I wasn't born in Austin, but I have been here for a quarter century and Austin - in my heart - is my hometown. Living in Cedar Park gives the security and community life for raising a family and at the same time is just 15minutes from the city center of Austin. You truly do get the best of both worlds.
Austin is… well, Austin. What's not to love about a city whose Independent Business Alliance adopted the slogan "Keep Austin Weird" to promote small business? To many of us, the word "Austin” is almost an adjective. A complex one, for sure. So unique that it can’t be summed up succinctly, but here is a taste of what I love about this place...
We are a multi-cultural community that shares a common respect for Texas heritage and enormous pride in our state (usually). Politically diverse, we don’t always agree, but none of us wants to leave Austin, so we find ways to get along.
We’re definitely cosmopolitan, but laid back about it – and determined to stay that way. Austin is a college town (UT is the second largest university in the country) with a thriving liberal bent – curiously situated in the capitol of a highly conservative state. On any given night, high level politicians mix with tech industry executives, students, struggling musicians, and soccer moms to create a funky, eclectic mix.
We are highly educated (45% of Austinites have a college degree or higher, ranking us as the #5 Most Educated City, according to the US Census Bureau). But all that education doesn’t mean we’re stuffy. Throw out your suit and tie; whatever you used to call “casual Friday” is de rigueur in Austin. Work at the lake or in the park on your laptop – Austin routinely ranks in the Top 3 “Most Wired” Cities (and wireless, with convenient WiFi hot spots). Forbes ranks Austin #3 Best Place for Business and Careers and #1 Coolest City in America.”
After work, see why Austin is the self-proclaimed “Live Music Capital of the World” – where else do you get live music in the airport? Come for Austin City Limits or the world-renowned South by Southwest (SXSW) Music and Film festival, but linger long after the hoopla and see that on any given night there are hundreds of live music venues to choose from. Haunt the stomping grounds of Janice Joplin, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Willie Nelson.
Men’s Journal touts Austin as having the Best Nightlife in the U.S.- beating out NYC! Entertainment is as diverse as an evening at the opera or an off-Broadway show (and do expect to see patrons wearing anything from ripped jeans to tuxedos) juxtaposed with funky Austin festivals like Eeyore's Birthday and Spam-a-Rama (yes, that Spam).
And, oh, the food! The best BBQ, steaks, and Tex-Mex you can imagine. Take a cooking class at Central Market. Visit the Whole Foods flagship store downtown – this is not a ‘grocery store’, but a true experience. This epicurean town lists a visit to either Whole Foods or Central Market as a Top 10 “must do” for tourists. (Don't question it - just do it. You'll thank me later.) From hole-in-the-wall dives with mouth-watering fare to more high-brow digs, we’ve got it all. Check out the Hot Sauce Festival. Sample the wineries in the nearby Hill Country as you drive through the rolling green hills that characterize our terrain.
We love our outdoor spaces. Newcomers arrive with visions of dust, tumbleweeds, plains, and cattle. Instead, in the Austin area they find breathtaking vistas of lakes and hills alongside cool, modern mixed-use developments that are expanding the downtown skyline. No wonder Austin is such a destination point.
From the moment one arrives, the city’s beauty attracts attention. The Texas Colorado River, the largest river contained wholly within Texas, runs through the middle of town on its way to the Gulf of Mexico. A series of dams on the river has created seven lakes that stretch from the Austin city limits to a point 150 miles upstream.
Lake Travis lies on Austin’s western edge; Lake Austin and Lady Bird Lake are situated in the heart of the “River City”, dividing its north and south. Lady Bird Johnson, wife of the late President Lyndon B. Johnson, years ago spurred the beautification process that transformed the shores of Town Lake (since renamed Lady Bird Lake) into an inviting, appealing environment, featuring a 28 mile hike-and-bike trail adorned with native plants.
Opportunities for outdoor recreation abound, from cool, spring-fed swimming holes to running trails to outdoor music venues. 25% of all new U.S. golf courses built in recent years have been in Austin. The city is chock full of avid runners, cyclists, and marathoners. Austin routinely ranks in the Top 25 Fittest Cities. Explore on foot. Austin is among the Top 25 Running Cities (per Runners World) and is the #6 Top Walking City (by the American Podiatric Medical Association).
Walk your dog on the Town Lake Hike and Bike Trail (after all, Dog Fancy magazine names Austin as one of the Top 10 Cities to be a Dog)! Ski or wakeboard on Lake Austin or Lake Travis and then boat up to a waterfront restaurant for a snack and a cocktail. Austin has been listed as the 8th Cleanest City and Lake Travis is the 6th Cleanest Lake in the States.
Stand on the Congress Street Bridge at dusk and experience a million tiny bats flitting about just above your head – Austin is home to the largest urban Mexican free-tail bat community in the world, and we’re proud of ‘em! The “tree huggers” among us work tirelessly to protect our natural environment, earning us the #2 spot in the Ten Greenest Cities by Vegetarian Times. And if you need help relaxing, book a day at the Lake Austin Spa ranked 10th Best Spa in the World by Travel and Leisure.
And don't forget the sports! We don't have national teams, but that leaves us time to energetically support our beloved University of Texas sports. Continental Magazine did name Austin the Most Sports-Crazed City in the World in 2006 due to the avid fanaticism of UT sports supporters!
Don't be alarmed if your blood turns burnt-orange after you've been here awhile - it goes with the territory (and it gets you invited to a lot of parties)! We've also got AAA baseball (the Round Rock Express) and hockey (the Texas Stars, a feeder team for the Dallas Stars).
Kiplinger ranks Austin as one of the Coolest Cities for Young Professionals, citing UT, musicians, margaritas and cheap rent as factors. We’re also #1 for Relocating Families in the U.S. (Worldwide Employee Relocation Council) due to commute times lower than the national average, no state income tax, average incomes that are high relative to the cost of living, and the third-highest expected job-growth rate in the country.
Men’s Journal ranked Austin as #2 in the 50 Best Places to Live, in their search for the perfect combination of adventure, attractiveness, and affordability.
Of course, I could go on and on. But let me stop here and invite y'all down for a visit. (But don't tell too many other people about us - we really want Austin to stay.... well, Austin.)