Disclaimer: This blog post will be extremely long because I love Austin, Texas and there is nothing you can do about it, okay? Proceed at your own risk.
Our first stop on our great American road trip was Austin, Texas. You may recall that we initially planned to drive from Orlando to San Francisco, but decided against it since I had already visited New Orleans earlier in the summer and I also didn’t want to spend a day in Tallahassee. So we flew to Austin, rented a car and drove from there.
Where we laid our heads to rest: Our friends Ryan, Christina and MJ were nice enough to host us for the first few days of our trip. Thank you, my loves!
Mount Bonnell was the easiest hike we embarked on during our trip. The mount is a point alongside Lake Austin, a portion of the Colorado River and provides a vista for viewing massive waterfront properties that will make you think rethink your career choices. We saw people enjoying the sunny day on their boats down below and discovered that it is a prime location for catching Eevee’s on PokemonGo (you’re welcome, nerds).
I’m a huge fan of Miami’s Wynwood Walls, so of course I had to pay a visit to Austin’s HOPE Outdoor Gallery. The paint park was launched five years ago by a nonprofit looking to provide an inspirational outlet for muralists, street artists and the community as a whole. The murals are constantly changing so every visit feels like you’re there for the first time.
In my opinion, the only downside to Austin is that the closest beach is located 208 miles away. But before I could wonder, “Do people in Austin even know what they’re missing out on (insert shameless destination plug here)?” our friends introduced us to Barton Springs Pool. This recreational outdoor swimming pool, located in Zilker Park, is filled with water from the neighboring springs. Not realizing that we weren’t the only people in Austin slowly melting into a puddle, we ventured out to pool and were met with a line about a mile long (I swear!) of sweaty families trying to escape the heat.
Needless to say, we left and visited Bull Creek District Park and Gus Fruh, which were significantly less packed and did not have an entry fee. Note to the inexperienced Florida traveler: the springs in Texas are different than the springs in Florida and you will need water shoes. Think pebbles and rocks hurting your feet as you attempt to hobble to the shore, but hey, no alligators! We were also able to rent kayaks from Rowing Dock, kayaked to the springs and saw about thirty or so turtles on the way! There were hundreds of people out on kayaks, canoes and SUPs–I had never seen anything like that before.
I window shopped on South Congress Avenue, which leads directly into downtown Austin and is known for its unique restaurants and retailers. Mi Casa Gallery had me pointing at colorful Mexican and Latin American art and saying, “My mom would LOVE this.” Unfortunately, our trip had just begun and I couldn’t see myself lugging art for two weeks so I didn’t buy anything (sorry, mom). At Uncommon Objects, a store which sells a little bit of everything from antiques to jewelry to taxidermy, I had the pleasure of hearing my husband pick up random objects, look at their price tags and laugh. “Would you like a pair of my mother’s kitchen scissors? They’re $65. Or how about this button? It’s $35.” 75 eye rolls later, we went into Triple Z Threadz which sells up-cycled vintage threads with “badass embroidery.” This store has everything you need from a Sasquatch With A Wrist Watch shirt to a Gorilla vs Shark shirt to the wallet from Pulp Fiction. If only I were a male with an ironic handlebar mustache, oh the shirts I would rock…
Nomz (in order of importance):
Whip In: I’ve recently gotten into Indian food and have found myself jonesing for naan and chicken tikka masala on the reg. So when I read an blurb on a travel magazine (yes, people still read those) on this Indian fusion joint, I had to go! The lamb samosas and bakra (goat) burger gave me life and I will dream about them for years to come.
Easy Tiger: I found this creek-side beer garden on an airline magazine (people still read those too) and the picture of a meat and cheese platter pretty much did it for me. We shared the mixed grill board and I chased it down with a White Avery Rascal. Our friends played ping-pong and I hugged dogs.
Tamale House East: From the outside, it doesn’t say much. From the inside, even less. But the magical back patio, with its fountain, colorfully-tiled tables and whimsical lights said, “you’re in abuela’s house, nena. ¿Que quieres comer?” The chicken tamales were a delight, some of the best I’ve ever had. The restaurant gets additional points for making me feel homesick for Mexico even though I’m Puerto Rican.
Austin, you have my heart and my stomach and I am already planning my return (start preparing the air mattress, Ryan).
Have you ever visited Austin? Did I miss anything?