Welcome to the Fabulous 50’s, my friend!
How are you feeling about your big 5-0? Does it feel like this date flopped onto the calendar out of the blue, or have you been planning a celebratory shindig for months?
Either way, let me just assure you, life is about to get good in a whole lot of new ways. So get yourself a warm mug of Metamucil, and read on, my friend.
The following list of 50 Ways to Celebrate Your BIG 5-0 is about to inspire the compression socks right off your half-century old feet! (Yikes, did I really just say half-century?)
50. Paint a Memory of Your Big Day.
Painting With a Twist is a great place to paint a memory. When I celebrated with a bride-to-be, our group painted bats and a bridge. It doesn’t get more Austin than that.
Whether you plan a private party and take your own cake, or sign up yourself and a BFF to paint and enjoy a glass of wine, painting a memory of your big day is a great way to celebrate. The same basic concept is available from these two creative franchises: (Painting With a Twist – 5 locations) and Pinot’s Palette (3 locations).
49. Cheer at a sporting event.
What a great way to celebrate your birthday! Take the whole family out to the ball game, have hot dogs and then head home for chocolate cake and ice cream. Or surprise your sports-loving husband by gathering a few (maybe a bunch) of friends, giving them all a party-favor-t-shirt to wear at the game and then have a birthday cake tailgate in the parking lot with cupcakes, beverages, party napkins and plenty of pictures.
48. Celebrate in style at a luxury hotel.
Hotel Granduca is just one of Austin’s fine hotels. It’s a great pic for luxury, though, because, for one thing, it’s located on the prettiest highway in Texas. It has a beautiful pool, for another, and if you need a third reason, it’s the food. No need to leave the property – Hotel Granduca has it all. If treating yourself to a luxury stay in one of Austin’s swankiest hotels is the kind of birthday celebration you need, I say, by all means, do it. Everyone needs a frivolous dose of swank when they hit The Big 5-0.
47. Take a cooking class.
Gather up an arsenal of fresh techniques for your next 50 years in the kitchen at a celebratory cooking class! Faraday’s Kitchen Store, Central Market, Sur la Table and Thai Fresh are all on the list of best places to learn something new in the kitchen.
46. Have a classic celebration at Hut’s Hamburgers.
If you gather your friends to celebrate on a Wednesday night, you can enjoy 2-for-1 prices on Hut’s delicious burgers, like the Wolfman Jack (sour cream, diced chilies, Jack cheese and bacon). Yum!
45. Breathe deeply at a yoga class.
Now that you’re 50, you’re going to need to ramp it up on the stretching and breathing, my friend. Just sayin.’ So get yourself some cute yoga pants and start posing.
44. Eat local and buy the t-shirt.
You need lots of t-shirts to wear while you lounge around drinking your Kombucha and watching Wheel of Fortune (ha ha), so go ahead – welcome the 50’s with a comfy shirt from one of Austin’s famous locals, like Torchy’s, P Terry’s, Jo’s, or Royal Blue Grocery.
43. Instagram some mural pics.
There are so many fun murals around Austin that you could literally make a whole weekend of finding them and posting all the pics to your Insta page. #saycheese
42. Take a bat cruise.
Groups from 2-140 are welcome on a Capital Cruises excursion under the bat-watching bridge, and you can even bring your own bat-themed birthday cupcakes! If you haven’t ever taken a bat cruise, make your plans. Life’s short, as you now know.
41. Float a river.
After 50 years of living, a leisurely float down a scenic Texas river is just what you need!
40. Read a book about Austin – or write a book about yourself.
The most interesting book I’ve read about Austin (so far) is this one. After reading it, I found out there are actually groups of people who have been discussing this mystery for years, over happy hour, hashing out theories, going over clues, still trying to solve the crime. And if you want to measure out your memoirs into your own gripping tale of intrigue, take a class or attend a writing retreat at The Writing Barn. How cool would it be to write your own story? Do it now before you forget all the details. By the way, Mr. Hollandsworth is doing his whole life’s best work right now – at age 59.
39. Eat some chocolate.
Really, there’s no better way to say happy birthday to me than to enjoy some chocolate. If you want to have a bite of smoothy, creamy, caramel-y, cherry-filled, nut-enhanced, lavender-infused yumminess every single day of your 50th birthday year, I give you permission. And here are just a few places where you can get it: Chocolaterie Tessa, Mia Chocolates, Delysia Chocolatier and Maggie Louise Confections.
