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Over the last three years, a small vortex has appeared in Austin, steadily swirling away my closest NY friends one by one. It started w my adventuretime, ray of sunshine, cinematographer bestie and ended with.. I don't think it has ended yet. I'm slated to lose another one by the end of the year! After three years of copious pictures of natural swimming holes and taco trucks on every corner, I finally booked my ticket to visit. Carefully avoiding music fest pandemonium times, I spent the last week in this sunshine-on-full-blast treasure town of Austin, TX.

Not that Austin needs anyone to pay it another lick of lip service, with a population surging from 790,000 in 2010 possibly reaching 3.2 MILLION by 2030. They certainly aren't canvassing for new residents. Or are they? With the range of outdoor activities, abundant food and drinking holes and World's Friendliest Every Person I Met, they certainly aren't discouraging new fans. Here are a couple of highlights from the trip (and reasons I am draaaaaaging my feet on heading back to New York, which, did I mention, spent the week w 40 degree temps and rain?!):

Deep Eddy

OUTDOOR SWIMMING HOLES Despite the assurance of my friends that I would love Austin, I couldn't imagine how an ocean-loving being such as myself could possibly score enough water time to love a landlocked city. Boy was I wrong. Austin has been sweating for decades, and as a result, has built an unsurpassable variety of spring fed (read: ice cold) swimming spots. From Deep Eddy's lap lanes to Hamilton Pool's hike/swim combo to Pedernales Falls' secret cliff jumping lagoon, there are spots both in and out of town to work up a sweat and cool off in a hurry. ATX SUP (Stand Up Paddleboarding) on Town Lake $15 for an hour of unabated suntanning con body-toning paddling? Why not throw in some crystal clear water just to show off? Got it, Austin.

Pedernales Falls
Friends and Neighbors

VINTAGE SHOPPING One of the reasons I don't dig shopping in NY is the reason for so many things I avoid in NY: shit's expensive! Not to whine, but the thrift stores have been picked over by the smartest vintage boutique owners and the resale stores overfloweth with H&M castoffs and Forever21 regrets. In Austin, vintage is still the happy game I remember from my youth. Want to pair some flowy pair of pants w tribal waistband w a vintage So What of California Hawaiian print mumu top? That'll be $25, please. No no no, thank YOU! Why do they even make new clothes anymore with gems like these floating around?? Some of my favorite places we stopped were: Austin Vintage Clothing (aka Flashback Vintage)

Feathers Prototype Vintage Friends and Neighbors (pictured) Sunroom at the South Congress Hotel (Note: this one is not vintage or affordable, but I am absolutely smitten with the brands and styles offered there. Pleeease stop by for a drool.) DRINKIES AND NIBBLES Nothing like coming off a four-day illness to make going out to eat and drink all week sound like a week-long birthday celebration. Throw in a huge, evolving group of friends and friends of friends and you have a real party. Next best part of Austin? There are so many fabulous places happening simultaneously, you stand a chance at going to one and actually getting to sit down to enjoy within twenty minutes of arriving! Even on a weekend! My buddies did a monumental job of curating our libations and edibles. The top of the list included:

Elizabeth Street Cafe

Elizabeth Street for magnificent Vietnamese food and a great cocktail program (The Monaco was off the charts) Hotel San Jose for a twilight cocktail on their jungle patio South Congress Hotel for fancy drinks and stylish peeps to peep Weather Up, a more spacious step up from their speakeasy Brooklyn location w the same swoon worthy cocktails Perhaps all these places are eye-rollably obvious for the Austin experts in the crowd, but my newbie enthusiasm is not to be squelched. I am already dreading the extra layers of clothes I am about to suit up in to head back home. Not to mention saying goodbye to my unendingly kind and generous friend hosts and a handful of other darling, dearest friends. If anyone has suggestions on how to switch back to the North without a heavy heart, send your ideas along. Lots of love until next time, Austin.

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