The phrase I picked up on upon arrival is “Keep Austin Weird”. It’s a quirky town that’s got it going on. Since there is so much in Austin I’ll need to break this post into multiple sections for you interjunkies.
The food was probably the biggest surprise to me. There is awesome food on every corner in Austin. The rage in Austin’s food scene are the food trailers. They offer everything from exotic bratwursts to blingin’ tex mex. The food is cooked fresh and won’t break your bank account. Usually you’ll find the trailers in small groups of two or three all offering different types of food. After you scarf down some tacos and you’re craving something sweet you’re still in luck. There are dessert trailers such as “Gourdoughs” that have specialty donuts to die for. For sit-down style restaurants we ate at an authentic tex-mex joint called “Curra’s” where I had the best carnitas of my life. Cade and Mark went to “Rudy’s” which is a legit bbq place. If you enjoy awesome food (and who doesn’t?) Austin is worth checking out.
There is something for everyone downtown. Whether you enjoy a low key bar with good beer or a head banging with some emo’s, Austin is the place to be. We checked out a venue called “Emo’s” and listened to some hard rock/drone/metal which was sweeet. We also went to a bar called “Gingerman” which hosts a impressive lineup of good brews in draught (60+) and bottled form. If you want a local brew check out anything from Live Oak, they are a solid brewery. In general I’d say North Carolina has a better selection of tasty brews (ex. No Bell’s in TX, wtf??). The scene is downtown is pretty rad and you can walk everywhere. Crime doesn’t seem to be an issue in this blue dot surrounded by a sea of red. Last note; beware or embrace the hipsters, they are everywhere.
Austin is a very bike-friendly city. There are bike lanes/bridges all over the city that cater to cyclists. Anywhere you want to go downtown seems like it would be very manageable on a bike. I’m not sure how the traffic is but there are tons of bikes roaming the streets of Austin. If you’d rather ride on dirt there you’re still in the right place. The are plenty of bike stores if you need to rent a bike or buy that accessory you’ve been saving for. You can ride on most of the greenbelt (which runs right next to downtown). Warning –it’s rocky as hell! I’m not talking about a rock garden here or there…I’m saying the entire trail seems more like a rock quarry. Plus, it’s easy to get off the trail due to the lack of trail marking or signs. Locals say that the best place to ride is Walnut Creek for fast & smooth singletrack.
Last but not (well…maybe) least is the rock climbing. Now I must say upfront that there are two sides to every story and this is one’s not exempt. First off, if you happen to score a job in Austin or enjoy the occasional day of climbing it’s pretty damn sweet. You can be at a crag in 5-10 minutes from the middle of downtown. I hear there is some pretty decent bouldering around but I can’t speak for that. I went sport climbing for a couple days around the greenbelt area (check out a local map here). The crags I visited were “Seismic (or Maggie’s Wall)”, “Gus Fruh” and the “New Wall”. These are 30-40 ft limestone cliffs that are scattered around downtown Austin. It’s all bolted with each climb reppin’ 3-4 bolts with bolted anchors at the top. To it’s defense, all of the hardware was new and well kept. The downside to the climbing is that the routes are short, non-sustained and very well polished. The rock is good for the most part and offers one to two cool moves followed by a big rest of some sort. From my experience the routes were fun and super convenient but it’s definitely not a climbing destination. That being said, there are some decent crags worth driving to. Enchanted Rock (E-Rock) is about 1.5 hours and features some trad lines with nice cracks. Reimer’s Ranch is a sport crag with hundreds of routes that’s about 45 minutes from Austin. I’ve heard it’s pretty sweet. There is some craggin’ right on the border of Texas/Mexico that is supposed to be pretty good. For longer drives you can be at El Potrero in about 7 hours or Hueco Tanks within 9 hours.
First off I must say thanks to my friend Rob for taking me under his wing in Austin. We climbed a couple days and he gave me a lot of info about Austin’s climbing scene. Thanks man! I think there is a pretty good scene in Austin. I think most of the people who are serious about climbing take trips to E-Rock or Reimer’s Ranch or Mexico. I hear there is some good bouldering in the area too but some of those areas remain “hush hush” to keep the gumbos out. The scene around the greenbelt area is super duper gumbyville. It’s basically a bunch of twenty year old college kids who obnoxiously spray down everybody and talk about stupid shit. They should focus more on belaying instead of drinking beer but that’s just my opinion. Like I said, the greenbelt offers a good pump, short walk and the convenience because it’s so close to town. Take it for what it’s worth.
Austin, TX is a damn cool town. Check it out of you get a chance!