Sunday, June 9, 2013

Traveling to: Austin, TX

Austin, TX

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Austin is a great city. It's actually a "city within a park", at least that's what it says on all the signs throughout the city. Austin is the 7th city my husband and I have lived in since we got married *way*  back in 1999. It was a fantastic place to live. It is a large city and many people say "Austin" but really they are referring to North Austin which, in my opinion, is way too far out to actually be Austin proper. I worked in North Austin for a while and it was quite a drive each and every day. I wish we had known more about the city when we moved there as hubby's work was also a 30 minute drive, mine was easily 45 minutes on a good day!

But, traffic aside, if you live in Austin proper and pretty much stay in that area there are some amazing things to see and do, which is what I want to put together and address here. If it is bold and in coloured text, it is something that you honestly cannot miss. Seriously, it will be one of your biggest life regrets ;)


Barton Creek Green Belt
This is a great hike! It’s really beautiful. It is a swimming hole if it’s been raining so wear a bathing suit as there is nothing like swimming in a natural watering hole!!! It was mine & Cammi’s favorite place to go & I’d run often there with a girl friend.

Mount Bonnell
When we moved to Austin everyone talked this place up. When I was done I was a little underwhelmed as I expected the “climb” to be much tougher!  Of course I was also coming off a half marathon & P90X bender so my expectations for difficulty were pretty high! But, it is a beautiful walk & the view you get at the end is spectacular! It’s a must see for sure! It's also a great place for exercise because of the stairs.

Barton Springs Pool
Go swim at Barton Springs Pool.  It’s a beautiful area of town & there is a lot of history around the pool if you go to the link it will tell you all about it! The pool is cold though, so be prepared!!! There is a concession stand within the park.

Zilker Park
A super cute park with lots of walking trails. Barton Springs pool & Zilker Botanical Garden a located within the park. There is a fun train you can ride through the park. The train is good to do once your legs are tired from hiking all the trails! This park is also a great place to play catch, frisbee, or fly a kite! There is also a frisbee golf  "range", so if you are into that I hear it's a great course!

Austin Nature & Science Centre
Austin Nature & Science Centre is within Zilker Park as well. It's a fantastic place to take the kids, my daughter could spend hours upon hours there! The last time we were there they had a dinosaur trail that you could walk and then at the end there were sand pits the kids could dig in & "excavate" different bones! There was also a wildlife refuge in the back area. It was interesting to read about how the different animals came to live there and why. Inside there is lots of info about the earth with live in and space, fossil's, etc. It's very much a hands on place and will keep everyone busy for hours on end!

Zilker Botanical Garden
Zilker Botanical Garden is a just off a main street. The first time we went there I was very skeptical because I figured our experience would be marred by all the traffic. However, when you walk in it's like being in a quite perfect oasis. It's almost like you temporarily leave the city. The different sections of gardens are amazing. I don't want to give any spoilers because seeing them all for the first time absolutely makes the whole experience.

Lady Bird Lake
This is a nice later afternoon walk or great for a nice run! While you are there see if you can check out the bats under the Congress Avenue Bridge. If you catch them on a day they fly out at sunset it's a pretty spectacular sight!

Texas State Capitol
You never want to miss seeing a capitol building. We've lived in several different capitol cities and we always go to check out the capitol buildings and learn more about the history of the city. If you can catch the legislature when it's in session it is well worth it! The experience will never be forgotten.

Texas State History Museum
Visiting the State History Museum was an incredible experience. I got to spend it on a field trip with my daughter's class. Their exhibits are constantly changing and are really well done. After, if you get the chance to walk around the University of Texas the campus is beautiful!

Hamilton Pool
This natural pool with a little waterfall I hear is well worth the visit. We never managed to make it there, sadly, but if we ever make it back to Austin it is at the top of my list of things to do.

Sixth Street Bars & Clubs
If you are going without children, are visiting friends/family and can get out without the kids, going down to Sixth Street is worth the adventure! We loved to start at a little dueling piano bar then hop from club to club after that. It is a bit of a younger crowd down there, but that is what we liked about it! After a certain time in the evenings the street itself is 18 and up only, so be forewarned if you are downtown with the kids!

Alamo Drafthouse
The Alamo Drafthouse I feel is an Austin staple. I didn't put it at the top of the list though because when it comes down to it, it is just a movie theater. If you are going for an extended stay, I'd say a week or more it's definitely worth going and catching a movie there. If you are just going for a long weekend skip it and get it next time. It's a cozy theater, where you can dine while you watch. You can catch new releases or old flicks that are set to a theme such a heckling, sing alongs, etc. It's a super fun environment and the food kicks ass! Getting a $5 milkshake is 100% worth it!!!


