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Keep Austin Weird

My first clue that Austin, Texas was a different kind of place was arriving at the airport and seeing a colorful accumulation of guitars decorating the baggage claim area.  Creative and lively, they mixed with a motley assortment of Christmas decor. Seemed to be just “plunked there.”

On the edge of the Hill Country, Austin prides itself on being quirky and a little crazy.  And it is. Filled with “Austinacious” folks, it clings to eccentricity, religiously believing in the  unofficial motto: Keep Austin Weird.

The friends who invited us to visit their adopted city took us immediately to Guero’s, an eclectic eatery on South Congress, where it appeared that all of Austin convenes to drink beer and to enjoy true Mexican food and see and be seen.  Word is that Laura Bush likes to come here when she is in town.

I can see why.  The food is good…..make that great……and you can wear whatever you please as long as you include a  heavy dose of bling.


If you happened to have forgotten your boots, you can visit a massive emporium of all things cowboy–boots, hats, belts, shirts, you name it, just down the block.  I can’t imagine wearing this stuff back in Michigan but it all looked so good and fun, I was tempted to scoop up a shopping bag full.   Reason prevailed.

The area called SoCo for South Congress is chockoblock full of other shopping opportunities.  We meandered in and out having a wonderful time.  The stores in this newly gentrified area seem to have their own spirit…….heavy on large globs of colorful paint and whimsy.  Deliberately weird.  Each store trying to outdo the one next door on the weirdness scale mostly with a flea market aesthetic.

We were tempted…..and who wouldn’t be?  Have you ever bought a cupcake at an Air Stream? These shiny  blasts from the past are all over town, reinvented as food carts. Made me smile.

And so did this!  Texas French Bread? What do you suppose that is? I’m sure some of our snobby friends in Paris would shake their heads at this one.

All in all, I  loved Austin.  Toured a bit around the campus, oogled the 6th Street music venues,  drove over the bridge that in the warmer season houses  thousands of bats.  I learned that one of the “must do” things in Austin is to take a sunset cruise (enjoying a sundowner, I’m sure) when the more than a million Mexican bats  take off for their night time haunts to scavenge for insects.  Can’t quite visualize this so I gotta go back.

Tracking the bats is such a popular activity that there’s a bat hot line at 512-416-5700, ext. 3636.

What did I like about Austin?   It’s spirit.  The people we met.  The creativity.  The green space.  I can see why the folks who live there want to “keep it weird.”

Post Author
Susan J. Smith
Susan's career includes writing for newspapers, lots of community work and a wonderful family life. Now she is enjoying traveling, photography and writing for DesignDestinations and Grand Rapids Magazine. She welcomes you on her journey and appreciates your comments.


  1. posted by
    Melanie Rogers
    Jan 7, 2010 Reply

    SO fun to see the pictures of things we touched upon yesterday. Thanks for sharing.

  2. posted by
    Georgia Gietzen
    Jan 8, 2010 Reply

    Ah ha!!! Airstream food carts . . . hmmmm. Grand River Grocery will be launching a hot dog cart this spring . . . next up . . . airstream creperie!!! What fun.

  3. posted by
    Five Reasons to Love Annapolis | DesignDestinations
    Oct 29, 2013 Reply

    […] Reason 5:   And lastly, I love a place with “weird” stuff the Parking Meter re-purposed as a receptacle for depositing spare change for the Homeless.  Is it real?   The funny face poster in the window.  Makes me think of the kind of thing you’d see in Austin, Texas whose motto is “Keep Austin Weird. “  […]

  4. posted by
    Hill Country Highlights | DesignDestinations
    Jan 18, 2016 Reply

    […] Keep Austin Weird   […]

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