Austin, Texas. Ohhhh how excited I was to visit Austin, Texas! A “weird” liberal, hipster city – or “Portland of the south” – that also happens to be the capital of one of the most conservative states in the country. How does that add up? I couldn’t WAIT to find out.
For months now, I’d heard lots of different things about Austin. It’s eclectic, it’s unique, it’s brimming with musicians and artists and open-minded souls. From what I gather, people love Austin (both locals and visitors), and the way I’ve heard it described reminded me a lot of Boulder, where I spent the majority of my time in Colorado.It’s a city of art and tattoos and man buns and humidity. A city where you can stuff your face at endless innovative food trucks on every corner, and where you can jam out to live music in any of the trendy downtown bars every night of the week. A city where every menu has gluten-free, vegan, paleo, vegetarian options and eating clean is pretty much standard. A city where everyone’s always out being active, eating tacos, and going green at a music festival.
Stereotypes… or facts? I was only there with family for a week, but it was enough time to get a good feel for the place. My personal verdict? The stereotypes are true – and thank god they are, because WHAT A WONDERFULLY WEIRD PLACE AUSTIN IS!
The land of street art
I’m no stranger to cities with crazy awesome street art. My hometown of Philadelphia has a ton of murals – in fact, “a public art project which encourages local artists to create works utilizing the city’s architecture has beautified the City of Brotherly Love and created an enduring cultural legacy,” and you can see some examples here and here.
Before we headed to Austin, I knew I wanted to do three primary Austin-y things: 1) I wanted to see some of its famous murals, 2) I wanted to see the Capitol building, and 3) I wanted to scarf down some tacos from a food trucks.
The varying styles of the street art we found in Austin was all across the board. To this nostalgia-inducing postcard-style “Greeting from Austin” mural to the seemingly scrawled “I love you so much” mural, each individual piece of work was impressive in its own way. Austin is definitely a city of artists, and that is so well-represented in the murals that cover the city’s walls – against the side of coffee shops and art studios and restaurants and parking lots. I loved having the opportunity to take a few peaks at some of the city’s best & most famous ones.
After grabbing coffee at Austin-famous Jo’s Coffee on the legendary South Congress Avenue, we headed over to the site of the “Greetings from Austin” mural posted above. This mural is painted on the side of Roadhouse Relics, an art gallery/studio with a glorified junkyard out back – a place you can rent out for photoshoots. Somehow, my cousin’s wife Serenity managed to sweet talk our way into the place free of charge (because she’s a friggin superstar), and the owner, a friendly fella named Todd and his fluffy dog Hank, even let us snap a few photos in his awesome spot out back. SUCH a fun opportunity.
HOPE Outdoor Gallery
From Roadhouse Relics, we made our way to the HOPE Outdoor Gallery — another incredible showcase of Austin’s creativity and unique personality. The HOPE Outdoor Gallery is one the country’s largest outdoor galleries, and is a place where graffiti artists (and non-graffiti artists!) can go to express inspirational and positive messages for the public.
(BTW- more info on the gallery can be found here.)
Selfie with some of the taggers in action. What an honor. A real damn honor.
After we meandered around the HOPE Gallery for awhile in the almost-80-degree-November-in-Texas heat , we were huuuuungry. We headed off for lunch at a place recommended by Austinite Serenity before checking out the Texas State Capitol Building – more coming soon!
Have you ever been to Austin?