We (along with everyone else) love Austin! How this place exists in Texas…we don’t know. But it’s pretty darn wonderful. The food is awesome, the people are friendly, there’s lots of green space, and relatively speaking, it’s still affordable (though not for long because it is BOOMING). The weather was in the 70s and 80s for half the time we were there and we soaked in every last drop of that warm sunshine.
We didn’t know this going in, but Austin has a lot of really great mid-century modern and modern homes throughout the city. Unlike most places where the new construction is beige and boring (looking at you, Southern CA!), Austin’s houses are cool and eclectic. What would easily cost $20-30 million in places like Boston and LA seem to be in the $3-5 million range in Austin. We’re saving our pennies… 😉
Alys Beach in Florida was not on our radar at all. We just happened to drive by and were totally smitten with the pristine white everything. It’s a brand new development and still under construction and normally we might have thought it was too Pleasantville, but having driven through Texas, Louisiana and the Pan Handle (mostly ew), it was a sight for sore eyes. So, so nice to be around white sand beaches, green grass for the dogs, sidewalks—don’t take them for granted!—and open, clean space. We’ve stayed in a lot of new developments on our road trip and this one is how it should be done. Every little detail was thoughtfully designed to perfection. We gushed over the Bermuda-style buildings with their Spanish and Moroccan influence. If California could pair Alys Beach houses with its stunning coastline…gah, we’d be there in a second.
You might have noticed that we skipped photos for Lubbock, Houston, and Baton Rouge. Yep, not fans.
Houston people: look away.
We think Houston might just be the worst large city in the country. It felt like a machine and not human. All of the streets are basically 8-lane highways and there’s almost no green space. We went to the one big park in the city and it was bordering on Central Park in terms of the number of runners because it’s honestly the only option. And still, there was a golf course taking up 95% of the park, leaving a dirt path to enjoy. We did, however, see the biggest mansions ever (like 25,000+ sq ft, live-in staff big) in the River Oaks neighborhood. Whoa, oil money. I told Aaron I thought Houston would make a person die faster because it’s not conducive to healthy living. No parks, not walkable, high crime, smog-y, heavy meat/dairy-centric food options, and it’s 100 degrees with 99% humidity for a good chunk of the year.
Baton Rouge seemed borderline post-apocalyptic. Aaron describes it as “Walking Dead without the zombies.” We only spent one night near downtown in a very dorm-room-like AirBnB, so this may not be a fair assessment, but the vibe was creepy. Plus side: they do have a Whole Foods. Downside: the Whole Foods didn’t have a single veggie option in the prepared food section. The closest thing to a veg-friendly sandwich was pastrami with cheddar on rye.