Stop 5: Austin
Never having been to Austin, I really had no clue what to expect. I’d heard good things from college friends who moved there so I figured I’d have a good time, but I never would have guessed I’d fall in love with the city! Austin is unlike anywhere I’ve ever been: it’s the capital of Texas so, of course, it’s political, it’s a bustling metropolis with a super fun downtown area, it’s situated on the Colorado river which provides access to lots of fun outdoor activities, and it’s overflowing with fantastic food (some of the best tacos and barbecue in the world!).
After checking in to the Westin Austin Downtown, we headed straight up to their gorgeous rooftop bar for sunset drinks. Azul Rooftop is Austin’s tallest rooftop bar – we were blown away by the breathtaking panoramic views as well as the delicious cocktails. Sitting by the fire pit and sipping a raspberry frosé and a blood orange margarita was the perfect way to relax after a long day of driving.
We had to try some of Austin’s famous taco joints, so we walked to Torchy’s Tacos for, yes, our second taco meal of the day. We loved their green chile queso as well as their tacos – we tried beef, jerk chicken and fried avocado taco, which was my personal favorite. Side note: the Texas trailer park trend of having a bunch of food trucks in a parking lot with picnic tables and string lights is just too cute! Next, we walked across Congress Bridge to the Austin capitol building which was so pretty illuminated at night. Finally, we got some boozy ice cream at Prohibition Creamery before completely collapsing in our luxurious Westin beds!
Well, my mom sure must have got a great night sleep because she woke up early and refreshed and decided to go get in line for the infamous Franklin BBQ! (Not all heroes wear capes!) She arrived at 7:30am, but people had been lined up since 5am, even though the BBQ place didn’t open until 11am. Crazy!! I came and met her in line, and we finally got our hands on some meat at around 12:30pm. All I can say is wow – this BBQ is absolutely worth the 5 hour wait. It was, without a doubt, the best barbecue we’ve ever had in our lives. We tried the brisket, the ribs, the sausage, potato salad, and banana bourbon pie. All were delicious, but the brisket was truly life-changing. I’ve never had meat melt in my mouth the way this buttery brisket did. Pro tip: order the brisket “moist” which is basically a cuter way of saying “fatty.”
In our meat-induced food coma, we went back to the Azul Rooftop for some much needed poolside napping. The Westin’s rooftop pool is such a fun scene on the weekend! After a power nap, we decided to join the DJ rooftop party and ordered a boozy watermelon sorbet slushie for two that was served in an actual watermelon! The perfect rooftop summer drink. #ivebeendrinkingwatermelon
After enjoying some much needed R&R by the pool, we were ready for another adventure and crossed the bridge and the Colorado River to explore the Greenbelt and the Barton Springs Pool. It’s so fun how the Austin Parks & Rec. Department turned a natural spring into a large community swimming pool! And on a sunny Sunday with 86 degree weather, this pool was definitely the place to be. The river was packed with Texans paddle boarding, swimming, and wading, and the natural pool was filled with swimmers, too – we were grateful for the freezing cold spring water on such a hot day! The sloping grass alongside the pool was studded with colorful towels of people basking in the sun. What a glorious day!
After drying off, we got an acai bowl from a local food truck, Acai Hut. Our bodies sure were craving fruit after our exclusive taco and meat diet. We got a pick-me-up coffee at Irie Bean, a fun café with hammock chairs in the backyard and a delicious vanilla hemp milk chai latte. We ended our night in true Tex-Mex fashion, with delicious enchiladas, rice, and beans at a hole-in-the-wall spot in East Austin.
The next morning, we had amazing Blueberry Sweet Bread French Toast for breakfast at Stella San Jac. And if you think that sounds a little decadent for breakfast, don’t worry, it’s also served on their dessert menu! Haha – YOLO! We also tried a Nutty Acai Bowl at Blenders and Bowls, a famous juice bar around the corner from our hotel. Yum! We really needed fruits and veggies after all our unhealthy eating.