If you’re one of the enlightened folks who has been following Austin.com, you might have seen our recent piece about the Seven Epic Wonders Of Austin, Texas, which teased a chance to vote on number eight. Well, that chance is now.
We’ve been talking to our friends on Facebook for a few weeks now and rounded up a bunch “Epic” Austin things, resulting in yet another list — but this time, you get to choose your favorite to be named “The 8th Wonder of Austin.” The eight Austin things selected based on the feedback we received were specifically picked for what they contribute to the character of our city, even though there are literally hundreds of potential nominees.
But then, Austin is just like that: Practically any no-name, hole-in-the-wall restaurant or music venue can be a hidden gem. Still, decisions must be made. We’ve already settled upon the first seven — now it’s your turn to decide number eight.
Here are the nominees…
Austin City Limits — the festival and the show
Austin City Limits Festival is one of our city’s premiere events, overshadowed only by South by Southwest. Stretching out over two weekends and three days, ACL Fest brings some of the hottest artists in the world to Austin for an amazing celebration of live music (check out the 2014 lineup in that video above). The brainchild of Austin-based event production company C3 Presents now attracts about 75,000 people during each day when it’s in full gear, and people travel from all over the world just to be here when ACL is happening.
Of course, the festival would not be possible without Austin’s famous television show, ACL Live, which has been featuring the most influential musicians in the world for just short of 40 years now. In fact, the 2014 ACL fest is perfectly timed to mark the debut of ACL’s 40th season, in an extra-long, star-studded episode hosted by Jeff Bridges and Sheryl Crow. Here’s a little look back at the history of ACL, which is definitely worth considering if you’re going to be casting an informed ballot…
At 683 feet tall (102 feet taller than 360 Condominiums, the second tallest building in Austin), the Austonian dominates our downtown skyline. This 56-story residential skyscraper enjoyed its groundbreaking in 2007, and officially opened its doors in 2010 with a shiny Four Star rating from Austin Energy as a green building. If the construction of Fairmont Austin goes according to plan, it will surpass the Austonian by just eight feet — but for now, the Austonian is king of Austin’s skyscrapers. And those luxury apartments… Well, let’s just say it’s no wonder they’re in demand (watch below).
HOPE Outdoor Gallery
The HOPE Outdoor Gallery is a three-story graffitiscape where sanctioned local street artists can create graffiti murals that promote positive themes and inspire community. It may take some maneuvering to ascend all three levels, but those that reach the summit will be rewarded with a beautiful view of Austin’s skyline — and maybe even a mountaintop epiphany about the spirit of Austin itself.
Lamar Train Bridge Graffiti
A testament to Austinites’ creativity and never-give-up attitude, the graffiti murals that adorn the Lamar train bridge have been bringing smiles to anyone walking the Pfluger Pedestrian Bridge since they first appeared in 2011. The bridge has been a popular place to take Austin-flavored selfies ever since.
The first murals carried messages like, “Life is Change – Be Flexible,” “Let’s Pretend We Are Robots,” and “Focus One Point and Breathe.” However, the company that owns the bridge painted over two of them in 2012, causing a minor outrage. Of course, it wasn’t long before two new murals turned up to replace the original, censored artwork. Today the bridge declares, “Never Give Up” and, for some reason, “Ninja Style Kung Fu Grip.”
No one knows anything about the artist… Other than he or she is incredibly determined, and we love him or her for it!
The ‘I Love You So Much’ mural
The “I Love You So Much” mural at Jo’s Coffee on South Congress is exactly what it appears to be: A love letter. Back in 2010, a local musician named Amy Cook spray painted the simple phrase as a brash note of encouragement aimed at Liz Lambert, the owner of Jo’s Coffee and Cook’s partner at the time.
What Cook didn’t anticipate was that the whole city would fall in love with her affectionate gesture and make it into something of an Austin landmark. Now, Jo’s “I Love You So Much” mural is like our love letter to friends and family who aren’t fortunate enough to be here, leading thousands flock to the site every month for photos in front of Austin’s famous wall.
Lady Bird Lake
Smack dab in the middle of downtown Austin, Lady Bird Lake serves as the epicenter of virtually all things Austin. Land lubbers can enjoy this man-made lake from the shoreline by attending music festivals held at Zilker Park and Auditorium Shores, or by watching the bats from the Congress bridge bats. There’s also the Ann & Roy Butler Hike and Bike trail, offering 10 miles of waterfront exercise area.
For the water-inclined Austinite, Lady Bird Lake offers the opportunity to undertake various nautical pursuits such as kayaking, canoeing, and paddleboarding. Stand-up paddleboarding is particularly popular on Ladybird Lake thanks to its calm waters and beautiful views around every bend.
The Whole Foods Flagship Store
Little known fact: Whole Foods was founded in Austin way back in 1980 when there were only half a dozen other natural food supermarkets in the entire United States. Whole Foods has since expanded all over the country, but the Whole Foods flagship store remains on North Lamar in downtown Austin, sporting an epic underground parking garage and big, big plans to expand.
This is not a store about simply buying groceries, although the perfectly organized shelves and produce stacks will undoubtedly suck you in. The Whole Foods flagship store is a culinary experience, offering an array of warm and cold dishes in their the food court, clothing and household items, hundreds of samples to try, and even a balcony that regularly features live music and even ice skating (yes, as in actual ice skating). The place is absolutely amazing.
Between the miniature train, playscape, and nature center for the kiddies, the off-leash dog lawn, the hike and bike trail, the pool, the community theatre, the sculpture garden, the botanical garden, and all manner of festivals, Zilker Park has a little something for everyone. That’s what makes it so great; Zilker is a universally appealing spot for any person in need of an oasis. It’s a place where Austinites from all walks of life come together to enjoy good music, good food, good community, and the beauty of nature.
Besides: Where else in the world do 10,000+ people get together for a day once a year just to fly kites? If you’ve never seen this before, it’s just awesome…
Voting for the “8th Epic Wonder of Austin, Texas” has closed. Thanks for your interest.
Featured photo: Stephen C. Webster, Proud Highway Media Group.