7 Reasons Austin Is Weirder Than You Think

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Written by: Cheryl Slayton | June 24

If visions of lassos, cowboy hats and steel harnesses come to mind when you hear the word Texas, spending one day in the Lone-Star capital will put your close-mindedness to shame.

The city somehow manages to keep its Texas roots alive, all the while doing everything (and we mean everything) it can to live up to its mission of “Keeping Austin Weird”. And we have to say, they’ve done a pretty darn’ good job.

 #1 Toy Joy

Yeah, yeah, you’re a grownup. You have a driver’s license, and I’m sure you can even vote too. But once you step foot into this toy heaven, you’ll be 12 again, ready to spend all afternoon playing Sonic the Hedgehog for hours on end while relying on your Ring Pop for nutritional support.

Toy Joy is the only “adult toy store” you don’t have to be embarrassed telling your friends you went to. From Felix the cat stuffed animals to Fraggle Rock figurines, life-size Yoda figurines and the Moustache of the Month Club; it’s the perfect place to find a souvenir from the ‘weirdest’ city in the U.S.

#2 Alamo Draft House

This is the only theater around that allows you to sit back, relax, and bust a gut as local comedians rip movies like “The Notebook” a new spiral-binder hole, Mystery Science Theater style.

You can laugh along as they make important observations, like how the main character Noah spent 7 years building a house (a.k.a. an ark) and spends a questionable amount of time in boats or on the water. Yet, birds always seem to be flying away from him, not towards him. Or, how Bella from Twilight looks suspiciously like Elron from Lord of the Rings.

Put those AMC theater tickets away and let Alamo Draft House give you a movie experience you will never forget (and jokes you can reuse every time you’re subjected to another Twilight replay)

For more information, go here.

#3 Eeyore’s Birthday Party

Eeyore’s Birthday Party, in Austin’s Pease Park, plays right into “keeping Austin weird” by creating the perfect space where men in speedos wearing head-to-toe body paint can blend right in with young co-eds in fairy costumes and Star Wars fans giving their Comic Con costumes a new lease on life.

Held on the last Saturday of April every year, it’s the only costume party where there are no rules and drum circles and potato sack racing go hand-in-hand. Anything (and I mean anything) goes at this crazy bash that was started over 50 years ago to honor the sad donkey from Winnie the Pooh who thought his friends had forgotten his birthday.

So, dust off your mama’s ugly Pancho, that Viking cap in the back of your closet, or your girlfriends fishnet stockings (Hey, we don’t judge) and come out to the park.

#4 Water-Bound Barbecue

This might be the weirdest city in the country, but it’s still Texas ya’ll! The rough-necked state wouldn’t be what it is today without it’s undying love for all things deep-fried and barbecue-sauce slathered. Of course, Austin put it’s own signature spin on the Lone Star state’s beloved food by giving it some “sea legs.”

Austinites love spending time on the water, so it’s no surprise the city created its very own “swim-up” barbecue bar on the lake to accommodate its lake-loving people.

Take a boat tour on Lake Travis. Then, grab some grub from the Amphibious Food Trailer that keeps the Texas spirit alive. For more info, go here. 

#5 One-of-a-Kind Resident List

Hey, what’s that sound? Is it a bird, a plane? Nope. It’s just Matthew McConaughey beating on his congo drums in his backyard.

There’s a whole slew of celebrities who call the Lone Star capitol home, like Elijah Wood, Willie Nelson, Ciara, Walter Cronkite, Renee Zellweger, Nelly, Sandra Bullock, Ethan Hawke and many more. I don’t know about you, but any place where laidback Willie and journalism icons can live in harmony is a place I want to be.

#6 Hippie Hollow Park

There’s no better way to escape the muy caliente (For you gringos out there — that’s Spanish for very hot) Texas heat than taking a dip in the waters of Hippie Hollow Park. Well, there might be one better way… taking that dip in your birthday suit.

Believe or not, this southern state has no laws specifically forbidding public nudity. But somehow, the clothing-optional policy is more openly embraced in Austin. We told you this city was weird, right?! Active nudists love to come this public swimming hole, au-natural. Local authorities prohibit anyone under 18 from entering. Everyone else can enjoy the water and don’t worry — we won’t look.

For more information, go here. 


#7 Congress Avenue Bridge Bats

Holy Cow, Batman! We must be in a jam, because your bat signal’s going off like crazy. Right now, 1.5 million Mexican free-tail bats are living underneath the Congress Avenue bridge in downtown Austin.

If you’re in the Texas city between Mid-march to November, you can catch the nocturnal creatures emerging from under the bridge just before sunset, as they fly out to look for food. Apparently the hot, dry August nights bring the highest numbers out to blanket the sky.

Nothing says “We’re keeping Austin weird” quite like a ceremony for bats.

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Cheryl Slayton

Cheryl has been challenging the status quo since she ditched her training wheels in 2nd Grade and hopped a fence after losing her ticket to the local fair. Eventually, she started pushing geographical boundaries (instead of legal ones) and made travel her best friend. While two-stepping her way through Texas, climbing a volcano in Antigua, Guatemala and teaching Arabian princesses in the Middle East, she made some amazingly adventurous and ragamuffin friends along the way, like a bossy Haitian, savvy South African, wild Canadian and an Indian-French-Canadian connoisseur of bags and wine. Now, she's happy to call Orlando home again (and try her best to stay on the right side of the law) as she puts pen to paper to share her stories with the Ambitious Crew. Find her on Twitter and Facebook.

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