Our Austin Staycation (and 5 reasons why you should take one!)
For the last few months Matty and I have been on fairly opposite work schedules. Thankfully, we have our mornings and nights, but going weeks at a time without a full day off together was taking its toll. Knowing that we couldn't take too much time away, we decided to take a mini vacation in our very own city! Austin has so much to offer and often when you fail to do a lot of things in your own city, simply because you figure you'll get to it one day.
We peppered in some of our favorites places and mixed them with new experiences to piece together the most fun, relaxing, and delicious staycation. I highly recommend it if you live in (or near) a city that still has a few rocks left un-turned. Before I get to our itinerary, here are 5 reasons to take a break in your own city:
1. No travel time! More time for fun activities!
2. More bang for your buck. Meaning, we only took three days off work but because we stayed nearby, the days seemed to linger a bit longer. We felt like we had an entire week off!
3. It's cheaper. Because of the not travelling! We also only booked a hotel for one night and stayed in our apartment for the rest, which really didn't ruin the vacation feeling one bit. We just made sure not to do any work or stay in the apartment any longer than necessary.
4. Explore you're own backyard. We went on a Friday Night Lights tour and found pieces of Austin that we'd never seen before! We felt like were were in a completely different city - and also Amazing Race.
5. Appreciate where you are. Good food, boutique hotels, and the Colorado River right through downtown. Not bad at all. It's rejuvenating to take the time to focus on the things you love right where you live.
Heading to Austin anytime soon? Here's a rundown of where we stayed, what we did, and where we ate...and a ton of photos to prove it.
As a sweet and generous wedding gift, our pastor's gave us a gift card intended for a hotel stay wherever we pleased. Hotel San Jose is part of Bunkhouse hotels (which owns all the tee-pees in Marfa that you see on Instagram), and we've always enjoyed their lounge as a sweet oasis on one of Austin's most visited streets, South Congress. With all the beautiful garden foliage and bungalow-style rooms, you'd never know you were right smack in the middle of it.
We took full advantage of our small suite, the hotel lounge, free Jo's coffee, and perfect turquoise pool.
We decided that we weren't allowed to drive anywhere during our stay at San Jose, which was easy because South Congress. We made a reservation (which I hadn't done in ages) and I fixed my hair and put on make-up (which I hadn't done in ages) and walked up the street for a meal that I'll be dreaming about. He enjoyed venison meatloaf with mashed potatoes and collard greens, and I had a kale and avocado salad with blackened shrimp.
Matty and I get ice cream all the time in the summer. We just can't help it. It's the perfect date and we always try to "walk it off" either to the local park or to a bridge overlooking the river. We wanted dessert and nothing fancy would suffice - so we walked to our old standard. There are several Amy's around town and it's the place to go when you just want a good, creamy scoop with some kind of crazy thing mixed in. One Belgian chocolate with cookie dough and one coffee ice cream with cookie dough, please.
After a dip in the pool and several cups of coffee, we made our way to our absolute favorite brunch spot. Matty has made friends with the owners (he's featuring them in Issue I of his magazine, Castlekings), and they've bonded over the fact that she is Australian and her husband is a Texan. They've also lived in Brooklyn and even have a food truck there! But Hillside is a masterpiece. We are wild about the big brekkie (eggs, bacon, breakfast potatoes, and toast). Matty went for the usual and I had a seasonal omelette with bacon, roasted tomatoes, zucchini, green beans, red bell peppers, and cheddar. We ran into the owners on our way out and met their beautiful new baby, and we were also given a family discount which made us feel like rock stars.
One of the greatest things about Austin is the water. The Colorado River runs through downtown and Barton Springs is a year-round cool dip for only $3. We rented a boat for an hour for $15 and paddled out to the river before docking for a swim. True Notebook stuff, right there.
When the water and sun get old, there's always a movie. We saw Ant Man at the Alamo, a theater taking over well beyond Austin, with kitchy decor and a delicious menu. Note: try not to overdo it on the popcorn. Wups.
I'd been hearing about St. Philip (and following them on Instagram) for a few months now, knowing that one day when I was ready to indulge on a ton 'o gluten, we'd go there. The time was now. And we fell completely in love! The ambiance, the service, the wood-fired pizza, and the bake-house desserts?! Heaven, I tell you. We loved it so much that we went back the next morning for some pastries. Lucky us, we got there at 11:00 - right when the breakfast pastries went 50% off. Hellooo gluten, how I've missed you.
Stouthaus was an accidental discovery. Situated right next to St. Philip, we decided to bring our pastries over and have coffee there. Chemex for two for $6 made us a happy couple. Also, they were projecting Tom & Jerry cartoons on the wall, which made for a happy Matty.
Matty kept telling me that he had something planned for us on Saturday, and when he revealed that he was going to drive me all around Austin too see the Friday Night Lights filming locations, I flipped. Despite my begging, he has refused to watch the show with me, but I think there is a bit more hope after this weekend. We used this map to find Coach Taylor's House, Saracen's House, Riggins' House, the DQ which was Alamo Freeze, the practice field, and the Panther's Stadium from the pilot. That's true love.