ATX in 3 days
ATX in 3 days
This is the first Saturday in weeks I have nothing to do. No trips. No visitors. No excessive errand running or cleaning. I refreshed Instagram like five times before I made the decision to do something fulfilling with my new found free time – blog about my Austin trip!
In mid-January over Martin Luther King Jr. weekend my roommate, a friend from work, and I made our way to Austin, Texas for three days. We wanted a break from the rain and snow of winter in Washington, and this lively Southern city seemed like the perfect destination. We knew very little about Austin beyond it being the Live Music Capital of the World. Luckily I am about as Type-A as they come and genuinely enjoy doing lots of extensive research on trips I have planned. For an initial visit, we feel like we hit all the spots a winter weekend in Austin can offer.
We flew from Seattle (SEA) on Delta with a short layover in Salt Lake City (SLC). From Austin (AUS) we flew Alaska on a straight flight that lasted about 4 hours. Both airlines I love and always recommend.
We stayed at the The Radisson Hotel & Suites in Downtown Austin. If your priorities are location, location, location – this is the hotel for you. We didn’t rent a car for the entire trip and this hotel was a short walk or ride share from everything. The lobby, pool area, and concierge were great. The rooms are a little outdated, but the floor to ceiling windows were magical. We spent one night with ice cream propped in front of the massive windows watching a thunderstorm. Overall, a very nice hotel for our stay.
Day One: Brunch, Barton Springs, & Dirty 6th Street
We were exhausted after getting in around 1am, so let ourselves sleep in the first day. First things first on day one – a late brunch at Jacoby’s recommended by an Austin local I follow on Instagram. The dreamiest little ranch-to-table restaurant on an edgier side of town. We shared a pitcher of mimosas and I ordered the Braised Beef Benedict to get a taste of their locally sourced beef. Yes, my life was changed.
After Jacoby’s we took a RideShare Austin (Austin does not have Uber/Lyft – but this service operates essentially identically) to the Barton Springs area where I’d researched hiking and swimming opportunities. Our driver was a wealth of knowledge about the city and explained how gentrification was creating these hot spot restaurants, bars, and shopping and driving out lower income Texans who could no longer afford their rent. It honestly felt like a history lesson and I was so impressed! I haven’t had an Uber driver that kind or informative in Seattle. He also had a few great suggestions before dropping us off at the start of the Barton Greenbelt hiking trail.
The hike was a beautiful rocky trek along the river. Despite still being within the city limits, it definitely felt like we’d left the city behind. Greenery, rock formations and swimming holes lined the trail. Along with about a million dogs. Austin is such a dog friendly city. I loved it. We hiked in and out about 5 miles total, before taking a dip in the Barton Springs Pool.
The Barton Springs is an outdoor swimming pool from a natural spring that stays a consistent 68-70 degrees year round. We went on a mid-50 degree day. Feeling ambitious and cold, we hesitantly walked in and found it pretty refreshing as long as we kept moving. I’ll be honest – we didn’t last long. After about 30 minutes, we decided it was time to warm back up at our hotel.
After a quick dip in the hotel’s heated pool post-outdoor unheated spring, we got ready for a night out on Dirty Sixth Street. It’s iconic and not to be missed for a first time in Austin. The street was a short walk from our hotel and completely enamoring when we reached it. Bar after bar and restaurant after restaurant as far as you can see. Live music spilled out every door and hype guys stood outside the doors pitching the best deals. It reminded me of Bourbon Street in New Orleans without the alcoholic drinks joining the patrons out in public. Certain bars were a little tacky and I can see it not being everyone’s scene. Personally, for the live music alone, it was worth it! But of course this was a girl’s weekend and we weren’t trying to remain sober…
We started with a roof top dinner at the Iron Cactus and then proceeded to jump in and out of bars that caught our eye, my favorite of which was The Jackalope. Ah. Good times.
Pros of the night: Cheap drinks (I love Texas). Southern hospitality/kind people.
Cons of the night: A little too much to drink.
Perfect end to our first day.
Day Two: Room Service, Shopping in SoCo, & Rainey Street
Yet another slow start this morning. Due to our inability to get out of bed, we ordered room service and felt all fancy. The Radisson has some fantastic eggs, bacon, and toast on their in-room menu.
Once we were out of bed, we made our way to to the SoCo District for shopping. SoCo (South Congress street) is composed of restaurants, shopping, food trucks, and even a few music venues. Despite drizzling rain, it was 70 degrees so we walked the mile to the shopping area from our hotel. We also walked across the iconic Congress Avenue Bridge to get there. Unfortunately our ride share driver said it isn’t bat season, so we didn’t get to see the bats at all during our visit.
After our day spent shopping & eating (highlights include TOM’s Roasting CO, Uncommon Objects, & Guero’s Taco Bar), we went back to our hotel to relax before heading to dinner & drinks on Rainey Street.
A 180 from our previous night on Sixth Street, Rainey Street is a historic area of bars and restaurants – mostly created from bungalow style homes. A lot quieter than Sixth and with a slightly older crowd, it was just what we were looking for on our last night.
This was the night we decided to stay in and opted for pints of ice cream and a front seat to the thunderstorm from our hotel room. Washington doesn’t get many (if any) thunderstorms, so the lightning and thunder across the downtown sky was such a treat. A successful day two!
Day Three: BBQ, Winery, & Goodbye
Our last day in Austin wasn’t entirely spent in Austin…
We had a rental car reserved and drove out to the hills for wine and barbecue.
First up was breakfast at Forthright where I had possibly the most delicious avocado toast of my life. Then we picked up the rental car – which was a personal adult accomplishment for me! I have never rented a car and been solely responsible for driving. My only other previous rental was in California this fall and M drove the entire time. The rental went so smoothly. We had it for 4 hours and paid less than $50. No unnecessary insurance or charges. Thank you, Enterprise!
We drove from downtown Austin to the Duchman Family Winery. A gorgeous estate (we used this word a lot to describe homes/businesses in Texas because everything is so BIG) about 45 minutes from where we were staying with a fantastic tasting room and excellent wines. We did their recommended tasting and had a delicious mix of whites and reds. I was really sad I had only brought a carry-on so I couldn’t buy a bottle to bring back. We spent a long time just talking and walking around the winery and it was so nice. Rural Texas was so much more beautiful than I imagined. Hills and trees and wide open spaces.
After the winery, we were starving. We made our way to the the Salt Lick BBQ and oh my god – we were not disappointed. Smoked meats hanging around a fire greet you as you walk in and long wooden tables were filled with patrons on a Monday in the late afternoon. We could tell it’s usually a long wait to get served and we were lucky to be seated right away.
I had ribs, brisket, beans, coleslaw, and bread. I fell deeply in love with Texas in that moment.
After we were full of wine & BBQ, we drove back to Austin, dropped off the car, and headed to the airport.
Such a perfect, fun filled weekend in this charming Texan city. It was so much more artsy, up-and-coming, and fun than I had hoped. We kept saying on the plane back how we couldn’t have planned it any better. I definitely hope to visit the city again, maybe for SXSW or Austin City Limits.
Hope this is a helpful guide for anyone who plans a trip to ATX!