by Diane Johnson
on Wednesday, March 28th, 2018 at 12:51pm.
When outsiders think about Texas, they often picture cowboy boots, ten-gallon hats, and good, old-fashioned country music. But in reality, it’s so much more than that. This is especially the case in Austin, which is often considered a mecca for everything hip and cool. With diverse neighborhoods, unique residents, and some of the best food in the country, there’s a lot that many people don’t know or get wrong about Austin.
Here are 10 things you didn’t know about Austin:
1 - It was One of the First Places with a Thriving Food Truck Scene
We all love food trucks these days, but Austin had one of the first food truck scenes starting in the early 90s. Today, there is almost 2,000 food trucks throughout the city.
2 - It’s Home to Many Celebrities
Austin’s “cool factor” is upped by the fact that many celebrities call it home. Ryan Gosling, Matthew McConaughey, Robert Plant, and Sandra Bullock are among the A-list stars that have lived in Austin at one point.
3 - Residents Love Sports – But there’s No Pro Sports Team
Although Austin residents love cheering on the University of Texas, it remains the largest city without a pro sports team.
4 - It’s the Birthplace of Whole Foods
Today, everyone loves the high-end health food chain, Whole Foods. Did you know that Whole Foods actually began in Austin in 1978? Originally it was called “SaferWay” and then two years later in 1980, the Whole Foods Market we know and love was born!
5 - We have the Largest Urban Bat Population
This fact might not be for the people who get squeamish about bats, but it’s true! Every summer approximately 1.5 million bats can be found underneath the Congress Ave. Bridge. At night, they fly out and feat on hundreds of thousands of pounds of bugs!
6 - There’s an Overwhelming Amount of Music History Here
Austin is known for its live music venues and incredible festivals, but it’s also a place that’s completely chock full of music history. For example, there’s the Armadillo World Headquarters venue, where AC/DC played their first US show and Frank Zappa used to record. There’s also Victory Grill where legends like Chuck Berry, Tina Turner, and James Brown would play, and Threadgills, which is famous for giving a young Janis Joplin her start.
7 - Speaking of Festivals, Austin has a Lot
With a slogan like “Keep Austin Weird,” you can expect a lot of unique and interesting festivals and gatherings. In addition to huge national attractions like Austin City Limits and SXSW, the city also hosts events for things like Eeyore’s Birthday Party and the O. Henry Pun-Off World Championship
8 - Tech Giants are Here to Stay
You may think Silicon Valley is the only place in the country with an abundance of tech companies, but you would be wrong. Austin is quickly becoming a popular place for tech giants like IBM, Dell, Texas Instruments, and Apple. These businesses are also helping make Austin one of the fastest-growing cities in the country.
9 – Austin has the Only Nude Beach in Texas
While the rest of Texas is pretty conservative, there’s no denying the free-spirited nature of Austin. This is decidedly true when you consider that the only nude beach in Texas is located in Austin. Nestled on Lake Travis, Hippie Hollow is the only clothing optional beach in the entire state.
10 – It’s a Popular Spot for Filming Movies
Thanks to the amazing weather (bonus fact: Austin is also the sunniest city in the US), Austin is also home to a thriving film industry. A ton of movies have been filmed here over the years including Kill Bill, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, Dazed and Confused, Miss Congeniality, Office Space, Spy Kids, and more!
With its quirky diversity, active and artistic residents, and local food and arts scene, Austin is one of the most diverse and interesting cities around. By no means is this a comprehensive look at the great things that make Austin “weird” but you’re able to see just how special and unique the city is.
Talk to anyone on the street and they’ll be able to tell you their own version of Austin history and lore, and the fascinating people that call Austin home will continually surprise you.