Becoming a Local (in Austin)

When I was little I was terrified of change.  I liked things just the way they were and was perfectly content with them staying that way.  But in my early years of being a teenager, change came storming through my world, damaging everything in its wake – I had no choice. I had to accept it.  In the years that followed, I slowly came to terms with change, eventually reaching a point where it was something I welcomed, embraced, sought out.  I started to listen to my instincts, and beyond just listening, I started to trust those instincts.  I became incredibly – dangerously? – spontaneous.  If my heart, or something deep down in my gut, was telling me to do something, I acted.

Do, instead of dream.

So when something in my soul told me…move to Austin… I listened. I didn’t question it. It was scary, taking a solo trip to find an apartment, and trying to explain to people what I was doing, but it felt so right. I felt alive. I’m excited to make this city a permanent home, at least for a little while. And while I’ve been there many times, I know I’m no local (yet) so I am asking for your advice. What are the places I simply must see, the people I must seek out, the secret spots that make the weird and wonderful heart of Austin beat to its own drum? Let me know in the comments – maybe I’ll even feature it on this here blog (unless of course you want me to keep it a secret, in which case, my lips are sealed).


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7 years ago

Gorgeous pictures, and please continue sharing your journey in Austin! I’m hoping to move there in the next few years and would love to know more about the area.

7 years ago

So excited to have someone else going through the same thing as me! I’m moving to Austin in 4 weeks from New York City and it’s a comfort to know the city will have another newbie besides just me. Can’t wait to read the comments on this post and read about your move there. Good luck Julia- maybe our paths will cross.

7 years ago

Good choice! I’m a Texan born and raised… Austin is HEAVEN.

Check out East Austin, it’s a collision of cultures in the best way possible. Go see: Vintage Heart Coffee, El Chilito, Counter Culture, Cuvee Coffee, in.gredients, Hops and Grain Brewery, Salt and Time.

Other spots in Austin: Amy’s Ice Cream, Wheatsville Co-op, Madam Maam’s, Kerbey Lane, Mother’s Cafe, Flightpath Coffee, Thai Fresh, Elizabeth Street Cafe… SO MANY GOOD PLACES TO EXPLORE!

You’re going to have a BLAST! :)

7 years ago

I love that something in your soul told you that! Such a gift. It looks beautiful!

Warm Regards,

7 years ago

my soul misses Austin sooo much!!!

7 years ago

I’ve been living in Austin for 2 1/2 yrs now and the same thing happened with me, I felt the universe was showing me so many signs that Austin was where I needed to be. so I up and moved here after spending 7 years in new York. i’m originally from Houston so i’m a texas girl at heart. here is a list of places to check out:
McKinney falls
Krause Springs in Spicewood
Hamilton Pool in Dripping Springs
secret beach
anywhere on the greenbelt (sculpture falls, the flats, lost creek, hidden falls)
barton springs
lake travis-hippie hollow
mount bonnell at sunset or sunrise
360 bridge overlook
freddies or hula hut for brunch
south congress shopping
rainey street for bar hopping
the parish or empire control room for events
check out art seen alliance for any fun events (there’s a party they’re throwing next Saturday the 15th at empire control room with amazing djs and art)
art outside festival in October
zilker park tree and trail of lights in december
butler park
maria’s taco express-sundays hippie church-live music for free
check out EAST-the next 2 weekends there are art parties, showings, galleries that pop up all around the east side
and you should check out create culture at lanai, it’s on a Wednesday once a month. a bunch of my friends have an art collective called third coast visions and they feature their art at this party they throw and have awesome djs come play for it! it’s a great dance party too and a way to meet some awesome talented new friends!

7 years ago

I’ve been living in Austin for 2 1/2 yrs now and the same thing happened to me. I felt the universe was giving me so many signs that I needed to be in Austin so I up and moved here after spending 7 years in new York. i’m originally from Houston so i’m a texas girl at heart. here is a list of places to check out:
secret beach
McKinney falls
Krause springs in spicewood
Hamilton pool in dripping springs
maria’s taco express on sundays for hippie church-free live music
mount bonnell at sunrise or sunset
anywhere on the greenbelt (sculpture falls, twin falls, lost creek, hidden falls, the flats)
barton springs
zilker park Christmas tree and trail of lights in December
art seen alliance events (great party they’re throwing at empire control room next Saturday the 15th)
art outside fest in October
third coast visions art collective (great friends of mine that throw a art party at lanai on a Wednesday once a month with awesome djs too)
EAST-art showings, parties, galleries pop up around the east side the next 2 weekends
brunch at freddies or hula hut
lake travis-hippie hollow
shopping on south congress
butler park
nature’s treasures shop
pease park
botanical gardens
umlauf sculpture gardens
mayfair park
Thursday night social rides all around the city
hope outdoor gallery-graffiti spot
welcome to Austin! enjoy!!

