The Caldwells have been Austin-ites for over two months now. Drivers licenses have been switched, Texas plates adorn both of our vehicles and all three of us have some form of burnt orange in our wardrobes. It’s obvious: we love it here and we’re staying.

So I’ve compiled a list of my Top Ten favorite things about Austin so far, and the one thing that I don’t like but have zero control over.

10. Swim lessons at Tom’s Dive & Swim. When I enrolled my little fish into swimming lessons, I had no idea how much fun she was going to have. Her teacher is so great, the class sizes are small and Lucy is no longer afraid to go underwater. Her ear-to-ear smile for all eight of the classes is worth its weight in gold.

9. My neighborhood. Friendly, diverse, easily navigable, centrally located with lots of restaurants nearby. A Red Box in walking distance is just an added bonus.

8. Pizza. In Reno, pizza was decent but nothing exceptional. Here, I have yet to taste a pizza that wasn’t OUTSTANDING. House Pizzeria, East Side Pies, Home Slice, and especially Little Deli are each amazing in their own right. Little Deli gets bonus points for their delicious sandwiches and close proximity to my house. But feel free to chime in with your favorite so I can compare them!

7. The train at Zilker Park. The best $10 a family of three can spend.

6. The Austin Childrens Museum. OK, so you can’t compare it to the children’s museums in bigger cities but it’s cozy, inexpensive and has plenty to entertain a toddler. Lucy’s favorite part is the milking room with a life-sized cow and barn toys.

5. Cap MetroRail. With Todd being a UT employee, we get to ride for free. The Crestview Station is less than a mile from our house. And since Lucy loves trains, it’s even more fun. A quick 20-minute ride and we’re downtown, without the hassle of searching for parking and minus the gouging of $10 a space.

4. Phil’s Ice House/Amy’s Ice Creams. I’ve mentioned this before. It just keeps getting better.

3. Alamo Draft House. I can’t believe the concept of dinner-beer-movie hasn’t taken off in every city in the U.S. This is our favorite date night, since Lucy isn’t quite ready to sit through a movie. Alamo makes the list because of their creative shorts and trailers they show before the main feature begins.

Daddy and Lucy saying “Hi!” to the turtles

2. Turtle ponds. Between the one on UT’s campus, Northwest Park and the river/lake behind the County Line on 2222, nothing makes my daughter smile like seeing real live turtles in their natural habitat.

1. Rainey Street. Perfect for a night out on the town or an afternoon with Lucy, we can’t say enough great things about this quirky part of town. It’s not far from the downtown Metro station and it doesn’t get too douchey on the weekends. I liken it to 6th Street for grownups. Clive, the Blackheart, G’raj Mahal are all solid bets for date night. With Lucy, we went to the beer garden at Banger’s Sausage House. Holy crap. I never thought something as simple as sausage could taste so good. They have a fenced-in dog run so Lucy was happily petting the pups (with the owners’ permission, of course) while we enjoyed a ridiculous selection of beers. It was easily one of our favorite meals in Austin.

We can’t wait to try some of the other places on Rainey like el Naranjo and icenhauers.

So that’s my Top 10 Favorite Things. There are way more than 10; heck, I could do an entire separate Top 10 just on Tex-Mex restaurants alone. But there is absolutely one thing that I hate about Austin: Mosquitoes. They always find me, no matter how much OFF I put on. Ugh. I just hope the cool weather continues so I don’t have to deal with them anymore.

So what did I miss? What are your favorite things? What pizza are we missing out on?

 (Please note that I was not compensated for any of these suggestions. Links are provided for convenience only.)


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