Austin is a beautiful place. However, since I was visiting Austin for one week only, I wanted to plan well so I can experience the true character of the place. Here’s what I did:
Arrive in Austin. Visited Fiesta grocery store (3822 North Lamar Boulevard, Austin, (512) 453-7619) and got some stuff to make salads. Fiesta is a Mexican grocery store and also have a small restaurant. Got “normal” stuff like tomatoes, cucumber, radishes and fruits.
Saturday Morning- A 2 hour bird watching hike in early morning. Thank You Austin Audubon Society!
Baker Santuary, 12308 Limecreek Road, Leander, TX 78641. This is one hour drive from Austin.
Saturday Afternoon – Blankton Museum Of Art, 200East MLK, Austin, TX 78701 (Ph 512.471.5482) – $9 admissions, Monday Closed, Regular Hours – 10am – 5pm.
Park at Brazos Garage and bring parking ticket to museum front desk for discount/validation. Brazos Garage, 210 E. MLK Blvd, Austin 78701 (ph512.471.6126)
Saturday Evening – Dinner at Whole Foods – 525 N Lamar Blvd. Austin Texas 78703.
This is where the Whole Foods story began 30 years ago.
Sunday – All Day – Shopping – San Marcos, Biggest (& the best) outlet mall in the world. 1 hour drive from Austin. There are two malls in San Marcos – Premium Outlet and Tangers Outlets – both are great.
Monday Morning – A 4 hour bird watching hike through Milton Reimer Ranch Park. 23610 Hamilton Pool Road, Dripping Springs, TX 78620. Near HEB at Bee Caves & Hwy 71. Thank You Austin Audubon Society.
Monday Evening – Dinner and movie (Spiderman!) at Gold Class Cinema in The Domain shopping mall. The Domain is a very nice mall in north Austin. I parked near the Gold Cinema and then walked around a bit & stopped for a “Tall Cappuccino” at Starbucks before coming back to the Gold Cinema. And the Gold Class Cinema is the place to go if you want to pamper yourself. They bring you dinner at your chair in the theatre and then after dinner, they will bring you a blanket – lie back, sip your drink and relax.
Tuesday Morning – I started early and drove to Johnson City which is about 1 hour drive from Austin (stopped for coffee). Lyndon B. Johnson, popularly known as LBJ he grew up in this small “city”.There were two mean looking Longhorns sitting in the blazing sun (90+ F) in one of the corrals. I guess they were kept there for visitors to see. But I felt sorry for the poor beasts.
Visited Johnson Settlement, Dog Trot Cabin, Buckner Barn in Johnson City. Then headed out to Stonewall which is about 1 hour drive from Johnson City. Stonewall is where LBJ had his ranch and his mansion which is also known as the “White House”. This ranch is still owned by LBJ’s family and is a working ranch.
Towards evening I headed back to Austin. Since there was still some time, I ended up at Jerry’s Artarama store in Austin. Unlike their website this store is not well stocked and the staff consist of a bunch of kids who could do with some training in customer service.
Headed out to San Antonio which is nearly 2 hours drive from Austin. I went via San Marcos and stopped for lunch and some more shopping. San Antonio is fun. I checked in Emily hotel which is right next to the “Alamo”. The Alamo in San Antonio was the scene of the famous battle where Sam Houston’s forces defeated the Mexicans and once and for all settled the question of which country Texas belonged to.
After checking in the hotel, I walked out to the “Riverwalk” which is about 5 minutes from the hotel. The whole area has a festive look and I ended up going for a relaxing boat ride in the Riverwalk.
I woke up early and walked to the Alamo which is really across the street from the Emily hotel. I came across a knife throwing competition in progress in which people from faraway places had come to participate. There was a gentleman who was complaining that he had come all the way from Netherlands to participate in this competiotion which a 13 year old kid in Austin won.
The Alamo was supposedly the largest of the “Spanish Missions” in Texas. However only a few buildings remain and not much too see. But it has nice gardens and is right in the center of the city. I then drove over to the Mission San José which is about 1 hour from the Alamo. Mission San José is much well preserved and gives you a true feeling of the old days gone by. As you walk by the quarters for the Native Americans who went to the mission, view the ovens surrounding the courtyard to the mission and listen to the audio/video programme inside the courtyard you see the past lives of the people who lived and died here.
In the evening I headed back to the Riverwalk for dinner. I ended up at The Republic of Texas Restaurant & Nightclub – Restaurant by Day…Nightclub by Night! Lot of fun!
I got up early and headed to the San Antonio Museum of Art. Great collection of silver from the southern families.
Now it was time to get back to Austin and I arrived hungry. I headed to County Line which is one of the most famous barbecue restaurants in Austin. Set in an old lake lodge, the County Line on the Lake is right on Bull Creek just off Lake Austin. You can sit outside on the patio and enjoy the peaceful water turtles playing on the lake shore.
I joined a group of artists from “Plein Air Austin” and together we visited a vineyard and painted.Thank You for letting me join you, Plein Air Austin folks!
I flew home to New York in the evening. This way I would still have Sunday to relax and prepare for the coming week.
Here are a few more things I would have liked to do (next time!):
Enchanted Rock, Fredrickston
Vanishing River Cruise, San Antonio
Cibolo Nature Park (beautiful, 2 hours from Austin)
Hornseby Bend, near Austin airport. Best place for watching waterbirds.
Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Garden
King Ranch (4 hour from Austin, this seemed too far away, though it’s famous for bird watching and nature preserve.)
Barton Springs Pool
McKinney Falls State Park
Congress Ave (this the place where more than 7000 bats live under the bridge and come out at night)
Dallas – Fossil Rim Wildlife center, Arboretum
Rockport – 4 hours from Austin, relaxing place but not in all seasons. Best in Sep
I loved the old world charm of the city and the kindness of everyone I met in Austin.