This south Austin mural located on the corner of Annie and South 1st Street is a popular location for travel photos as well as engagement photos (or just cheesin' out in general).
Why not take your photo in front of the mural the next time you find yourself in Austin?
Roadhouse Relics that occupies the building where the mural is painted is a super cool gallery displaying the neon artwork of Todd Sanders and is definitely worth a visit!
Dwelling in Austin, Texas
I love Austin, Texas and feel lucky that I was able to stay in the city after attending graduate school at the University of Texas like so many others want to do. I am proud of Austin as a city and what it represents. It is healthy, progressive, bike friendly, and has one of the biggest music scenes anywhere in the world. There is always a festival, a concert, or something to do. It is a big little city as it is big enough to offer everything but still has a small town feel.
If you're driving or walking down South Congress Ave on an afternoon or evening you'll smell the scent of pizza dough. It is an unmistakable smell and my girlfriend and I are convinced that Home Slice Pizza is actually setup to push the smell out to the street.
The pizza tastes as good as it smells! The sandwiches and salads are also quite tasty. The restaurant is immensely popular so you can expect a wait time during peak lunch and dinner times, but there is also Home Slice Too located just across the alley taking orders at the counter and with some tables and counter space. The latter option is also open until 2am if you need some late night eats.
Austin's street art scene is on the up and up and the past two years have seen big contributions by the likes of famous street artists like Shepard Fairey (OBEY) on the streets of Austin during the SXSW interactive festival.
Great area for spotting street art an graffiti include South Congress Ave, South Lamar near Whole Foods, Ladybird Lake, North Lamar, and Baylor Street (HOPE Art Park).
Okay, so I've never seen someone actually pull off the "hang ten" maneuver (when the surfer walks to the front of the board and hangs all ten toes over the nose of the board) while wake surfing, but surfing is still a popular pastime on Lake Austin.
Although it is always best to be friends with the person that owns the boat you can rent great ski and wakeboarding boats at a number of outfits on Lake Austin.
The lake is narrow and gets quite crowded on the weekends so if you're planning to ski, wakeboard, or surf then get to the lake early before the water gets to choppy!
There is nothing like chilling on a great patio with friends on a nice afternoon. When the weather is perfect I usually rally the troupes and head to Perla's to lounge under the huge oak trees, play shuffle board, snack on great appetizers, and drink great beer and cocktails!
This a very nice restaurant so the service is impeccable, but the drinks are affordable and the bar menu has a nice selection of eats. Dining here can get quite expensive, so if Perla's is not in your budget for dinner your surrounded by great values and food trailers on South Congress Ave.
The massive display of Christmas light pageantry on 37th Street draws thousands of spectators to this north campus neighborhood on an annual basis in December, but you won't find any nativity scenes here!
The theme of this display every year is more like "trippy" or "weird" and the more far out the display the better. Almost every house along a 5 block radius of 37th Street and Guadalupe participates in this annual display where the more shocking the light exhibit the better.
It's best to park a few blocks away and walk the streets with some coffee or wine in hand. This is one of my favorite holiday activities in Austin!
2013 will be a big year for Eeyore's Birthday because it is the 50th anniversary of this crazy event that is probably best described as a massive drum circle and costume party that is also a kids event and fundraiser for local Austin not-for-profit organizations. It is an absolute spectacle to say the least and although the event is well patrolled by security and police for safety there is also the pervasive and open use of marijuana which can be smelled blocks away from the event.
The event is staged in Pease Park which is one of Austin's largest parks located just north of downtown and west of the UT campus.
Attending the event naked with only paint as a costume is a popular choice for many of the event attendees.
There is food available for purchase and cold beer on tap. And there are thousands of drummers banging away in unison! There is also live music and a ton of kids activities,...
No trip to Austin is complete with a trip to Auditorium Shores along Ladybird Lake to see the memorial statue of Stevie Ray Vaughan (SRV).
SRV dropped out of high-school at age 17 and moved to Austin to pursue his musical career. He continues to be played often on the local radio stations and his band, Double Trouble, still plays gigs in Austin backing up other blues singers and guitarists.
