When the recent “cyclone blizzard” hit the east coast last week, I was casually exploring the cities of Austin and San Antonio in Texas with my friend. Neither one of us had planned our Texas trip with the intention to escape the cyclone. We simply wanted a short, fun trip away from New Jersey.
Call it luck, but while others were braving the cold back home, my friend and I enjoyed one of the most memorable trips so far in our 20’s.
From exploring eclectic art scenes and piano bars to even a cat cafe, our combined trip to Austin and San Antonio inspired me to compile a bucket list of items for future visitors to consider!
Austin Day 1:
The smart thing to do was to secure an Airbnb close to the downtown Austin area. Within walking distance we were close to a plethora of cute brunch places and coffee shops.
On day 1, we specifically chose to tackle the Texas State Capitol, Blanton Museum of Art, and the Museum of Weird (my favorite).
The Texas State Capitol which covers a total of 51.4 acres is a breathtaking National Historic Landmark. I did not expect to enjoy the aesthetics of the capitol as much as I did on our free tour. For those who yawn on historical tours and simply aren’t history-buffs I would still recommend a visit here!
(Below: Glimpses of the Capitol)
The Blanton Museum of Art , which is part of the University of Texas displays a myriad of different art pieces. These pieces range from contemporary and modern art to Latin pieces.
One of my favorites was Missão/Missões [Mission/Missions] (How to Build Cathedrals), 1987 by Cildo Meireles’s. This piece pictured below critiques Jesuit missions to convert the indigenous Tupi-Guaraní people into Catholics (utexas.edu). The critique is depicted by the stark contrast from the tragedy (bones) and the pennies (material power).
(a neon message, pictured below. I call it “inspiration” above the water fountain.)
The Museum of Weird, was a gallery of oddities and eccentric collections that peaked my interest. From shrunken heads and a well-preserved ice man to voodoo news clippings, this place has it all. No further descriptions are necessary as the pictures below should further illustrate how “weird” this place really is. I recommend getting the $12 tour, since during the end of the tour a certain “wizard” may give you a mind-reading surprise.
Day 2: San Antonio, Texas
Since we were spending a majority of our trip in Austin, Texas, we thought we should allocate one day for San Antonio to see the Alamo, The River Walk, The Natural Caverns, Tower of Americas, and much more! It’s also recommended that if you rent a car to explore the listed sights, you visit Buc-ee’s a convenience store you can only find in certain states including Texas!
The River Walk
If you come to San Antonio for a day and do not visit the river walk you are seriously missing out. Besides the cute neighboring restaurants and gondola rides, the river walk pathway serves as a beautiful photo shoot spot. Marvel at the scene both during night and day.
The Natural Caverns
The Natural Caverns are the largest active caverns in Texas. An interesting fact is that these caverns were discovered by students in the late 1960’s and are now one of the most well-known tourist sites in San Antonio. I would certainly recommend the tour inside the caverns. There are plenty of photo-taking opportunities.
The Alamo is famous of the 1836 battle in which a group of Texas soldiers defended the fort against the Mexican army for a total of 13 days. Although we did not tour the Alamo, the historical signs were enough for a self-guided tour. “For Texans, the Battle of the Alamo became an enduring symbol of their heroic resistance to oppression and their struggle for independence, which they won later that year.” (History.com)
The Tower of Americas
The Tower of Americas is about a 700 feet noteworthy landmark with an observation deck and revolving eatery. Besides the stellar views of San Antonio, you can also buy tickets for a 4D movie theater! Excuse the blurry picture below.
Day 3: Austin, Texas (Exploring the Hope Art Gallery and The Blue Cat Cafe)
The Hope Art Gallery is an outdoor modern art space with endless graffiti art. Whether you are with family, friends, or even yourself definitely check this place out. There is no shortage of instagram-worthy spots here.
The Blue Cat Cafe
Even if you are a dog lover you should try to come to this Blue Cat Cafe. It’s a vegan cafe with probably the best tasting chai latte I have ever had. Think of it as a trendy space that you can visit to get work done, hang out with friends, or even spend time with a significant other. The best part you can play with the cats while you are there!
Day 4: Austin, Texas (Cute Brunch at Cenote, Umlauf Sculpture Garden, Lady Bird Lake, Texas BBQ, and Esther Follies!)
Cenote, Austin’s Neighborhood Patio Cafe is an all-day cafe that serves the tastiest breakfast tacos along with a wide selection of different beverages. I am also a book/cafe blogger so this for me was a must go!
Umlauf Sculpture Garden
The Umlauf Sculpture Garden is the perfect place to get away from the hustle and bustle of downtown Austin. It is a quiet and serene sculpture park with works by Charles Umlauf, an accomplished artist who gained international attention for his creations. The museum states that Umlauf’s “concept of “3-D” thinking serves as a metaphor…for every victorious scene Umlauf created, one can find an analogous depiction of loss. For every robed religious figure, one can find a sensual nude.”
Lady Bird Lake
They say every meal in Austin is double the serving of what you would get in the east-coast. Therefore while enjoying all that Tex-Mex, the BBQ, and breakfast Tacos it might be helpful to take a natural hike and burn some calories. After the sculpture garden visit, my friend and I walked near Lady Bird Lake. We were also able to take advantage of the path and view the Austin skyline as well.
I rarely eat BBQ. Not because I don’t like it it’s just that I try to be health conscious when it comes to meat. However, since I took a trip to Texas I wasn’t going to let the opportunity go of trying some authentic Texas BBQ. My friend and I headed over to Lamberts in downtown Austin. There we had amazing mac and cheese to complement our respective BBQ dishes. I myself chose their BBQ chicken, and it was absolutely delicious.
(Above: Yes I really did eat all of that. #noregrets)
The best way to wrap up this trip was to attend an Esther’s Follies comedy/magic/satire show. It was unlike any other event I’ve been to as the actors were able to keep me intrigued for the full duration of the show. The actors do an amazing job depicting political figures and events in a satirical light, while also adding a musical touch and a magic show in the twist. I usually analyze magic tricks when I see them, but this time I was truly baffled. It is worth every penny!
Overall my first trip to Texas was amazing. It is inevitable to think that the most note-worthy destinations are abroad in Europe or Asia. However, sometimes the most gratifying trips are domestic. I couldn’t have thought of a better 4 day trip to spend my travel points 🙂
(Other recommendations not pictured: Visit Rainy Street and 6th Street at nighttime! Give Pete’s Dueling Piano Bar a try!)
(above: The famous “I love you so much” street art.)