One of my favorite things about living in Los Angeles is its proximity to so much natural beauty. Drive an hour south and you’ll hit the beaches of Orange County. Head east and the mountains and deserts will greet you. Make your way up north and you’ll find the majestic mountains of the Sierras. There’s never a shortage of adventures waiting around the corner.
Unlike most of the American population, my husband and I were far from relaxing, BBQ-ing and drinking this Memorial Day weekend. Instead, we were testing our mental grit summiting California’s third highest peak: Mt. San Jacinto.
What to do when you’ve only got 72 hours in Austin? You eat! My friends and I spent a calorie-filled weekend last summer in Austin to visit friends who recently relocated to the charming capital city. It’s always been in my secret bucket list to set foot in all 50 states, so I was excited to mark off Texas as the 32nd state to explore.
The entire city was so charming it immediately won my heart. Austin has the quintessential combination of proximity to nature, cool music, and mouth-watering food… what more can a girl ask for? Known as the Live Music Capital of World, Austin possesses a distinct je ne sais quoi, a vibe that’s difficult to put your finger on. It’s progressive city, an outlier compared to its metropolis neighbors. It’s a blue dot in a sea of red. It’s young, it’s hip, and it’s now one of my favorite cities!
They say the best BBQ in the world is in Texas. The best BBQ in Texas in Austin. The best BBQ in Austin is Franklin’s BBQ. Franklin’s BBQ proved to me that there are some places worth traveling 2,000 miles, waking up at 6AM, and waiting 4 hours for. When in Austin, definitely eat as the locals do! Texans know what’s up.
To burn off the the calories we just consumed, we rented bikes and took a scenic ride in Zilker Park, a recreational area situated beside Lady Bird Lake. It’s an expansive 351-acre park, offering open fields, bike trails, and leash-free dog zones! Riding around the city with the Downtown Austin skyline in the foreground was such a treat. I couldn’t help but daydream about packing my bags, driving to Austin from California, and leaving Los Angeles in the dust for good.
To those unwilling to sacrifice 4 hours waiting in line at Franklin’s, a notable alternative is The Salt Lick BBQ in Driftwood, Texas. About a 40 minute drive southeast of Austin, Salt Lick is another BBQ heaven. It definitely offers an authentic Texas experience. Situated in the middle of, well…nowhere, The Salt Lick has a restaurant, a winery, live music, and even a mini market where their special seasoning mixes and rubs are available for purchase.*
*Side Note: TSA gave me a hard time at the airport because of these dry rubs. Make sure the bottles remain sealed when you pack them in your luggage.
Can you say BBQ Holy Grail? This pit is insane! Texans don’t mess around when it comes to their BBQ.
Another unexpected treat I experienced in Austin is trying the Hey… You Gonna Eat or What?’s award-winning Shiner Monte Cristo. It was A M A Z I N G. It impressed the pants off me! My tastebuds were blown away (as seen in my face in the video below). It was the perfect combination of sweet and salty and soft and crunchy…. ugh! My mouth is watering just writing about it. That dish alone is enough of a reason for me to fly back to Austin.
Shiner Monte Cristo: Shiner beer-battered sandwich filled with ham, turkey, mild cheddar, provolone with a side of fig jelly. If this sandwich was a person, I’d marry it.
We spent our last day, Sunday morning, kayaking around Lady Bird Lake. Another must-do when in Austin! The lake is fairly calm. There are no currents, so kayaking was more leisure than a cardio work-out. You might also meet ducks, turtles, and swans!
Thank you so much to our lovely friends, Sara and Nette, for welcoming us to their home and showing us around Austin! Scroll below to watch our video diary!
1) Bike around Zilker Park
2) Kayak on Lady Bird Lake
3) “Greetings from Austin” mural
4) South Congress Street
5) Sixth Street
6) Ride a mechanical bull
7) “You’re my Butter Half” mural
1) Franklin’s BBQ
Address: 900 E. 11th Austin, TX 78702
Hours: Mon (closed), Tues – Sun (11:00AM – sold out!)
2) Salt Lick BBQ
Address: 18300 FM 1826, Driftwood, TX, 78619
Hours: Everyday (11:00AM – 10:00PM)
3) Churro Co. Austin
Address: 1620 E. Riverside Drive Austin, TX 78741
Hours: Thurs (1:00-9:00PM), Fri & Sat (1:00PM – 11:00PM), Sunday (1:00 – 9:00PM)
4) Hey… You Gonna Eat or What?
Address: 1905 S. Capital of Texas Hwy Austin, TX 78704
Hours: Lunch (noon – 4:00PM), dinner (5:00PM – 9:00PM), Wed (closed)
*Please, do yourself a favor and order the Shiner Monte Cristo.
5) Gourdough’s. Big. Fat. Donuts.
Address: 1503 S. 1st St. Austin, TX 78704
6) Lick Honest Ice Creams
Address: multiple locations
7) Austin City Lemons
Address: 1511 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704
Hours: Thurs – Sun (12:00PM – 6:00PM)
8) Lone Star Kolaches
Address: multiple locations
9) Guero’s Taco Bar
Address: 1412 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704
Hours: 11:00AM – 11:00PM
10) Don Japanese Kitchen
Address: 2716 1/2 Guadalupe St. Austin, TX 78705 (University of Texas, West Campus)
Hours: 5:00PM – 8:30PM
Austin gives me warm fuzzy feelings every time I find myself reminiscing. Watch our video diary below, made by my soul sister, Justine Mendoza. Make sure to watch in HD!
I firmly believe that the best places on Earth are the most difficult to reach. This belief was strongly tested nearly a year ago when I decided to embark on my second international solo travel.
Destination: Machu Picchu, Peru.
It’s officially Coachella season! The countdown has begun for the biggest and most anticipated music and art festival, which will return to its home at the Empire Polo Club in Indio, California. Coachella rookies and veterans alike will flock to the said venue for a 3-day long weekend filled with fun, music, and art.