The man is a legend in Austin (along with Willie Nelson) and his influence on music can still be heard in the venues and streets of Austin.
If you like to race bicycles then you're going to love Austin, Texas. It doesn't matter what time of year you visit there will be a race series covering the current season. I have met a lot of racers at the local races that were just visiting Austin from around Texas or from further away like California, Oregon, Utah, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Missouri, and New York.
Don't travel with a bike? Don't worry! You can rent high-end race bikes for a number of Austin bikes shops (Ozone and Bicycle Sportshop) and you can also post to the many local bike forums for additional information and guidance. All you need is your kit, your helmet, and your shoes!
Keep in mind that the competition in Austin is steep. It is not unheard-of for Lance Armstrong to show up at a local race and there are several current and former national champions that live in Austin! However, races are always segregated...
Austin is home to a huge bicycling community. It doesn't matter what your bike discipline (Road, MTB, Cyclocross, Cruising, Fixie, and BMX)— Austin has you covered.
I'm an avid cyclist myself, but let's face it, most cycling events aren't that fun to watch. However, there is one big exception: BMX Dirt Jumping!
Even if you're not a BMXer yourself it is fun to hit the dirt jumping park on Ninth Street and watch the action. If you are a BMXer, then you'll be in heaven in Austin as Ninth Street is just one of many dirt jumping parks and pump tracks in the city!
My favorite thing about my neighborhood (besides the Whip In - http://www.afar.com/highlights/a-south-austin-institution) is South Congress Avenue. It is home to my favorite coffee shop and several of my favorite restaurants (South Congress Cafe, The Woodland, Enoteca, Vespaio, etc..).
There are tons of little boutiques (most locally owned - American Apparel is the only imposter here) and an old style barber shop. There are salons, toy stores, candy shops, and book stores. There are high-end boutiques and places that sell great souvenirs on the cheap. This is a great place to buy gifts or an Austin themed t-shirt!
There is also an artist market here on the weekends. There are hawker stalls and food trailers selling every type of cuisine. There is usually live music playing at a venue like the Continental Club. It is easy to spend hours strolling up and down this iconic avenue.
Men, I will warn you. Your girlfriend, wife, or significant other can spend hours (and hundreds of dollars!) in this hip, women's boutique called Maya Star!
To be honest, I also like going in there. Their merchandise is incredible, and includes everything from home decor and accessories to jewelry and fine clothing and shoes. Women simply love this store, and for good reason.
The good news is that not everything in the store is hard on the pocketbook, as they always have a sale and also sell many items that fall in the middle-of-the-road as far as prices go.
Hands down... my favorite place for Sunday brunch in Austin is the South Congress Cafe (note that they serve brunch every day of the week). The restaurant is also a great place for lunch or dinner, but I love hitting the SoCo Cafe late Sunday morning after a bike ride or a run.
You can expect a wait at this popular restaurant on the weekends but you can grab drinks at the bar (and eat at the bar if you're lucky enough to score a seat) and you can leave your mobile number with the hostess if you want to go explore the neighboring boutiques on South Congress Ave that are super hip.
The SoCo Cafe serves the best bloody mary in town made with their Titos infused vodka. My favorite dish is the "migas" but you can't go wrong and the specials are always creative and good.
Texas alcohol laws caused a lag in Texas and Austin breaking into the microbrew scene that is sweeping the nation, but Austin is rapidly catching up to other markets like Portland and Denver in their offerings of artisan beer.
The breweries in Austin hold weekly or monthly open houses where you can visit the brewery operations and taste their latest offerings.
Some of my favorite breweries in Austin are:
Independence Brewing Co.
Black Star Co-op Pub & Brewery
Live Oak Brewing Co.
NXNW Restaurant & Brewery
Real Ale Brewery (in nearby Blanco)
Jester King Craft Brewery
Thirsty Planet Brewing
Hops & Grain Brewery
Circle Brewing Company
South Austin Brewing Company
These are just my personal favorites. There are more breweries in town an in the surrounding area and there are more popping up all the time!