7 years ago

I grew up in the heart of Austin and now, at 20, I’m still winding my way down new streets and acquainting myself with the influx of newbies after returning from college, so you’re not alone! Since it’s still so beautiful out, hiking at Mckinney Falls State Park near the airport is just dreamy. If you’re wanting to tap into some southern roots, hit up the Broken Spoke on s. lamar. If you want to shop, check out Beehive Boutique or the Blue Elephant. Definitely check out Hamilton Pool and deep eddy pool as well once it’s warmer. Dolce Neve on South First is a fun and cheeky gelato shop, and the family who owns the little shop just moved here from Italy within the past 5 years. For coffee and a chill atmosphere, Mozarts, Monkey Nest, 7th Flag Coffee, or Houndstooth. Eat as many tacos as you can!

7 years ago

So much fun! My friend just moved there, I’ll have to send her this!

Ripped Jeans

7 years ago

Share every Julia! My husband and I probably have to move there when he finishes school (he is pretty much guaranteed a job) and I want to learn everything I can! Thanks to the lovely ladies who already shared some great experiences!

7 years ago

Er… share everyTHING. Sorry for the typo.

7 years ago

I was born and raised here, and unfortunately, it’s not the same place it used to be. The massive amounts of new people moving here from California and New York are much less friendly than the locals, who are disappearing because it has become so expensive and overrun with people trying too hard to be trendy.

7 years ago

Thank you all so much for the recommendations!! I’m excited to check them out, and I’ll definitely be sharing more from Austin here on the blog :)

7 years ago

Hi :)
I’m Cathy and I’ve lived in Austin since February, but grew up real close by, San Antonio to be exact!
There’s so much beauty here and nearby!
If you like outdoorsy things check out enchanted rock, bull creek trail, the greenbelt, and the 360 bridge overlook. The graffiti park is really beautiful too and constantly adds new art pieces.
If you like shopping– especially thrift– the Goodwills are great especially the one on N Lamar near Half Price Books. Buffalo Exchange always has some great finds as well.
I do talk about some things about moving/living in Austin in my blog as well.
Welcome :) and never stop exploring! There’s so much here to see and love.

7 years ago
My blog mentioned in the previous comment if you have time to check it :)

7 years ago

I’ve grown up in Hyde Park, right in the center of Austin. I’m now 19 and its so bittersweet to be moving to San Diego next fall for school. SD is amazing but I’ll miss the TexMex culture! So eating is one of the number one things to make time for here. The enchiladas verdes at Julios on Duval St is basically my favorite food on the planet, and if you want an amazing, greasy burger, the Crown and Anchor is where it’s at. For BBQ, skip the lines at Franklins and get some classic Austin grub and vibes at Green Mesquite on Barton Springs. The second street district is always fun to stroll around on a day off and is right next to the green belt, not to be missed. Dharma yoga is great and they have a few locations around town. When in doubt, grab the weekly Chronicle free newspaper (they’re all around town), it’ll tell you everything to do that week! If you’re ever feeling like getting out, head to Big Bend National Park. People forget, but Texas is home to some of the most beautiful natural areas in the country. Keep us updated on your experiences, I hope you have a great time here!

7 years ago

I took a short, but very fun, trip to Austin in September and absolutely fell in love with this city. The culture and hip sites were so amazing to discover. Even though my trip there was short, we tried to pack in as many activities as we could, which I featured on my blog.

Enjoy and wishing you the best of luck xx

7 years ago

Most people will give you the places that are listed on various Austin instagrams or mentioned on blogs or comments, because they have no idea and just continue to follow “the scene”. But the real good places are the ones that my family who have been born and raised there since the 50’s go to. The one’s that have been opened since then and have stayed open. Like Sandy’s Ice Cream, which totally blows Amy’s out of the water. And how about an actual culture experience at La Mexicana Bakery on 1st, which I can guarantee more than half of all “locals” in Austin would fail to mention even though they claim to be “free spirit, open to all cultures” people. And the taco joints they’ll mention aren’t real tacos unless you get them at a hole in the wall table and chair restaurant that doesn’t have a white person asking you what you’ll have. All these newcomers are trying to build and change what didn’t need changed in the first place. And that’s the sad thing that’s happened to Austin, just listen to anyone born and raised there. Heck, just look at all the condos going up and taking away from the real views. Thanks for being the first to through it out there Lexi, “Please don’t move to Austin”. Do yourself a favor and explore on your own and develop your own adventure in exploring a new town because I can guarantee that any person you find dining on South Congress or out on 6th street isn’t a true “local”. Just another person that moved to Austin to be hip and join the movement even though they claim to be a “free spirit”.

7 years ago

I’m a real local, born and raised. You’ll never be a local. Lexi is right, it’s not like it used to be. Even in my 25 years spent here, it’s wildly expanded, overpopulated and overrun with people who call themselves Austinites after being here 5 years. Have fun, support local small business owners, volunteer, see local bands.

