I barely made the boarding time for our 30-minute train ride around Zilker park in Austin.
Stacy and Essie were already on board the little train so I ran from the car right after I put the drone away – a minute sprint. Stacy kept calling me but I was busy flying my drone using the app on my phone to fly the aircraft.
I finally answered.
“Hurry up! I really want you to ride this with us,” she said. “We are leaving in a few minutes and you still need to buy a ticket.”
“Well I was using my phone to fly the drone and I couldn’t answer!”
But I made it, just in time.
The slow train ride curves around the park, hugs the river, winds through a tunnel, turns around and comes back. Moms, dads, aunts and uncles, kids, friends and family all slowly cruise through the park, sitting on wooden benches, tugged along by the green train.
We came across a party of about 40 people, probably in their thirties, celebrating the birth of one of their friends. The music playing. Adults sipping their red Solo cups. Smiling. Laughing. Chatting.
And they all stopped and turned toward us and waived like they were family at the gate of the plane, eagerly waiting for us to return home from a long trip abroad.
And it wasn’t just them. The whole ride, people stopped and waived.
Everyone was just so….. friendly.
The nonstop flight from San Diego with Alaska Airlines was a breeze. Super convenient and not too long - perfect for Essie. Just over 2 and a half hours and we were there.
At first glance, Austin isn’t very inviting. The twenty-minute ride from the airport to the Hyatt isn’t anything to marvel at.
But perched up on the 20th floor overlooking the Colorado River into downtown, we looked out and were excited to get out and enjoy the city.
The city is green - big oak trees that canopy the streets. We were surprised by how pretty it was. We even stopped and looked at an open house in a darling neighborhood near the iconic wall that reads "Before I die..." And the art is fantastic. Murals everywhere.
Traveling with Essie, we had to plan activities that she would enjoy – the train ride through Zilker Park, the bats tour under Congress street bridge, visiting the state capital, pool time, park time, shopping, museums.
But scattered between all her outings we filled our stomachs with some of the best food experiences we’ve had - ever. Barbeque, Texas comfort food, fine dining, cute brunch spots, hip coffee shops, breakfast tacos…literally, Austin has it all!
Go for the food and music. Delight in the southern hospitality. Cruise around the parks. Swim in Barton Springs and you’ll be just as amazed as us.
Here are some recommendations, our own, where the locals and chefs eat and where they like to hang and our crazy itinerary! Haha:
What to do in Austin:
Uchiko $$$$ (Favorite restaurant in Austin! YOU HAVE TO GO!)
La Barbeque $$ (Favorite BBQ in ATX, they are former staff from franklin's BBQ)
Ramen Tatsu-Ya $$ (Voted best ramen in the country)
Josephine House $$ (I love their brunch)
East Side Show Room $$ (Gastropub, Cocktail Bar)
East Side King - Thai Kun at Whisler’s $ (Food Truck, awesome food!)
Whisler’s $$ (Cocktail Bar, Thai Kun is in the back patio)
Olamaie $$$ (top 50 best new restaurants in the country. One of my favorite meals ever!)
Justine’s Brasserie $$ (AWESOME late night eats and Live Music!)
Contigo $$ - Central Texas comfort food in a rad patio setting
Emmer & Rye $$$
Mickelthwaites BBQ – hot spot (they even gave us free cider as we waited in line!!)
Amy’s ice cream
Lamberts, Jester King, Easy Tiger, Pinthouse Pizza, Salt Lick friendly to kids and parents alike.
Fleet Coffee 🙌🏽, Epoch, Flitch, Figure8, Patika, Houndstooth
Small Victory - speakeasy, good luck finding it
King Bee - neighborhood bar with badass cocktails
Half Step - The Varnish's (LA) sister bar
Townsend - A cathedral to the cocktail
Whisler's - Low key vibes and killer food truck
Craft Pride - close to half step, only Texas beers
Hops & Grain - a favorite “local” brewery
Hi Hat Public House - hidden gem!
Blue Owl - so many sours
Drafthouse - Old as dirt, surly staff, great selection
La BBQ - when you don't have time for Franklin (1 hour wait)
Micklethwait Craft Meat - (30 min or less) When you don't have time for La
Lockhart - a small town about 45 minutes south of town. Make that trip for Blacks, Smitty's, and Kreuz Market
Also, BBQ is for lunch, don't go to these places and try to get brisket at 6pm. You'll be sad.
Stiles Switch - great tap selection as well
Terry Black's - best sides
Odd Duck/Barley Swine - literally the best
Olamaie - Southern Food, damn good biscuits
Swift's Attic - Favorite happy hour
Laundrette - Cute space, great food. Instagram
Buffalina - Neapolitan pizza, amazing
Sway - Modern Thai cuisine
Veracruz All Natural
Rosita's Al Pastor
Valentina's Tex Mex BBQ
Taco Deli (breakfast tacos)
Attractions: Bats under Congress Bridge, Barton Springs, Zilker Park
Brunch: South Congress Café – cool area
Flight: Alaska SkyWest - Nonstop from SAN to Austin
Get car, check in
Friday: Sunrise at..? (didn't happen. haha.)
Bfast: Cafe No Se
Cruise to Barton Springs - take aerial shots
Lunch: Mickelthwaits BBQ
Hang at Pool
Cruise/ Bats under Congress Bridge At 4:30
Dinner: Contigo - 6:30 pm
Night shooting Lamar Street Bridge (car side) bring tri pod
Bfast: Pastries and Coffee
Photos: PennyBacker Bridge 360 loop.
Lunch: Le Politique
Walk around Austin
Dinner: Emmer and Rye 6:15pm
Whisler for a drink
Bfast: Hillside Farmacy
Photos: Mama and Essie at pool
Dinner: Uchiko 6:30pm
Monday: Check out
Flight Alaska Skywest at 7:50 am -Non-Stop to San Diego