Sports & Recreation
2018 Readers Poll
2018 Critics Picks

Photo by Jana Birchum

Best Gym to Build Patriarchy-Fighting Skills (Literally)

Times are tough, but the women behind Austin Boxing Babes are even tougher. Helmed by Julia Gschwind, the South Austin gym offers Olympic-style boxing, martial arts, strength training, and yoga classes for women looking to achieve confidence and power outside the ring (sorry not sorry, cis bros). And if you've got kiddos in tow, no worries. They also offer classes for children of any and all genders.

Austin Boxing Babes
2919 Menchaca Rd. #210

Best Big Top Getting Bigger

Trapeze jokes aside, Sky Candy really has set a high bar with its new facilities. After years fundraising, designing, and inspecting, Winnie Hsia opened the doors to her company's Springdale General studio in October. Featuring 27-foot rig points, a pole studio named after a Norse giantess, and abundant natural light, the new Sky Candy space is a 6,500-square-foot marvel. But it's not just the studio's stunning red-and-white striped accent wall that'll make you feel at home under the big top: Sky Candy's knowledgeable instructors and inclusive student community will have you wanting to run away to the circus in no time.

Sky Candy
1023 Springdale Ste. 8-A

Photo by Shelley Hiam

Best Airstream Mini-Getaway

If nothing else, the current administration has bestowed upon us one critical life lesson: We need a break. Just 45 minutes or so from Austin, on the bank of Lake Bastrop North Shore Park sit five shiny Airstream trailers, named for local icons like Willie and Lady Bird. In true glamping style, you bring the food and drinks, and the decked-out mini-home will provide the rest: bluetooth stereo/TV, private shower/bathroom, herb garden and fire pit, and much more. Hike and kayak, relax with some cheddar wursts on your patio, and then rest well inside on a full-size bed. Be sure to watch the resident egret chill on the dock while you sip your breakfast tea in the Adirondack chairs.

Lake Bastrop North Shore Park
603 FM 1441

Best Major League Sport You Didn't Know Was a Major League Sport

When you think of major league sports, bocce probably is not the the first one that comes to mind. It might be time to expand your sports horizons. MLB(occe) got its start in Washington, D.C., in 2004, began expanding in 2011, and landed in Austin in 2014, one of 10 cities currently operating leagues. The fun lies in its casual, co-ed play and its versatility. You can play all year long at multiple locations around town, in- and outdoors. Better yet? A drink in hand is not discouraged.

Major League Bocce

Photo by Bret Brookshire

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Best Way to Heal on Four Legs

Healing With Horses Ranch carries on the tradition of the therapeutic value of riding horses that goes back to the days of the ancient Greeks. And truly, there's nothing like the restorative power of spending time in the outdoors in the company of beautiful and friendly horses. That's something experienced by the at-risk youth, veterans, and people with physical, cognitive, or emotional challenges who find healing here, as well as the dedicated staff and volunteers who get to combine their love of horses with their love of service.

Healing With Horses Ranch
10014 FM 973

Best Soccer Team

It may be different next year, when the USL Austin Bold make their debut, and yet again the year after that, if Austin FC is here by then. But for now, it’s Angela Kelly’s Texas Longhorns who rule the roost. And the story’s not over for this year’s squad; they could turn out to be the best team UT’s ever produced. Six different players have earned Big 12 player of the week honors (three of them twice each). Two of their three losses came in a midseason stretch on the road when they had two starters off playing for the Canadian national team. They had the first perfect home record in program history, at 10-0. And with good results in the Big 12 conference tournament this weekend, they should get at least one more home game in the NCAA tourney. Hook ’em.

UT Longhorns Soccer

photo by Paul Bordovsky

Best Austin Crest

One day, many years from now, when you glimpse a by-then-41-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo driving his platinum-plated Ferrari to the training grounds of Austin FC, you will appreciate that the imaginative design of the Butler Bros' freshly revealed footie crest could match the flourish of an iconic, albeit aging, European megastar playing soccer in the United States. And while that CR7 dream may not exactly become a reality, the fact of the matter is that the city was gifted a real symbol of unity, with its “Bright Verde” Treaty Oak limbed against an inky backdrop that screams GOLAZO!

The Butler Bros
2401 E. Sixth #1002

Greatest Wrestling Legacy

Wrestling, they say, has more than one royal family, and Austin can claim most regal blood on the canvas. It began with Virgil Riley Runnels Jr., the East Austin son of a plumber and Johnston High defensive linesman who became Dusty Rhodes, the American Dream, whose "hard times" promo inspired a beaten-down generation. His legacy continues with his sons Dustin, AKA WWE superstar Goldust, and Cody, who – as part of the Bullet Club faction – has redefined the wrestling industry as something fresh and exciting once again.

(l-r) Cody, Dustin, and Dusty Rhodes   Courtesy of Dustin Rhodes

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Best Sports League for Non-Athletes

Move over bowling: There's an even easier way to compete for glory without breaking a sweat. Found in only six U.S. cities, the national Brewskee-Ball league is quickly changing the face of pub competition. Brewskee-Ball’s Austin branch, housed within Full Circle Bar on 12th Street, allows Austinites of all skill levels to enjoy craft adult beverages while reliving their fast-paced childhood arcade memories. All it takes is a team of three – plus a clever Skee-Ball-themed team name – to compete among the city’s most seasoned Skee-Ballers. Winners enjoy bragging rights, trophies, and a special place in Brewskee-Ball history.

Full Circle Bar
1810 E. 12th

Best Bike Ride Off the City Streets

For 10 consecutive Tuesdays this spring, cyclists could enjoy free-form, noncompetitive riding at their own pace where heavily horse-powered race cars usually roar. At the weekly Bicycle Sport Shop Bike Night, the Circuit of Americas race track lets bicycles take to the 3.4-mile, 20-turn circuit for an evening of relaxed riding without the stress of city traffic. The prize at the end of the course? A final pit stop at the biergarten for a cold adult beverage.

Circuit of the Americas
9201 Circuit of the Americas Blvd.

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Photo by Larry D. Moore/CC BY-SA 4.0

Best Field Research

St. Edward’s University students don’t have to go far to study golden-cheeked warblers, roadrunners, and ring-tailed cats, all of which call the Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve home. Jointly owned by Travis County and St. Ed’s, the 227-acre Hill Country habitat includes the Wild Basin Creative Research Center, a popular field trip destination for young students, as well as 2.5 miles of trails. But you don’t have to be in school to appreciate Wild Basin; everything’s open to the general public, and learning to love nature is easy here.

Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve
805 Capital of TX Hwy. N.

Best Over-the-Top Sporting Event

The most glamorous ladies’ arm wrestling event you’ll likely ever attend, this annual fundraiser also makes a fine kickoff to the Halloween season, with the entourages and costumes contributing every bit as much as the contest itself – “where the arm wrestling is real and so is the overacting.” Playing the Michael Buffer role (in drag) as emcee at the recent CLAWstin 9 was the ever-lovely Westen Borghesi, who supplements his White Ghost Shivers gig each October by hustling shamelessly for bribe money from eight teams of amazons, guerrillas, pirate/mermaids, and the Notorious RBG. What’s not to love?

photo by John Anderson

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