I should preface this by saying that we weren’t in Austin for just any occasion, but rather, a wedding. And it wasn’t just any wedding, but the one of my beloved brother-in-law to my seriously cool, beautiful, and fun now-sister.
While the wedding was indeed the best part—picturesque in its location at Chapel Dulcinea (are you kidding me with these views?!)—I was grateful to have some time before and after the big event to discover a city that, to be honest, I didn’t expect to love. I didn’t expect to dislike it either, don’t get me wrong, but holy guacamole did we fall hard for Austin. (Speaking of guacamole, I will forever compare every taco I taste to the ones devoured by all in Austin).
Below, some of the very best highlights, courtesy of my trusty iPhone (because in a city as active as this one, who wants to get weighed down with a big camera?).
Our very first stop in Austin was the South Congress Bridge, home to the largest urban bat colony in North America—a population that ranges anywhere from 750,000 to 1.5 million to be exact. They just. kept. coming. out. Even if you’re terrified of bats (my father-in-law is, and still appeared to enjoy), it’s actually a beautiful, surreal experience.
Austin has a big food truck scene, which offers not only really great food, but food that actually tastes good when you aren’t jonesing for a 4 a.m. need-it-to-be-sober feast. My brother introduced us to Via 313, a Detroit-style joint that serves its pies out of a permanent pizza trailer, which also (conveniently) happens to be right outside of a popular establishment for beer and more beer. The pizza was crispy and hot and delicious—and not just because it was paired with more than a beer or two.
Austin reinvigorated my fondness for biking, with plenty of trails and so much to see along the way. I loved riding around and seeing everyone being so active (despite the fact that it was a random weekday and does anyone work around here?), a culture which only made me grow fonder of this place. Our group stopped off at Barton Springs to dip our feet (some, whole bodies) into the cool water. I saw a Chihuahua in a bikini. You don’t forget a thing like that.
With names like The Democrat, Mr. Orange, Trailer Park, and The Independent, I knew Torchy’s Tacos was going to be fun. What I wasn’t expecting was how good it would be, and further, how I’d end up comparing every taco to Torchy’s for, well, probably the rest of my life. Fried avocado? Nuff said.
Not only did Austin give me a new place to love, but it gave me a new perspective on music. You think Texas, you might think country—and that’s not wrong, really. But the Austin music scene in particular has an Americana vibe—folk, blues, rock and roll—all rolled into one. We got to experience the amazing Mr. Shakey Graves one night at the outdoor Stubb’s BBQ venue, and I haven’t looked back since. I’ve started exploring other musicians hailing from Austin—loving them, btw—but maintain that if I have to listen to one album and only one album for the rest of my life, it’d better be Shakey.
Lick Ice Creams was a random find that we came upon in a shopping center not too far from our rental house, and it was truly a fortunate find. I don’t think I’d go so far as to say I felt healthy eating these two scoops, but certainly healthier than usual. All of their milk and cream used to make the good stuff is locally-sourced and any added sweets (sauces, syrups, cakes), are made by hand, and many of their options are vegan and dairy-free (which I tried, and they were really good, promise).
Score another for Austin’s taco scene: We’ve tried re-creating these (seemingly simple) breakfast tacos countless times at home, to no avail. Maybe we need to go back and take notes?
And of course, the best for last: my good-lookin’ fun-lovin’ crew of brothers and sisters. Austin certainly wouldn’t have been the same if we hadn’t explored it all together!
And if you’d like to see, I made a short (okay, seven-and-a-half minute), video of our time in Austin: