Samantha Hoover

Product, Mood Media. Animal Enthusiast

Samantha Hoover

You own goats, chickens, and other strange animals. Outside of your home, where is the best place to encounter some wildlife in Austin?

Wildlife? I’ve heard word of a wild guinea named Steve that roams the streets of East Austin and a super unlikely rumored Mountain Lion spotted somewhere on Webberville. I recommend neither of those things.

My favorite animals to visit in Austin are the peacocks at Mayfield Nature Preserve (if those little fuckers ever come out of hiding), and Callahan’s General Store.
Callahan’s always has an assortment of critters but Saturday is definitely the best day to visit- things get real Texas real fast and it basically turns into a mini county fair. The store goats, Jane and Brownie, are usually out back with the full grown poultry (it’s stinky and there are questionable amounts of pigeons), but on Saturday’s they put them up front. Sometimes on Saturday’s the owner brings kids in from his ranch which obviously turns Callahan’s into a pile of adorable. Chicks, bunnies, and ducklings are tucked into a room in the far back and occasionally there are a couple piglets out and about.

All Around Exotic Pets to visit Sophia the Sloth…because Sloth. Need I say more? Stop by on the way to Top Golf.

I just discovered this and I’m FREAKING OUT- Animal World & Snake Farm Zoo. I’ll let you know how amazing it is after I visit in like 8 minutes. EDIT: Do it.

Say someone wants to have a real “Texan” day. What would you put on their schedule?

BBQ for sure. I’d add to this but if you’re doing BBQ right you can’t really do anything else the rest of the day. Maybe BBQ, Callahan’s, then check out the Longhorn cattle owned by the Fast Park across from the airport. Can’t get more Texas than that. But a real Austin day?

Pre adventure: Eat breakfast tacos from Veracruz Tacos (they’re up there with the best and right next to the hostel). Next, get coffee hipster coffee from really anywhere in the East Side because it’s more about the people watching than the coffee.

Drive by the Capitol Building on your way to the Bremond Block Historic District which is something I discovered by accident and wish someone had told me about when I was visiting. It’s a super cool block of historic houses tucked away in downtown.

Stop by Graffiti Park at Castle hill on Baylor St. I’ve heard a lot of chatter about how this captures the essence of Austin’s “Keep Austin Weird” culture. Sure. But I recommend climbing to the very top and checking out the view- hope the wild sunflowers are blooming because it makes the whole experience much more yellow. Or something.
Hike up Mount Bonell for the view and to look at the fancy houses with river access.

Go to Mozart Coffee or Hula Hut or Abel’s on the Lake…or just go by that little strip. But check out the previously mentioned peacocks at Mayfield Nature Preserve first. I don’t think I really understood the hype of Austin until I found this area- if you can look past the stereotypical frat boys in salmon shorts and boat shoes who you will later see on West 6th, it’s a very peaceful little spot right on the water. It almost feels like you’re taking a break from Austin for a minute to experience a southern city with a much different vibe.

Now that you’re good and hot, go jump in Barton Springs because it’s awesome and you must.

I guess check out the Congress Bridge Bat situation if that’s your thing- kayak or something. I’d never do this and I’m judging you even though I don’t know you, but it’s an Austin thing. That being said, I had a really awesome bat experience laying on the hot concrete of the Mexican American Cultural Center on Rainey St with Alex Peter’s and in my opinion that’s the only way you should see the bats. Alex included…she’s pretty good bat watching company. Mostly because if you’re laying underneath them you have to watch out for bat shit and she’s got a great eye.
I can’t fit night stuff into this day, refer to someone else’s recommendations.

What are some weird places people should check out around Austin?

It depends on the kind of weird but the smell under the Congress bridge is unlike anything you will ever experience.
Girls’ bathroom at Donn’s Depot
Cathedral of Junk
East Side Succulents
Try to find the cowboy who rides his horse around East Austin
Someone go check out the new Skeeball bar on 12th and Chicon and tell me how it is
I mentioned this earlier but I find it so strange that the Fast Park owns Longhorns and I really do recommend checking them out. I can’t wrap my LA raised mind around the fact that a parking company owns cattle.
Another super weird Austin thing that you can’t visit but I feel like I need to mention- Waste Management has a 30-acre Wildlife Habitat in Austin. It’s basically my goal in life to get invited to an event there so if you know of one…

If you were moving to Austin all over again, which neighborhood would you look at first? Why?

I really loved living in East Austin, but I don’t know if it was a good intro to Austin neighborhood. If I was moving here again I would live in South Austin off Lamar or 1st- the neighborhoods are so quaint and there are so many really good places to walk for food and coffee. There are places in Austin that are super walkable and when we moved I really missed being able to walk everywhere. I say that but now live a solid 40 minute drive away from the nearest coffee shop, so disregard all of my recommendations.

If you had to only eat at one Austin restaurant for the rest of your life, which would it be?

I’m going for variety in this answer for the sake of the long term survival of my taste buds…Taco Deli. It’s delicious.