While planning a power-bonding group activity for my co-workers recently, I was struggling with the decidedly un-cool nature of the options. A pub on wheels? No thanks. A Segway tour? They’d never forgive me. Or trust falls? Oh God, no. I didn’t want to embarrass these people, I wanted to have a fun with them!
Thankfully, because of this very site, I came across Your Biker Gang, which bills itself as one of the funnest things to do in Austin. This company helps you create your own motorcycle gang, but subs in fat-tired electric minibikes for the motorcycles, which are so much safer and completely glee-inducing.
I can tell you now that when I surprised my beloved colleagues with this outing, I became, for that brief shining moment, the hero of our office. When we arrived at their headquarters in West Austin, our little gang of nine were outfitted with helmets and bandanas by our fearless leader and road captain, Cope. We also had what’s called a “sweeper,” a super nice guy who held up the tail end of the crew and kept us all very very safe.
After a quick tutorial and training on the bikes in a parking lot, we were out on the open road, with Cope blasting classic biker gang tunes from a giant speaker on his bike. I immediately wanted to buy one of these bikes and I still do. It’s a little intimidating at first, but once you learn to trust this speedy little machine and lean into your turns (top speed is 20 mph) you become one with the bike and basically feel like you can do anything. Anything! Like riding in Downtown Austin traffic.
As someone who has grown up in this city, and takes its beauty for granted on a daily basis, I can tell you that this is an amazing way to see Austin. As we biked over the pedestrian bridge on Lady Bird Lake, through Zilker Park, and along Waller Creek, I fell in love with this place all over again. The wind was blowing our hair back, people were looking at our crew with total envy, and Cope was doing stunts at the front like a badass. We were the happiest Hell’s Angels you ever did see.
If you need an activity to entertain a crew, whether they are family, friends, coworkers, or total strangers, Your Biker Gang will be a hit, I promise. They will customize the tour for your group so you can get history and trivia and see the big sights like murals, statues, the UT campus, and more. Or—if you are locals like us—you can just have a joyride and stop for tacos on the way. These bikes are easy to ride and the concept is as feel-good as it gets.
It’s time to jump on your electric hog and get lost for a while. Be a group-activity-planning hero for once. The road is calling!
Whether you’re an ATX transplant or born-and-raised, there are a few things everyone comes to know by heart: Tacos are acceptable for every meal, Austin is weird, and all your friends talk about moving here. But how well do you really know Austin when it comes to being healthy … or at least kind of healthy?
Don’t sweat it, yet—we’ve got you covered! Our friends at Fitt have narrowed down the options. Fitt’s healthyish guide to Austin is your go-to for grub you can feel good about eating, sweat spots that’ll actually make you want to workout, and the best local spots to hang out with your crew. Now, the hard task of choosing (or trying them all) is all yours!
Flower Child Put up your peace fingers. Flower Child has proven itself as hotspot for salads, soups, mix-and-match bowls, and wraps of the truly healthy variety. Head to their digs in The Domain or downtown on 2nd St. on a day when you don’t have to do anything but enjoy the sunny patio and your Mother Earth Bowl. Like any healthy eatery, the dishes here are highly customizable, so you can order exactly what your inner flower child is craving.
Café No Sé Head over to South Congress to snack at Café No Sé. It occupies the amazing South Congress Hotel and serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner creations to die for. This all-day cafe offers innovative takes on healthy dishes with the freshest ingredients. Think quinoa bowls, tuna poke, kale salads, and more. The vibe is great, too — you know, the kind you can’t help but Instagram … so have those phones close by.
Picnik Picnik fits the bill if you’re looking for clean eating. Priding themselves on real food, Picnik serves up dishes like the Southwest Hash in the AM and Eggplant Rollatini for PM. Plus, count on lots of Butter Coffees (they’re the butter coffee connoisseurs around here), or go for one of their delicious heathyish cocktails. At either location, you can find lots of real (and local) foods free of any gluten, corn, peanut, or soy products.
