As a lover of the great outdoors, I was looking forward to Austin, the state capital. We started off by taking a greyhound from Dallas. It can be quite cheap if booked in advance, with fares starting as low as $5 one way. However, rentals are cost effective too as long as it’s not booked near the airport and returned at the same location.
First stop was Torchy’s Tacos which is so delicious, even Barack Obama can attest to it from last year’s visit. It’s a chain restaurant throughout Texas, Colorado and Oklahoma but not sure which one is the best. I got the baja shrimp and it was slammin’. There’s also the Democrat and Republican for you political junkies. Check out their Insta…who wouldn’t want to get #torturedbytacos?
Next up was Barton Springs inside the beautiful Zilker Park. The park offers beautiful hiking trails, bike rentals and canoeing. Barton Springs Pool is a recreational outdoor swimming pool that is filled with water from nearby natural springs so can you can go for a dip even during the winter. We didn’t have time to attend other parks but Austin has several ones like McKinney State Falls that are worth looking into if hiking is your thing.
I like kayaking wherever I go and managed to snag a great Groupon deal to kayak on Lady Bird Lake; paid $31 for four people to kayak for 4 hours. It warmed my heart knowing people were in their office cubicles looking at me with envy while I paddled away to the beat of jazz music playing nearby.
Kayaking is a great way to view downtown Austin and work up an appetite. We didn’t get our money’s worth because the Texas sun eventually got to us. If you do kayak, make sure to bring snacks and drinks with you.
For lunch we stopped at Gus’s Famous Fried Chicken where their spicy chicken lives up to their reputation. Parking is a nightmare, the place inside isn’t fancy and there’s always a wait but it’s all worth it.
After a quick nap, we headed to 6th Street for live music at Stubb’s BBQ, another place visited by Obama. Since UT Austin campus is nearby, it’s usually filled with college kids. For those wanting to avoid this crowd, head over to Rainey Street near Lady Bird Lake and you can discover everything from upscale restaurants to delicious food trailers.
Day two took us into Hill country and into the family owned Duchman Vineyards. Even with the dead trees, it was beautiful in January so I can only imagine what it would be like during the spring.
On the way back we had lunch at Salt Lick BBQ where I got to try bison for the first time! Brisket, bison, veggies and the homemade peach cobbler was delicious; I feel like you can’t go wrong with anything on the menu but make sure to bring plenty of cash as they don’t take cards. After days of eating burgers and BBQ, I needed to switch it up. Tuk Tuk Thai Café did not disappoint, I was satisfied with my order of Pad King and fried rice. I know what you must be thinking, and the answer is yes, my trip to Texas did revolve around food and I ain’t sorry.
However, the prime reason to visit Austin (like we need more) is for South by Southwest. It is an annual conglomerate of film, interactive media, and music festivals and conferences that take place in mid-March. Each year, Zilker Park hosts a three-day American music festival called Austin City Limits (ACL) Music Festival. ACL features more than 150 acts that cover most musical genres, like rock, hip-hop, electronic, country, folk and indie. It’s definitely worth coming back to Austin to attend either or both these festivals.