Monday, 10 November 2014
things to do (and eat!) in Austin, Texas
Can you believe it's been a month since I returned from my trip to Austin, Texas?! Nope, me either. As is always the way with being self-employed, it was straight from holiday back into working mode, and I just haven't gotten round to sharing my trip here on the blog.
Sadly I was way too busy having an AMAZING time to really take many photos (plus couldn't be bothered to lug my camera round in crazy heat and humidity) so the only real images I have are the ones I shared over on my Instagram (go follow me @ladybirdlikes) plus another post I have coming up later in the week about my visit to the incredible Cathedral of Junk! But I still wanted to share some of the highlights of my trip so below, in no particular order, are my favourite places to visit and eat in Austin!
- take a dip to cool off at Barton Springs Pool - a spring fed natural outdoor pool where the water is always incredibly cool. It's about $4 to get in, but you can stay there all day!
- feed your chicken cravings at Mrs Ps Fried Chicken - the food trailer scene in Austin is strong, and Mrs Ps is one of the best we visited (so good we went there TWICE!) I recommed the chicken tenders, and farm frites, and the Mexican style corn. Everything is cooked to order and so reasonably priced.
- satisfy your inner adrenaline junkie with ziplining over Lake Travis - one of the best things I have ever done, we spend around three hours ziplining along lines of different lengths around the gorgeous scenery of Lake Travis. Not technically in Austin, but only took us around 40 minutes to drive there.
- take in some live music at Gueros - although Gueros is also a very yummy Mexican restaurant, they also have a garden area where Wednesday to Sunday they have live music, a bar serving frozen margheritas, and a selection of free chips and dips. Such an awesome way to spend an evening without spending a fortune!
- tuck in to some tacos from Torchys - Mexican food is a big thing in Austin (obviously, what with Texas being so close to Mexico!) and Torchys do some of the best tacos I have ever had! They have locations all over Austin, but my favourite is their food trailer on S 1st St. My favourites are the Green Chile Pork and the Fried Avocado, and the mister loved the Mr Pink (seared Ahi tuna!)
- do a spot of shopping on South Congress - no big chain stores here, just a plethora of uber cool vintage stores, kitsch gift stores, and treasure troves of handmade goodies. Make sure you visit Uncommon Objects if you love vintage curios and antique doodads!
- get yourself breakfast (or lunch/dinner/a 3am snack!) at Magnolia Cafe - literally open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, this place offers everything from pancakes, to burritos, to meatloaf. We had breakfast here probably half a dozen times, and everything we had was amazing (try the breakfast tacos, and make sure to get some pancakes at some point too.) We also had dinner here (just the once sadly) and I had the Magna Cristo (battered and fried sandwich, like a cross between French toast and a BLT) plus we shared the Mag Queso and chips, which was possibly one of the best things I've ever eaten!
- try your hand at paddle boarding on the Colorado River - there are a bunch of places around Austin you can hire paddleboards (and kayaks too) from but we went with Rowing Dock as they were closest to us. We had so much fun (even though Jonathan fell in a total of seven times and swallowed half of the Colarado River in the process) and it was pretty reasonable. It cost $15 for an hour, and we were pretty tired after an hour, so wouldn't recommend hiring for longer than that! Something different to do, and a great way to explore Austin from a different viewpoint.
- meat lovers should not miss Salt Lick BBQ - again, not technically in Austin, but only took us about half an hour to drive there from where we were staying. We actually found out about this place when it was featured on Man vs Food, and all the reviews we read sung its praises. Well, it was incredible! I'm not a huge meat eater, but I had the pulled pork bun and it was so so good. Plus it's pretty awesome watching them cook on the huge open round grill.
- go on a segway tour of the city - there are several companies that offer segway tours of Austin but we used SegCity. It's not the cheapest thing ever - our two and a half hour 'ulitmate city tour' worked out at $90 each including the tip for our tour guide. But when else will you get to whizz around a city on a segway?! SegCity offers a number of different tours - night tours, street art tours (great if you want to see the amazing street art Austin has on offer), and even a haunted legends tour!
- self-serve Fro Yo, need I say anymore? Berry Austin do an array of flavours, plus a ton of toppings, all of which are self-service, you just pay by the weight! Also, I have to give a special shoutout to Amy's Ice Creams. There are numerous Amy's around Austin, and they do really awesome ice cream, which you can add toppings and sauces to. Not to be missed!
- comic collectors/vinyl toy collectors/nerdy types need to check out Austin Books and Comics - pretty much the best comic/graphic novel store I have ever been in, this place is huge, and packed full of every genre you could think of. They have new stuff, old stuff, and everything inbetween, plus they have the Sidekick Store (behind ABC) where they sell discounted comics at bargain prices. Even better, right next door is Guzu Gallery, a vinyl toy store selling collectible toys, art books, and gifts.
- visit the HUGE whole foods store on Lamar in Downtown - this place is the size of a hypermarket, and sells absolutely everything! They have the most ridiculous selection of fresh produce, deli style counters where you can buy ready made food, an instore bakery.... I would live here if I could!
- watch the bats leaving the Congress Avenue Bridge - during the summer months every day at dusk, just as the sun is setting, hundreds of thousands of bats leave their home under the bridge. It's an incredible sight to see. You can book a river cruise to watch the bats from the river, but we just stood on the bridge. Definitely something to add to your to do list, unless of course you really hate bats!
- photograph some of the amazing street art around Austin (you can do tours which take you to the most famous pieces) - there are resources online which help pinpoint where specific pieces are, so you can spend a day travelling from piece to piece. I'd also highly recommend a visit to Baylor Street Art Wall, where a partially destroyed building has been turned into a haven for graffiti artists. It changes constantly as old pieces are painted over, and there is some real talent on show.
- have an iced coffee at Jo's Coffee on SoCo - best atmosphere, great for people watching, yummy coffee, always lots of cute dogs about, AND its boasts the infamous 'you are so loved' graffitti on the side of the building
- wander around the Cathedral of Junk (there is a full blog post coming up in a few days about this place because it is just incredible!)
- grab a slice of pizza from HomeSlice - I am obsessed with the white pie with spinach, but the best way to enjoy is grab three or four slices to share!
If you want any more info, or ideas of where to stay etc, then just drop me an email and I'll try my best to help! I can't over-emphasise how much I absolutely LOVE Austin - it appeals to me on so many levels (although I did struggle with the heat a bit!) - it's still a relatively untouristy place (except during the music festivals like SXSW and ACL) but I reckon it will become more of a destination since British Airways have started offering direct flights from Heathrow.