There's more to it than just SPAM, you know!

But if I'm being honest, that's all I ever knew about Austin when I was growing up. My mom made SPAM for my brother and I all the time, and I still love it to this day. Plus back in the day, whenever I'd drive through Austin to and from college, the more curious I'd get about what else the city had to offer.

Besides, there's bound to be some hidden gems in a place that was selected as a finalist in Minnesota Monthly's "Best Minnesota Town" contest back in September!

So after several visits throughout the years, and some help from a few friends, here are 5 awesome things we agree on to check out the next time you're in Austin:

  • 1

    SPAM Museum

    Tough not to put this any other place but number one. I mean, the place is so popular they hosted their first ever wedding back in April! Did you know there are 15 varieties of SPAM products? Look if you've never been, then stop dragging your feet and go already. Get more information about the SPAM Museum HERE.

    SPAM Museum - photo from Hormel Foods
  • 2

    Sola Fide Observatory

    According to my friend Eric Shoars, this is Austin’s best kept secret! It’s only a few miles out of town but – to this day – very few people are aware it exists. The Observatory has a telescope that is pointed at the night sky, usually at a particular stellar attraction, with someone from the Hormel Nature Center provided commentary and context to what is being seen. It's not unusual for people to bring their own telescopes from home. The location of the Observatory ensures there is no light pollution which allows for amazing views with a telescope and the naked eye! Want to learn more, CLICK HERE.

    Credit: www.hormelnaturecenter.org
  • 3

    Piggy Blues BBQ

    "Where you can eat pig or eat like a pig!" Every town has a signature restaurant, and this would be one of my votes. My friend Becca agrees too because her last visit did not disappoint: "Being a Southerner, I am very picky about BBQ. We tried the Sweet Corn Puffs, Big Mo’ Sandwich and combo plate of chicken and beef brisket. Each item was great, but the best thing by far was the Big Mo’ Sandwich (shredded pork with the house-pickled jalapenos and coleslaw)!" I would also suggest trying their Piggy Nachos. I'm kind of a snob when it comes to nachos, and they're amazing! You can see their entire menu HERE.

    Credit: Piggy Blues BBQ via FB
  • 4

    Hardy Geranium

    What makes The Hardy Geranium a must-see isn’t just the cool stuff they have in the store – which they have plenty! – it’s the store itself. The Hardy Geranium is in an old liquor store (hence the letters still present on the building) that Vicki Trimble converted into her flower and fashion boutique. In fact, the old beer cooler inside now houses flowers. The place just has a lot of personality and that’s true whether the garden center is in full bloom in the summer, the giant Christmas tree with hubcap ornaments in/out during the holidays, or the gigantic pink brassiere hands from the top of the building during Paint the Town Pink in February. Cool store inside and out with personality to spare!

    TSM Rochester
  • 5

    Torge's Live Sports Pub & Grill

    Torge’s Live in Austin is a fun place to go because it offers entertainment and fun no matter what you’re in the mood for. Quick lunch? Check. Live bands? Check. Cage fights? Check. Socialize after work? Check. Outside dining? Check. Games? Check? Night out with your sweetie? Check. Signature burger? You betcha. Better yet, Torge’s Live has whatever your friends are in the mood for. Whatever your mood, situation, or time of day. Torge’s Live should be at the top of your entertainment list.

    Credit: Torge's via Facebook