Austin is more than just breakfast tacos, brewery’s, trail running, and live music. I’ve found a lot of new (to me) activities lately, such as indoor bouldering and jewelry making with metals and couldn’t feel more empowered and excited about gaining new skills! I’ve felt a rush flying off the walls of ABP, a new respect for handcrafts, and proven wrong about Austin comedy. See below!
- Austin Bouldering Project – This is my absolute favorite discovery, yet not new at all. I’ve been reading about bouldering in GQ the past year and this gym which started as one of the largest in the country is one of the most freeing and exhilarating experience. Who knew your physical strength (with a mix of adrenaline and holding on for dear life) could lead your body up these walls WITHOUT A BELAY OR ROPE? Pulling yourself all the way up to the top, then backing down and jumping off the wall on to the soft pillowy floor is one of the most rewarding experiences. Thanks to my friend Lily Steckel who designed the space and handled all interiors for showing me the way! Day passes are $16 and memberships are $68.
- Paddle Boarding – At $15 an hour during weekdays and $20 an hour Friday- Sunday, this is a great way to be on the river inside Town Lake and see the views from a new perspective. I think an hour is just enough time as well if you are trying to decide. As an avid walker/runner around the 4 mile loop, it’s so nice to be on the inside looking out for a change and get some sun!
- Barton Springs – When it’s 100 degrees out, the only way to survive is alternating between laying on the gorgeous lawn and dipping into the 70 degree year round pool which is 3 acres. Beware closed every Thursday for cleaning.
- Knock Out – Book a bag with Jennie for a tough kick boxing work out.
- Crux Climbing – While this may be another bouldering gym (with ropes), I actually go here for the Fitness classes that are Crossfit style WOD’s. I go to Tony’s class and it’s a steal at $75 a month. The gym is located on South Congress right where Cosmic Cafe and Leroy & Lewis are housed so you can spend a whole afternoon here.
- Nina Berenato Jewelry Making Class– I love finding a new ring or pair of earrings at a flea market or new designer online as much as I love finding a new restaurant. Making my own earrings was quite the challenge and something I never knew I would have the opportunity to do thanks to Nina Berenato’s metal working earring class. However, I will say this was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done! We first drew our own designs, chose metals, and then began sawing through the gold and silver before we finished with a flame melting on the back posts. Of course, I chose the hardest shapes to cut and I will admit it was definitely harder on my arms than a day of weight lifting. The class was only $60 and she also has Perfume Making, Leather Coasters, and Clay Masks coming up!
- Eliana Bernard Marble Workshops– You’ll see Eliana’s ceramic work around town in restaurants, stores, and boutiques. It’s that memorable white with black or colorful marble swirls riding throughout and even some gold outlines. She also teaches her own classes where you can make a Jewelry Dish.
- The Contemporary Austin (while I’ve never been) has all kinds of classes from Oil Painting, Botanical Illustration, Claymation, Mosaics, Woodworking, etc. These classes usually meet once a week at the same time for 3 hours for a couple months.
- The Blanton Museum – The permanent collection upstairs as several artists I’m not familiar with which makes a visit here educational and memorable. The Ellsworth Kelly exhibition right on the campus is just as beautiful on the outside as it is when the lighting changes on the inside. I also love how when you walk out you see The Capitol straight on. Lucky for you admission is free every Thursday!
- Zilker Botanical Gardens – Zilker Park floods with people year round playing frisbee, soccer, ACL, and Blues on the Green. Most people skip out on the Botanical Gardens right there. You’ll see serene grounds and enjoy a nice walk around the grounds. Also, the Austin Cactus and Succulent Society Fall Show & Sale usually runs in September and this selection of plants and pots is super impressive!
- Foster ATX – If you’re looking for something more experiential than a night out to dinner or a concert, these three Georgia girls who founded this intimate monthly pop-up series has you in for a treat each time. I love that you never know exactly what you are stepping into (yes, there have been real snakes, a whiskey speakeasy within an event, and magicians). Adventurous people, local chefs and musicians fill the walls at these parties which are always hosted at different spaces around town. They also have a great email newsletter with other fun things going on around town!
- Chef Vanessa Musi – I’m all about desserts, and when made with more cautious and gut friendly ingredients, I’m all ears. I don’t discriminate. I love all vegan, paleo, gluten-free treats, and Chef Vanessa who is from Mexico City offers friendly classes in her home regularly. To see her incredible pantry is worth it all in its own! I took the vegan class and we broke up into 4 teams which allowed us each to make our own recipes yet have quadruple the results to take home with us! My favorite was the Rhubarb Muffins and Chocolatey Brownies as they were more moist and gooey than any dairy or gluten-ful ones I’ve had. She teaches you how to use real ingredients to make great desserts! See some recipes here.
- Cap City Comedy Club – Head up north to see A- list comedians like the Sklar Brothers. The best part is there is no bad seat in the house as they are all facing forward. It’s a large enough space that has you feeling close to the stage and all ears.
- ColdTowne Theater – One of my favorite places to take visitors in NYC was Upright Citizens Brigade. That place has everyone laughing. Walking into the tiny improv theater on Airport Blvd. in Austin that is so small it’s even BYOB, I told myself I had to be open-minded. However, I didn’t have to because I laughed out loud all night and felt a little twinkle inside knowing I could still find comedy in a smaller city!