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Checking Out Austin, Texas

The common image of Texas is that dusty town in the middle of nowhere, where cattle rest on the grass, and cowboys are walking around, holding their guns and chewing tobacco. There are some places still where you can see this stereotypical sight — such as the touristic Fort Worth Stockyards — but honestly, Texas is a dynamic and interesting state with plenty of cool and trendy things going on.

One of my favorite destinations is Austin — the state capital, but also a hub for young people (especially because of the University of Texas). Where young, creative people gather, expect a lot of diversity. On my recent Texas road trip, in Austin, for example, I saw more gay people holdings hands than I did in New York City (maybe because New Yorkers aren’t quite as romantic…). Maybe because of the warm, sunny weather — even in late November — there were just more people out and about on the streets, but Austin feels alive with energy and activity. Here are three streets and hotspots you need to know about in Austin to find the coolest things to do.

South Congress Avenue

This street just across the river from downtown is alive with energy. It’s easy to explore the crowds shopping, walking, and eating around South Congress Avenue, where street art and urban performances, as well as fast food restaurants, karaoke, smoothies, and vintage stores are strategically placed. Along the Colorado River’s edge, the street hits Butler Park. From there, you can enjoy a great view of the Austin skyline and then make your way toward the much larger and more scenic Zilker Park, which is also near the popular Barton Springs Pool.

North Lamar Boulevard

Another great area of Austin is around North Lamar Boulevard. A street that hosts one of my favorite bookstores in the world: BookPeople. Lamar Blvd. is crossed by 4th, 5th and 6th Streets, what could be call downtown Austin, with a lot of fine restaurants, bars, and pubs, and gay venues like Rain. Also be sure to check out Waterloo Records for top-quality vinyl. At night, 6th Street turns into a hub of nightlife, with people (mostly college students) spilling out onto the streets. Look out for cool bars, clubs, and street food.

Guadalupe Street

Next to the University of Texas, Guadalupe Street is crowded with students and people of all ages. Several coffeehouses, cheap eats, and bookstores call this area home, making it an affordable and convenient place to hang out. The popular Kerbey Lane Café is crowded all day and night (it’s open 24-hours a day!) with a hodgepodge of Austin society.

So, the next time someone talks about Texas, reminiscing the past of cowboy duels, armadillos, and coyotes, remember that there’s much more to Texas than its history.

Have you ever been to Austin? If so, what’d you think? Any suggestions for things to see and do in the city? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

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