Of all the parts of Austin, the east side is the one that changes the most. The sunrise side of Interstate 35 is an ever-evolving mix of small older homes, repurposed commercial buildings and newly constructed mixed use developments and apartment complexes.
Austin’s drive for innovation and cherishing of the past rub against each other here. On one hand, gentrification with its rising property values and correspondingly rising property taxes are straining longtime east Austin residents. On the other hand, this economic growth brings new opportunities. The drumbeat of progress marches on.
There are plenty of old and new things to enjoy in east Austin, so take a daytrip to this part of the city. It probably looks different than you remember.
1. Incredible food options
When you’re in East Austin, you can let your taste buds be your guide. This part of town has several restaurant rows — Cesar Chavez Street, 7th Street, Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Manor Road. And those barely scratch the surface!
2. Two spots for history buffs
It may not seem possible, but the people in your seventh grade Texas history books were real people. They lived and breathed and walked the same ground we walk today.
For history buffs, a stop at the Texas State Cemetery is a must. You can visit the final resting places of influential settlers, politicians, athletes, artists and others who made significant contributions to Texas. Stephen F. Austin, Bob Bullock, Barbara Jordan and Darrell K. Royal are just a handful of the many important people whose bodies are interred in East Austin.
The French Legation Museum is another stop for history fans. This museum was the first home built in Austin and served as essentially the French embassy to the Republic of Texas. The museum is open every afternoon except Mondays. Public tours are available for $5 per person.Tours are limited to 12 people, but you can make reservations for larger groups.
3. A coffee shop that doesn’t have wifi … on purpose!
Sometimes you need to sit down with a cup of coffee and bang out a school paper or finish a work project. Cuvée Coffee is not the place for that. Rather than looking into a laptop, the folks at Cuvée’s East Austin coffee bar want you to converse with the customers around you. You can find their coffee in many local restaurants, but in East Austin, you can go straight to the source.
Their signature beverage Black & Blue is cold brewed coffee infused with nitrogen. When they’re done making it, they put it in kegs and cans. And it is always on tap at their coffee bar.
4. Scenic views from the boardwalk
The Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail and Boardwalk along the shores of Lady Bird Lake is a congregating point for many of Austin’s physically fittest citizens. Walkers, joggers, runners and cyclists all share the path while improving their health and maintaining their exercise regimens.
The boardwalk portions of the trail were completed in 2014. In addition to allowing exercisers to walk over the water, the boardwalk offers seven viewing areas for taking in the scenery. The boardwalk is open from 5 a.m. to midnight, so you can enjoy sunrises, sunsets and nighttime vistas.
5. A children’s museum everyone will enjoy
If you think children’s museums are just for kids, you haven’t been to The Thinkery. Sure, the place is made for kids, but you can have a blast alongside your son, daughter, niece or nephew. Admission is $10, and children under 2 years old get in free.