TH’s July issue features a day in Austin from three of our editors, each exploring some of the Capital City’s favorite tourist spots from a local’s perspective. I for one am experiencing Austin from a somewhat unusual vantage point: that of a longtime resident staying in a vacation rental while my new home is being completed.
My temporary home happens to be within walking distance of Barton Springs, Zilker Park, Lady Bird Lake hike-and-bike trail, Whole Foods Market, and the 6th and Lamar retail area. Not a bad place to live like a tourist!
Living close enough to walk to these Austin hotspots allows for some interesting observations on being a tourist in your own backyard. For instance, I had no idea that a thriving neighborhood pedestrian culture exists near downtown. I walk to Whole Foods for small grocery runs (allowing myself to buy only as much as I can easily tote so as not to break my budget!). On the plentiful, well-maintained sidewalks, I find I have plenty of company—with singles, couples, and families also walking and toting reusable bags to and from 6th and Lamar. Also, I see folks headed—either on foot or by bike—to the Lady Bird Lake trail, and some just taking a stroll along Lamar, many with dogs or strollers in tow. The recent development of apartments, condos, cafés, and shops have created a safe, friendly, urban neighborhood ambiance, similar to what I’ve experienced in more walkable cities like San Francisco and Chicago. Seeing the Austin I thought I knew at street level, I almost feel like I’m on vacation. And in the spirit of Austin Weird and Only-in-Texas, I even spotted a man in a black cowboy hat striding along on his horse on the sidewalk near Viva Day Spa on South Lamar one evening!