The capital of Texas and 11th most populous city in the U.S., Austin is a rapidly growing city with lots to see and do. It’s also rated the 4th dog friendliest city, and I enjoyed seeing pups everywhere we went.
On our 8 day Texas road-trip, Austin was our second stop. We stayed in Round Rock with my cousin Amy and her husband, and made day trips into Austin.
After a night of good rest we got up and headed into town for brunch at Juan in a Million. This place was recommended to me by a fellow blogger and is known as a place that the locals go. When we arrived, there was people waiting outside but we only had to wait about 15 minutes.
Juan in a Million was opened by school teachers who quit their jobs and took a chance back in 1980. It is still a family operated business today, ran by their son Juan Jr. They’ve had a lot of publicity over the years including mentions in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and on the Travel Channel.
I got 2 breakfast tacos, one sausage and one bacon, and John got the Chorizo Con Huevo which was two eggs scrambled with chorizo served with refried beans, potatoes, and tortillas. The food was fresh and tasted wonderful!
Following brunch we headed to the South Congress area to look around. This area is full of restaurants, bars, shops, and murals. With it being Sunday, all the locals were out and about making it very busy! It was also pretty hot being the middle of the day. We wandered in and out of a few shops, but really just didn’t care for the area. However, I think it would have been a different story had it not been so crowded.
We made our way to a couple murals that I had on my list, as well as finding a couple more that I had not researched. The first mural was actually on South Congress Ave, the “I love you so much” mural. There were a few people gathered around taking pictures, but not too many, and it lucked out cause they were able to take our picture and vice versa.
We then found the “Greetings from Austin” mural, which I was glad I got to see. I love hunting down these Greetings from murals, as I follow the couple on instagram that goes around the country painting them. You can find them here, and follow along with their adventures too.
These next two were ones we passed by that I was able to capture. I really liked the detail and color of the “home is where y’all are” one.
After mural hunting, we decided to head to Austin Eastciders. Most of my friends know that I am not a beer drinker, but I was down to try their hard cider. John and I shared a flight and went with watermelon, honey, grapefruit, and orange. I think my favorite one was the watermelon, closely followed by the honey.
We were traveling the week of Halloween, so of course most places were decorated for the occasion. I loved the ambiance of this place… they had big picnic like tables inside and out to sit at, hammocks to chill in, and board games to play. There were also pups relaxing inside and out with their owners. It wasn’t too crowded, but I could tell was a good local spot for a Sunday afternoon hangout.
Right beside Austin Eastciders was a place called Friends and Allies Brewing that we wandered into. John tried a beer here and we talked to the bartender awhile as he gave us some recommendations on places to go and things to do.
Next we headed back to downtown Austin area to check out Rainey Street. This place was pretty cool! It was a street of old houses turned into different themed bars. From the street none of the places looked very big, but after walking in a couple we learned that basically all of them had “backyards” with live music. There were also dog bowls outside everywhere and lots of pups hanging out too.
My favorite bar for the ambiance and decor was Lucille, their Halloween decor was legit. They even had a tunnel of spiderweb to walk through to get to the back patio.
My favorite bar for the atmosphere and live music was Augustine. We sat there awhile and listened to music while watching two girls play an intense game of Jenga. I also got to love on some sweet pups here.
For dinner we decided to eat from the food trucks down Rainey. They have 2 different parking areas specifically for food trucks, so there were lots of options! John ate from the Happy Lobster Truck, and got a lobster roll which was essentially lobster with seasoning and butter on a bun.
I ventured out of my comfort zone and decided to try “momo” from a Nepal and Tibet food truck. I got steamed momo, half beef and half chicken, and actually ended up liking the beef better.
For dessert, John got a crazy shake from the Waffle Bot + Freak Shakery food truck. There were so many choices, but he ended up getting the Empire State of Mind which had peach pie candied jalepeno ice cream with peach syrup, rimmed with frosted animal crackers, and topped with New York cheesecake, candied jalepeno, peach pie filling, graham cracker crumble, and homemade whipped cream. Below is a picture of what it was supposed to look like, and his minus the cheesecake that fell off.
