10 Austin Things You Must Do This Spring

How incredible is it that every year the world starts again? Etching the previous years history in its core and growing a new beginning on the surface.

The frost begins to melt and streams ebb with life. It’s that time of year where you trade your pants for shorts, ditch the parka at home, and slip out of winter boots for more liberating sandals: Springtime. Where your skin was once cracked against the harsh winter months, it begins to soften as the skies do the same, losing their grey tint for a happier and more refreshing baby blue. Spring is my second favorite season, right after summer, as the world sheds its winter coat in exchange for brighter colors, warmer temperatures, and greener foliage.

Rather than being defined by a specific calendar date, the coming of spring can be recognized by the many biological indicators. The sweet scent of new earth, new soil that gives for greener grass and healthier flora. The barren trees sprout leaves of bright green and blossom with delicate flowers of different colors. Everything is different. It’s all brand new. Even the air smells different: it smells of clarity and renewal.

Persians celebrate Nowruz (“New day”), the Persian New Year, which always occurs on he first day of spring in harmony with the rebirth of nature all around us. Holi, the Festival of Colors, is celebrated in India and in countries with Hindu populations. Christians celebrate Easter, the resurrection of Jesus and the end of Lent. Passover, the eight-day holiday, reflects on the Jewish Exodus from Egypt. In all richness of cultures, human kind celebrates in unity the annual gift of revival that springtime brings to earth. Austin thrives in the Spring because of its never ending list of things to do and affinity for outdoor activities. This past December I presented you with the 7 Austin Things You Must Do This Winter. By popular request, I present to you not only seven, but 10 of the top springtime activities you must do to maximize every hour of the beautiful Austin spring season. Enjoy!

  1. Photos in the Bluebonnets – it’s hard to miss the Texas state flower during the Spring, as fields around Austin begin blossoming with the slightly lavender colored flower. Don’t miss a picturesque opportunity by forgetting to stop alongside MoPac or at a bluebonnet field for the perfect Kodak moment. My recommendation? Walk the trails at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and find yourself captivated by the sea of blue on a self guided tour at your own leisure.

    Bluebonnets along MoPac overlooking Downtown Austin. Photo courtesy of Jay Janner.
  2. Zipline over Lake Travis – you don’t need to travel to the Amazon to experience fast speeds overlooking beautiful wildlife. The weather’s clear which allows for the perfect conditions to take a leap and hang 250-2,800 feet across 1/2 mile of views of the breathtaking Austin hill country. Get a group of your closest friends and head out to Austin’s Lake Travis Zipline Adventures for an action packed day over the lake.
  3. Barton Springs Pool – you dreamt of it during the winter, but now it’s warming up and the best time (other than summer) to hang out in one of the “crown jewels” of Austin. Immerse yourself in one of Austin’s most loved attractions and take a dip in this spring fed, three acre long, man-made swimming pool. The pool stays between 68 and 78 degrees year round and is open from 5am to 10pm daily (except for Thursdays), making it the ideal getaway from the hustle and bustle of the quickly-growing city.

    Photo courtesy of Country Living Magazine.
    Photo courtesy of Country Living Magazine.
  4. Stargazing – since before I moved to Austin I’ve always wanted to go stargazing (bonus: while listening to Coldplay). Being from Houston, the city lights make it almost impossible to catch a glimpse of the beautiful constellations that blanket our skies every night. Whether it’s in your own backyard, in front of the Capitol, or on UT Austin’s very own South Lawn, pack a blanket, a late night picnic, and some speakers and lay out to breathe in the night air and the beautiful stars. Don’t miss out on the Austin Astronomical Society’s public Star Party on April 25th at the Eagle Eye Observatory just outside of Austin. (Note: someone go to this with me!)
  5. Pecan Street Festival (May 2 & May 3) – head out to the 6th Street Historic District, formerly recognized as Pecan Street, for one of the largest and longest running arts and music festivals that the nation has to offer. Presented by the Pecan Street Association, the annual two-day celebration attracts local and national artists, musical acts, quirky food vendors, all while supporting nonprofit groups and charities within Austin. I’ve never been myself, but I definitely plan on visiting the festival for a nice stroll and scout out some cool pieces made from Austin’s greatest artisans.
  6. Kayaking on the lake – one of my personal favorite Austin activities, head out to any Austin lake for a tranquil kayaking or paddle boarding experience. I’ve kayaked twice before on Lady Bird Lake and have yet to fall in the water, though I would recommend bringing extra plastic bags to safe-guard your iPhone when capturing photos of the beautiful views of the lake and Downtown Austin. My recommendation would be to visit Congress Avenue Kayaks or the Rowing Dock for the ultimate Austin kayaking experience.

