Ten Non-cliche Things to Do in Austin
If you’re looking for something to do with your Saturday afternoon, but you’ve fallen out of love with the “i love you so much” wall and have grown fed up with the typical Austin restaurants, don’t fret! This handy guide will show you some ways to be a little weird when you live in Texas’ weirdest city.
1. Visit the bar where it’s Christmas at any time of the year
Christmas in July? Christmas in April? Christmas in January? You name the month, Lala’s Little Nugget has got you covered. This North Austin bar is a perpetual winter wonderland, no matter the weather outside.
2. Go on a mural mission
Austin has a few famous murals, but also a huge amount of lesser-known wall paintings around town. Grab a few friends and drive around the city looking for interesting art. You’re guaranteed some A+ Instagram pictures as well. Extra points if you can find the giant cactus painting or the astronaut mural!
3. Find a funny festival
This past October, Austinites flocked by the thousands to Austin City Limits music festival--but if that’s not your style, Texas’ hippie city has plenty of less mainstream festivals. One of my favorites: the Austin Fermentation Festival, a free-for-all celebration of foods and drinks made with the help of our tiniest friends -- bacteria.
10463 Sprinkle Road, Austin, TX 78754
4. Zipline over Lake Travis
As the Austin sun rises each summer morning, it shines upon flocks of paddle boarders in their natural habitat, cruising up and down the blue-green water of Lake Travis. But Lake Travis Zipline Adventures offers a way to see the lake from a whole different perspective: the sky. This is a great thing to do if you have a little extra money and a thirst for daredevil adventure.
5. Try Ethiopian food
The quaint charm and interesting food at Aster’s Ethiopian Restaurant make it a great place to go if you are looking for a new food experience. Ethiopian food is often served with a spongy, sour bread called injera, which you can use to eat the savory servings of lentils, meat, or greens. Bonus: there is a lunch buffet, which is a great option if you’re trying to taste several different dishes.
2804 North IH 35, Austin, TX 78705
6. Take a ride on a steam train
Owned by the Austin Steam Train Association, The Hill Country Flyer is an authentic steam train that will take you on a 66-mile trip through the Texas countryside, during which you can pretend you are a traveler in the 1800s (or just enjoy the views). The trip, which costs around $35, leaves you for a 2-hour layover in Burnet, where you can grab a quick lunch and window shop, as well as watch a mock gunfight (#JustTexasThings).
7. Go to a quidditch match (or play on the team)
My first heartbreak came at the tender age of 12, when I realized I had passed the age that I should have received my acceptance letter to Hogwarts. I had almost adjusted to life as a muggle when I realized that I didn’t have to accept my muggle-ness! I can still wear robes in the Texas heat, carry around nicely-shaped sticks and pretend they’re wands, and, yes, go to a quidditch game! UT’s quidditch teams play several games a semester. Find a list here.
8. Explore Austin’s vegetarian food scene
Whether you are a plant-loving pacifist or a steak and seafood aficionado (or both), you can still have fun checking out the vegetarian fare in Austin. Recommendations: The barbeque sandwich at Blue Cat Cafe (made with jackfruit “pulled pork!”), the tempeh tacos at Bouldin Street Cafe, the butter chickpeas at Tejis, or anything at Mother’s.
9. Go thrift shopping
Thrift shops often represent the communities in which they are located, so it makes sense that the local Goodwill in a city whose slogan is “Keep Austin Weird” is an interesting place to spend an afternoon. Grab some friends or go alone for hours spent trying on voluminous fur coats, fun vintage jeans, or a huge number of other crazy recycled clothes.
10. Make an appointment at the Cathedral of Junk
Hidden in a private Austin backyard, the Cathedral of Junk is an elaborate construction of recycled trash that’s part clubhouse, part small mansion. You have to make an appointment to tour the cathedral, but don’t let that stop you--the owner, Vince Hanneman, is more than happy to give private tours!