|Austin neighborhood map|
So instead of Sir Paul, let's all talk about the things that make Austin's suburbs super awesome!
Oh, sorry, I nodded off thinking about that.
Please refer to the official Austin neighborhood map posted above. For present purposes, the suburbs include the area outside the box bordered by Research, Ben White, MoPac and Airport Blvd. north of the Lake. Otherwise, IH-35 is the eastern border. That area marked as "Grindr" on the map used to be Murderville. Yeah, that was Austin's best place to score crack without references after 3 a.m. Not so much now, thanks to middle class whitey and his HGTV and his Home Depot home improvement ethic. That area now features the usual traces of white "civilization": coffee bars, wine bars, restaurants, renovated bungalows, charcuteries, and clubs that sell a beer for more than $10. Goodbye Murderville, hello Martha Stewart Living. Unsurprisingly, the lower income homeowner/burglar bar aficionado finds that element distasteful and has fled to other areas. Oh, and sometimes I have to go to Justine's or East Side Show Room, because of course I'm gonna go there, so I had to expand my operational perimeter.
The "suburbs" don't, however, include places requiring a day trip. Like Copperas Cove. Or Bee Cave. Otherwise, this post would be nothing but barbecue joints and hiking trails. This isn't a Hill Country Top 5, in other words.
I originally intended just to rag on the 'burbs, because they need it. I know you're all up there grooving in Round Rock and Pflugerville, or down in Onion Creek and Hays County, tripping on your Juicy Juices and driving your sweet minivans and spending half your life at or going back and forth to soccer and baseball tournaments. But Paradise comes at a cost. In our case, Williamson County actually has (at least until the last election) prosecutors who railroad you into the death penalty. Its ridiculously sanctimonious and excessive low-level crime prison sentences disproportionately take up scarce Texas prison space, forcing early release for career criminals and requiring other parts of the state to subsidize our 'burbs' Singaporian criminal views (how come yall haven't started caning defendants yet?). Speed traps. Olive Gardens and Applebee's at every corner. Toll roads as far as the eye can see. Whiteness. Pre-fab houses. Parking your near-monster truck in your driveway because you have to use your garage to store all your crap. Postage stamp sized yards. Malls. Strip centers. Tearing down every tree in sight. Judgmental head shaking at people who don't look like everyone else on your block. Family values.
Not that Austin proper doesn't have its many, many flaws. Far from it. Faaaarrrr from it. I've written about those a lot around here. In fact, so much so I thought it might only be fair to even the score a little.
But I decided instead to stay positive, as usual, and find the good amongst the rubble, as it were. Here's my Top 5 Super Awesome Things About the Austin Suburbs. Enjoy!
5. Arbor Theatre. It doesn't really have a web site. And its not really too far outside the box. But with the Dobie Theatre's demise, the Arbor is the best place to watch "indie" movies. No, not the Violet Crown, with its appalling douche factor. Plus, the Arbor has some history, and parking. No valets needed.
4. Nutty Brown Cafe. This is a pretty cool place to eat under shady oak trees and listen to some good music. There's usually a breeze, the huge back patio is fun, and the food...isn't awful. Actually, if you like Frito Pie, this is your place.
3. Hudson's on the Bend. What an incredible restaurant. Still the best place in the Austin area for game. It features a beautiful room and great service. Seems like I went there for New Year's Eve once. Can't for the life of me remember who with. If you know, please tell me. Anyway, its one of the few great restaurants dating back to those stone age days before I first came here for college. Today's menu includes such delights as venison sausage, lamb loin, pecan smoked duck breast with seared scallops, potato crusted redfish over oyster mushrooms...ok I must stop now. You get the picture. Delightful.
2. McKinney Roughs. About 20 minutes east of Austin on SH 71 one finds this amazing park, with incredible trails winding through native pine and oak forest, right along the Colorado River. I haven't been since the Bastrop fires of a few summers ago, and understand that the park has suffered some damage. But it remains open and no doubt still very enjoyable. For more fun, check out the Lost Pines Hyatt Resort next door. It features trail rides, a golf course, day spa and exercise room, huge pool and water slide area, great restaurants, nature and kid's programs, and every night they make smores at the big outdoor fire pit. Guests can use the McKinney Roughs park for free.
1. Lady Bird Johnson National Wildlife Research Center. Ok this is really the Jewel in the Crown. Located off Southwest Parkway, this University of Texas research center studies native wildflowers and other plant species. Its native style buildings contain really interesting displays, a cool to climb observation tower/rainfall collector, and the Center puts on all kinds of kid's activities. The Center's vast grounds come alive in colors throughout the spring as an explosion of wildflowers bloom throughout. Several easy trails allow you to get out and see them and other native species. Just really a great place to spend the afternoon.
Hon. Mention: Georgetown courthouse square, RM 2222, Spicewood Springs/St. Edward's Park.
So there you go! Lots of great things about the Austin suburbs.
NEXT-uh oh. Top 5 Things About Dating Younger Women. Excuse me while I get my kevlar vest and riot gear. I can already tell that trouble is brewing ahead, in the form of...uh...Not Younger Women readers.