You know what they say "Everything's Bigger in Texas"
Yep, that's it. That's about all I knew about Texas before I flew down for New Year's Eve this year -- I know it's very sad. So why Austin? I've wanted to check out the city for a long time now, I think my interested peaked in college after a trip to Nashville. I loved the laid-back feel of the city along with all the live music. So why not go to the "Live Music Capital in the World".
Back in September Rob invited me to join him and his friends on the trip normally dubbed a "boys weekend". Only this year significant others were invited...you can only imagine what kind of activities occurred with seven boys living under one roof for four days.
We spent our time exploring the eclectic city in, coincidentally, the coldest weather they have had in 10 years (majority of the trip the temps were in the 30s). You would think us Chicagoans would take this weather like champs but we were all big babies since we had expected to get away from the cold. Nonetheless we made the most of our time. We spent quite a bit of the trip eating...which I will never complain about. Everything we ate was so good!
Food Places to Try
This was probably the most recommended spot I got when I asked for suggestions. Before the trip I thought it was a food truck but it turned out that they had a few different locations all over the city. The tacos were sooo good we had to get them twice.
Not your typical Texas cuisine but it's a delicious option if you're looking to mix it up a little. It's more of a Vietnamese infusion restaurant with dishes like Pho or Ramen. Personally I loved the whole aesthetic of the place since it was so colorful but definitely not your typical Austin experience.
Terry's was everything you hope for in Austin barbecue and more. They give you super generous slices of meat -- I highly suggest the brisket.
Another not-so-typical spot but definitely one worth checking out if you're spending the day on South Congress. Grab a slice in between walking up and down the unique street filled with funky shops.
Even if you don't have time to grab a meal at the Driskell Hotel definitely take some time to look about the lobby and different rooms open to the public. There's so much history in that building. However, the food was also delicious!
A little more of an upscale brunch spot. We opted for coffee and pastries since we wanted to keep our appetites for all the other food places!
Bar to Check Out
We spent a good chunk of time at this bar. One day we went for afternoon drinks which was fun since it had a lot of activities and then headed back the next night for more. There's definitely a different atmosphere once it gets later.
One of my favorite bars we went to on the trip. Located over in East Austin it's a little off the beaten path but I loved the whole vibe of the bar. It was very low key but the bartender made some delicious cocktails.
If you're looking for an authentic Texas experience. I HIGHLY recommend this bar. It's got live music, chain-smoking locals and a dance floor that is always crowded. It was so fun trying to figure out the two-step while looking like complete fools.
4. Maggie Mae's
We went to Maggie Mae's on NYE and it was a great spot to ring in the new year. I can't imagine how fun it is when it's a little warmer out. They have a rooftop dance floor that we spent quite a bit of time on. It's on East 6th Street so I would make sure you're prepared for a little more rowdy crowd.
Fun Things to Do
This mountain has some pretty amazing views of the Austin skyline. Although, I would NOT recommend biking to the mountain...but that's a whole other story for a different day.
If you're looking to kill a few hours, I would definitely check out the presidential library. I didn't know much about LBJ beforehand and I really enjoyed learning about what he accomplished as president and why he decided not to run again during the Vietnam War. Rob was like a kid in a candy store -- he's such a history buff and was completely in his element.
The art wall is so FREAKING cool. It was one of my favorite spots. I would recommend spending the $5 on a can of spray paint. We had way too much fun vandalizing the walls.
The campus is huge. I can't imagine attending college there although I would have loved being in Austin while in school. It was so massive we took the DIIVY bikes all across campus.
Fun fact: did you know that Texas' capital building is larger than the actual capital building in Washington, D.C.? Like I said..."everything's bigger in Texas". It was cool to explore but in my opinion, the Madison, W.I. capital building is way cooler.