An enclave of liberalism in one of America’s most conservative strongholds, Austin Texas is a hippie’s haven in the Lone Star state. It’s an eclectic city, a magnet for musicians and artists, with a thriving LGBT community. The unofficial slogan “Keep Austin Weird” is an enthusiastically adopted tribute. Known for being both safe and clean, Austin revels in its status as an open-minded place to be, epitomised by the Hippie Hollow Park nude swimming pool, which authorities have been quietly ignoring since the 1970s.
And so, when Austin was named the best place to live in America last month, the locals could not have been less surprised. If anything, they are still struggling to understand why it has taken everyone else so long to join the party.
“It’s always been the time for Austin,” says David Steinwedell, head of the city’s Urban Land Institute following the state capital of Texas’s number-one ranking in a US News & World Report published in February. “It’s just that the rest of the world is finally catching on.”
Austin’s cultural hub revolves around the internationally-renowned festival South by Southwest (SXSW), a week-long music, film and arts extravaganza. But it is not all festivals and frivolities here…