38. Dress up and go to the symphony.
Celebrate adding another year to your cultured, refined self at a performance by The Austin Symphony. If you need a new bow tie or a lovely Gatsby-style evening gown for the birthday occasion, now is the time to splurge and spoil yourself BIG, because you are the BIG 5-0. Can I get a big copper-pot drum roll, please?
37. Become a season ticket holder at the Long Center.
Season ticket holders enjoy special perks, outstanding performances and a price break. That’s a great deal because you need to really be saving for retirement now.
36. Listen to some live music at the Elephant Room.
The Elephant Room is a must – often if you can, and at least once to celebrate your big birthday. The temperature is nice and cool down in the basement of the building (anyone having a hot flash??), and the music is kinda slow jazzy. Mmmm. Love me some Elephant Room.
35. Get some new eyeglasses.
Now that you’re the BIG 5-0, you won’t want to miss a thing (especially a pedestrian, stop sign or red light!), so treat yourself to a new, and oh-so-stylish pair of Warby Parker’s. The experience is not only painless at this new millennially-infused store, it’s downright pleasant. Read more here and then get yourself, pronto, my 50-year-old friend, to the South Congress location or the Domain Northside store. Maybe you should just plan a whole day of birthday good-for-yourself fun and visit your dentist, dermatologist, psychologist, proctologist, podiatrist, gynecologist and urologist. You can make Warby Parker your last stop. You really don’t need to be able to see anything at those other places anyway.
34. Give back.
Most of us who have hit the BIG 5-0 have been volunteering for the majority of our adult lives. Between PTA, booster club and all manner of whatnot at the kids’ schools, church activities, and our favorite charities mixed in, Over Fiftyers are no strangers to volunteering. But, this is a new chapter! It’s time for a fresh look at your charitable efforts. Is there a new organization whose work lines up with a passion? To start your juices flowing and get you energized for a new chapter of blessing others, here are a few ideas: Central Texas Food Bank, Meals on Wheels Central Texas, Mobile Loaves & Fishes, Down Syndrome Association of Central Texas, Keep Austin Beautiful, Safe Austin, and Austin Diaper Bank.
33. Ride the metro rail from top to bottom – or bottom to top.
From Leander to Downtown, there are nine stops along the MetroRail line. For your BIG 5-0, how about parking your car downtown, riding to Leander for lunch at Farm to Fork, and then riding back downtown for dinner at Numero 28 and a movie at the Violet Crown? What a fun day that would be!
32. Hire a photographer.
This is the perfect time to have your birthday portrait done by a pro. There will be weddings and grandkids in your future, and things will be changing in lots of exciting ways. For now, maybe you would want a new professional photo of you and your hubby, or just one all by yourself, taken at one of Austin’s best photo-op locations. Professional photographers are plentiful in Austin, so if you do a little research, you’ll find just the right behind-the-lens person to help you capture the essence of your BIG 5-0 day.
31. Rent a boat.
There’s nothing like being on the water to clear the cobwebs and inspire you for a new day. Throw yourself a party on a pontoon, cruise around the coves slowly, or slip your toesies into a slalom ski, yell, “Hit it!” and hold on tight. Actually, there’s some strong symbolism in that slalom idea, but I’ll let you ponder it while you’re behind the boat, coasting, then jumping the wake, then coasting again. Definitely symbolic.
30. Go shopping.
Turning 50 is all kinds of fun in Austin, especially if you can do a little shopping at the Domain! Ladies can use their birthday discount at Kendra Scott while the birthday guy would probably prefer to spend his birthday cash on something from Peter Millar. Have dinner at North Italia, followed by a Sprinkles cupcake, and you’ve just had yourself a lovely day of birthday celebration, my friend.
29. Share a box of Tiff’s Treats.
In the land of standout successes, Tiff’s Treats reigns. From the beginning when they were just two college students selling warm cookies around the UT campus to today, the owners of Tiff’s have created an iconic business that sets the standard for birthday treats.
28. Be entertained in an intimate setting at One World Theatre.
Every performance is personal, and every seat is a good one at One World Theatre. Add dinner to your ticket, and it’s a one-stop, low-key, classy as can be, birthday evening fit for celebrating YOU. Parking is free.