    I took this photo while kayaking on Lady Bird Lake earlier this March. Downtown was setting up for SXSW but the lake still offered tranquility and allowed me a place to clear my mind.
    I took this photo while kayaking on Lady Bird Lake earlier this March. Downtown was setting up for SXSW but the lake still offered tranquility and allowed me a place to clear my mind.
  7. Drive-In Theater – located right in the middle of the city, channel your inner 1950s and reserve a spot at the Blue Starlite drive-in theater. An American favorite, drive-in theaters bring the comfort of a movie theater straight to the privacy and comfort of your car, complete with an outdoor movie screen and concessions stand. The Blue Starlite theater hosts many genres of films, including indie films and drive in classics. Whether it’s with your friends or for a date, don’t miss the Blue Starlite first annual Fantasy Fest film series which runs from April 1 – May 16!
  8. Farmers Market – support local Austin fruit and veggie farmers by heading out to one of the many farmers markets. Avoid the standardization of factory requirements and prepare your food with grass-fed, pasture-raised beef or chicken and organic produce. The Sustainable Food Center hosts a weekly, year round market on Saturdays from 9 am to 1pm at Republic Square Park off of 4th Street and Guadalupe. Or visit another Austin favorite, the Barton Creek Farmers Market which has two locations, off of MoPac/Loop 360 and on South Lamar.
  9. Eeyore’s Birthday Party (April 25) – you know how they say Keep Austin Weird? Well, here’s just that– but for a good cause too! Every year since 1963, the Austin community gets together at Pease Park to raise funds for local nonprofit organizations. Expect to find live music, Austin food vendors, colorful dancers in colorful costumes, and large drum circles. The Austin tradition stems back to UT Austin students recreating A. A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh story in which Eeyore’s friends plan a magical surprise party for his birthday. The festival is now sponsored by the Friends of the Forest Foundation and distributes all funds raised to local Austin charities.
  10. Strawberry picking – if you’re up for a scenic drive to the Sweet Berry Farms, indulge yourself in the peace that comes with picking your own fresh strawberries. As the temperature warms up, strawberry season kicks off in early March alongside the blackberry and peach harvest in mid May. The farms are open Monday through Saturday, excluding Wednesdays.

Springtime in Austin is full of rebirth and renewal as everyone is ready to let go of the cold and yearning to spend any opportunity in the sun. Whether it’s hiking at the Greenbelt, spending time on the lake, or having a picnic on the Capitol lawn, Austinites know the value of the Spring’s cooling breezes and warmer temperatures that come before the Texas summer heat. Whatever you end up doing, be sure to spend it outdoors and with your best friends for the ultimate Austin springtime experience! I truly hope this list gave you some ideas for fun in the sun, and hey– maybe I’ll even see you outside! Golbou Shariatmadar (1)

Music Sunday

I haven’t done one of these posts in a while, so let’s talk music. This past week I was given the opportunity to go to the mtvU Woodie Awards during SXSW right here in Austin. I saw big name artists such as Fall Out Boy and Big Sean, to new and upcoming artists like MisterWives, Clean Bandit, James Bay, and Years & Years. To make sure I was front row for the show, I lined up at the venue at 1.30 pm with my best friend. As you may know if you were at South By, rain storms were on the radar for the entirety of Friday. Fortunately, I came prepared and ready to dominate the Woodies with a white poncho and portable iPhone charger. Though I’ve been in a country music whirl lately (especially with the Houston Rodeo in full swing in March), in preparation and as a result of SXSW, I’ve discovered a few new artists and songs that I’ve become absolutely obsessed with.

