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My mom and I share the same birthday, and in years past, we would always spend them together. But my mom passed on almost 15 years ago. I remember she was always up to travel at a moments notice, however, my mom would never travel to places where she didn’t know anyone. So in 2002, I decided that each year for my birthday, I try to either do something I’ve never done before or go somewhere I’ve never been. This year it was Austin, TX.
About 17 years ago I would entertain the idea of visiting San Antonio, TX, but when I would tell people this, they’d say to me “Oh no, it’s Austin you want to visit”. I kept that curiosity alive over time and when it came time to decide where to go for my 40th birthday, Austin seemed like a good choice. Why not make that long time desire a reality?
I spent my birthday exploring more areas than planned and walking so much more than I expected. The following days were spent just figuring out the layout of the town, and ultimately I realized that Austin in a place where things are happening at night. There really is no reason to even go out before the sun goes down.
Austin has some great vintage shops. Clothing, home furnishings, and music galore! A great bonus is that a few of these shops do alterations on site since (as one tailor said) “people are built differently than before”. Click here for a map of Austin’s vintage shops.
The Mohawk‘s motto is “All Are Welcome”. They have two great spaces for live music yet still manages to have a cozy feeling to it. On my birthday, they were having a Dolly Parton Happy Hour (it was her birthday too) and there was no way I was gonna pass that up. “Hard Candy Christmas” shots, “Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” on the screen, and nothing but Dolly playing on the sound system made for a really great experience.
At The Ritz they were having a Queen/David Bowie Sing-A-Long. I decided to swing by to see what that was all about and I’m so glad I did.
First off, I don’t know if all Texas movie theaters are this way, but I did not expect to be able to order beer and food from my seat. Second, it was a fun experience watching Queen and David Bowie videos on the big screen while people sang a long with props. I guess booze helps.
6th street is pretty lively at night. There’s a couple of blocks that are blocked off to road traffic so there’s a lot of people walking from bar to bar. Music is literally spilling out of most establishments, and it’s pretty cool hearing the variety of music coming from each place. Country, Blues, Rock, and Dance music is more than abundant here.
The South Congress area has some pretty cool shops and a food truck lot that’s pretty cute. I had heard about Austin’s food trucks but for some reason, became really interested in them while I was there. I love the creativity and utility that people put into their food trucks. They are like mobile yummy works of art.
Hey Cupcake! on S. Congress has two vegan cupcakes that change every so often. On this day they had an orange-sickle and an Oreo cupcake.
Besides cabbing it and hoofing it, I also got around Austin by bus. I decided to give this a try since I noticed bus stops with bar codes and a number to text to get info on the next bus. By simply sending a text of where I was and where I wanted to go (by an indicated time or not), I would get a text back on where and when to catch the next bus. This and the $2 day-pass made riding the bus a simple and convenient option to getting around.
My last night there was filled with visiting several bars. The High Ball seemed pretty cool as the decor is very retro and it’s a combo bar/lounge/dance hall/bowling alley/karaoke establishment. Really.
The Broken Spoke was another great place I spent some time in. It’s known as a Honky-Tonk dance hall, and if you enjoy people watching as much as I do, this place does not disappoint The live music was great as the mass of people danced to their heart’s content.
After a night of dance halls and bars, it’s pretty cool to be able to get vegan food until 2am. There are a slew of food truck lots on Austin, and it was pretty easy to find a few that offered vegan options, and a few that were completely vegan. Arlo’s has the most amazing Vegan Bac’n Cheeze Burger I’ve ever had.
Down the street you’ll find The Vegan Yacht. This vegan food truck has some options that are gluten-free, and their cashew cheese used for their vegan nachos is so yummy. Instead of rice, they use quinoa in their nachos. Why haven’t I thought of that?
In the same lot as The Vegan Yacht, you’ll also find Love Balls. I didn’t try anything here, cos I just scarfed down vegan nachos. They have a few vegan options that sounded interesting. But mainly i just liked the 70’s vibe of their truck complete with an 8-track player.
Right next to the above mentioned food truck lot, is this DIY drive-in. The projector was housed in a small trailer and the screen is propped up against a school bus. I have no idea how they work the sound, but it sure was pretty.
I was there on a day in which I could hit up the farmer’s market nearby. It was small, and didn’t seem to have much, but just as I was about to leave I noticed two vendors that made me glad I stuck around. One vendor sold organic vegan tamales, and another, The Happy Vegan Baker, sold both vegan and gluten-free pastries. besides being super pretty, their pastries were pretty damn good.
All in all, Austin is a pretty cool place to visit. If it weren’t for the heat, I’d consider moving there. Then again, I could always go nocturnal for a place like this.