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Keeping it Weird: Hippie Culture in Austin

Austin’s been a bubble of blue in the great red sea of Texas for a while now, and the city’s liberal mentality has fostered a strong hippie culture that’s a huge part of why Austin is so well loved. Perhaps it’s because Austin is surrounded by red on all sides that the city’s inhabitants are so passionate about the counterculture hippie lifestyle, and have been for decades.

Austin’s hippie mentality is clearly seen by the things the city has held dear through the years, from celebrating Eeyore’s Birthday Party, a hippie bonanza that’s happened annually since 1963, with elaborate costumes, live music, and fun for all ages, to a city-wide obsession with the late Leslie Cochran, unofficial Queen of Austin, who paraded the city’s streets in stilettos and miniskirts and also ran for mayoral office (unsuccessfully) 3 times. Although Leslie’s bid for office was unsuccessful, he was embraced by the city and continues to be remembered dearly.
One of Austin’s hippie meccas is the aptly named Hippie Hollow, a park and swimming area that’s clothing optional- an appealing option to some of Austin’s hippie crew, and a locale that embodies the Austin spirit. With Austin growing so quickly, refuges like Hippie Hollow are a good reminder of the city’s easygoing roots.
Austin’s hippie mentality is a beloved part of the city’s culture, and the influences can be seen everywhere, even in some of Austin’s most popular food choices. Austin has some of the best food trucks ever (although that may be my own personal bias), a concept that’s thoroughly hippie in this writer’s opinion. There’s so much debate on which food trucks reign supreme, but we’d recommend Gourdough’s, Torchy’s, and Veracruz All Natural!
Food trucks aren’t the only hippie food wave Austin has seen. More recently, vegan and raw restaurants have exploded in the city as demand for healthy options has skyrocketed, a trend offering food totally opposite from Austin’s usual food obsession: Tex-Mex. The glorious melding of Mexican cuisine’s mastery of meat and Texan decadence creates this cheesy goodness that’s so close to many Austonian hearts. While Tex-Mex roots aren’t hippie in nature, the hippies of Austin have always embraced the cuisine.
One of the things that makes Austin such a hippie friendly city are the hippie themed meetings and interest groups that can be found, in fact, Austin has more than any other city in America! Groups range from Laughter Yoga and Geeky Hippie Campers to Crunchy Mamas, and that’s just a few! Anybody looking to find a city filled with hippie related activities need look no further.
Austin in general has been known as a hippie haven for some time, but many Austin residents know and recognize South Austin as the true hub of Austin’s hippie culture. South Austin, the exact parameters of which could be hotly debated, can be loosely described as South of Lady Bird Lake. South Austin is home to Barton Springs and Zilker park for hippie outdoor enthusiasts, as well as local oddities like the Cathedral of Junk, is exactly what it’s billed to be- a cathedral constructed out of 60 tons of unwanted items, most of them donated, in creator Vince Hannemann’s back yard. An incredible sight and part of South Austin lore for decades, check back in later to hear more about the Cathedral of Junk.

South Austin’s hippie heart is kept beating in part by its local businesses that embody the Austin spirit. Businesses like Austin Vape & Smoke that are born and bred in South Austin keep the hippie spirit alive and well, and support Austin’s hippie culture as much as Austin’s hippies support them. To all of Austin’s hippies, we thank you!