“Ask me how many times I come to Texas, I say Austin.”
-Abel Tesfaye, the Weeknd
To my beloved readers… I have not forgotten you; I have just been elsewhere. Where? The UT student activity center, the business school atrium, Starbucks, my Finance class, office hours, an Ansolo concert, Dallas to visit a friend, the original Starbucks in Seattle, a couple of airports, a few interviews, Starbucks, and most recently, the Austin City Limits Music Festival. You could say that things went 0-100 real quick, which is why I hadn’t been able to write a new post for Green Tea, No Splenda.
Well, let’s cut to the chase. It’s no longer summer. It’s fall. The horrendous Texas heat isn’t that present anymore. I’m a summer girl, but let me tell you this– there’s something about the chilly (but not too cold) weather and the crisp, low-humidity nights that makes me fall for fall. Maybe it’s the scent of the Sweater Weather candles at Bath & Body Works, the spicy smell of Starbucks drinks, or the hoards of pumpkins outside of supermarkets. There’s something about that week before October that flips a switch in my brain and makes me want to dive head-first into fall-time activities.
It’s my third year at the best university in the world in one of the greatest cities on this planet, so I’ve created a checklist of some fall activities I plan on doing this season in Austin.
- Go to Austin City Limits. – I can already mark this one off of my list. With headliners such as Drake, the Weeknd, and Disclosure, this ACL was one for the books. If you’ve never been to ACL, fear not because it happens every year in early October for two weekends. To experience the festival to it’s potential, invest in a 3-day pass, an over the shoulder CamelBak, and a good pair of sunglasses. This year I was lucky enough to spot Jensen Ackles (Dean Winchester) and Jared Padalecki (Sam Winchester) of Supernatural and even snagged a picture with Jensen!
- Visit a pumpkin patch and pick my own pumpkin. – Austinites, you’re in luck because we’re near a couple of great pumpkin patches.Opt out of going to the grocery store and buying a pumpkin and go pick one from a pumpkin patch! My recommendations if you’re in Austin? Barton Hills Farm (open weekends through November 8), Sweet Berry Farms (open daily through November 7), and the Elgin Christmas Tree Farm Pumpkin Festival on October 10, 11, 17, and 18.
- Have a movie night with Hocus Pocus or Halloweentown and kettle corn. – This one doesn’t even require an explanation. Get a couple of friends together and make the popcorn. It’s not officially fall until you’ve indulged in these classics.
- Bake pumpkin bread. – I recently went to Trader Joe’s and picked up their signature Pumpkin Bread & Muffin Mix. I like this one because it’s a fall favorite and it has just a subtle flavor of pumpkin with the zest of nutmeg and cinnamon. It’s seasonal—so be sure to grab it while it’s still in stock!
- Carve pumpkins in front of the UT Tower. – I did this my freshman year of college with one exception. It was pouring rain so we improvised and carved the massive pumpkins outside of the FAC. To avoid the mess, be prepared when you carve! Bring a carving knife, some extra plastic bags, gloves to scoop the innards of the pumpkin, and a Sharpie to draw out your design before you carve.
- Go to a haunted house. – I’m from Houston, so it’s second nature to go to Phobia Haunted Houses in October. While I haven’t been to a haunted house in Austin before, I plan on going to House of Torment this season. Blood and gore doesn’t scare me—it’s when things pop out and surprise me that all hell breaks loose.
- Tailgate and go to a UT football game. – This doesn’t even require a description. There’s nothing like the air around Darrell K Royal on game-day. From the hours before the game, through the entirety of the fourth quarter, win-or-lose, there’s something I can’t quite put my finger on about a Longhorn football game. If you’re a University of Texas at Austin student, alumni, or fan– you must go to a football game in your lifetime.
- Go to a drive-in theater and watch a scary movie. – I’m a sucker for classic TV series like Leave it to Beaver – where drive in-theaters were a commonality—so my senior year of high school, I went to a drive-in with some friends and had such a memorable experience. Drive in theaters make the perfect date spot too, so cozy up and drive to the Blue Starlite Drive In for Halloween classics like the Twilight Zone, Beetle Juice, Ghost Busters, Scream, and more.
- Navigate a corn maze. – Barton Hills Farms not only has the perfect pumpkin patch, but they also have an intricate 5-acre corn maze! If you’re not wanting to go out to Bastrop, Sweet Berry Farms in Marble Falls also has a 4-acre corn maze in the shape of the state of Texas. What’s unique about this maze is that as you travel through the pathways, you’ll find signs representing various destinations in Texas.
- Go stargazing with a cozy blanket and some hot-drinks. – Year round, this is one of my favorite activities. Head over to South Lawn and watch the stars with some soft-tunes and hot tea. Want an experience away from the city lights? Head down to Eagle Eye Observatory or the McDonald Observatory for their weekend Star Party’s.
- Roast s’mores. – I’m a college student who lives in an apartment, and for lack of an actual fire pit, making s’mores is limited to my stovetop. For those of you who can’t start your own fire, head over to Halcyon on W 4th Street for a lively, lounge atmosphere and a cute s’mores dessert.
- Volunteer at a food bank. – It’s so easy to get caught up in the excitement of a new season that we often forget what’s most important: giving back to the community. Something that lies at the core of my interests is volunteering, and what better way to show your community that you care than volunteering for a couple of hours at the local Austin food bank. If everyone in our community could sacrifice just a few hours out of their month to volunteer, so many more people in our community can feel the joy we feel in the new season. I’ll be heading to the Capital Area Food Bank of Texas this month, and if you can’t make it out, you can still make a difference by donating online.
- Hike the Greenbelt. – I absolutely adore Austin for its various nature trails, and now that it’s fall, the leaves are changing colors and the pathways are changing in scenery. While you’re out feeling Austin through nature, check out the Pennybacker Bridge for a beautiful view (and incline) alongside the lake. Don’t make the mistake I made– be sure to go on the cliff on the right side of the bride (going northbound) for the awesome views.
- Make homemade apple cider. – I’ve yet to try this one out, but I found this neat, easy to make recipe online that I’m going to give a try! Maybe I’ll even make a vlog out of it (remember when I taught you how to cut a pineapple?).
Makes 6-8 servings. Recipe courtesy of Food.com.
Ingredients: 8-10 apples. ½ cup of sugar (or skip this step and add Stevia at the end). 4 tablespoons of cinnamon. 4 tablespoons of allspice.
Directions: Cut the apples into quarters and pour them in a pot with boiling water (just enough to cover the top of the apples). Add sugar then wrap the cinnamon and allspice in a cloth and set it in the pot. Allow the cider to boil for one hour on high, leaving the pot uncovered. After the hour passes, put the stove on low and allow the cider to set and simmer for two hours, leaving the pot covered. When the two hours pass, turn off the heat and allow the cider to cool. By this time, you’ll notice your apples are soft and mushy. Remove the spice cloth from the water and mash your apples. Once the cider is cool, run the cider through a strainer to remove the apple-pulp. The cider will last for up to a week and a half if refrigerated properly. Enjoy!
I couldn’t let the fall season go by without a post of this nature, and I hope all of my readers get a chance to indulge in these fall bucket list activities! I’m so fortunate to live in one of the greatest cities on the planet and to have the city as my playground. Think I missed something? Let me know in the comments below.