Black Swan Yoga Whether you live north, south, or somewhere in between, Black Swan Yoga has a studio nearby. But beyond being super convenient, all of its locations offer fun, donation-based classes with an upbeat soundtrack and funky-fresh lighting. Instructors here are encouraged to express themselves in their practice—no class is the same! Their Power Yoga sessions are a community favorite, but you’ll want to have a bit of beginner experience under your belt before you check ’em out.
MADabolic This is a gym as much as it’s a movement in South Austin—and they make the word “boutique” a little less cutesy. Workouts are uniquely planned, interval-driven, and involve a combination of strength and endurance training. Each week, you can expect to experience three kinds of workouts: momentum, anaerobic, and durability (MAD). Not to worry though—intensity is tailored to your needs and all levels of fitness are welcome.
Onnit Academy Gym Onnit Academy Gym is the real deal. The trainers here focus on technique and advanced methodologies that deliver crazy results and peak performance (though, they cater to aspiring athletes, too). You’ll get an in-depth understanding of the fundamentals from trainers who really know their shit. Head over to this South Austin gym if you’re ready for ropes, kettlebells, weighted maces, sprints, and one heck of a post-workout protein shake!
Zilker Park Ah, Zilker. The crown jewel of the Austin parks system. A large expanse of grass crawling with pick-up soccer games, cute dogs, picnics, and people reading books under trees. Zilker also hosts some of Austin’s most famous festivals throughout the year: Austin City Limits, Kite Festival, Trail of Lights, Zilker Relays, and Blues on the Green. This place truly is an outdoor oasis.
Barton Springs If escaping the heat is your main goal, Barton Springs Pool is the best place to do it. The water is spring-fed and sustains a chilly 68 degrees year round. Wade in the deep end, take a jump off the diving board, or spend your afternoon people-watching. Bonus: You don’t need to pay an entrance fee to enjoy the best of Barton Springs. The greenbelt is free, and along the hiking path you can find Gus Fruh and Twin Falls—two great places to take a relaxing dip or throw yourself off a rope swing.
Lady Bird Lake Trail Austin’s beloved (and convenient) Lady Bird Lake Trail is a 10-mile loop with a number of access points. With entry at Downtown, Zilker, and Butler Park, it feels like a natural refuge right in the heart of the city. Dogs, joggers, walkers, and strollers populate this busy route, enjoying skyline views and access to the river. There are also stops along the way to rent paddleboards and kayaks if you’re looking to cool off from the Texas heat.
Easy Tiger A bake shop AND a beer garden—say no more. Easy Tiger on East 6th gives you the best of both worlds with delicious brews, pastries, pretzels, and the list goes on. And if you thought this spot couldn’t get any better, think again. Easy Tiger has a killer outdoor patio that’s the perfect place for a laid-back hang sesh or an epic ping pong battle with friends. In Cedar Park and craving one of Easy Tiger’s house-made sweets? Stop by their outpost in Whole Foods Market 365 for a quick fix.
Bangers How do you say no to house-made sausage, craft beer, Big Band Brunch, Smoke Out Saturday, and an off-leash dog park? At Banger’s Sausage House on 79 & 81 Rainey Street, you’re always in for some good, old-fashioned fun, quality food, and Texas-sized hospitality. And with an outdoor patio that’s second to none, you’re going to have to be convinced to leave once it’s time to close shop.
Yard Bar All the convenience of your backyard but with local beer and spirits on deck, kick back at Yard Bar on Burnet Road. to unwind. Oh, and we should mention that they have an off-leash dog park, complete with “bark rangers” to pet-sit your pooch while you wolf down hush puppies, burgers, and charcuterie boards with your friends. Don’t want to let your dog do all the socializing? Take a shady seat in the yard with your beer and forget you have a care in the world.
On a drizzly Saturday morning in January, after leaving the loving embrace of Lazarus Brewing Co. on East 6th Street, our guide Adam told the origin story of the food tour we had just set off on. It goes something like this: On a trip out to Los Angeles, the founders Lindsey and Andy had signed up for a culinary tour of the city. After three hours of walking around, they were still hungry and had no buzz to speak of. Well this isn’t good, they thought to themselves. Surely,we can do better!
