I travelled to Texas 39 days ago and for the past 39 days, Texas is all I can think about. Country music, double denim, cowboy boots, and tacos dance across my mind daily. I’m obsessed.
My mom and I visited Texas over president’s day weekend to tour colleges. Prior to visiting, I expected Austin and Dallas to fit the “Texas Stereotype” but to my surprise, neither city was as “Texas” as I expected. We spent the majority of our time in Austin, hardly scraped the surface of Dallas, and spent just a few hours in Fort Worth (which felt more “Texas-y”).
I absolutely loved Austin. It is classically Western yet current and laid back. The city radiates vibrant energy and the music scene is unmatched. Our favorite pockets of the city were South Congress Street and 6th Street. South Congress consists of amazing artists on every corner, funky shops, and delicious food. 6th Street is a string of bars, each with better live music than the next. Most of our days started on South Congress to eat and shop and ended on 6th street with my mom sneaking me into a bar to listen to local performers.
The bouncers in Austin are strict—even when you’re with your mom—but considering my age and lack of ID, we got extremely lucky with the spots we ended up in. We spent our first evening in a small country bar with an amazing band that quickly attracted a crowd and became standing room only. The next night, we attempted to subtly slip in to an Irish bar to hear one song by a traditional band but stayed after the drunk band manager yelled “buy a drink or get the fuck out!” On our third night, we ended up in my favorite spot, a piano bar with anincredible pianist and drummer. The duo could play anything form Toby Keith to the Bee Gees to Billy Joel without missing a beat.
What was supposed to be a college tour quickly turned into a food tour. Prior to experiencing authentic Tex-Mex, Tacos and queso were not an essential part of my regimen but shortly after landing in Austin, we ate our first Tex-Mex meal in the courtyard of a restaurant called Guerros and now I’m hooked. Next, we enjoyed, possibly, the best milkshake ever at Amy’s Ice Cream (and came back a few times). Each morning, we kick started our day with coffee at Jo’s, a local favorite for many reasons. Our other favorites included incredible barbeque at Heim in Fort Worth and crave-worthy breakfast tacos at Juan in a Million.
Not only were the music and food unbelievable, I was also surprised and impressed by the shopping and style in Austin. Most of our shopping was done on South Congress which offered western, vintage, and eclectic concept stores. We loved poking around in Feathers, Kick Pleat, and Allen’s Boots.
As for the schools, I loved UT and TCU, and liked SMU. Much of the UT campus was under construction but I loved the size, the spirit of the school, and the proximity to the rest of Austin. TCU was charming with yellow brick, brand new facilities, and a cute college town. The SMU campus was beautiful but the school is not what I am looking for.
My first time to Texas exceeded all expectations. I hope to visit Austin again for Austin City Limits, experience Dallas a little more, and drive through Marfa to check out the Prada store on the side of the highway. For now, I’ll keep dreaming of the day I go to school in Texas or live in Austin…