27. Treat yourself to a massage.
See how this photo is a little blurred? Well, that’s how you’re going to feel after a massage at Woodhouse Day Spa. I’m not kidding, either. My hubby picks me up and drives me home after a massage at Woodhouse. I simply can’t be trusted to think straight afterwards! Here’s a more (focused) virtual tour.
26. Take a scenic drive.
Don’t pre-plan all your stops on this long, scenic drive – just be a pioneer, an adventurer, a wanderer. Roll down the windows, play your favorite oldies from high school and college days, sing along, and let your hair fly (while you still have some).
25. Swim at Barton Springs.
If you’re feeling a little hot and bothered by all the half-century comments and the age-reminding gifts that come from the pharmacy’s geriatric aisle, just go down to Barton Springs Pool and cool off. Ease in, though. You don’t want to shock your system and have to be carried out on a stretcher. Your friends would really have a heyday with that one.
24. Take selfies.
I’m sure you’ve noticed that once we figured out Facebook, our kids immediately moved on to Snap Chat. Poor things, we try to stay up with them, but we’re a step behind, learning from them, and then taking over their turf. It’s the same with selfies. They showed us how to do it, and now it’s become our fun. So, get yourself a selfie stick and have at it. Hey, how about taking a whole year of selfies – phone-sized self-portraits of YOU doing all 50 of the ideas in this post – and making a special photo book for the kids.
23. Go to church.
If you’re hitting the big 5-0 and you haven’t been to church in years, I love you so much and want to encourage you to go. Come to my church downtown or find another one. We visited what seemed like a million churches when we moved to Austin, and they’re all fantastic places where groups of people are worshiping God together, loving each other and reaching out to those in need around them. Fifty is the perfect time to start over and find your place in church.
22. Run a race.
No doubt you’ve made some new fitness goals for the next year of your life. There’s something about turning 50 that makes you want to conquer the yet-unconquered in big ways, like running a marathon. Now’s your chance. Treat yourself to some new running shoes and challenge yourself to fulfill a fitness goal. Ask your friends and family to cheer you on in the morning and then take you out for dinner and birthday dessert that night! Happy birthday, you fabulous, fit 50-year-old!
21. Join a Meetup Group.
Austin has so many Meetups! There’s literally a group for every interest, from RV’ers to Rock Climbers, so if you’re ready to roll out your 50th year with some new friends and unique experiences, a Meetup group may be your best way to celebrate.
20. Venture downtown to the Violet Crown.
How about spoiling your birthday self with a bag of popcorn and a movie? If you’re looking for a cinema with recliner-style seating, try iPic, Moviehouse & Eatery, or Alamo Drafthouse, but if you want to experience an eclectic vibe that epitomizes downtown Austin’s flair for the different, the Violet Crown is definitely your best choice. Food can be ordered off the menu (the Pear Gorgonzola pizza is ever so yummy) and enjoyed in the cozy restaurant area, but you can also order and take it inside the theater. My favorite thing to do is get a bag of popcorn to share (and what is it about the Violet Crown’s popcorn that makes it so exceptionally delicious??) and a Maine Root Ginger Ale with crushed ice from the bar. Mmmm. I think I’ll celebrate your birthday, too.
19. Attend a festival.
Festivals are Austin’s thing. From Asian food to award-winning films, there’s a festival fit for your birthday celebration.
18. Eat a great steak.
If a fancy dinner is how you want to treat birthday man you love, take him out to any one of Austin’s fine steakhouses and he’ll be happy as a clam – or a lobster, maybe. But, I’m here to tell you that a birthday dinner at Capital Grille will be r-e-m-e-m-b-e-r-e-d. It’s not cheap, but if your intention is to do it up big, this is the place. Capital Grille is my top choice for big celebration dinners when you’re sparing no expense. Just sayin’.
17. Find your favorite BBQ.
This one will keep you busy from now ’till the dawn of your next decade, my friend. While the jury is still out on my favorite all-time BBQ, when someone asks me to recommend, I say this: Pok-e-Jo’s is my favorite sausage, and Cooper’s makes the best BBQ chicken I’ve ever tasted. Hands down, the best brisket sandwich I’ve had (so far) is at Slab’s. That’s four years of research.
16. Experience Lady Bird Lake on a bicycle.
Take this birthday opportunity to ride bikes that you don’t have to transport on a route you don’t have to design. For around $50, you can take a 7-9 mile ride through downtown Austin and around the lake that takes about two hours. Even birthday-better would be an adventure designed by Austin Bike Tours especially for you. (Followed by birthday brunch, of course.)