And do better they did, by starting Austin Eats Food Tours in January 2011 and ensuring that people who put down their hard-earned money for a tour of Austin’s finest food and booze offerings would leave with full bellies, and full hearts. “We love the Austin vibe—live music every night of the week and local restaurants that take as much pride in their unique décor as their original recipes,” Andy says. “We wanted to develop a vehicle that highlights local Texas born establishments throughout the city.”
Seven years in and many many tours later, the couple has perfected the art of touring Austin like a local—so much so that roughly 65 percent of their guests are actually from here. My husband and I are old townies who grew up in Austin and have watched in awe as it’s changed and morphed over the years. The Brunch, BBQ, and Brewery Tour was the perfect way us to check out a bunch of new spots in one go, and observe the ever-changing eastside like a couple of anthropologists.
We were instructed to come hungry, and by the time we met Adam and our new friends at Lazarus Brewing Co., we were starving. Adam—like an angel sent from above—pointed out a long table reserved for our crew and said that orders of breakfast tacos (little, adorable tacos) were already on their way. We immediately loved and trusted Adam. “This is not just a food tour,” he told us, “it’s a support group.” A flight of beer followed, and we got to know our new posse. What struck me right away was how subtle and non-touristy this felt. We just looked like a crew of people who were chatty and friendly. There was nothing about the format of the tour that shouted TOURISTS. Basically, a passing observer would have probably thought we were friends of the owner who were getting some extra TLC.
What followed were brisket kolaches at the Kerlin BBQ trailer where Adam ran across the street to get us a 12 pack of Shiner (again, the man is an angel), chicken and waffles and cactus pear mimosas at The Hightower, and crazy-good gelato at Gemelli. I got the lemon curd and it tasted like the best cheesecake of my life. The tour ended at Zilker Brewing Company, where we tasted more great local beer, and hung around like people with nothing to do but enjoy our city for a few hours. It was sublime.
Along the way Adam pointed out more of his favorite spots in the area and had menu recommendations for each. He was funny, informative, and chill—a guide/friend hybrid that made the tour a total pleasure. The mechanics of the tour were seamless. Everything was paid for, timed beautifully, and thoughtfully put together. They are pumping money into the Austin economy by showing off burgeoning local businesses that are doing something different.
If it’s been a while since you tried some new food in Austin, or you are checking out the city over a short period of time, try an Austin Eats Food Tour. It’s the best way I can think of to get a real taste of Austin—and leave completely satisfied.
Everything’s better with hot dogs, right? And we didn’t think these two movies could get any better. Get ready to enjoy a winter of your favorite 80s flicks and free hotdogs on Kitty Cohen’s patio! They have heaters and chimineas so don’t let the weather keep you away! Tonight it’s a classic double feature with The Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.
🎬 7 p.m.: The Breakfast Club
📽 9 p.m.: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
🌭 Free hot dogs!
Austin, the monumental last work by renowned American artist Ellsworth Kelly is finally complete and open to the public. The building is now a cornerstone work of art in the Blanton Museum’s permanent collection.The museum is closed on Mondays but you can still walk around and take in the gorgeous exterior or make plans to tour this week. Share your experience by using #KellyAtTheBlanton.
Blanton Museum of Art
200 East Martin Luther King Jr Blvd
Austin, TX 78701
If you’re in the mood for some spontaneous Austin magic, don’t miss the latest pop-up dinner and concert from Foster ATX, a company that creates singular social experiences around town. Each gathering has a theme and the chefs, artists, space and rotate. This next one is all about wood.
no. I — woodis a three-night event happening at Tillery Place that includes a concert and two dinner seatings. Come hang around the campfire with friends and break bread at a communal table—where dinner was prepped over open flames just moments before. You can choose to join for supper, songs, or both! They’re all about the unconventional, and providing a space for both emerging and well-known talent to share their craft, all while bringing the community together in an authentic way.
Here’s the whole rundown so you can plan ahead and get your tickets …
Song: A stripped-back bluegrass jam around a campfire
When: Thursday, February 22nd
Time: 8:00 – 10:30 p.m.
