Tejas!

2018 rolled around and I had a mental list of a few bucket list places in the US. First up, Austin, Texas! Luckily, 2018 also brought me a new BFF who happens to live there, insert a one Bill Skelts!

I flew in on a Frontier flight Wednesday night– my first experience with the budget airline. While the $88 one way trip was monetarily worth it, the experience was definitely a bit rugged (cue someone vaping in the back of the plane lol). Will is a saint and picked me up at the airport past midnight, but we were up and at it on Thursday morning!

First up was a duck tour of the city, something we were both happy-touristy enough to want to do. It was a good way for me to start off in the city because I felt as though I got a feel for the different neighborhoods and where all of the major streets were. The highlight was definitely when we got out onto Lake Austin and had the chance to see a lot of the really nice/big/expensive lake front houses. Fun fact from the driver: Sandra Bullock rented one of those houses when she was going through a divorce with Tommy Lee? Also, Michael Dell’s hilltop mansion was a big standout.

 

After the tour, we walked down 6th Street to find a place to grab lunch. I loved how unique all of the bar and restaurant fronts are! Every building is a little bit different with western and vintage looking signs, rooftops, bright colors. We had some Mexican food at a place called Iron Cactus and sat out on the rooftop. From there we continued walking and went through the lobby of the famous Driskill Hotel, which was built back in the 1800’s by a rich and famous cattleman.

We then made it to the State Capitol building which was beautiful! We spent just a few minutes inside to see some of the architecture, but I mostly enjoyed the shady spot we found to lay down and take our shoes off! It was really relaxing to spend a few minutes on the ground and take in the sounds and warmth of the day.

We then hopped over to the South Congress neighborhood where there are a good number of boutique shops. I enjoyed going in and out of a few places that were just as “weird” as Austin claims to be. Lots of street art replicas, jewelry, clothing and funky trinkets. Also got the chance to see this gem:

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Slowing down a bit in the afternoon, we went back towards Lake Austin and grabbed some coffee and pastries at a SUPER cute lake-front coffee shop called Mozart’s. This spot was so cozy, with outdoor tables tucked into the trees and a view of the boats coming in and out of the lake. Afterwards, we drove around Will’s neighborhood, Tarrytown, a little bit more. The area has some really unique houses and buildings and I loved being able to drive through some of the back roads. The trees and plants made it all very southwestern and comfortable, without the craziness of downtown. We regrouped later in the evening and then made our way to Rainey Street for the night! This was my first taste of the nightlife and it definitely did not disappoint. I had a feeling I would like Rainey Street A LOT with the bars being known as re-done houses with a lot of indoor/outdoor space. We hoppped (or danced, mostly) from Lustre Pearl to Bungalow, Container Barand a little food truck lot to end the night– the pad thai was amazing.

Our first stop on Friday morning was Mount Bonnell to get some views of the lake and the city skyline. We hiked around on the small walking path for a little bit as the day began to heat up.

We went back downtown and parked to do some walking around the campus at UT! I was excited to see a school I had heard so much about. We hit the major spots, including the football stadium and main quad area. The atmosphere felt “rich”, for lack of a better word. The buildings were all large and seemed clean and new. The quad/fountain area was in full bloom and it just had that overall “college” feel that I know you look for as a student. My favorite part was definitely the “Hi, how are you” street art right on campus! It is a symbol for mental health awareness and encourages you to always check on your neighbor. Something I can definitely make an effort to do better.

We had lunch at a spot called Fresa Chicken (I had a really good salad minus the chicken :)) and then we went back to Will’s to meet up with his friend Brady! I told Brady he would get a celeb shout out on the blog, so here ya go kid. You’re definitely the coolest person I’ve ever met from Kansas!! The three of us drove over to Zilker Park where the destination for the afternoon was the Barton Springs Pool. The pool was a top moment of the weekend for me because it was one of the coolest places I could imagine finding in a big city. The park itself is massive; it’s where all of the major music festivals and events are held throughout the year. The pool is within a closed area but it’s more of a natural pool and there are large grassy areas all around to lay and relax. The water also felt amazing. We spent like three hours here and I enjoyed my favorite time of day under the sun.

We had some pizza for dinner, not surprising, and Will and I made our way back downtown. Our first stop was a bar called Easy Tiger. Good atmosphere, bad service. It is actually a cool spot, kind of sunken down off the road with string lights, a bunch of tables and pinpong tables outside. We then went to 6th Street, something I was also really looking forward to! You hear so much about it, and I really did not know what to expect. Sensory overload. Once it got more crowded, I was really just in awe walking down the closed off pedestrian street. Every bar had different live music playing, with a variety from country to rap to cover 90’s songs. The people were also as eclectic; lots of large groups, bachelor/ette parties, all ages. We got our live music fill at Blind Pig and danced at Dizzy Rooster, both really fun places although it’s clear this area is not a casual drinking experience. We ended the night at a bar called Handlebar, my favorite of the bunch! We spent some time up on the rooftop, a block or two away from 6th St. Noteworthy: me getting the “ring game” on the hook on the first try!!!

On Saturday morning we got breakfast at a place in East Austin called Juan in a Million. Great pick on Will’s part. It was basically a large old house converted to a restaurant with all mix matched tables and chairs. Icing on the cake was a live Mariachi band that came in on the patio. We had really good Mexican food for breakfast, which satisfied my interest in the “breakfast taco” scene in Austin.

By mid-afternoon we drove back into the city, parked and walked on one of the really nice walk/bike trails along the river. There were so many people out and active which is always really refreshing to see. We arrived to the kayak rental place near the Congress Street Bridge and rented 2 kayaks for an hour. Loved every minute of being out on the water, under the sun, right along the city skyline. We soaked our feet, paddled around, watched everyone else out for the day. We saw a few dogs out in the kayaks and paddleboards too!

We were exhausted after the water activity so we trudged back along the path (literally lol) and made it back to the couch for a few hours. Also noteworthy that Will and I somehow watched the entirety of Planet Earth II over the course of the weekend. But we definitely rallied! We headed out to a bar/restaurant called Irene’s where Brady met back up with us for some food and happy hour dranks. Irene’s is one of Will’s favorite spots and I can see why– really cool atmosphere and I was definitely into it. We continued our hop around downtown, going to two different bars in the area called Beaufort’s and Market.  Again, both just funky local spots that had their own flare. We eventually made it to Rainey Street with another friend of Will’s named Kate. The four of us went in and out of a few bars and ended the night at Icenhauer’s dancing our lil butts off.

We woke up on Sunday totally spent, and I made my way to the airport and back to PVD. Shoutout to Will for being my personal chauffer for 4 days straight!! I appreciate you as a friend and thank you for letting me crash your personal space for so long 🙂

Final thoughts:

  • This was my first time in the state of Texas and I am intrigued! It is such a large state that I can’t really comprehend my mind around all the different cities, towns and landscapes. I really enjoyed Austin but have no idea how I would feel about the rest of the state.
  • It is only May and was definitely really hot. Enjoyable, but sweaaattyyy.
  • I loved the people watching. Even in a short time, I can totally see the “weird”. There are a ton of young people and everyone seems to just be doing their thing! Nothing too fancy which I really liked seeing in a large city.
  • I could see entire trips to Austin planned around the food and music scene. I feel like I got a small taste of both, but definitely not a huge amount. We did a ton in 3 full days and I wouldn’t have changed a thing!
  • Overall, I really loved how many options there were for eating, drinking and hanging out. Every single place seemed to have it’s own personality! I would imagine that living there, there would be endless options for whatever mood you are in.
  • The street art is everywhere, and amazing:

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