This year instead of taking a big summer vacation, my family decided to go on a weekend trip to Austin, TX to celebrate my birthday and visit my roommate from last year and her family.
We departed on Friday morning and after a couple of quick flights, we arrived in Austin that afternoon around 3:00 PM.
When looking at where to stay in Austin, there were tons of great options, such as the Hyatt, but we decided on staying at the Historic Driskill Hotel. It was absolutely beautiful; the lobby alone took my breath away. (It is also rumored to be haunted in room 525, so beware!)
After some down time, we got ready to meet my roommate from last year, Kaleigh, and her parents for an early dinner at the Hula Hut! Located right on Lake Austin, and offering outdoor and indoor seating, was a perfect way to kick off our trip. I had the Shrimp Pipeline Enchiladas, which were absolute to die for and probably could have fed two people, not just one. I also was developing an addition to their White Dip, which I was told is a Ranch Jalapeño dip that I swear was made in heaven and brought down to the Earth as a blessing from God. Guys, I’m not kidding, it was really that good!!
Next, we decided to walk next door to Mozart’s for dessert. They offered outdoor and indoor seating as well right on Lake Austin, which made for a beautiful view. They offered all kinds of Gelato flavors, house brewed coffee, and a dessert bar that had pies, cakes, and other bakery items. I got a small cup of the Carmel Gelato and loved it! It was the perfect blend of salty and sweet and cooled me off while we sat on the deck and chatted. As we talked Kaleigh’s mom told us about this place located on SoCo (South Congress Ave), that she thought was really neat so, that was our next adventure!
SoCo is full of amazing restaurants that are all within walking distance of each other, some offering outside seating and some no seating at all. We also passed the original Amy’s Ice Cream! But after walking all the way down SoCo, and stopping in a few shops along the way we finally found the place that we were looking for, a shop called Uncommon Objects. Uncommon Objects was full of neat (and sometimes weird) antique items and collectibles. Walking in the store, you immediately feel like you are walking back in time. There are old cameras, broaches, and even some cool eclectic items! Let’s just say that I am dying to go back someday when I have a house to put things in.
Our next stop was the Allen Boots store, it had shelves upon shelves of boots and I wanted every single one of them. Like, guys, I was literally in boot heaven, they had it all! Kaleigh and I tried to get our parents to get us another pair to add to our collections, but sadly they wouldn’t budge. BUT, the next time that I am in need of a pair of boots, you can bet that I’m headed to Allen Boots.
As we walked back to our cars we came across cute murals that we couldn’t help taking pictures by and being the most touristy people on the block. But in all honesty I didn’t care one bit, I was slowly but surely sweating to death and falling in love with Austin.
We ended the night watching the Bats of Austin that fly from the bridge on south Congress every night at sunset. It was the coolest and most disgusting thing that I have ever seen in my life, and to be honest I probably will never desire to go see it again. There were thousands of bats all flying in the night sky, it was humbling to see all of it and realize that we may build huge skyscrapers, and housing complexes, but we are not the only living species on this planet. We are coexisting with so many amazing creatures and every once in a while I don’t think it is a bad thing to be reminded of. It is a humbling thought to me honestly.
We started our day with brunch at the super amazing Juan in a Million, we even got to meet the famous Juan himself! All of us had wonderful meals; I got the Juan in a Million breakfast tacos, my parents got the Migas, and my brother got the Chorizo. The Juan in a Million breakfast tacos were really designed for two people, but none the less it was all great and everyone ate way too much!
After eating more than our weight in food we decided to head to Graffiti Park at Castle Hill to walk it all off a little bit, or try to at least. Graffiti Park is a concert area that is painted over once a month with white paint. Each month artists come spray paint whatever they desire on the walls for free, the only thing you have to do to paint is to get a free painters band from the table underneath the tent! I thought this was a really neat concept because instead of artists breaking laws to practice their graffiti, they were given a space of their own by the City of Austin, and they are actually encouraging the artists to expand their horizons. I feel like Austin has a great job keeping their local feel, despite being a big city.
Our next adventure of the day was the LBJ Presidential Library. The library was full of fun facts and interactive exhibits that taught you about the President and his First Lady. It was astonishing all of the things that you really don’t know about a President until you take a look at one of these museums that specialize in telling you everything you might ever want to know. To me, the coolest part of the whole museum was a room that I can’t remember the name of, but it was the 4th floor of the museum and it was absolutely beautiful. It had a huge Presidential seal on one wall and displayed at eye level were all of the presidents and their first ladies. That was the first time that I had seen our nation’s great leaders and their companions displayed like that, and it was really neat to see not only how times have changed, but that all of the Presidents would not have been what they were without their wives.
After leaving the library we ended the afternoon having refreshments at the Hyatt, located right off of the lake near where we watched all of the bats take flight (thank goodness we weren’t going to stay for a second show). This area is really a neat spot though because from here you could rent paddleboards or buy a ticket to watch the bats from a boat that rides underneath the bridge while the bats take off. There are so many things to do in Austin around every corner, it made me wonder how anyone could ever be bored growing up there.
Our last event of the evening was a nice dinner at the Roaring Fork. I had never been before, but the cornbread muffins were to die for, as well as the lamb chops appetizer that we got and a chili and tortilla appetizer as well (I forgot what it was called), then the main courses were even better. I had the fish special of the night, which was the Halibut and the way it was prepared made me swoon, and since we were celebrating my birthday, I got to have my choice of dessert! I never get to eat Crème Brule, so I decided that I would go for it, and man was I glad that I did! It was the best that I had ever had, and was nothing below perfection. All in all, I would say this is a place that I would love to come back to in the near future for sure.
After dinner, we ended the night by watching the sun go down at the Oasis at Lake Travis, and to be honest there was no better way to spend our last night in town. It was absolutely beautiful, and the energy from all of the people was great, and just a tip be ready for when the bell rings at sundown, that’s the time that everyone starts cheering and clapping! Don’t be the odd one out!
These two days went by so quickly and honestly I wish that I would have had two more to explore more local restaurants and hot spots, maybe even a hole in the wall coffee shop or to do some shopping, but I guess that gives me all the more reason to visit my favorite Austin natives! After eating my way through Austin I gained 3 pounds, but it was totally worth it! Thank you so much to the Beane family for helping make my birthday, and my first trip to Austin one I will never forget! I can’t wait to come back.