Austin has become the hottest destination in the U.S. over the past few years, from tourists looking for the good barbecue to tech bros looking for somewhere cheaper and hipper after their first SXSW. In 2021, Austin was named the fastest-growing major metro in the U.S., gaining an average of 184 new residents per day. That’s a lot of new Austinites.
But despite the influx of Californians or the ever-changing skyline, Austin still holds strong to some quirks, traditions, and oddities. Here are some things to know if you’re visiting or just moved here.
1. We don’t pronounce street names correctly.
Guadalupe is “Guad-a-loop.” San Jacinto is “San Jack.” Burnet is “Burn-it.” Manchaca is “Man-shack” or “Man-chack,” depending on your persuasion. You’ll get it eventually. Maybe just don’t say any street name out loud for a while until you hear an Austinite confirm the right-wrong way to say it. “Loop 1” is also actually “MoPac” after the Missouri Pacific Railroad. You won’t see any signs calling it “MoPac,” but trust us. Also, no one says “SoCo.”
2. Lady Bird Lake is not a lake.
It’s actually a dammed section of the Colorado River and forms a border of downtown. It’s also a point where traffic tends to be really bad. Austinites don’t like to cross the river into the other side of town if they can avoid it. (Also: Old Austinites still call it Town Lake. It was renamed in honor of Lady Bird Johnson in 2007.)
3. There are a lot of Moodys.
Moody Theater. Moody College of Communication. Moody Amphitheater, Moody Center. All were beneficiaries of the Moody Foundation in Galveston, which funds a variety of projects and programs across the state. Just make sure you put the right one in Google Maps, lest you end up at Moody Theater looking for the Longhorn basketball game.
4. Speaking of Lady Bird Lake, no, you can’t swim in it.
Yes, it may look nice and refreshing during those 100-degree days, but Lady Bird Lake is only for boating, paddleboarding, and kayaking. Swimming, wading, and bathing were all banned in 1964 after two children drowned. Now, it’s a Class C misdemeanor and can result in a $500 fine if you’re caught swimming in Lady Bird Lake.
5. Austin only has one major professional sports team.
Austin’s first pro sports team, Austin FC, was only founded in 2018 and had its inaugural season in 2021. The city was often counted out for pro sports markets since everyone bleeds burnt orange in Austin. Make no mistake: You better be a Longhorns supporter here.
6. Dogs are everywhere.
Austin is a very dog-friendly city, and most patios, outdoor bars, and parks are welcoming to furry friends. Be sure to double-check before bringing them, of course, but Austinites love their dogs.
7. It’s hot.
Last spring, I read an article where a recent transplant said they had moved to Austin to live somewhere their family could go outside year-round, and all I could think was that they had never visited during the summer. Guys: It’s really hot from May to October. Don’t plan on big long hikes or any outdoor activity that doesn’t involve a body of water and a cold beverage.
8. Austin is pretty casual.
The city still holds onto its slacker vibe, no matter how many Silicon Valley alumni make their way here. People here don’t like to wear ties. Even at our nicest restaurants, it’s not uncommon to see jeans and a casual blazer instead of a full suit.
9. Austin City Limits can refer to three things.
It’s either a.) the long-running live music program produced by Austin PBS that has featured plenty of legends; b.) the annual music festival that spans two weekends in the fall; or c.) the actual city limits.
10. Everyone has one beloved restaurant or bar that has since closed.
It’s usually the place that we started going to the first couple of years we called Austin home, and it’s likely since been replaced by monstrous high rises or got driven out by high rent and became some chain restaurant. For example, I had many late-night gyros at the West Campus Kismet Cafe, and I’m still heartbroken over when it moved near the H-E-B on Red River.
11. It was always cooler five years ago.
No matter when you got here, you already missed Austin’s golden days.
12. But it’s still a great place to be.
We’ve got sunny weather, plenty of margaritas, live music everywhere you look, friendly people, green space, swimming spots, a bustling downtown—even with all its quirks, we’re proud to call Austin home.