Step off the plane into Austin-Bergstrom Airport, and the wafting scent of Salt Lick BBQ is one of the first indicators this town is going to woo you. Try not to swoon over the unmistakable guitar riffs of Stevie Ray Vaughan ubiquitous in bars around town. And if your heart doesn’t do a back flip when gazing at the skyline from a grassy corner of Barton Springs, then you’re beyond help.
I had to leave Austin for it to sink in: living in this overgrown college town is something that ruins a person for living elsewhere. While it’s impossible to completely describe what makes this town so lovely to call home, here are some of the reasons I can never hang my hat anywhere else.
1/ You expect bakeries, video stores and coffee shops to be open late.
Wanna grab a drink at the same bakery where you picked up your morning coffee? No problem! In Austin, no one blinks an eye when a bakery doubles as a bar, art space and live music venue.
2/ You don’t think twice when you’re invited to a free after party.
Not only is Austin the “Live Music Capital of the World,” but it’s a city packed with festivals. With those festivals come after parties. No ticket? No worries. If you can’t see the headliner on the main stage, with a little bit of detective work, the odds are in your favor that you can still witness a set or two later in the night.
3/ You expect an entire bar of salsas when you go out for tacos.
From smoky avocado to roasted tomatillo and hatch green chili, Austinites are trained to sniff out the red and green rainbow of salsas in every Tex-Mex restaurant in town. Forget the wine menu, in Austin salsa spreads are de rigeur. If they don’t serve up an array at your table, a generous spread in the center of the restaurant of awaits you to dress up your dinner.
4/ It’s assumed that grown adults can still join a kickball league.
We’re an unabashedly active city, where there’s nothing we love more than hanging out, drinking cheap Lone Stars and kicking a ball around together. Whether it’s soccer, kickball, geocaching, softball, rowing or ultimate frisbee–if it’s a sport that can be played, then there’s a Meetup group for it!
5/ You don’t have to search hard to find an amazing backdrop for your next Instagram selfie.
6/ You never pack your t-shirts and flip flops away. Ever.
Whether it’s Austin’s casual dress code or the fact that we’re always two weeks away from what the rest of the country considers “spring” weather, you can wear the same clothes 52 weeks out of the year. Seasons are only a thing in Austin if you’re talking about allergies.
7/ You can get groceries at Austin’s Disneyland for healthy adults: the Whole Foods flagship.
Walk in beer fridge? Got it. Tucked away seafood restaurant? Yes, right over there. The flagship Whole Foods on North Lamar Boulevard is an over-the-top embarrassment of riches. I give thanks for this gift to the city every single time I choose a bottle of kombucha from over eight local brands on display.
8/ You can rent actual movies from physical stores here.
Independent video stores are still a thing in Austin. Vulcan Video and I Luv Video both do an amazing job of keeping the dream alive, doling out hard-to-find films and blockbusters seven days a week.
9/ You expect to chat it up with hipsters and good ole’ boys alike.
Driving through the southwest on my road trip back to Austin, I knew I had hit Central Texas when a sweet couple made small talk with me while I pumped my gas. We’re friendly here and it’s contagious.
10/ When you go out to dinner, you expect decent live music while you enjoy your margarita. And bottomless chips and salsa, please.
This is not normal, y’all. Austin’s patio game is hard to beat. There are few pleasures that top listening to gritty honky tonk outside Guero’s while drinking cheap, top-quality margaritas and munching on chips and salsa.
11/ You expect a yoga class every day of the week.
In an art museum, with your newborn, high-powered and aerobic-focused, intention-setting and contemplative, donation-based to super elite. Try every yoga style under the sun in Austin.
12/ Your dog is your co-pilot and you can take him just about anywhere.
We love our pets here! Between the array of dog parks and accommodating restaurants where patios are filled with diners and their pooches, it’s low stress to bring your dog along for a fun day around Austin.
13/ You can enjoy a breakfast taco all day, every day.
At a food truck, in a bar, dressed up on a paper menu. However you want it, we’ve got one with your name on it. If you want breakfast tacos with savory deliciousness tucked inside, Austin serves them up like no where else.
@kristinmleigh wants to know:
How was Austin ruined you for living anywhere else?