Austin City No Limits
December 19, 2011 7:13 AM   Subscribe

After a few questions and great answers, my wife and two kids have relocated to Austin. Now we are looking for cool things to do and organizations to get involved with. What are your favorite things to do with or without kids in Austin.

We ended up moving to Steiner Ranch for a variety of reasons, but that shouldn't limit your answers. We want to get to know ALL of Austin. I am already thinking that when we eventually buy a home, we would like to be closer to downtown.

I am interested in restaurants, trails, farmers markets, swimming pools / holes, record stores, book stores, curry shops, churches, charities, parks, etc. As well, any websites you can recommend to stay on top of what's happening would be great. Fill me in on all the great things to do in Austin. Any groups / clubs / churches you can recommend? Get us going in this awesome city.
posted by jasondigitized to Society & Culture (10 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
The farmers markets in Austin are all pretty great - there's one in Cedar Park, as I understand it, that's probably closest to you, but come downtown some Saturday and check out the big one. Meat, veggies, fruit, cheese, olive oil - very nearly everything you could want, and most of it is fantastic.

Bookpeople is the independent, huge bookstore downtown, and it's worth a visit for sure, but also check out any of the numerous Half Price Books for used stuff - there's one at 183 and Anderson Mill that'll do, and a new one in Cedar Park. That's where I buy most of my books.

Check out The Noble Pig on 620 for some really excellent sandwiches.

I am obligated to plug Sun Dragon Martial Arts (I train there and am on the Board of Directors) - it's a women-owned, non-profit martial arts and self-defense school. It's way south, so probably not useful to you right now, but we take kids as young as 4, so by the time you move...

Make sure you pick up the Chronicle every week - it's got comprehensive event listings and is a good way to get a feel for the town.

Welcome to Austin! It's a great city, and there's a solid Mefite contingent. Come to a meetup some time! (We have them regularly, and I always say I'm going to go and then flake, but there are a lot of good folks here.)
posted by restless_nomad at 7:23 AM on December 19, 2011

There are a lot of websites with Austin event calendars like the Austin Chronicle, Austin360, Do512, etc. My favorite, though, is NowPlayingAustin, which seems pretty comprehensive for the stuff I like.
posted by Durin's Bane at 7:26 AM on December 19, 2011

It's a pretty straight shot to the Sunset Valley farmer's market, which in my opinion, is the best market in town. Map.

I really only know the swimming holes on Barton creek, and those are really only active from about March to about May. Park your car under the Mopac bridge just south of 360. Follow the trail head down into the creek. In about half a mile, you'll end up at twin falls. Head another mile or so along the same trail, and you'll end up at mushroom falls, which is a superior swimming hole IMO, and less likely to attract annoying litterbugs.

Of course, you're right by Lake Travis. Once it warms up, you should be able to find plenty of recreation there.
posted by Gilbert at 8:10 AM on December 19, 2011

The downtown Alamo Drafthouse, at least back in 2004, used to do a pretty cool MST3K/Rifftrax type deal where they showed a movie and some guys up front would make jokes. I combed their website and can't figure out if they do this anymore, but it still looks like a good place to see a movie.
posted by crapmatic at 8:36 AM on December 19, 2011

Where you are, the closest Alamo Drafthouse is Lake Creek. More special stuff happens at the Ritz (downtown) than anywhere else, but they have plenty of fun events up on the north side.

I've been considering organizing a meetup after Christmas but don't hesitate to call one if you're interested in having one soon!
posted by immlass at 9:19 AM on December 19, 2011

I'd suggest your wife consider joining the Austin Mamas listserv. Pretty much all of our friends with kids we met through that list. It's a municipal treasure.

Some other city guides you can subscribe to: CultureMap Austin and Thrillist Austin.

Here are a few things you should consider doing: go to a show at Salvage Vanguard or Zach Scott, go eat at Takoba or Tacodeli or La Condesa, and jump into the cold waters of Barton Springs or Deep Eddy.

posted by mattbucher at 10:03 AM on December 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Come see some roller derby! The first bout is next month (Jan 29th), and features last season's championship team against a team of all-stars from the other teams in our league. Kids get in free :)
posted by theRussian at 12:19 PM on December 19, 2011

Z-Tejas on 6th Street.
Galaxy Cafe on West Lynn
Kerbey Lane is an Austin trademark.

St. Edward's Park-- trails
Mayfield Park-- gardens and peacocks!
the trail around Town Lake is great for jogging/walking/biking.

Barton Springs
Hamilton Pool (a natural, geological place.. not an ordinary pool)

Seconding BookPeople.

There are also two main downtown areas to check out:
the "drag" and UT campus
and South Congress-- cool shops and restaurants
You should be able to find all the little record and curry shops you desire!
posted by la_rousse at 2:07 PM on December 19, 2011

Christmas lights on 37th (is that the street?) street were a must-see when I lived there. You'd wander through people's yards, front yards and back yards, which were done up with all kinds of zany lights and decor.

Barton Springs pool is the perfect place to spend a day, for me. It is heavenly to lay on the grass (on the quiet/back side) and read a book and occasionally get in the pool.

Hamilton Pool is well worth the drive. It's cold as hell but oh so beautiful.

Quacks 43rd Street Bakery is a favorite place of mine to get my coffee on weekend mornings ... Very laid back, classic Austin vibe.

Great city. I would give just about anything to live there again!
posted by jayder at 3:44 PM on December 19, 2011

Is it too obvious to suggest Schlitterbahn? It's a great waterpark not too far from Austin, and kids love it (well, so do adults).
posted by jayder at 3:49 PM on December 19, 2011

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