Regular Food

The Salt Lick
The Salt Lick is a can't miss place. Seriously, you cannot miss it, I can't stress this enough! Also, I linked to the Driftwood location, only go to that location. It is the original location and I think serves the best food and has the best ambiance. Hubby tried the location once in North Austin, and another friend tried the location at the airport and both agreed those locations are just not the same as Driftwood. Driftwood is also a bring your own beer/wine place. Don't be shy, people often bring in whole coolers full of beer/wine. There is also a winery on site that they had just opened when we first visited there in 2010.

Rudy's Bar-B-Que
This is a staple chain around Austin, not sure if they are anywhere else in Texas. But, the brisket is out of this world! If it is your first time there, tell them as they have a really special tradition they do for newbies. I didn't get it as hubby knew I'd be super embarrassed but I've seen it happen to other's and it's worth the experience. Highlights: Mr. loves the extra moist brisket, I prefer the lean. The creamed corn is a must have, you'll never taste anything like it again in your life. Also, just because you're having bbq you should grab a banana pudding-delish!

Perry's Steakhouse
There are quite a few really good steak houses in downtown our favorite was Perry’s. They had a live piano player & sometimes a bassist. The patio is really nice in the evenings, even in the summer. 


Amy's Ice Cream
Amy's  is a local place that has grown by leaps & bounds. The quality has not decreased with the success of the business, however. If anything the flavours have become more unique and delicious. Plus, since we lived there we were able to get a stamp card to earn free ice creams and whatnot. Customer service is always top notch and the employees have their own unique personalities they are allowed to share with their customers.

Gourdough's Doughnuts
These are the most insane doughnuts you'll ever have in your life! I promise you, you will never have anything like it again in your life. Also, you can go and split one with someone, but I recommend getting your own & trying one another's that way you can try a couple of different ones. Each one has it's own unique combination. You'll never finish a whole one, so don't even try, but they are absolutely worth every. single.  penny.

Coffee/Adult Beverages

Mozart's Coffee Roaster's
Seated right on the water, Mozart's  is one of the few coffee shops with a view this amazing. It's a great place to go sit, have a coffee, and read a good book or get some work done. There are two restaurants on either side that are quite delicious as well, but I don't know the names of them. 

The Oasis
The Oasis is an Austin staple I think. It sits on Lake Travis and has amazing views. When we learned we were moving to Austin, the first thing my Aunt did was go through her Southern Living magazines & sent me a small article on the Oasis and how wonderful this place was. I'll be honest if you go, just go for drinks. The food was mediocre, at best. BUT, the sunset's are truly amazing!!! Going for a beverage & maybe an appetizer is a very good idea to get to sit outside and enjoy the view.

Texas Wine Trail
When you think of Texas you certainly don't think of wine! But, Texas does have it's own Wine Trail right down in the hill country! I did not have the pleasure of enjoying it as my Mr. doesn't drink and I feel bad dragging him on excursions where he's basically there to be my driver. But, the hill country itself it beautiful so if you have a group that is super into wine tasting taking a tour of the different wineries in the area is a great idea!

North Austin

Originally I wasn't going to include things to do in North Austin, but I do realize if you are going to visit family many of them may not live in South Austin or Downtown like we did. Most of our friends actually lived in North Austin, so I figured I would highlight a few of the things we did while there.

Round Rock Donuts
My Mr. tells me these donuts are pretty amazing. People used to bring them into his work frequently and he loved them. So, if you're in the area...get some!

Rock'N River Family Aquatic Centre
I took the kiddo here once. It was super fun, she really enjoyed it. They have all kinds of fun stuff for people of all ages. The water slides were her absolute favourite.



  1. You left out some of my favorite restaurants. When I think of Austin, all I think about is food! County Line BBQ on the Lake, great food and great view. Crown and Anchor - great greasy burgers and fries by UT. Conan Pizza - I'm afraid it might be gone by now. I second Amy's Ice Cream and Salt Lick. Hyde Park Bar and Grill - best chicken fried steak ever and they serve their fries with a delicious dipping sauce.

    Bats under the bridge (seasonal). Watched them come out one night...truely amazing. Enchanted Rock isn't quite in Austin, but its the biggest rock in this country and you climb to the top - very cool.....actually it can be very hot.

    1. Those are some great additions! Ones I remember you telling us about but we never got to! :( Sadly, we weren't there long enough lol But I am with you, when I think Austin my first thoughts are FOOD! LOL So many delicious selections. We were sad though, we tried to see the bats on 3 different occasions all at the *height* of when they are supposed to fly out every night & we never got to see them, they always stayed huddled up every time. It was such a bummer.