Don't miss the chance to try many of these award...
I think that the Whip In is my favorite place in all of Austin. Anyone who knows me can probably guess this. I am biased, as our house is only a few blocks away (and I often joke that the main reason we bought the house was its proximity to the Whip In)!
It is hard to describe the Whip In. It started as a unique convenience store in 1986, owned and operated by an Indian family that was packed full of beer, wine, organic snacks, smokes, and incense. The store has expanded over the years to encompass an Indian restaurant, beer bar, wine bar, and live music venue. And yes, it is still a convenience store located in an unassuming building along the interstate!
The Whip In has over 70 beers on tap and the staff are well educated on the beer and wine sold. There are often beer and wine events and tastings held on a weekly basis. There is live music every night of the week and the food is a...
Texas summers are hot to say the least! And when the heat hits, the people of Austin flock to the Barton Springs Pool to cool off and chill out.
You can spend an entire day at Barton Springs pool. The entrance fee is $3, and you can stamp your hand for re-entry if you need to head out to hit one of the many restaurants located on Barton Springs road (you can't bring food or drinks into the springs).
The pool is popular year-round because the temperature of the springs stays a constant 68 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius).
The people watching at the pool is spectacular as this is definitely a "be seen scene," and there is always some acoustic music and drumming on the lawn surrounding the springs. Tops for the ladies are optional.
Texas football is an institution. The Darrell K Royal Texas Memorial Stadium is a sight to behold even if you're not lucky enough to score tickets to a Longhorn football game!
The stadium has a seating capacity that tops that of the Dallas Cowboys stadium, and can hold over 100,000 spectators.
A stroll around the University of Texas and the football stadium is always a nice experience and is not to be missed on a visit to Austin.
When I used to think of Texas I thought of wide open desert planes with tumble weeds blowing in the wind. I had no idea that the Texas Hill Country was a vast area of rugged hills that spanned from southwest Austin to northern San Antonio.
The Texas Hill Country encompasses caves, rivers, and a number of other cool geological formations. It's also a great place for cycling.
When people visit Austin I often take them on a bike ride (an extremely strenuous bike ride and only for avid cyclists) or a drive through Westlake, one of Austin's most affluent neighborhoods, for the sweeping views of downtown Austin from the steep hills in this area. The houses and architecture in this area is also a sight to behold!
One of the best vistas of the hill country and downtown is located on HWY 360 (also known as "Loop 360") roughly one kilometer north of Bee Caves Road (also known as 2244), where a...
Everything seems bigger in Texas and its no surprise that the Texas State Capitol touts the title for the largest state capitol building in the union (in floor-space at 33,000 square meters).
The building is spectacular and houses some historical paintings. The capitol dome is an incredible chamber. The capitol grounds are a nice place to stroll around with fountains, old trees, and sculptures depicting historical Texas figures. The capitol grounds also offer a great view of downtown to the south and another view of the University of Texas to the north.
The Texas landmark is definitely worth a visit on a trip to Austin.
There is nothing like a Texas sunset. One of my favorite places to catch the sunset is at the Hula Hut on Lake Austin Blvd, a spot that has a deck that overlooks the lake and the dam.
The restaurant provides the perfect vista for the sunset while having a margarita. The TexMex at the Hula Hut is famous—you won't be disappointed by the Texas-sized portions and all you can eat chips and salsa (I would say that the salsa here is my favorite in Austin, and that's saying a lot).
You can get to the Hula Hut by car or park your boat right out in front if you've spent the day wake boarding on Lake Austin.
Expect a wait for a table as this is one of the most popular restaurants in Austin, but you can also stake out a spot at on of three bars located in the restaurant.
A local, small town ice cream shop feel in a big city. Seasonal flavors with locally sourced ingredients: fresh, unique and delicious! With each lick, you will find a new complexity to the creative flavors offered here.
Ice cream with only pure, whole ingredients, free of artificial colors or flavors, high fructose corn syrup or preservatives…always!
Must try a scoop of their Caramel Salt Lick on a scoop of their Pecans & Cream.