Austin is very near and dear to my heart and it will always be my second home. When I was deciding to go to school, I was very ready to get off the little island that I had spent the last 18 years growing up on. I applied entirely out of state to 12 or so schools (thanks Mom!) and after the verdicts rolled in, my heart was set on UCLA. I was going to move to Los Angeles and live the west coast lifestyle.
Then, as many 18 year old’s do, I changed my mind at the last second. At that point I was planning on going to graduate school and for undergrad, I wanted to stay in the big, southern football school atmosphere that I grew up in going to South Carolina games (and visiting older friends on the weekends of my senior year of high school and going to my first fraternity parties – I felt very cool).
So off to Austin I went. I came in knowing zero people at the University of Texas and left with more friends than I could count and a hand full of the rare kind of friends that will be in my future wedding party. The people certainly made the place, but Austin held its own worth.
Part college town, part awesome city – Austin has it all. After almost a year of being away, I came in for the first home game of the football season and we were able to round up the full crew for another mini-reunion.
We started the weekend off with a birthday dinner at Swift’s Attic, where we promptly turned the table’s lazy susan into a game of shot roulette… followed by a good ole classic night on 6th Street.
The next morning we hit Abel’s on the Lake and sucked down a few Texas Teas (an Austin must) before hopping on the boat for some fun on the lake before the football game.
After the lake, we changed into game day attire (some combination of white, turquoise, and burnt orange with cowboy boots) and headed to Cain & Abel’s (better known as Abel’s on the land) – an old college stomping ground.
Then hopped over to the stadium to cheer on the Longhorns to their first win of the season…
The next day, we hit the lake just oneeee more time before I flew out.
Austin is the best. I’ve never met someone who visited and didn’t fall in love with the city. If you’ve never been, book a trip. You can’t go wrong timing-wise, as the winters are never too cold but if you want to take advantage of the lake and other water based activities, aim for anywhere from April-October.
Where to Sleep: W Austin – great location (walking distance to all downtown activities) and the pool rocks. If your bank account can’t allow you weekends at the W yet The Radisson is around the corner.
Where to Eat: This is long, but so necessary… Franklin’s BBQ, Torchy’s Tacos (queso!!!!), Clark’s Oyster Bar, Perla’s, South Congress Cafe, Homeslice, Benji’s, Hopdoddy, La Condesa, Uchi, Sway, Taverna
Where to Drink: Lotsssss of options here. I’ll break it down by area…
East 6th Street (“Dirty 6th”) – These bars run a little bit younger, but most underage kids will be out on Thursday so your usually safe from feeling TOO old by Friday night… Blind Pig, Burnsides, The Lodge… get pizza at Roppollos when the bars close if you want the real college experience.
West 6th Street – Rattle Inn, Star Bar, The Ranch
Rainey Street (a MUST do) – Bar 96, Container Bar, Lucille
The East Side (up and coming area) – White Horse, Whistler’s, Volstead
Where to Dance: Barbarella, Rio
Where to Play: “Hike” the greenbelt and wallow in the swimming pools, lay out at the famous Barton Creek Springs, have a picnic at Zilker Park, rent stand up paddle boards on Lady Bird Lake, rent a boat or party barge on Lake Austin, take a segway tour (seriously, I’ve heard good things), walk up South Congress and peek into all of the eclectic stores that keep Austin weird, hike up and watch the sunset from Mount Bonnel