7 years ago

Just know that you are on a journey, everyone is, no matter where you are. It doesn’t matter if you are to be considered a ‘local’ or not, you are in the place your intuition called you to be. All I can say is, if you want to be considered a ‘local’, YOU just consider yourself to be, that’s all. No one can tell you what you are, only YOU can tell you who you are. What does is matter if you were not born there? That’s just how people have been made to think and believe. Make up your own beliefs, your own way of feeling and being.
You moved there to create your own life, your way. It’s a place that your soul was calling you to. It’s where you are now to explore for your own self, not how others will tell you and expect you to be or do. It’s the new way and there are so many others being called to Austin for the same ‘unknown’ reason. It’s about learning to listen only to your intuition, it’s the new way of being……to learn the way of listening only to YOUR self, your intuition and you did and you are doing it. Keep doing what you are doing, keep listening only to YOU and let your soul and your heart guide you. YOU are right…..for YOU. You are in the right place and you are where you are supposed to be because, you are there, that’s all. Keep exploring, keep listening to your SELF. Just let your intuition keep guiding you, and don’t try to be so much in your mind, FEEL about all that you would like to do and soon it won’t matter if you are considered a ‘local’ or not. I was born in Houston but I can tell you that I have figured out that all those words that I learned along the way like being a ‘local’ are just things that others taught me to believe and it’s not who I really am. Who I am is who “I” decide to be, not who someone else decides for ME to be. I was born in Houston but I don’t belong to Houston, I belong where I say I belong. I belong wherever I am, it’s that simple. Why do we complicate our lives by believing things that can make us feel ‘different’, as if different is a ‘bad’ thing? Of course we are different, everyone IS. Different is GOOD, different is what has made this world go around. As long as you are on earth, you are a ‘local’ wherever you go, and, you…….belong. You belong where you are……you belong. Now, go out there and OWN it, Austin is yours because you are there, Austin is there to share itself with you. You are there because you were meant to be there to do something, to experience this magical place where, really, EVERYONE belongs, it’s why so many are moving there, they are all being called to be there. No one knows why, but that doesn’t matter, just enjoy it and as others you see and meet from other places arrive there, welcome them, and you’ll see how it doesn’t matter if you are a ‘local’ or not, this place is there for everyone to experience, it’s magical that way. Ask no more questions of whether you are a local or not, just enjoy your life there, learn and then help others, teach them the open way of living and embracing Austin. There is no ‘local’ anymore in this world. Everyone belongs wherever they are. YOU will change this new way of thinking. Austin is YOURS, the same as if you were born there, nothing to believe anymore if you are ‘local’ or not, you are there and it’s a part of who you are, until you decide to move elsewhere, then, that place that you move to, is where you will then belong. Keep exploring and accepting that this is where you are and this is where you belong along with everyone else that is there. Time to let another way of being be born. Have fun and let the magic of Austin come out in you and help others with this too, maybe THAT is what you are there to do? Maybe?

7 years ago

Hi Julia! I’m so happy you posted this. I moved to Austin a few months ago to basically hit the reset button on life. The city called to me but I’m still figuring out where everything is so if you need an adventure buddy, I’d love to meet up and grab coffee sometime!

7 years ago

It was two years ago when I made the quick decision to move from Dallas to Austin. I was definitely out of my comfort zone, but it was probably one of the best decision I’ve made. I’ve met so many interesting people, learned many new things and I have developed a deep love for the natural beauties of this city!
If you’re a hiker I definitely reccomend doing the Barton Springs Greenbelt. It’s challenging but so rewarding. If you just want some amazing scenery with a small hike I reccomend going to Mount Bonnell.
To feed the inner foodie, I reccomend Doc’s on South Congress. It is always my go to when I have friends come to visit. Doc’s has a wide variety on their menu, pet friendly and I’ve never been disappointed! If you are ever craving some good pizza, the Little Caesars on 38th street always hooks it up (just kidding, but not really.) But in all seriousness, Parkside on 6th street is TO DIE and everything is very fresh and super yummy.
Today my boyfriend and I are going to visit the graffiti park at Castle Hills for the first time because we’ve heard amazing things.
Hope this helps!
Good luck to you, Julia!
x o

7 years ago

The long lists of recommendations and offers to meet up make me smile. It just shows the world is a good place even if not everything that happens in it is good.

7 years ago

Cat, I agree. Thank you all so much for sharing your thoughts and opinions! Kallie I would love to meet up, email me at!

7 years ago

I grew up in Austin and now live in New York City and sometimes I really miss the city that always keeps it weird! The beautiful thing about Austin is that everyone is welcome and accepted and embraced- especially if you bring some extra funk! Some places I’m missin’:

1. Barton springs (heaven on earth)
2. Charm School Vintage (super awesome little house in East Austin with vintage finds and a wig shop and a salon all in one!)
3. Torchy’s Tacos
4. Ballet Austin and Tapestry Dance Co. (anyone can drop in and take movement classes at both of these wonderful studios)
5. The Mohawk
6. Book People
7. Spiderhouse
8. Epoch Coffee (24 hour coffee and spots for studying/reading/board games, and super chill and super funky to the extreme)
9. East Side Cafe
10. Hillside Farmacy
11. Magnolia Cafe
12. Alamo Drafthouse (if you’re an Austinite, you catch all your movies here!)
13. Thundercloud Subs
14. Juicebox (best smoothies ever… really)
15. Bouldin Creek Cafe (damn good vegetarian grub)

Enjoy making one of the most magical cities your home!