Weekend Escape | Austin, Texas

With nearly 200 venues, Austin touts itself as the live music capital of the world; now the emerging city is spreading its wings and also becoming a mecca of food, nightlife, motor sports, art and laid back lifestyles. Take a historic tour of the Texas Capitol building, get weird downtown, or hit the hill country for outdoor fun galore, ranging from hiking and biking to watersports on Lake Travis. Sample world famous Texas barbecue at one of Austin’s famous smoke pits, and channel your inner party animal on Sixth Street.

Austin Day 1 iStock_000025348432_Large

Start off strong and line up early for lunch with some of the country’s best barbecue at Franklin Barbecue, then fortify your Texas history by taking a free guided tour of the Austin Capitol building, offered 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Nearby South Congress Street offers plenty of quaint shops and people watching as the afternoon continues. Further burn off those barbecue calories with a downtown walk on the Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail. This 10-mile loop snakes through downtown Austin and attracts walkers, runners and cyclists. If you feel like taking to the water, rent a kayak or stand up paddleboard and traverse the gentle waters of Lady Bird Lake. Grab a succulent seafood dinner downtown at Truluck’s, then wander over to the Congress Ave. Bridge to see the spectacle that is the largest urban bat colony in North America take flight at dusk.

Austin Day 2

Breakfast in Austin wouldn’t be complete without tacos. Mosey on over to Juan in a Million for a famous Tex-Mex breakfast plate where you definitely won’t leave hungry. You’re in Austin, so after that, it’s time to grab a beer and a golf club and keep it weird. Peter Pan Mini golf has been in operation since 1946 and features two 18 hole courses filled with characters, obstacles and surprises. Best of all, it’s BYOB, but don’t bring any glass. iStock_000021825988_LargeAfter that, visit the Cathedral of Junk, where you can decide if it’s a genius of folk art or just a pile of stuff. Regardless of your decision, it’s very Austin. If your inclination is to continue to party hearty in the Texas heat, head on over to Sixth Street for endless open air bars, clubs and music venues. This historic street and entertainment district downtown is a must-see late night spot, and also offers dozens of restaurants as well as food trucks for any taste or mood.

Austin Day 3aerial view of Capitol building in Austin the Capital of Texas

It’s been an exhausting trip, so you’ve earned some relaxing fun in the sun. Start off with a hearty homemade breakfast at Magnolia Café, then explore Barton Springs Pool, a relaxing, spring-fed 3 acre swimming hole that is a constant 68 degrees. This cool spot is an oasis in the city, with plenty of shade to lounge in and relax. Dry off and hop on a SegCity Segway tour, an informative cruise from Sixth Street all the way to the Capitol. You’re downtown, so lunch is not scarce. Make your pick as you stroll the city. Wind down the day with dinner and a movie at the original Alamo Drafthouse downtown. Skip the studio movies for one of Alamo’s signature series flicks, featuring quote-alongs and fan favorites selected by the famous cinema.

Austin Day 4

You’ve spent a lot of time downtown, so on your last day, head out to Lake Travis, a 19,000 acre reservoir lake on the edge of town. But first, grab breakfast at Counter Café for some local, organic food in a 21st Century American diner setting. Upon arrival at Lake Travis, strap into Texas’ longest zip line at Lake Travis Zipline Adventures. This three hour adventure offers five different zip lines and amazing views over the lake. If you’re looking for a slower, yet still adventurous pace on your last day, get lazy and soak in some sun and sin at Hippie Hollow Park, the state’s only legally recognized clothing optional public park. Don’t put the sunscreen down yet, as the Oasis on Lake Travis is one of the largest restaurants in Texas, seating 2,500 people in an outdoor setting. Known for strong drinks and legendary sunset views from the looming bluffs over Lake Travis, it’s the perfect spot to toast the end of your Texas vacation.

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About the Author

About the Author: Pat Barcas serves as staff writer and photographer for RTX Traveler Magazine, based in Asheville, NC. In his spare time he enjoys photography, astronomy, hiking, hanging out with his family and dog, and of course, traveling! His favorite RTX spots to visit are Orange Beach, Alabama, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and Murrells Inlet, South Carolina, but he's visiting new places all the time. .

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