Weekend Getaway to Austin, Texas
Updated: Dec 27, 2019
Traveled to Austin, Texas for the first time and it was a blast! Before leaving for our trip I had heard nothing but good things and boy was I not disappointed. In Austin there is no shortage of great food, fun bars, scenic photo ops and friendly people.
I traveled there with my friend Sarah and we arrive on a Thursday night in mid September. Sarah stayed until Sunday morning, and I left Monday afternoon. We stayed at a vacation home rental just outside the city in a neighborhood called Travis Heights. Our home for the weekend was perfectly located. It was in a quiet neighborhood but not too far away from all the fun things downtown has to offer. Just a 15 minute drive from the Austin International Airport and about a 5 to 10 minute drive from the most popular spots in Austin like South Congress Avenue, East 6th street and Downtown.
Check out where we stayed >>> Mid Century Gem
~Austin Day 1~
Brunch at Fresa's Chicken al Carbon - 1703 South First St. -
Recommended to us by the owners of our vacation rental, we decided to head to Fresa's right when it opened at 11am on Friday. Right away we ordered Prickly Pear Margaritas and the Totally Loaded queso as an appetizer. Neither of us were fans of queso before hand so we were a little hesitant to order it. But, in our research, we learned that we should give queso a try while in Austin so we went out of our comfort zone and decided to order it. It was delicious. I would have drank it if I could, the Totally Loaded queso was that good! Queso really is just melted cheese so the Totally Loaded queso lets you feel like you're having something a little extra. Layers of guacamole, black beans, chorizo, pico de gallo and salsa fresca; every other bite had something a little different and even more delicious than the last. For my entree I ordered two tacos, the "El Santo Taco" and "La Mari Taco", with a side of black beans and Mexican rice. The tacos were also tasty but definitely overshadowed by how good the queso was.
Swimming at Barton Springs Municipal Pool - 2131 William Barton Dr -
Another must do activity we found in our research while in Austin was the Barton Springs Municipal Pool. We decided to get an Uber there after brunch to spend a couple of hours soaking in that Texas Sun. This outdoor pool reminded me a lot of Europe. Barton Springs had a casual but classy public pool atmosphere that I have only ever experienced in Europe. Maybe its the grass and trees that surround the natural spring pool, or the overall friendly populace that occupies the grassy knolls on the hot summer days in Austin. The overall feel of Barton springs was very pleasant. We had a great time there relaxing and people watching.
*Keep in mind, Barton Springs Municipal Pool does not allow you to bring alcohol and the lifeguards there have a zero tolerance policy towards those who bring in their own alcohol. Access into the Barton Springs Municipal Pool cost each of us $8.*
Dinner and drinks at P6 - located upstairs in the Line Hotel, 111 East Cesar Chaves -
Who doesn't love enjoying a meal with a fantastic view. Thankfully Austin, Texas has many rooftop bars and restaurants to choose from. We decided to have dinner while watching the sun set over the South Congress Bridge and Lady Bird Lake. I highly recommend making a reservation ahead of time. Many people come to this spot during the evening hours, and it gets particularly crowded at dusk because you get a great view of the Mexican Bats that fly from under the South Congress bridge every night. We were able to call the night before and make a reservation for 5:30pm. We knew that was a little early for a sunset dinner but we decided to make the most of it and taste their delicious cocktails and take our time with out meal, also the only other time they had available was 9:15pm. We shared the Artisanal Cheese Board and sipped on the Sundown Cobbler cocktail and the Glyda Rose cocktail.
~ Austin Day 2 ~
Afternoon beers at Banger's Sausage House and Beer Garden - Rainy St. -
Rainy Street in downtown Austin is lined with great hangout spots. We decided to head into Banger's Sausage House and Beer Garden because there was already of good crowd of locals and visitors alike, which made it perfect for people watching. Not to mention this place is very dog friendly and, let's face it, anywhere that's dog friendly is better than most. One thing that impressed us the most while hanging out at Banger's was how knowledgeable the staff was. Banger's has the largest beer wall in Texas which was pretty intimidating to order from. We asked Kathryn behind the outside bar what we should drink based on our preferences and without skipping a beat she knew exactly which beers we each would enjoy.
* Before we found Banger's on Rainy Street we tried finding a fun rooftop pool and bar at a swanky hotel to hang out at during the day. Through our research we found a couple that looked appealing but we quickly found out that they only allow guests who are staying at the hotel to enjoy the pool during the day. Most of the rooftop pools in Austin will open to the public later in the evening.*
Sunset Kayaking under South Congress Bridge to watch the nightly bat exodus.
