10. MoPac and 183
I never thought I’d say that I miss an intracity highway, but there’s something to be said for a 3-lane highway that can get you from the tech suburbs to downtown in 20 minutes. My typical commute from the U-District to Microsoft in Seattle is about an hour on 520 (a 2-lane highway), so I definitely miss being able to get around town fast.
9. Barton Springs
Barton Springs might be the coldest body of water in Austin, but it’s also one of the coolest. The fact that Austin decided to turn the springs into a public swimming pool, complete with diving boards, is pretty awesome. It’s best to go on a really hot day and alternate between freezing your skin off and drying off in the sun.
8. Brisket – Rudy’s, Salt Lick, County Line
Austin has some of the best BBQ in the country. Where else would you find affordable and delicious fast food barbecue than at Rudy’s? And you really can’t beat the cash-only BYOB experience at the Salt Lick. Their brisket is absolutely amazing.
7. Town Lake (aka Ladybird Lake)
Town Lake has everything you could ever want in a jogging trail. Variable distances, nice dirt paths, a great view of the water, and even a dog park! Plus there’s free water. Thanks RunTex!
6. Austin City Limits
Three days of fun in the sun and all-you-can hear music at an affordable price in Zilker Park. Some of my favorite bands over the years have been Muse, Cake, Sheryl Crow, John Mayer, Blue October, Regina Spektor, Ghostland Observatory, Guster, Brazilian Girls… I could go on and on.
5. Lake Travis
Party barges, cliff diving, and scuba diving are among the few of many activities I have participated in at Lake Travis. All of them were incredibly fun. The water is so warm in the summer you don’t even need a wetsuit, even if you’re 60 feet underwater scuba diving. Lake Travis more than makes up for the incessant Texas summer heat.
4. Sixth Street
If you haven’t heard of Sixth Street yet, you probably haven’t heard of Austin. A street so populated with bars and so popular on Friday and Saturday nights that the police closes off traffic in preparation for all of the stumbling foot traffic. Vendors sell pizza and the best wurst you’ve ever had after the bars close, and let me tell you, it’s delicious.
3. Tubing on the Guadalupe and Comal Rivers
I love tubing on the Guadalupe River. Spending the whole day laying around, having fun with your friends, and shooting through the “rapids”. Okay, so they aren’t that fast, but they are fun.
2. Tex Mex – Trudy’s and Chuy’s, even Taco Cabana
Finding great Tex Mex in Seattle is like trying to go snowboarding in Austin. No matter how hard you look, you just won’t find it. Trudy’s has both delicious stuffed avocados, and potent Mexican Martinis. Chuy’s has a Chuychanga that is easily my favorite chimichanga ever made, and their secret jalapeno ranch salsa makes tortilla chips into a dessert. Even Taco Cabana, a fast food joint in Austin, has some pretty tasty eats.
Since my first foray into Austin as an intern at National Instruments, the friends I made were the reason I was able to do so many fun and exciting things, because without friends to share them with, they would have just been things. To those of you I left behind in Austin, I miss you and I hope you visit Seattle soon.