Outdoors & Environment

A Guide to Slow Living in the City: Austin

by Dani Howell December 18, 2018

Austin, Texas, is a busy place. As the city grows, so too does the hustle and bustle around town. Between the UT-Austin campus, offices, and all the new apartments popping up, there are just a lot of people around and events going on. That’s great when it comes to having things to do on the weekend, but it also makes life feel more hectic and accelerated. There’s always somewhere to be.

While the general atmosphere has remained laid-back, it can feel increasingly difficult to embrace slow living if you want to stay within the city. But, you just need to know the spots to check out when you need to take a breather.

After living in Austin for a while, I was able to map out the nearby spaces that are ideal for slowing down; quiet places where I could hear myself think without the hum of traffic or revelry. Spots where I could take a step back and just appreciate the present and everything that’s around and where the rush and busyness of life seem to disappear.

Flitch Coffee, 641 Tillery St, Austin, TX

Coffee shops are, in general, one of the places I go when I need to slow down. So, when I discovered Flitch Coffee, I knew I’d found my happy place.

Flitch, located in East Austin, is close enough to downtown to be convenient but far enough out that you can’t hear the buzz of cars or construction. Since it’s technically a coffee trailer instead of a shop, pretty much all of the eclectic seating—benches, plastic chairs, wooden chairs, cement blocks, logs—is outside (a testament to Austin’s sunny weather), which makes it quieter than the average coffee shop. There are trees and plants all around. And, it seems like everyone brings their dog, so you can pretty much count on seeing pups every time. It’s a place where you can put your phone away, drink a cold brew, fill up on breakfast tacos, and simply chill.

It’s the epitome of Austin slow living, perfectly designed for relaxing in nature with your favorite cup of locally brewed coffee.

Tillery Street Plant Company/East Austin Succulents, 801 Tillery St, Austin, TX

Only a few blocks away from Flitch sits Tillery Street Plant Company and East Austin Succulents, side by side. Even if you’re not in the market for new plants, these two nurseries are worth the visit. It’s calming just walking around the conjoined properties. You get an opportunity to connect with beautiful bits of nature, and there’s something inherently “Austin” about both spots, capturing everything that’s great about this city. You can leisurely peruse and appreciate all the plants.

Barton Creek Greenbelt, Multiple Entrances

If you’re looking for more of a hike (literally), grab a backpack and head to the Greenbelt. It’s one of the best places to embrace a slower lifestyle—just make sure you go to a less visited spot or at an off time. Certain areas get crowded on weekends. It’s several miles of trails, many parts near creeks and springs you can swim in. To get the full experience, disconnect from technology and enjoy spending time with friends, your pet, or yourself. I can’t think of many settings better for practicing mindfulness. You can take in the surroundings, appreciate the sights, sounds, and scents of nature, and let your feet hang in the slowly moving water.

Blanton Museum of Art, 200 E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, Austin, TX

For the days when it’s too hot to be outside or when it’s raining, the Blanton Museum of Art lets you connect with your thoughts and some of the best art in central Texas. You can spend hours walking through their extensive collection, which has a bit of everything, including ancient pottery and contemporary paintings. It’s a chance to see the world from different perspectives while you enjoy a moment to decelerate and take in authentic creativity.

And, while you’re there, set aside time to stop in the recently opened Ellsworth Kelly’s Austin, a stone building adorned with stunning colored glass windows that reflect inside. It’s a pretty remarkable experience.

In each of these spaces, it’s easy to just breathe and be in the moment, letting you take in all that Austin has to offer.

Photos of Flitch Coffee, Tillery Street Plant Company, and Austin skyline from Mount Bonnell by Carla Rosas.

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