Travel: The Austin Guide
The Austin City Guide
Finally, I had a chance to visit the city of Austin that's been long known for its amazing music scene and seriously good food. The moment you land at the airport you're encapsulated by art installments and it's unique personality. Its no wonder this city attracts cultural events like SXSW (South by Southwest Music Festival) and ACL (Austin City Limits Music Festival). And while 6th St. and Rainey are as classic and fun as ever, like many mid-sized cities, Austin has benefited from a boost of creativity downtown by restaurant concepts from young chefs, and more than a few cool hotels, all without losing it's quirky, Texas soul. Even though the hot and humidity can be unbearable at times its quickly dispelled by the presence of the cooling Colorado River, which makes its way from Lake Austin. This river is always crowded with party boats and kayakers down around the edge of downtown. There are numerous boutiques that offer vintage records and styles that makes this a second-to-none shopping haven.
Barton Creek Greenbelt
In addition to Lake Travis and Lake Austin, Barton Creek Greenbelt is a fun place to swim when the weather is warm in Austin (and there's been enough rain to fill its swimming holes). You can also come here to bike, hike (there is several miles' worth of trails), or just wander around. The Greenbelt is a several-mile, several-hundred-acre stretch that begins at Zilker Park, which is the best playground in the city for littles. There's a train ride that goes around the park—get a popsicle before jumping on. You can also paddle-board or rent kayaks to take out into the lake that crosses the middle of the city. (The baby turtles always keep the kids entertained.) In the center of the park itself is Barton Springs Pool, a three-acre pool that is fed from an underground spring; you pay a small fee to swim. The water in the natural watering hole is kept around 68-70 degrees, which feels just right on a scorching day. The pool is open daily but closed most of Thursday for a weekly cleaning.
Longhorn Cavern State Park - Cave Tour
If you have some time to spare take a day trip out of Austin to visit the Longhorn Cavern State Park - Cave Tour. The park is about a 1-1.5 hours northwest of Austin. As soon as you pull into the visitors center you can purchase tickets for the tour. Tour is about 45 minutes long and they happen every 15 minutes or so during peak season around Mid-March).
The park and cave was part of the 1930's Civilian Conservation Corps project (CCC). Eight hundred plus men dug this geological wonder out over a span of 8 years. The tour takes you through a walk back into time through Texas and geological history. The cave also offers an ungrounded tour through restricted areas. If you're lucky you might even encounter some inhabitants of the cave (bats).
Here are a few food places I have tried and LOVED.
Franklin's BBQ - One of the most popular BBQ spots in Austin. Be warned that they're only opened from 11am-3pm. People usually wait in line 2-3 hours prior to opening and everything usually sells out before they close.
Terry Black's BBQ - Another great option aside from Franklins. This place is authentic and friendly. The slow-cooked meats are savory and delicious.
Uchiko - I have many doubts when it comes to high-end sushi restaurants. But I have to say Uchiko left me in awe. Every dish left my mouth bursting with unique flavors and deliciousness. This restaurant was definitely worth visiting.
Amy's Ice Cream - Oh Amy, you definitely gave my sweet tooth a run for its money. Amazing selection of flavors and toppings.