I haven’t seen a lot of people in person since March, but I’ve seen a lot of the city.
I’d rather share plates of nachos with my friends (or another carbohydrate-rich fast casual appetizer) and breathe particles within mere feet of them. Scandal, I know. But since I am playing things pretty safe with social distancing — because it would be nice to slow down a deadly pandemic, just a thought — my calendar is pretty open.
So, sometimes I drive. Not always. It’s a lot of binge watching old seasons of "Project Runway," too. But on a Saturday, say, I might go get my takeout muffin and 32-ounce cold brew, get back in my car and go. And just keep going, y’all.
That’s why, while browsing Reddit’s Austin subreddit (hi guys), I felt inspiration strike when I saw some people are doing socially distant scavenger hunts. As I’ve aimlessly toured the town, I’ve loved noticing buildings I didn’t know existed and appreciating signs that deserved a second look.
If you want to keep a scavenger hunt these days as safe as possible, it’ll have to look a little different than in normal times. Finding new clues at each destination is a little too touchy-feely. And trekking on foot through popular areas is a little too "huddled masses" for my taste.
Try on this scavenger hunt for size, though. We’ve put together a list of clues that should lead you to Austin’s remarkable buildings, stylish signage, colorful murals and eye-catching sculptures. For the most part, we tried to avoid the obvious ones. These mystery destinations are north, south, east, west and central, but mostly contained within reasonable driving distance from each other. They’re all large, easily spotted sights you can see from the road. No set order on which clues you have to solve — more of a "gotta catch ‘em all" approach. You’ll want to be a safe driver, of course; we’d recommend a co-pilot in your safety bubble do the bulk of the lookout duty.
We’ve even helped you out with hints for each clue, as well as some disguised images, because we want you to succeed (and we want you to have some idea of where you’re going and what you’re looking for).
If you don’t like our hunt, use it as a springboard for your own. Keep your version all in the same part of town, maybe, or design a quest that can be done on foot in your neighborhood. There’s a whole city out there, and if there ever was a time to notice the character of your city, it’s now.
CLUE NO. 1: G’day? Hola? However you say hello, you can’t miss this tasty architectural gem. Hint: You’ll be northeast, near the big highway intersection.
CLUE NO. 2: Aye, lads and lasses, when you find this landmark, you’ll really be on a roll. Hint: If you head north up a major street, go until you hit a highway.
CLUE NO. 3: Plenty of spots around town will leave you feeling dazed and confused, but this one holds a special flame. Hint: It’s on your right if you’re driving north on a major street.
CLUE NO. 4: All together now — he’s one of Austin’s greatest and greenest citizens. Hint: You won’t be too far from the Forty Acres.
CLUE NO. 5: What’s long and round and red all over? Don’t try to pick ‘em up — you’ll never be able to. Hint: It’s not too far from your humble local newspaper’s offices.
CLUE NO. 6: Future’s so bright … and so big. Hint: You could grab a slice while you’re there.
CLUE NO. 7: I’m holding out for one of these, or at least a tasty painting of one. Hint: There’s another mural painting nearby, but on a different building.
CLUE NO. 8: Higher the wheels, closer to God ... and to the head shop next door. Hint: It’s on the right when you’re heading south on a major street.
CLUE NO. 9: The walls might be the color of cowardice, but it’s the peak of courage to perch on this winding road. Hint: It’s the most remote location on this hunt, relative to the center of town.
CLUE NO. 10: See yourself in this stallion — it’ll make a nice story. Hint: Think education.
CLUE NO. 11: Only a true blue McConaughey fan knows where to find this. Hint: There’s a historic theater just a stone’s throw away.
CLUE NO. 12: Even when you find them, you won’t know what they are. Luckily, you’ll have plenty of research material at your disposal. Hint: You wouldn’t have seen these even five years ago.
CLUE NO. 13: Usually a Queen lives in a palace; this one lives on a Manor. Hint: It’s on the right if you’re heading east on a major street.
CLUE NO. 14: You’ll be jazzed when you find this mosaic. Hint: It’s on the left if you’re heading west on a numbered street.
CLUE NO. 15: In nonpandemic times, you’d dive deep to find a cerveza here. Hint: This is a historic establishment.
Find the answers to these clues here.
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