15. Take a wine tour.
Celebrate your birthday limousine-style with a wine tour for you and a few of your friends. Let someone else do the driving while you enjoy delicious wines made from Texas grapes. They’ll even provide a gourmet box lunch.
14. Tour the Capitol.
Ok, I know. This isn’t exactly what you might think someone would suggest for your 50th, but, then again, why not? You’re a big part of Texas’ history, you know. You’ve now been alive for almost a third of Texas’ years as a state! That probably calls for a Capitol tour.
13. Make your own birthday cake.
You can make your very own birthday cake at Make it Sweet. Just make sure you remember to get plenty of candles.
12. Sign up for dance class.
From Texas Two Step to West Coast Swing if you’ve always wanted to learn to dance, there’s a studio, an instructor and a lesson for you.
11. Take a hike.
Austin is home to loads of hiking trails. Take the whole day off from work and get a little solitude in the sanctuary of an outdoor space on one of these tucked away trails or attach this trail directory to the door of the fridge and check ’em off as you go.
10. Get a pedicure.
Get a fancy luxurious pedi at Milk + Honey spa because, after all: “Life’s too short for ugly feet.” – Anonymous.
9. Think outside the birthday box with Event Brite.
Download the Event Brite app, or just peruse the online link here, and you’ll receive customized info about fun events near you.
8. Zipline at Lake Travis.
Make sure your will is in order, because you’re going to have to sign a waiver for this birthday adventure. If you’re really a thrillseeker, you can zipline over Lake Travis at night. And, hey, if you plan this adventure just right, you can literally say Goodbye 40’s at the moment you become a 50 year-old! How fun would that be?
7. Decorate a tree on Hwy 360.
Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, Highway 360 (Capital of Texas Highway) becomes a showcase for decorated evergreen trees. The crazier the better. I see a party-hat, bazooka beholden tree in your birthday future.
6. Become a member at the Paramount Theatre.
It takes a lot of support to keep the Paramount Theatre thriving in its historic spot on Congress Avenue. Become a member, and not only will you receive benefits that will last until your 51st, but you’ll also be leaving your mark on Austin in a bigger way than blowing out 50 candles! Happy birthday, you forward thinker, you.
5. Move downtown.
Ok, it’s not for everyone, but it’s for about 18,000 people who have made downtown Austin their home. If you want to really, really, really do your 50’s up big, downsize your stuff, sell the house and move downtown, where so much of what makes Austin so fantastic will literally be in your backyard. (There are so many fantastic Realtors® here in Austin, but if you need a recommendation, I’ve got one for you.)
4. Make a new list.
Where is it you haven’t yet been? Who have you not yet had the opportunity to meet? What experiences still push you and keep you motivated to dream big? Check out Annette White’s bucket list of 1000 things here, and purchase her book here.
3. Put all your family videos on DVD.
Can you believe how many different video recorders have come and gone in your 50 years??!! If you have a bunch of old videocassettes you never watch, tell somebody who loves you to get them all put on DVD at this reputable company. It won’t be cheap, but you’ll be one happy birthday guy or gal when you’re kicked back for a Saturday of coffee in one hand, tissue in another.
2. Take the Audi Driving Experience at Circuit of the Americas.
Oh, yeah. THIS is a great way to celebrate your big ol’, huge-deal, half-century birthday, my dear old friend! For a measly six grand, you can drive like a pro around the world-class championship racetrack at Circuit of the Americas, right here in Austin. Just think, from the years of driving you’ve negotiated in Austin traffic, you probably already have some serious Audi-driving skills. Shoot, Handsome Harry Gant and Robert Arthur “Bobby” Allison WON races at your age. Book your amazing birthday experience here. Varoom! Varoom!
1. Buy a new car!
If you didn’t find anything in the first 49 ideas to blow the top off your celebration, maybe this one suits you better. Let’s see, red or blue?
Happy birthday to you!
Happy birthday, dear friend. I hope you’re celebrating big, because you’re a really big deal. And just remember this:
Have I gotten you just a little bit excited about turning 50 – or are you Livin’ on a Prayer that no one will notice? Well, don’t worry, it’s going to be a fabulous year filled with surprises, so Don’t Stop Believin,’ okay? I predict that when your birthday rolls around at this same time next year, you might just be able to say: “I Had the Time of My Life.”
Encouraging an everyday life of intentional adventure, now more than ever before,