The most common question we got when people asked us where we were headed for Spring Break was: Why Austin, Texas? Our question was: Why not?
Austin is an easy direct flight (about 3 and a half hours) on Southwest Airlines from Newark Airport. But hold it cowboy! This isn’t quite like the Texas most people imagine. That’s not to say you can’t buy yourself some high quality kicks at Allens Boots, because you totally can, but I’d recommend saving your hard earned money for the music, the drinks, and the food. This is the “live music capital of the world”, the home of the Whole Foods, and a city that prides itself on being a bit “weird.”
Here are the places we visited and the hotels we stayed at while visiting the state capital of Texas:
Our first night in Austin we stayed at The Sheraton Austin Hotel at the Capitol. We hold a bit of love in our hearts for this hotel since it is the hotel we stayed at during our cross country trip several summers ago. We were so tired on that trip that the Sheraton was about all we saw of Austin. On our most recent trip, this hotel was undergoing a bit of a facelift while we were there, but we loved the new addition of the The Yard Bar at Waller Creek. It was a great way to unwind after our rather unusual and hectic airport experience in Newark (you don’t want to know). I also love that this hotel is just around the corner from Arlo’s, a vegan food truck serving up some delicious vegan burgers outside of Cheer Up Charlies, one of the many fun and unique drinking establishments in the city of Austin.
Being Starwood Preferred Platinum Guests, we always make sure to visit as many Starwood properties as we can while visiting a city. Since Austin has three Starwood options within downtown, we were able to add three stays to our Starwood portfolio. After the Sheraton, we headed straight for this lovely place:
What do you get when you combine raindrop shower heads and Heavenly Beds with an amazing rooftop pool? The Westin hotel of your dreams. Welcome to the Westin Austin Downtown, a bright, beautiful, and modern place to rest your head during your visit to the state capital of Texas.
Located on East 5th Street, the hotel is a short two block walk to Congress Street, and just far enough away from the rowdy crowds on 6th.
Enjoy the sunshine by the pool during the day, then return in the evening for a peaceful view of Austin. And don’t forget to stop in across the street for some live music at Antone’s. Enjoy the convenience of having “Austin’s home of the blues” directly outside the Westin lobby doors.
Ahh…we wish we worked for Starwood. We’re always hoping they’ll discover us and send us around to stay at their properties while Paul takes photos and I write about their lovely hotels. #dreamjob
Unfortunately, due to rain, we didn’t get a lot of time to experience that amazing pool during the day, but the hotel was within walking distance to two gems that we discovered while staying there. First, we became slightly obsessed with Frank Hot Dog. This was our go-to lunch establishment for two days in a row. All they had to do was serve up the most authentic tasting vegan Chicago dog and we were hooked. I know, I know. A Chicago dog in Austin seems like the least authentic thing you could eat, but it was good. Even the bartender from Chicago agreed that they nailed it. I can’t help myself when it comes to those irresistible little sport peppers.
Our other fun discovery was Garage , a place recommended to us by a friendly bartender at Stella San Jac, the Westin’s restaurant and bar. The Garage is a glamorous cocktail bar located in the office space of a parking garage. You can sit and sip on a cocktail while cars whirl around you to and from their spots. It’s different and it’s one of the places you can’t miss while visiting Austin. Apparently, this bar used to be one of Austin’s best kept secrets, but as we’ve learned with our own little city by the sea (Asbury Park), these amazing things don’t stay secrets for long.
You can’t go to Austin without having the breakfast tacos. Unfortunately, since I gave up eating eggs in America several trips to France ago, I couldn’t settle for just any old taco. Since one of the highlights of my trip to Austin was a visit to the Whole Foods Headquarters, I was ecstatic to find a taco bar with amazing vegan breakfast tacos. They were so tasty, that I dragged Paul there two days in a row because I became quite addicted, quickly. I’ve heard all the jokes about it being “Whole Paycheck” and all, but I must admit, this grocery store is one of my guilty pleasures in life and now, no other Whole Foods will compare to Austin.
Okay, so it’s not one of his guilty pleasures in life, but he’s supportive. This was after our second visit for vegan tacos…
Our third Starwood stay was at the W Austin. They kindly upgraded us to a corner suite with spectacular views of the city. Our room was huge, and since we weren’t able to enjoy the pool, we enjoyed a lot of HGTV and this dreamy popcorn…
We also took the longest Uber ride we’ve ever taken to the Noble Sandwich Co. for a taste of the “best sandwiches in Austin.” Judging by the their outstanding vegetarian options, I’m sure their meaty sandwiches are fabulous. I loved my oyster mushroom reuben with sauerkraut and swiss, and Paul enjoyed his pimento cheese with smoked green onions, romaine, and olive oil pickles.
We didn’t get a chance to see everything in Austin. In fact, and no pun intended, due to all of the rain, we missed Rainey Street. We hear this is one of the must-see streets in Austin for good food and drinks. Just one more reason to go back!
So go see Austin. It’s the Texas you’ve never dreamed of…