As the end of 2016 approaches, like many, we are excited to put the past 12 months behind us and prepare for a new year. Unfortunately, the end of the year brings with it something grave and perhaps even more polarizing than anything we’ve seen in the news during 2016: Winter. And with today being the Official First Day of Winter, we thought, what better day to share our favorite cold weather activities!
While some love Winter and its cold weather, others can’t handle it and would prefer staying inside and hibernating until the Spring. Austin weather can be burdensome in the winter. It feels as though the entire city wronged Mother Nature when she smites us with 49⁰ highs.
Being from New Jersey, and experiencing northeast winters for 18 years, I shouldn’t complain about the rare occasions that Austin temperatures are below freezing. However, I moved to Austin for a reason (besides school and continuing onto the next chapter of my life) — it’s warm. I can handle the weather when necessary but I can confidently say that I’d rather not.
While our Boston counterparts certainly have more room to gripe about the weather, they are used to it and life goes on for 10 months out of the year until they experience the sunshine again in June. But what does Austin, a city built on the sunshine, outdoor activities, and food trucks do during the tumultuous solstice?
I polled my colleagues in the LPP office here and here’s what we’re offering as suggestions:
Despite the difficult weather, the outdoors never takes a day off, so why should we? Sometimes it’s best to just enjoy doing what you always do and pretend you’re not freezing. Though it’s also worth noting that 50⁰ weather isn’t exactly life-threatening.
Anything outdoors can still be great in the winter. Camping at one of the great parks near Austin is a great way to enjoy the outdoors and have an excuse to sit around a fire. However, as a warning, make sure you’re not camping in bear territory as you want to avoid the same fate Leonardo DiCaprio went through in The Revenant.
Additionally, since it’s easy to use colder weather as an excuse to stay indoors and catch up on every show you’ve ever wanted to watch, getting outside on one of Austin’s hiking trails is a great way to get some exercise and feel productive.
Like the rest of the year, there’s always something fun happening around the city. Perhaps the biggest and most traffic-causing event is the Trail of Lights, a three week long light trail with over two million Christmas lights throughout Zilker Park.
For your last-minute shopping and entertainment needs, look no further than the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar. In its 41st season, this two-for-one local craft and music festival is a fun event to spend your day at and possibly the most Austin thing you can do in the winter.
For the music lovers, the New Year kicks off with Free Week, a weeklong event with free showcases from hundreds of local bands. It’s similar to SXSW without Austinites complaining about out-of-towners.
Food & Drink
Fortunately, the only thing that changes in terms of food and drink is patios being less crowded (unless they put heaters out – then they’re just as crowded). It just feels right to attend other places during the winter months such as Holy Cacao, a food truck serving cake balls, coffee, frozen hot chocolate, and Halcyon for make-your-own s’mores.
While there are always great things to do in Austin, sometimes it’s wise to just hang out inside and avoid risking your life in the sub-60⁰ weather.
It’s also easy to make a compromise and find a warm place outside of your home to spend a few hours. In the Austin office, we like to catch UT basketball games, go to Pinballz arcade or the Alamo Drafthouse for a movie (where I recently saw a showing of the greatest Christmas movie of all time: Die Hard). Yes, our vote is it’s definitely a Christmas movie!
While the tundra that is Austin can be harsh from December to February, the few months of winter provide us with a great opportunity to wear tacky sweaters, relax and do our favorite activities without sweating. We’ll enjoy it while we can and be ready for the first day of spring during SXSW.