Ed. Note: We haven’t had a new post in a long time! We suspended new posts for about 6 months to spend time caring for elders in our family, make a major downsizing move and to attend our daughter’s college graduation! In other words, regular life! But while we put some travel plans (and blogging about them) on hold; that doesn’t mean other people haven’t been traveling! Read on to hear about our daughters’ trip to Austin Texas
GSIT: How did you decide on this destination? Why did you want to go?
EMILY: Austin was the destination for a conference I was attending so it was pretty much chosen for me! However, I decided to take some time after the conference to tour Austin because of its reputation as a fun hip city with tons of great food and live music. Plus, the 40-65 degree winter weather was a big plus coming from Vermont!
GSIT: how did you plan your trip? Did you use a travel agent or tour?
EMILY: I think it would be more accurate to say I didn’t plan this trip! All jokes aside, I found a great hostel to stay at ahead of time and primarily planned day-by-day using recommendations from a variety of websites, other visitors and Austin locals I met during the trip, and Google Maps. In the busier months for tourism it may make sense to plan ahead, but in early January I never had any problems finding things to do last minute.
GSIT: what did you do while you were on this trip?
EMILY: A huge variety of things! Each day I picked a different Austin neighborhood or area to explore. From kayaking on Lady Bird Lake to checking out the street art in East Austin, there was a surprising amount to do. Not to miss is the South Congress neighborhood, which is home to a variety of quirky small shops, including the coolest costume shop I’ve ever seen. The food is also amazing, from Texas Barbeque to Korean-Mexican fusion tacos. Food trucks are everywhere in Austin and serve some genuinely impressive cuisine. Austin is home to several museums, and I went to the Blanton Museum of Art on UT Austin’s campus, which houses a large collection of American and Latin American modern and contemporary art. Finally, Austin is known as the live music capital of the world and it certainly lived up to this title on my trip. Austin is home to all types of musicians, from country to indie rock to punk music, all of whom are talented and passionate.
GSIT: what surprised you about this place? Is there a "don't miss it" attraction?
EMILY: I think what surprised me most was the beautiful outdoor spaces in Austin. Even in the “cold” of Texas winter, I enjoyed hiking around and kayaking on Lady Bird Lake. While bad weather meant I wasn’t able to visit, I also heard great things about the Zilker Park which has a botanical garden and sculpture park! Additionally, the new central library is a gorgeous piece of architecture and worth a trip on a rainy day. Not to miss is Austin’s nightlife and live music scene. Most famous is the “dirty 6th” district, which on the weekends is closed off to car traffic and becomes Austin’s version of Bourbon Street. However, I had a great time venturing off the main street to other local music venues in the Red River Cultural District.
GSIT: what tips would you give for someone who wants to visit? Anything special you should pack?
EMILY: Very few things are open in Austin in the morning (I had trouble finding a coffee shop open at 7 am and most stores and brunch places seemed to open around 11), so plan to adjust your schedule to get up a little later so you have energy to experience Austin’s great nightlife. If you are travelling in the winter, pack layers as weather can vary significantly (from 63 degrees to 38 during my stay). And bring or buy ear plugs if you intend to go see live music!
GSIT: is there anything else you'd like to tell us about your trip?
EMILY: I was travelling alone as a woman for most of this trip, and I found Austin an overall safe and welcoming city. Obviously, like any major city there is some risk of crime and street harassment, but I never felt unsafe. I highly recommend Austin as a destination for solo travelers.
EMILY is a recent graduate of University of Vermont starting her career in public service after more travel to Europe! Being the child of avid travelers, she has plenty of stamps in her passport and has been to 4 continents!
GSIT has almost finished a big downsizing move, and this frees us for more time travel! Look forward to reports from Walt Disney World, and if you are interested in cruising, we will cruise on one of the worlds largest ships, Harmony of the Sea and a river cruise aboard AmaDura in Vietnam and Cambodia. We look forward to sharing more reports and photos!