I’ve lived in Austin for almost three years now. Unfortunately for me, for most of that time I could be found at the UT Law Library, studying my little heart out and not at any of the fun-filled places below. I don’t recommend including a trip to the Law Library when visiting Austin, unless of course, the sight of over a million volumes of dusty law books and hundreds of terrified, over-caffeinated law students is your kind of thing. As I woefully count down the days until I am no longer an Austinite, I have promised myself that I will try to take full advantage of all of the fantastic activities this city has to offer! If Mr. K and I were going to have one final fling in Austin, this is how we would do it:
To kick-start our hometown honeymoon in Austin, we would have an early dinner at our favorite Austin restaurant, Uchi. Uchi might actually be my favorite restaurant in the whole world! It specializes in contemporary Japanese cuisine, and although it serves delicious sushi rolls, we hardly ever order them. The real gems at Uchi are the “hot” (cooked) and “cool” (uncooked) plates–delicious tapas-style dishes meant for sharing. Our favorites are the scallop hot rock (scallops that you cook yourself at the table with a hot Japanese river rock!), crudo (sea bass in orange oil with a citrus vinaigrette) and the maguro sashimi with goat cheese. For dessert, we love the jizake creme caramel. I’m getting hungry just writing about it!
Next, Mr. K and I would head to the Alamo Drafthouse for a movie. Alamo Drafthouse is a cinema chain founded in Austin where food and drinks are served during the movie. If you are wondering how this works without interruption, the waiters just come up to you, ask if you would like something in a whisper, and bring you food a beverages, which you can eat from your seat thanks to the long, bar-like tables in front of you! Mr. K LOVES the idea of being able to have a cold beer at the movies, and I like to have food in front of me at all times, so we love this place!
Finally, we would pay a visit to Halcyon, a downtown bar and coffee shop. This place has a little something for everyone! It has drinks, coffee, and best of all–S’MORES! I was sad when I discovered there was no way to incorporate my love of s’mores into our wedding–but enjoying them on the honeymoon is the next best thing!
The next day, we would go running at Lady Bird Lake. Lady Bird Lake has over ten miles of running and biking trails, all bordering the picturesque lake that cuts through the heart of downtown Austin. Mr. K likes to work out every day so we would have to fit in some exercise during our dream weekend!
After getting sweaty running around Lady Bird Lake, we would take a dip in the Barton Springs Pool. The Barton Springs Pool is an impressive three-acres in size and fed by underground springs. The water keeps steady at a chilly 68 degrees year round (which isn’t so bad when it’s over 100 degrees outside in the summer!). The pool is a popular spot for picnics, concerts, and sunbathing. Admission into the pool is $3/person.
After our dip in the pool, we would head to lunch at Torchy’s Tacos. Torchy’s has a few locations around Austin but my favorite is at the ‘South Austin Trailer Park & Eatery’. At this location, Torchy’s operates out of a retro Airstream trailer surrounded by picnic tables for patrons. And these aren’t your ordinary Tex-Mex tacos–oh no. Try the “Brushfire”–Jamaican jerk chicken, grilled jalapenos, mango, sour cream, and cilantro. Or the “Baja Shrimp”–fried, hand battered shrimp with cooked cabbage slaw and topped with pickled onions and jalapenos, queso fresco, and a wedge of lime. Delicious!
After getting cleaned up, we would next set our sights on the South Congress, or SoCo, shopping district. SoCo is an eclectic mix of funky, fun, and eclectic stores, eateries and bars. Vintage clothing, eco-friendly items, and unique hand-made items abound in this trendy Austin neighborhood.
Later, we would go to the Salt Lick for BBQ. The Salt Lick is actually in Driftwood, Texas, just outside of Austin. Despite being outside of town, this place draws large crowds daily. There are two features that make the Salt Lick unique. First, the open BBQ pit is in the middle of the restaurant, so you can see and smell the cooking process for yourself. This open pit makes the smoky flavor a little more subtle, which I love. Second, the sauce has just a hint of Hawaiian flavor. This may seem out of place in the Texas Hill Country, but the owner’s mother, who founded the restaurant in the late ’60s, was of Hawaiian descent and created the unique recipe for the Salt Lick’s Secret Sauce. Yum!
We would start of our last day with brunch at Z’Tejas. Z’Tejas is a great spot for eclectic Southwestern cuisine. I frequent two locations, but if the weather is nice, my favorite is the one on Arboretum Blvd., which has a deck overlooking the stunning Hill Country views of west Austin (above). The food is reasonably priced and always fresh. Mr. K is partial to the Breakfast Enchiladas (chicken, cheese, and red chile sauce topped with two eggs cooked over easy and served with pureed black beans), while I go for the Spinach and Wild Mushroom Omelet (stuffed with spinach and wild mushrooms, topped with chile con queso and ranchero sauce). Brunch meals come with fruit and freshly-baked muffins, as well.
Next, we would visit Lake Austin Spa. Normally, this place would be way out of my price range, but a girl can dream, right? This 25,000 square foot spa is designed to feel like a large, luxury lake house. The spa has amazing accommodations for the guests staying at this lakeside retreat, featuring private meditation gardens, fireplaces, whirlpools, and picturesque views. Ideally, we would stay overnight at the spa in order to take full advantage of all its offerings (nearly 20 activities and programs per day, including yoga, hikes, salsa dancing, pilates, and healthy cooking classes), but since this is a minimoon, we would come for the day, enjoy a spa service (such as the Flora Bee–a honey based body masque treatment and massage) and lounge by the gorgeous pool.
Then we would go to Manuel’s. Manuel’s is a Mexican restaurant in the heart of downtown Austin. As you might imagine, there are lots of tasty Mexican restaurants in this city, but I love Manuel’s because of its central downtown location and its outstanding menu. Manuel’s menu is a blend of various styles and regions of Mexico, and the result is truly innovative and delicious food. They also have some of the best margaritas in Austin! Try the fajitas, Enchiladas de Mole, the Ensalada de Jardin with shrimp, and the Prickly Pear Margarita!
We would end our Hometown Honeymoon by seeing a live music show. Austin is dubbed “The Live Music Capitol of the World”. Not only is the city home to both the Austin City Limits and South by Southwest Music Festivals, but on any given night you can find lots of great concerts downtown and at other venues around town. There are over 200 live music venues in this town, with two popular spots for concerts: Stubbs BBQ and Antone’s.
Speaking of concerts, I just bought tickets to an upcoming show in Austin! Mr. K and I will be taking our honeymoon in early May. The first day of our honeymoon will be spent in Austin (where we will actually do some of these Hometown Honeymoon activities!), the day before our flight to Italy. That night, I am surprising Mr. K with tickets to see The Flight of the Conchords in Austin! Mr. K and I have a mutual love for The Conchords’ wacky brand of musical comedy. This will be the perfect end to our Hometown Honeymoon!
- Drinks and jazz at the Elephant Room
- Beer at the Draughthouse, an English-style pub with lots of local microbrews
- Breakfast tacos at Tamale House
- Browsing records at Waterloo Records and End of an Ear
- Free-range chicken or grass-fed beef burgers at P. Terry’s
See all the posts in the Honeymoon in my Hometown Series here!