Years & Years

years-years

If you’ve spoken to me lately or stalked my Spotify most frequently played songs, you’ll find at least a couple of tracks by, I’m calling it now, a trio that’s going to be huge in the near future. Hailing from London, the trio is set to release their first album early this summer. Electric beats that you’ll find yourself playing on repeat, Years & Years have made it up to the top of the list as one of my favorite artists. If you want to get a feel for their music, give a listen to their latest release, Kings, which available for download on iTunes or streaming on Spotify.

Zella Day

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“People like to say I’m the happier version of Lana Del Rey” 

Playing six shows just her first time at SXSW and quickly gaining exposure in the Los Angeles music scene, expect to hear Zella Day on radio stations soon. Her music is a combination of organic keys and effortless melodies, reflecting on her childhood growing up around her parent’s local coffee house. Her album, Kicker, will be released early this June and delivers 12 fresh tracks perfect for your summer playlist. And yeah, that’s her real name.

Listen to This

The weather is warming and my playlists are changing, here are the tracks that I’ve been listening to lately.

Lean On x Major Lazer

Forbidden Voices x Martin Garrix

Hero x Family of the Year

Never Let You Go x Dash Berlin

Hypnotic x Zella Day

Cucurucu x Nick Mulvey

Cigarette Song x Raury

VLOG | Houston Rodeo Carnival
(Part II of II)

As promised, here’s part two of my Houston Rodeo video blog experience! My second time at the Rodeo this year, I gathered a few friends who were in town for Spring Break and we all bought nosebleed-section-642 tickets to the Dierks Bentley concert that night. None of us were familiar with Dierks Bentley’s music prior to the show, but we managed to peg a favorite song (Drunk On a Plane) during the drive to the Rodeo. Being there was all about the homestyle Texan vibes, the soulful country melodies, and as my friends persisted… all the fried foods.

Watch the video in HD 1080p! Disclaimer: I’m only 5’5″, so a couple of times I had difficulty fitting myself in the frame as well as my very tall friend. It happens.

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Reunited with one of my best friends from high school!
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These are what true Texan heartbreakers look like.

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: Rodeo season is one of the best times of the year. And you’d be foolish to think that anywhere else could pull off a rodeo like the Houston Rodeo.

Click here to watch part 1 of my Rodeo Houston vlog series!

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VLOG | Hunter Hayes at the Houston Rodeo
(Part I of II)

While it seems like New Years was just last week, it’s already March. To many, March might signify March Madness. To Persians around the world, including me, it’s the symbol of new beginnings and a fresh year as it’s Nowruz, Persian New Year. However, being a native Houstonian and celebrating the Texan spirit in Go Texan Day carnivals for as long as I can remember has certainly made its impact on me. Now, not only is March the month where winter fades to spring, but it’s the greatest time of the year: Rodeo season.

Going to the Houston Rodeo is much like a tradition for me. It’s the time of year when I subconsciously subscribe to five or six country stations on Spotify and consider wearing my cowboy boots with almost every outfit. Feeling the Rodeo spirit, my senior year of high school I bought my first pair of cowboy boots and stocked my closet with several jean shirts from Urban Outfitters. In high school, Rodeo season meant hanging out with a big group of friends and going to concerts and the carnival. Just like how football games were the social center in the fall, the Rodeo would be just the place to be in March.

This year I was lucky enough to go to the Rodeo the second night it opened to see one of my favorite country musicians, Hunter Hayes. You may know him from his heartbreakingly warm song “Wanted,” as he charms his way into your heart with lyrics like “I wanna call you mine, wanna hold your hand forever and never let you forget it.” At only 23 years old, he’s reached double platinum and gold certifications on three of his popular songs in addition to winning the People’s Choice Award for Favorite Male Country Artist earlier in 2015.

Introducing my second ever VLOG on Green Tea, No Splenda, I thought this was the perfect opportunity for me to share my love for his music and for the Rodeo. I hope you enjoy just as much as I did! A special thank you to my amazing sister for buying me tickets to see Hunter Hayes perform and for making my vlog a million times better than it would’ve been with just me alone.

P.S. watch in HD 1080p!

I showed you the concert, so stay tuned as I’m filming the second part to this mini series featuring all the fun of the Rodeo carnival.

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