Featured musicians: Invoke, The Troll Smashers, and Tony Kamel of Wood & Wire
Drinks: Nine Banded Whiskey cocktails and Austin Winery wine
Bites: s’mores and appetizers from the Foreign & Domestic team
Supper: An open-kitchen dining experience with Chefs Sarah Heard and Nathan Lemley of Foreign & Domestic
Has there ever been a town with as much love for animals as Austin has to give? We think not. Our rescue pets are family and we celebrate them at every opportunity. That’s why, of course, Austinites will finally get to celebrate Mardi Gras with their furry best friends, because Mardi Paws, the city’s first-ever dog Mardi Gras parade is upon us. Sponsored by the animal lovers at Grocery Pup, a company making insanely fresh and natural dog food right here in Austin, this parade is basically guaranteed to make you happy.
So what goes into a dog Mardi Gras parade, you might ask? Well everything. Just like the human version in NOLA, they’ll have a king, queen, and royal court who parade in little floats that are made from wagons. People and dogs in the parade will throw treats and beads to the crowd.
The theme for this inaugural year is “Saturday Bark Fever.” All floats will be disco-themed and attendees (of every species) are encouraged to dress like John Travolta walking into Studio 54.
Our king for the day will be Sebastian, who was rescued by Cutie PITooties and was fostered by Krista Allenby, owner of Ruff Adventures Dog Photography, at the end of September. When she first got Sebastian, he had severe mange and a skin infection. After just one month, he made a full recovery and was officially adopted by Krista. To celebrate his recovery and finding a new home filled with love, Sebastian has been crowned the King of Mardi Paws! Half of all proceeds from Mardi Paws will go to Cutie PITooties so they can rescue more pups like him.
Our original queen, Lil’ Kim, was rescued by Austin Dog Rescue in November from a shelter in Lockhart, and after multiple surgeries, she was close to being ready to be adopted. After appearing to be on the road to recovery, she developed a type of neurological disorder about a week ago, and her condition steadily worsened despite several visits to her veterinarian and the emergency room. With her passing on January 21, her furry foster brother and fellow Austin Dog Rescue pup, Kaxan, will ride in her honor as the Duke of Mardi Paws
All funds raised for Mardi Paws will be split 50/50 among the two organizations that rescued the king, queen and duke. Come out and have the time of your life for an incredibly worthy cause.
When: Saturday, February 10th
Time: 2 -6 p.m.
Lustre Pearl East
Can’t make it? Click here to donate to the cause and help spread the word on your social media pages.
We may not have that much of a winter in Austin, but we can party like they do Aspen. Every Tuesday in December, January, and February the San José is celebrating the Texas Winter Après Ski style. Enjoy ’80s tunes and wintery food and beverage specials. Après Ski outfits are totally encouraged but definitely not required.
When: Today, December 26th
Time: 5:00 p.m.
Hotel San José
1316 S Congress Ave.
Austin, Texas 78704
The little elves at The Westin have erected a life-size gingerbread house in the hotel’s lobby! Take the kids and check out the sweetest new addition to Downtown Austin. And this isn’t just a photo op—you can eat inside the house! The house is available for lunch and dinner reservations at Stella San Jac and seats seven people. Just don’t eat the walls while you’re in there.
The Westin is donating 10% of all food and beverages sales from the gingerbread reservations to Back on My Feet Austin. This must-see attraction is made of real gingerbread and candy and will be on display for the entire month of December.
This space can be reserved in advance by contacting Kelsey Hart.
The Westin Austin Downtown
310 East 5th Street.
Austin, TX, 78701
As part of Hotel Van Zandt’s 12 Days of Christmas celebration, they’re creating an adorable holiday photo op for your pup—a picture with Santa Paws! So dress your little guy in his favorite Christmas sweater and head down to the Rainey Street District to make some memories. From now until December 14, there are all kinds of free events happening at the hotel, in what they call, “The Living Room.” It’s basically every great holiday activity packed into one place. Plus, each night there will be a roaring fire, vinyl holiday records playing in the background, a hot toddy bar, and light snacks for purchase.