A Native’s Guide to Austin

Ann’s Top 20 Austin Places:

  1. Cathedral of Junk: The wildest piece of art you’ll ever see. (Note: It’s a shadow of its former self since the City started giving them trouble but still worth the trip and on the highway coming off the airport). You have to call the home owner to make sure he’s home and his back yard is open.  Just do it.
  2. South Congress: Funky little shops and yummy trailer food (though they closed the cool trailer courtyard there – now the trailers are more spread out).  There is an awesome iPhone app called “Austin Food Carts” that lists over 50 food trailers.  My favorite one is called “Lard Have Mercy” and is usually by UT.
  3. Bats on Congress Ave Bridge.  The largest urban colony of bats in the continent fly out at dusk, creating a giant plume of life. Note: not year round.
  4. Mt. Bonnell: Beautiful scenic lookout and party place (I grew up three blocks from here).  Fun to meet people and watch the sunset.
  5. Mayfield Park: Near Mt. Bonnell – historical home with koi pools and tons of wild peacocks.  Easily my favorite place in Austin.  Laguna Gloria Contemporary Art Museum is next door which houses art in a historic home and on beautiful grounds on Lake Austin.  Go to all three (Mayfield, Laguna Gloria, Mt. Bonnell) for a great excursion.
  6. TACOS: Everyone will talk your ear off about tacos like they are the second coming.  But yeah, they are pretty awesome. These aren’t your typical taco bell fare – we are talking serious foodie stuff. Check out Maria’s Taco Express:  Awesome murals and lots of kitch.  But the best tacos in town are at Taco Deli (try the Cowboy or their fish taco – best fish taco ever). They aren’t open for dinner so the old standby is Torchy’s, which have lots of locations.
  7. Amy’s Ice Cream: Lots of locations (there’s one on 6th street by Waterloo Records – combine trips). Fun culture (silly servers), known nationwide, the origin of the “crush’n” (copied by Cold Stone, etc)
  8. Waterloo Records: An Austin Institution.  They sometimes have live music and there’s an Amy’s Ice Cream next door too.
  9. Alamo Draft House or other unique movie eateries like Blue Starlite Drive In or Violet Crown
  10. Kerbey Lane Cafe:  My first stop after landing at the airport (the original location on Kerbey Lane is a great experience as well – actually in an old house).  Open 24 hours.
  11. Threadgill’s: Eat lunch where Janis was discovered (across the street from my dad’s company, Austin Trust Company).  Austiny ambiance and sometimes they have live shows at night. Real Southern Food. Not the best chicken fried steak in town, but pretty good. Try fried okra or collard greens!
  12. BBQ: Well you have to have BBQ in Texas but don’t get swept up in the Franklin’s hype – no food is worth waiting 4 hours for in a hot parking lot.  Go to Styles Switch on N Lamar.
  13. Barton Creek Greenbelt (Twin Falls, Sculpture Falls, Campbell’s Hole).  They can dry up in a drought, though.
  14. Hamilton PoolHamilton Pool: MUST GO HERE.  Most beautiful place on earth.  (see pic)
  15. Krause Springs: Best swimming ever. Cool springs, rope swing, cliff jumping – it has it all.
  16. Barton Springs (natural spring swimming pool – brrrr!) and Zilker Park (giant park – home to many festivals. eh, not that exciting but a landmark and nice place to visit).
  17. Walk the Hike and Bike trail around Town Lake.  Ok, now it’s called the Butler Hike and Bike trail around Lady Bird Lake.  Whatever.  Good exercise and people/dog watching!
  18. East Austin. This is the hip part of town now.  Some cool bars and cafes are dotting the historically Hispanic part of town.
  19. UW and The Drag (like UW’s The Ave).  A shell of it’s former self, though- it used to house cool record stores and arcades.  Now it’s mostly chain fast food.
  20. Sixth Street.  It’s a historical party area. It’s actually pretty dangerous at certain times, especially on the east end. Only go if you are jonesing for cheap shot bars and bad cover bands but wild night life.  It’s a little rough.  If you really want to go to some fun bars, there’s a cooler area west around Fourth Street called the Warehouse District.  Lots of gay bars all in a row. Ye-haw.  The best bars in town are in random places, like Ginny’s Longhorn Saloon (home of Chicken Shit Bingo), the Poodle Dog Lounge, or the Mean Eyed Cat.

Here’s my Bing map of all the swimming holes: http://www.bing.com/maps/?v=2&cp=47.668998718~-122.124000549&lvl=4&sty=r&cid=989D470165883D80!7002

Last updated 5/2/14!


3 thoughts on “A Native’s Guide to Austin

  1. Hey there, I like your top 10 list. Having grown up in San Antonio and lived in Austin myself I thought I’d add a few faves.
    – Las Manitas, a great mexican dive on Congress Ave and 2nd. Lots of famous people during SXSW. I spotted Green Day and Patricia Arquette there. Enchiladas Verdes and Horchata – Ay! And a great Mexican tchotchke store next door for souvenirs too!
    – Fonda San Miguel – gourmet Interior Mexican cuisine, and the most amazing all u can eat Sunday Brunch evah – pricey at $40 but if you’re a foodie, it’s not to be missed

    – Mr Natural – great all-vegetarian (!) mexican food on East 1st. ( Can you tell I miss Mexican food much? )
    – Eastside Cafe
    – Satay Restaurant on Anderson Lane (a ways north of downtown)
    – Hotel San Jose and Jo’s Coffee on S. Congress – well, that whole strip of S. Congress just south of the river is quite interesting.
    – The running (biking/walking) trail around Town Lake is a gorgeous workout, and an easy walk from any downtown hotel.
    – HEB Central Market and Whole Foods Flagship stores

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