking skyline. Expect scores of walkers and joggers moving along the well-maintained lakeside paths through nearby Zilker Park, and water lovers in the lower Colorado River with a canoe, kayak, water bike, or stand-up paddleboard.
One of the best parts about the city – the food scene that never takes itself too seriously. There’s always something new, something different, and something DELICIOUS at every turn. Whether it’s the best time-honored barbecues in the country or healthy farm-to-table (*insert other latest hipster concept) fare; independent craft beers or home-fermented Kombucha, the city will be happy to serve all.
Above all, nothing beats Austin’s unpretentious and hospitable cultural atmosphere. Everyone smiles. Everyone is happy to share their personal recommendations if you ask. Everyone works and plays hard. No one is a stranger for long here. If you have no plans in the city, the visit can still be magic as you’ll no doubt meet locals and end up finding hidden gems.
Food photos by Jess – check her out at @lotuschineseatx.