Oh Austin how I love thee! Ask my wife, she probably wants to kill me for saying this, so often, every day, for the past week…
Our trip is about to wrap up and I am sad to go home. Frankly, I have never been to a city so well-rounded with things to do, places to visit, amazing food to eat and so so SO impeccably clean. Seriously, I challenge you to find me a cleaner city.
Now, our travels this week weren’t to enjoy cleanliness. Rather I had planned this trip for my wife as a Christmas gift… which also happened to land on my 30th. Planned? Maybe. But thats marriage!
Compiling just 5 things to do into this list was difficult, especially when we had many, many places we intended to see (and did see) while visiting Austin. But I assure you, where we did go we will happily recommend for anyone going to experience Austin for their first time.
1) Eat at Coopers BBQ Austin. While not as renowned as Stubbs or Franklins there is nothing to complain about at all. The staff is friendly and happy to offer their opinion on their cuts. Slabs are eyeballed for weight and cut for you before dipped in their bbq sauce. No frills, just slice and dice and you are on your way to pick out sides (spicy mac was great!). Recommended: Beef ribs, jalapeño sausage, beef brisket.
2) Visit the State Capitol and University of Austin. Depending on where you are in the city you can see both on the same trip if you like. My wife and I stayed Downtown and took a double decker tour which brought us all over the city. The first stop was to the University and the State Capitol which were both equally massive and in the same neighborhood. Texas Memorial Stadium is humongous and definitely a stadium I want to visit on Longhorn game day.
However, the State Capitol is where the beauty is at. This colossal building sits just south of the university and atop a hill with Congress Avenue feeding into it as a red carpet from the North and South. Built out of red granite, standing beside it the walls seem to go on forever. We unfortunately did not have the time to do a tour inside (which they do offer), but were able to take an evening walk around the building. A few rooms were lit up to show it’s preserved beauty from the late 1800s. The yards are littered with many statues and monuments, it feels as though you are at the White House (albeit a much larger building…)
3) Catch a show at The Mohawk. Seriously, do it. And please make sure to see some local bands. We managed to catch Annabelle Chairlegs and Golden Dawn Arkestra, two equally enjoyable bands from Texas with quite the cult following. The venue has 2 stages; an interior (which we originally had bought tickets to) and an outdoor stage. Both were crowded, but the beer was cheap (coming from Los Angeles, mind you) and the music was loud and entertaining.
4) Enjoy some Japanese food at Fukumoto. We stumbled upon this place, for my birthday none-the-less, but I would happily place it in my top 5 Austin visits. They say Austin is very similar to Portland when it comes to their food, and Fukumoto is the only place I experienced this in. We had asked our waiter “what is fresh today?” Everything. Okay, thank you. Great recommendation. “Everything is fresh. We get our tuna from blah blah blah, or salmon from yada yada and our Uni from Japan.” Oh, good Japan, must be very authentic. “Yes, and none of our fish come from a farm, they are all wild caught and never washed with anything but water and massaged vigorously and only the best part is cut and..” you get my point. Needless to say, the waiter was very passionate about where he worked.
Fukumoto is not all sushi and my wife and I decided to jump around the menu a bit. I tend to find myself adventurous when it comes to trying new food and while Yakitori plates are not new to me there were a few I had not seen offered before. Chicken gizzards, chicken heart, monkfish liver… we settled on stingray fin.
I wasn’t about to have any gizzards this time around. And after a week of BBQ, liver was not on the menu this evening. Needless to say the stingray fin was delicious.
The Amberjack (served in the salmon flight) was hands down my favorite. A few rounds of Hitochino white ale helped me fill my belly. Which leads me to…
5) the most important and easiest thing to do in this city, Walk. Walk a lot. It’s really easy and you will be thanking yourself for it after indulging in so much delicious food (and possibly drinking so much delicious, affordable brews.) My wife and I were able to easily maneuver around the city for a week without affording a cab once. While there is an unfortunate abundance of homeless in the city, no one is rude or unfriendly. We never felt unsafe and we never found trouble. In fact our second to last day on our trip we managed 5.2 miles just in the morning alone.
Again, this depends greatly on where you are in the city, and I am sure time of the year, but this city is so beautiful. So clean. In fact, I have never seen a cleaner city in the states. The streets are maintained and people actually do care about recycling and such. It was very inspiring.
Other things to do that we loved just as much.
- Grab a pizza pie from Home Slice
- Grab a drink at The Driskill (every night had a crowd)
- Walk Rainey Street and grab a meal
- Walk through 6th Street (or avoid it, depending on your company)
- See the Congress Avenue bats at night
- Walk South Congress
- Go to the Zilker Botanical Gardens
Overall, we had an amazing trip. I am already looking to go back to see this city again and check out Ironworks BBQ and possible venture outside of the city to San Antonio and the Salt Lick. I found this city to be very well rounded and offering anyone exactly what they are looking for. It is youthful, but also carries such beautiful history and only growing!
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