Keeping Austin Weird
I'm prefacing this post by "wow, I'm behind on life right now!" Between working long hours, marathon training, and my love for sleep, I haven't had much time to sit down, process life, and write.
Anyways, for my birthday (who cares if this was almost a month ago?!), I wanted to do something special. 22 felt like a big age - I was no longer going to be looped into the reckless 21 year old category...and I just generally love birthdays. But, I still hadn't (well, haven't) found my niche in San Diego, so I wasn't quite sure how to celebrate.
Two years ago, I celebrated my birthday in San Diego (what a weird foreshadow) and last year, I celebrated 21 with a trip to Chicago with my roommate during fall break. Both of these trips were a perfect excuse to explore somewhere new, and I had so much fun! I figured I might as well travel this year too - maybe it'll be a new tradition!
This year, I decided to hop on a flight to Austin, Texas. I had been planning to visit a college roommate for the past year, and I had heard nothing but amazing things about Austin. I had a few friends down there, flights went on sale, and I decided to go with it!
I was able to spend three full days (and nights...wow, Austin loves its nightlife) in Texas with my dear friend Maggie. I absolutely fell in love with the city. People were incredibly welcoming and kind, the food was absolutely amazing, and the entire area was green and beautiful. The city itself reminded me so much of Nashville - hip, up & coming, quirky, and full of wonderful Southern hospitality.
I cannot wait to return to Austin if it's the last thing I do - I definitely left a piece of my heart there...and I cried so hard saying bye to Maggie. Ugh. It made me miss college, the South, and my weird and hilarious adventures with one of my best friends.
The best part about my trip was seeing two of my best friends, but the food, sights, and nightlife definitely made Austin even better! If you are looking for a place with amazing eats and such a unique personality, check it out. Here are my highlights:
- Hula Hut: This was my first stop in Austin - I wanted Tex-Mex and a margarita after my flight, and oh my it was wonderful! It reminded me so much of Chuy's in Nashville. People in Southern California hate on Tex-Mex, but after living in the South for 4 years, I missed it so much! YUM. Plus, this restaurant sits on the banks of Lake Austin - a beautiful view.
- Bangers Sausage House & Beer Garden: You had me at sausages and beer. YUM. We went for an Octoberfest event, so there was an awesome live band and beer specials. By the way - 100 beers on tap! My one tip: when the waitress says the mustard on your bratwurst will be spicy...that's an understatement. I was sweating like I had just run a marathon.
- Hopdoddy: My friend Maddie recommended this place and luckily was able to meet up with us to dine here! This chain is known for its burgers and shakes. My recommendations: truffle fries & the Nutella/Pretzel milkshake. Heaven! PS - They just opened two of these up in Los Angeles - score!
- Chez Zee: I went here for brunch on my final day with Maggie and another sorority sister, Alex. Firstly, this place is the cutest - it even has a live pianist! Secondly, they serve you croissants while you wait for your food. Thirdly, the eggs benedict cured an incurable hangover. My favorite part about this place? Their specialty is creme brûlée french toast, but they offer it by the triangle - it was like the perfect amount of dessert!
- Torchy's: Anyone that knows me knows my obsession with tacos. Any kind of taco and I am HOOKED. Taco Tuesday is a holiday every week. Torchy's menu is literally comprised of all tacos - I could have cried I was so happy! My recommendations: fried avocado taco & a breakfast taco - two very traditional Austin tacos.
- Graffiti Park: AKA Hope Outdoor Gallery or Graffiti Park at Castle Hills. This was one of my top spots of the entire trip! This graffiti park spans a few levels and is covered with amateur and professional street art. It was amazing to see artists in action - they were so good (I'm sure I would just fumble around with a paint can). The walls change daily as people add to them. I thought it was a beautiful sight - so colorful and so vibrant!
- Murals: Austin has murals scattered all around - the most recognizable being the "I love you so much" wall. It was awesome to drive through every neighborhood and see public art.
- South Congress: South Congress is a neighborhood/shopping district. SoCo had the best shops - everything from boutiques to costume shops to vintage stores to home decor to candy shops. The neighborhood is also home to a bunch of permanent food trucks. I didn't realize how big food trucks were in Austin!
- River: Maggie and I got to SUP on the river. I recommend EpicSUP by the way! Anyways, the river is surrounded by beautiful green trees and is shadowed by downtown. It was the best of both worlds - nature and city. Absolutely gorgeous. Not to mention - 85 degrees, paddleboarding, middle of October - it doesn't get much better than that.
- 6th Street: We went out on both West 6th and Dirty 6th. West 6th reminded me so much of bars on Demonbreun in Nashville - very open with patios and same age group. A bar even had arcade games - so much fun! The next night, we celebrated my birthday on "dirty 6th." Austin literally closes this street down for people to hop around the 50+ bars! It was an insane scene - rowdy, but so much fun. PS - If anyone from Texas tries to get you to take a pickle shot, refuse!