Every night during the warmer months, around 1.5 million bats fly out from under to South Congress Bridge. Its a popular sight for visitors and crowds of people line up on the sidewalk of the bridge to watch all the bats take off for the night. We had already seen the bats leave the bridge while we were having drinks the night before at P6, but we decided to do something a little extra touristy and book a kayaking tour as well. It was definitely one of the highlights of our trip. Seeing the bat exodus from the side of the river was nothing compared to being right under the bridge as the bats took off. I booked the tour through Viator.com, our tour guides were very professional and knowledgeable and even told us some fun facts about the area as we waited for the bats to take flight.
*The tour lasts about 2 hours and varies on start times depending on what time sunset is the day of the tour.*
Post kayaking dessert at Il Brutto - 1601 E. 6th Street -
We had heard from locals in Austin that E. 6th Street was a popular street lined with bars and restaurants. Our kayaking tour ended at 9pm and we weren't particularly hungry but we were craving something sweet along with an evening cocktail. We took an Uber to the popular street and looked for a spot to grab a drink that hopefully had a dessert menu. Il Brutto fit the bill and had a lovely outdoor patio for us to people watch while we ate our delicious dessert. Sarah ordered the Tiramisu and I ordered the Gelati 3 Gusty Tasting which is a sample of three of their house-made gelato (one sweet, one bitter and one dark). They also have delicious cocktails including a house-made limoncello and a cocktail named the Basilico.
~ Austin Day 3 ~
Brunch at Lamberts Downtown BBQ - 401 W. 2nd St. -
Sarah had to catch a flight early this morning so I had the whole day to explore a little more of Austin by myself. I decided to head out and grab some Sunday brunch at Lamberts Downtown BBQ. They have a great brunch buffet only on Sunday's and I was able to grab a seat at the bar and enjoy an iced americano coffee and a glass of prosecco along with my meal. They're buffet is $40 per person (excluding drinks) and you can go back to the buffet as many times as you like as well as order items made to order form the kitchen. The kitchen items all looked delicious, and I was happy to discover that they were all small orders so I could try multiple selections. I tried several items from the buffet (including some of the best bacon I've ever had) and I ordered the Chilaquiles, and the Brioche French Toast with strawberry butter from the kitchen.
Walked to the Texas Capitol Building - 1100 Congress Ave. -
After that delicious brunch I definitely needed to walk off that rich food. The capitol building was a little under a mile and a half away and the walk seemed easy enough that scheduling an Uber felt unnecessary. I could have used one of the plethora of motorized scooters (like Lime Scooter or Bird) that are available throughout the city but those things honestly scare the bajezus out of me, so I walked. The capitol building is the largest state capitol building in the country (because everything is bigger in Texas), and its surrounded by green lawns, large trees and park benches. It was easy for me to find a large shady tree to sit under after my walk and write in my travel journal. I also took this opportunity to prop my phone up against my purse and set it on a timer to take the photo pictured above.
Dinner at Suerte - 1800 E. 6th St. -
Final meal was at Suerte on E. 6th street. I did make a reservation because I had heard from more than one local that this restaurant was very good and very popular. When I arrived I ended up being able to have dinner at the bar. If I'm dinning alone and the restaurant I'm at has a bar, I almost always choose to have my meal there. The bartenders are always helpful and most often very easy to talk to, the bartenders at Suerte were no exception. They helped me with all my questions about the menu and even wanted to chat with me about my trip to Austin. To start my meal I ordered the Ceviche Suerte. It was pretty spicy but it had chunks of watermelon and tomato to help cut through the heat. My next food item was the Shishito Tamal. The only criticism I have about this item was I wanted more! It came with one tamale and I honestly could have eaten 3 or 4 it was that good. For dessert the bartenders helped me pick the Tarta De Higo with fig, mesquite, cajeta and Mexican vanilla ice cream on top.
We had such a great time in Austin and we cannot wait to go back. Three days wasn't enough for us to do everything we wanted while we were there and we are hoping we can go back soon to experience it more.
Some of the things we missed:
- Hamilton Pool
- Other bars and restaurants on Rainy St.
- Castle Hill Graffiti Park
- Get a picture in front of a mural
The people in Austin were so friendly and made the experience that much better. Shout out to some particularity helpful people:
- Gabriella at P6
- Kathryn at Bangers
- Ryan at Suerte
- Marcelo from Uber