Austin, TX
by Anaïs DerSimonian

Warm weather, vintage cowboy fashion aesthetic and live music everywhere you go–Austin, TX has a reputation for being one of the coolest cities in the U.S. for a reason.

But besides SXSW–the annual music, media and film festival that brings hundreds of thousands of visitors to Austin each year in the spring–there’s a world of off-the-beaten-path fun to be had in this amazing southern city.

My first time in Austin was right before COVID-19–and I mean RIGHT before it. Everything was normal on the flight I boarded there, the pandemic just a distant afterthought happening on a different continent. I was there to visit a teacher friend who hoped to start a new life there as a year-round farmer. When I returned, everyone was wearing masks and I felt truly terrified to be on that plane–terrified to leave my friend by herself in her new home.

I’ve been back a handful of times since then to visit (especially during the cold months!) and it’s always such a treat.

What I love about Austin is you can eat outside–like, everywhere. Patios and food trucks line the main roads, some of the more well-known spots combining both to create a little patio center where you can pick and choose from half a dozen options. Austin is also a tech center, so you will never fail to see folks working on their laptops while sipping a pre-happy hour cocktail and munching on tacos or barbeque (the two delicacies for which the city is known).
Thirft stores with Texan flair, hotdogs with cream cheese–there's a lot to love about this quirky city.

Nowhere does this better than Cosmic Coffee. A beautiful patio courtyard is home to a biological pond/garden and waterfall garden, as well as a full coffee and bar menu and handful of amazing food trucks. My personal favorite thing? The boozy coffee. If horchata, coffee and tequila had a baby, this amazing drink would be it. Can I only handle one? Yes. Yes I can.

While some might recommend the notorious Dirty 6th Street for some nightlife, if you’re looking for a fun, glittery dance party I would recommend Cheer Up Charlie’s. The LGBT-friendly bar and club hosts a variety of entertaining events, not to mention they have a dancefloor inside AND outside.

When you’re leaving, make sure you stop at the DittyDog food truck. Trust me when I tell you that creamcheese, fried onions and Thai hot sauce do in fact belong on a hotdog (or veggie dog!).

Now, you know I can’t stay away from a well-curated vintage clothing shop–and dare I say, Austin is one of the best places in the world for thrifting.

My favorite? Pavement. They had some really unique finds, an amazing selection of colorful sneakers and shoes, vintage basketball jerseys from the 70s and 80s, not to mention the best collection of quality vintage denim that I had seen in a long time. If you’re feeling the Texas air, you might even want to get yourself a cowboy hat and some cowboy boots–yeehaw!

Although it’s definitely not off the beaten path, a must is going for a swim at Barton Springs–nothing like finding a cool respite in that hot Texas heat.

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