Austin's comfort, diversity appeal to locals and visitors alike
March 17, 2010
Jordan Christian, Texas Media Relations
Austin is classified as a city, but it's much more than that -- Austin personifies a way of life.
With 300 days of sunshine a year, locals can enjoy Austin's many parks, trails, lakes and surrounding Hill Country. Barton Creek's Greenbelt provides 7.8 miles of hiking and biking just minutes from downtown, and its 68-degrees spring-fed pool attracts everyone from college co-eds to yoga students to its grassy banks every day of the year.
"Austin has all these outlets and nooks to explore. It's gorgeous," says pro tennis player and Austin transplant Andy Roddick. "I just love the vibe here. You have everything."
As host city for the first and second rounds of the 2010 NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament, Austin provides a comfortable and welcoming haven for fans and out-of-town guests. Outside adventure and calm appeals to locals and visitors alike.
Mount Bonell is one of the city's oldest attractions, and as the highest place within the city limits, it's a great place to have a picnic or just stop and enjoy the view. Austin is known for its signature catchphrase, "Keep Austin Weird," and, appropriately, one of its signature attractions is a colony of bats. Every evening around dusk, crowds gather along the Congress Avenue Bridge to watch as some of the 1.5 million bats emerge from their habitat underneath.
Home to more than 200 music venues and the prestigious Austin City Limits Music Festival, Austin has the reputation as the "Live Music Capital of the World." The ACL fest is a three-day event that annually attracts 130 bands and thousands of music lovers in the late summer. South by South West, a springtime festival for film, music and technology, is another city favorite, and brings in almost 20,000 visitors each March and has featured musical stars like Neil Young and Kanye West.
"I was completely blown away by the energy here, the creativity," says Hollywood star and recent Oscar nominee Sandra Bullock. "I was a little anxious that if everyone else in the (film) industry visited Austin, they'd want to move here, too."
Museums are scattered throughout the city, including the popular Bob Bullock Texas State History museum, which is across from The University of Texas campus and home to the IMAX theatre. Bass Concert Hall puts on many notable Broadway musicals, and Ballet Austin contributes to the city's creative feel.
Austin is known for its burgeoning culinary scene and wide variety of cuisines, but it's famous for some of the best BBQ and Tex-Mex in the region.
"Living here is such a great experience because of all the different things you can do," says UT point guard Ashleigh Fontenette. "The lake is right here, and all the eateries are fantastic. Nothing is far, everything is really close. And Barton Creek Mall is one of the best, because every store you can think of is right there."
Austin's unique appeal is spreading like its own contagious energy. Since 2000, the population has grown 27.8 percent, and has an overall metropolitan population of 1.5 million.
One thing the city doesn't have is a pro sports team, but the Texas Longhorns fill in just fine.
"Austin is different from a lot of places. Here, UT is it," Fontenette says. "We don't have a pro team, so the Longhorns are the team here in Austin. The people are nice and friendly, and always come support us."
So whether it's playing sports or watching them, creating art or buying it, Austin offers an outlet for anyone.
Seven-time Tour de France winner and world-wide philanthropist Lance Armstrong calls Austin the "best hometown in the world."
"I think it's the best place to be a citizen," Armstrong says." It's the best place to be a bike rider. It's the best place to raise your children."
And others agree -- U.S. News and World Report rated Austin as one of the best places to live in 2009.
"As a college coach, you're always thinking about helping young people grow and become," UT Women's Basketball coach Gail Goestenkors says. "I love that my players get the opportunity to spend this time in a community like Austin. It has such a diverse, yet close-knit feel. Whether it's just being outdoors, or being among the creativity and performing arts, there's always something to experience -- and learn. That's really what it's all about."