I decided on mini donuts for my dessert from the Little Lucy Mini Donuts food truck. I went with their sugar topping of the month and got Butterscotch Bourbon, AKA the Great Dane, and added on Nutella for my dip because why not?!
Following our dinner and dessert we were extremely full and decided to call it a night. Overall we enjoyed Rainey Street and the area. I am glad we were able to go on a Sunday night because from what I’ve heard it’s pretty busy on Friday and Saturdays. The only downfall to us going here was having to pay to park, as it was pretty pricey.
After sleeping in and having breakfast at my cousins’, our first stop for the day was Covert Park at Mount Bonnell. It was an easy hike (with lots of stairs though, 102 to be exact) and only took about 5 minutes to get to the top.
Mount Bonnell is the highest point in Austin at 775 feet, however it’s more of a tourist destination than an actual hike (which we quickly realized). It overlooks Lake Austin, and you can see nicer houses along the lake with their matching boat houses. We probably spent about 25 minutes here, taking in the views, even though it was very overcast on this day.
After our short hike, we headed to Ladybird Lake for some kayaking. We went through groupon and got tickets for the Rowing Dock. We had never kayaked before, and it didn’t take us long to figure it out. The rental was easy and the workers were friendly, making sure we knew what we were doing before getting out on the water.
We did a 3 hour rental, and felt it was plenty! Having never kayaked before, while it was fun it was also tiring with no current. We decided to go towards the city to get a view of the skyline from the lake. The weather was perfect even with it being overcast, and we enjoyed the peacefulness on the water.
Afterwards, we changed clothes and headed to get ice cream at Amy’s Ice Cream. They advertised Mexican vanilla, which I thought was used in ALL their ice cream but come to find out meant they had a flavor called Mexican vanilla. So, we both got that flavor and it was delicious although I’m not sure worth the high price.
Next to Amy’s, on West Sixth Street, there was a Lush store. When I looked up and saw it I got quite excited as I’d never been in one before. John chilled outside while I looked around in the store, I probably spent 30 minutes or more in there.
The workers in this particular store were PHENOMENAL. I asked them if they had any hypoallergenic bath bombs (as I’m usually allergic to them), and although they didn’t know right off they took the time to go to the back and research and find me one. They gave me a complimentary Flower Power bath bomb, which surprised me! I’m happy to say I have since used it and loved it!
When I finished shopping, it was right about 5’oclock so we sat outside and enjoyed the nice day for awhile to let the traffic die down. We then headed towards the east side of Sixth Street, closer to downtown to meet my friend Jamelle for dinner. We became friends in college and he now lives in Austin, so we made a point to meet up with him while there.
The place he had originally picked for us was closed, so we walked to a place called Casino El Camino, to eat what he told us was the best burger he’d ever had.
This was a neat place, it was basically a burger joint in the back of a bar. He was right on the burgers too, they were AMAZING. Apparently they’ve been featured on the popular tv show “Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives”, where Guy Fieri calls this place home to the “best burger in town”.
After dinner we walked up and down Sixth Street, wandering in and out of different shops and bars. It was a Monday night, so most of the places were pretty dead, but I could see how this place would be hopping on a weekend.
I had read about a few secret bars in Austin on this blog, but didn’t really make a note of any. Jamelle told us he wanted to take us to a cool place, and we made our way to the Firehouse Hostel. So you walk into a lobby, and there’s someone at the counter, but you can literally walk right past them to the book shelf which you move to the right and there you are in the Firehouse Lounge.
I really liked the chill ambiance of this place, there was light music and it wasn’t too loud or overcrowded . We sat around an old sewing table (with the pedal still on it), and conversed over a couple drinks. It was getting late, and Jam had to work the next day, so we said our goodbyes and called it a night.
Austin was fun, and I’d definitely go back another time as there is still so much we did not see or do. It’s a very busy city, and not somewhere I’d ever want to live, but it was good to visit!
I’m going to do a separate blog post for our day in Round Rock next, so be on the lookout!
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See my first Texas Roadtrip post here.
“Cause these nights of Austin, just fade in and out. It’s like I’ve never seen no daylight in this town.” – Shane Smith and the Saints