4 In Travel

Loving The Lone Star State: Austin

The stars at night are big and bright…deep in the heart of Texas!

I grew up in the Lone Star State and, after taking A for his first visit, I can honestly say that there’s no place like home. Because even though I haven’t been there since high school, I instantly felt at home back in Texas.

We split our 5 days in heaven Texas between Austin and San Antonio, soaking up all that the two cities had to offer, including a ridiculous amount of delicious food, lots of silly selfies and more birds than I felt comfortable being near.  I decided to break up our trip over two posts so that both cities get the attention they deserve and up first is Austin!

Where we stayed: We splurged a little (read a lot) and stayed at the Driskill Hotel in downtown Austin.  It’s just a few minutes from 6th Street and all that Austin has to offer which made it perfect for walking everywhere we wanted to go. Plus its history and beauty made it a fun part of the trip versus just a place to sleep at night.

We loved it and would highly recommend staying there, but if the price is out of your budget, just stop in to tour the lobby and bar.  As A learned during our honeymoon, I am super into architectural details and the Driskill (built in 1886) was a buffet of awesome nooks and crannies. I took roughly 871295387293857 photos of light fixtures, but I will spare you all of them.

What we did:

Bullock Texas State History Museum: Before we got too far into our Texas journey, I wanted to make sure A learned just how fantastic the state was, so naturally I took him to a Texas-sized museum.  And you know what? He loved it! Even more than I could have imagined. Learning all about the revolution and the Alamo made the rest of our trip far more enjoyable because we had so much of the background knowledge down already.

Texas State Capitol Tour: I visited the Texas State Capitol when I was in high school and loved it so I knew I wanted to take A when we visited. We got really lucky with a fantastic tour guide (shout out to Georgia!) who was both super knowledgeable and very funny. Everything is free which is always a nice change of pace. I loved that despite all of the happenings in the world, you are still free to wander around the Capitol on your own. It’s a beautiful building and you should definitely check it out when in town.

StrayBoots scavenger hunt: This wasn’t unique to Austin (we did a scavenger hunt in D.C. a few years ago), but I am a huge fan of StrayBoots! You download the app and play along at your own pace. We took advantage of it as a semi-tour guide, stopping at all the restaurants and  trying a little something.  We likely never would have stopped at quite a few of the places so it was well worth it!

Where we ate: We both agreed diets didn’t count on vacation and hit the food pretty hard throughout our trip, specifically true Texas BBQ and Tex-Mex.  Austin had a bit of a reputation for being a foodie’s paradise and they did not disappoint at all.

Hopdoddy: We went for lunch on our first day in Austin and despite walking what seemed like a billion miles and standing in line for a fairly significant period of time, I would totally do it again for their burgers. If you want to avoid the lines, go at an off time, but honestly the line moves fairly quickly. A was in love with the giant, ice cold glasses they served beer in and I was a big fan of just about everything else. Definitely a must try.

Z’Tejas: Dinner on our first night consisted of another fairly long walk and some delicious Tex-Mex from another highly recommended place.  We loved their dip trio, especially the queso and almost lost our minds when they brought us fresh cornbread.  Try this place!

Voodoo Doughnut: We usually stick to only eating at local restaurants when traveling, but made an exception for my favorite doughnut place, which we first tried in Colorado.  I cannot recommend this place highly enough, especially if you have a bit of a sweet tooth.  Go for their classic Voodoo doll doughnut and you’re going to be happy.

Scholz Garten: Our scavenger hunt told us to find the oldest operating business in Texas. What it didn’t tell us to do was eat our weight in brisket (me) or bratwurst (A). But we did it anyway because we’re us.  The BBQ was awesome and I wanted to lick my dish when I was done.  It was served the right way: lots of sauce, hunks of white bread, super sour pickles and a few onion pieces.  I was in heaven.  Definitely recommend stopping here.

Texas Chili Parlor: Another scavenger hunt clue took us in search of super hot chili and boy did we find it! Along with some colorful characters and not nearly enough crackers, A and I tried the XXX chili. Holy cramoly.  It was definitely spicy, but really tasty and I am sure we would have loved the X or even XX versions without the massive amounts of indigestion. Be ready for a very unique dining experience if you stop in here.

The Driskill Grill: Our fancy dining experience in Austin was right in our hotel, but that doesn’t mean we settled on the food. No way. The Driskill Grill was so good! We each had the 7-course tasting menu, trying all sorts of new foods and flavors.  Honestly, we probably could have gone with the 5-course menu and still felt plenty full, but it was about the experience.  The food was amazing, the service was excellent and I got to wear heels and a fancy dress. Loved it!

The Salt Lick: Our last stop before heading to San Antonio was for…you guessed it…more BBQ! It’s outside of Austin, so you’ll definitely need to drive, but you’re rewarded with some gorgeous scenery and pretty stinking good BBQ. I don’t know if it’s the best I’ve ever had, but it was stinking delicious.

Overall, we had perfect weather (we wore shorts in November!!!) and just a flat out fantastic time in Austin. We already know that we want to head back soon! Check back next week for a recap of our time in San Antonio.

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