An eclectic pick-and-mix of retro funk and new-age entrepreneurial spirit, Austin’s best side is a mystic soup of social consciousness and capitalist development, tattoo-covered artists and internet millionaires. Quality of life reigns supreme. Here even the buttoned-down businessmen are likely to take a day off to go swimming in spring-fed pools, jogging along Town Lake or kayaking on the river. Almost any night here you can listen to live indie rock, jazz-funk, alt country, punk ska, acoustic rhythms, Latin sambas, Tejano trumpets, world beat…shall I go on? All this coolness has not gone unnoticed. Locals are concerned that too many cooks are spoiling the broth as more people continue to migrate here and suburbs spread further north. ‘Keep Austin Weird’ extol local bumper stickers, and so far the town isn’t overly gentrified – and the restaurant selection has noticeably improved.
The Texas capital, founded on a bend in the Colorado River in 1839, in large part took shape because of the University of Texas (UT), founded in 1883. All those longhorn tattoos and car-window stickers you see? Those are Bevo, the mascot: ‘Hook ’em horns!’ In the 1960s and ’70s, local beer joints launched the likes of rock diva Janis Joplin and cosmic cowboy Willie Nelson; a league of performers carry on the tradition today.
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You’ll see it on bumper stickers throughout the city: ‘Keep Austin Weird.’ And while old-timers grumble that Austin has lost its funky charm, the city has mostly managed to hang on to its laid-back vibe.
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Lonely Planet has produced this article for Cash Passport. All editorial views are those of Lonely Planet alone and reflect our policy of editorial independence and impartiality...
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Austin destination guides
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