Six Ways to Have a Nostalgic Austin Summer
Travel back to a simpler time
By Will McCarthy,
7:00AM, Tue. May 23, 2017
Austin has developed a lot of labels over the years. You’ll hear that it’s the live music capital of the world, that it’s a pocket of blue in a sea of red, that it’s “weird.” But maybe the most unique part of our city is its commitment to nostalgia, to the romantic ideal of an America that you might remember from the warm summer nights of your youth.
When you drive around Austin with the windows down you can catch glimpses of earlier decades wherever you go. You’ll see midcentury houses with rusted Camaros resting out front, little kids lining up for sno-cones, and high school sweethearts kissing under shady live oaks.
So keep driving, turn up the radio when “Low Rider” comes on, and crack a few beers on the roof of your car as the sun goes down. This is how to live a nostalgic American summer in Austin, Texas.
Heat up while you wait in line and then cool down with some shaved ice at this Austin family-run business. There’s nothing quite like sitting in the shade slurping a cool snack on a hot summer day. Let the cars and time pass by.
Burgers, shakes, fries … take the drive-through and drink your shake while you cruise around town looking for a party. Or stay a while, chat with the other folks in line, and chow on a double cheeseburger. Either way, it’s always worth a visit to this good old-fashioned burger shack.
They’ve recently relocated to bigger and better digs in South Austin, but the same authentic vibe remains. Indulge in an archetypal drive-in theatre experience with vintage window speaker set-ups, local barbecue, and classic concessions.
Nothing says summer like a public pool packed with people. Check out the oldest pool in the state, get a Texas sunburn, and soak yourself in that cool water until the sun starts to go down and you can bear the heat.
If you make your way up north on Burnet Road, you might not even notice Little Longhorn Saloon perched there on the side of the road. But if you head over on a Sunday afternoon you’ll have an experience pretty unique to a modern American city. Two bucks gets you a ticket with a number on it, and if the chicken on the table shits on your number you win the pot. Take a seat in one of the little plastic chairs out back and try your luck.
The longest running free concert series in Austin is the perfect representation of the city’s collective nostalgia. Lay out your blanket beside hundreds of your fellow neighbors and watch some of the town’s best bands perform in front of the city skyline at dusk. There’s no finer way to wind down a summer evening.
The Austin Chronicle’s Summer Fun issue is on stands now.