Highlights from Austin, TX

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My husband and I just returned from a long weekend in Austin, TX. This is the third time I have visited the area with him and we were eager to revisit a few of our favorite spots and try to add a few new attractions to the mix. He grew up in the area, so I am fortunate to have an excellent guide.

Friday August 28, 2009

Friday was a day filled with new experiences. We woke up early and visited Round Rock Donuts, a place I had seen on the Travel Channel show Man vs. Food. Although I was intrigued by their giant “Texas”-sized doughnut, we opted for a dozen original. They were buttery, sweet, melt-in-your-mouth good. These served as breakfast-on-the-go as we drove to the Enchanted Rock. This natural attraction is the world’s largest granite monolith, and oh yes, we climbed it. It was not too physically taxing and I was intrigued by the whole hill country area. Following the Enchanted Rock, Tyler took me to a spring-fed pool he and his friends used to visit called Krause Springs. I cannot express how beautiful and relaxing it was to swim in the cold water. I place it second only to the ocean, and I love swimming in the ocean. We spent a few hours relaxing in this oasis – it was the middle of the afternoon and there weren’t too many other patrons – before we dried off and headed in search of dinner. Dinner was another new experience for me – Texas barbecue at a famous spot, the Salt Lick. The establishment is committed to barbecue and nothing else. There are even signs posted encouraging you to keep your mealtime under an hour and a half so they can serve as many people barbecue as possible. We ate at rustic wooden tables and sat on benches. All the food was very good, but most notable in my mind was the sausage. The memory of the sweet, smoky flavor is still strong in my mind!

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Enchanted Rock - view from the parking lot

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Me, under a solid granite boulder

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Waterfall at Krause Springs

Krause Springs

Krause Springs

Saturday August 29, 2009

Saturday was dedicated to shopping. We headed south to San Marcos to check out the outlet malls and then back to Austin to visit another shopping center before we journeyed to Crate and Barrel to stock up on a few remaining wedding registry items. We finished our shopping at Anthropologie, where I finally found a knob for my desk drawer. After this, we managed to just barely beat the dinner rush and get in line for a good table at the Hula Hut. This restaurant is situated on the banks of Lake Austin and the outdoor eating area actually juts out over the water. Both the food and the atmosphere were great and I highly recommend checking it out if you are in the area. We are still talking about the salsa! After dinner we headed downtown to the Congress Street Bridge to wait for sunset, when the resident bats make their nightly mass exodus. While we waited, seated on the grass with dozens of other onlookers, we chanced to encounter a flash mob pillow fight. It was completely unexpected, but really fun. That’s another experience you just don’t find in Wichita. The bats were impressive but I didn’t get any good photos. It turns out bats are small, fast, and difficult to see at dusk. After the “show” wound down, we headed to one of our Austin favorites, Amy’s Ice Creams for a little dessert.

View of Lake Travis from our table at the Hula Hut

View of Lake Travis from our table at the Hula Hut

The crowd begins to gather both above and below the bridge as sunset approaches.

The crowd begins to gather both above and below the bridge as sunset approaches.

Flash mob pillow fight!

Flash mob pillow fight!

Sunday August 30, 2009

Sunday was another shopping day, but this time we sought out local boutiques instead of the chain stores. The South Congress Shopping District was our destination and we enjoyed browsing the antiques, vintage items, records, and more. We found a Led Zeppelin record for my sister and nearly bought a walnut Danish modern credenza. For lunch we visited Central Market and had a bite to eat in the cafe and loaded up on tasty snacks. We were still hunting for records so our next stop was Backspin Records, a place we have visited each time we have come to Austin. They seem to carry high-quality products and their prices are reasonable, so it is our go-to source for records for my music-loving sister. Finally we were off to IKEA, an especially special experience on a Sunday afternoon. With IKEA done, our Austin to-do list was nearly complete. We stopped at Dunkin Donuts (another place Wichita sadly lacks) Monday morning and bought a dozen assorted to see us safely home.

Goodbye Austin, we’ll see you in December!

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