A Weekend Getaway in Austin
Updated: May 26, 2021
Hi everyone! One of my most recent adventures took me for a weekend getaway in Austin, Texas. In this week’s blog I’ll share the details of our trip itinerary, recommendations, and everything you need to know for a fun weekend in Austin!
We went to Austin, Texas for a quick two day trip. I left Birmingham on Friday, December 4th and got back on Sunday, December 6th.
Trip to Austin Texas: Where We Stayed
We stayed at the Homewood Suites in downtown Austin. Let me be very clear about this - Austin is an amazing city IF you stay where you should and don’t go where you shouldn’t.
Our hotel was right on that line. The hotel itself felt perfectly safe and was absolutely amazing on the inside. I loved the room - it was one king bed, a large bathroom, a living space, and a little miniature kitchenette. And because of COVID, they didn't give complementary hot buffet breakfast (sad day), but they were giving out breakfast bags to anyone who wanted one. Mine included fruit, yogurt, and a protein bar.
The front of the hotel opened up to the not-so-great area that I would probably want to stay away from. However, the back of the hotel opened up to Rainey Street. Rainey Street is the beginning of the “safe zone”.
All things considered, we thought the location was perfect because we only ever needed to use the back entrance and we were well within walking distance to every place we wanted to visit. Not to mention, it was significantly more affordable than any of the AirBnb’s we looked at!
Trip to Austin Texas: Transportation
We flew on United Airlines from Birmingham, AL to Houston, TX. There is an airport in Austin, but the only available flights there required a layover. We decided we could drive from Houston to Austin faster than having a layover - it’s only about a two hour drive. So, we left Birmingham at the ripe hour of 6:00 am, landed in Houston a little before 8:00 am. We had a rental car from airport to Austin and we arrived around 10:00 am!
One of my favorite things about Austin is the motorized scooters they have all over the city. If you’ve never been on one, it’s almost reason enough to visit. They go up to about 20mph, and you can ride them in the bike lanes. There are a couple of different companies there (Bird, Lime) that require an app download. You download the app, put in a credit/debit card, and then you’re all set! They are super affordable, with both apps having a $1.00 start fee, and then costing $0.15/minute that you have the scooter active. The whole process is extremely user friendly, even if you’re not good with technology. When we weren’t using the scooters, we walked everywhere we went.
Trip to Austin Texas: Itinerary
Friday was our travel day, but because our flight left Alabama so early, we really didn’t miss much time in Austin that day. We arrived in the city by about 10am and took about an hour to check in to our hotel and get settled in.
After that we walked through the back of our hotel and went to Rainey Street. Rainey Street is like the “food district” of Austin - there’s more food trucks and bars than you could ever possibly try in one weekend.
We walked up and down the whole street just taking it all in, and then started looking for lunch. Rainey Street doesn’t really open until 3 pm to 4 pm. So, we honestly just picked the first we could find that was open. We found this nicely decorated bar called Stagger Lee’s, and in the back was a little place called Metcalf BBQ. I decided on BBQ nachos and I was absolutely not disappointed!
After that, we rented some of the scooters and rode all the way down Congress St. to go see the Texas state capital. We got there, and unfortunately they were not allowing tours due to COVID but it was still beautiful to see on the outside! We walked the perimeter of the capital grounds and that took about 30 minutes. Then, went back to the hotel and freshened up for the night. After about an hour, we went back to Rainey Street for a delicious truck food dinner.
There is literally any kind of food you could possibly think of - my favorite food is Greek food, and there was a gyro truck! It was called Big Fat Greek Gyros and that’s exactly what we ordered.
After that, we spotted a little French crepe truck called Saperlipopette. Little known fact - I minored in French in college so I always feel a little tug toward French things when I see them. We decided we would get a dessert crepe and went up to talk to the man in the food truck. Turns out, he was a young man from France who came to America specifically to start a French crepe food truck! Talk about authentic crepes!
After dessert, we decided to stay on Rainey Street and stay close to the hotel so that we could go to bed at a decent hour and have all day Saturday to explore. So, we went back to Stagger Lee’s (Austin was decorated for Christmas while we were there and Stagger Lee’s had a HUGE bench covered in lights that I wanted to take a picture with). We got spiked hot chocolate and it came in real Christmas mugs!
Lastly, we went to a little place called Little Brother Bar because they had a sign out for a drink special called “Brandy Mint Hot Cocoa” that I wanted to try. After spending some time there, we went back to the hotel and called it a night.
We woke up decently early Saturday morning and decided to go for a run by the river. There was a pretty direct route from our hotel to the river, so it didn’t take us long to get there. There is fantastic trail that runs the length of the river through the city - if you’re an active person, I highly recommend taking some time to go walk and enjoy the scenery through the city!
We ran about 5 miles and ended up close to the downtown area. If you didn’t know, the very first Whole Foods Market is in Austin. So, when we were trying to decide what to eat for lunch after our run, we decided to go check it out. We ate lunch and I’m so happy we ended up going there because there was a spot right outside the store that had huge letters “atx” and there were a ton of people there taking pictures (a very “instagrammable” spot, lol). We waited our turn and took our picture.
We enjoyed a long walk back to our hotel, and stopped by Rainey Street for some donuts from Little Lucy’s Mini Donuts. They were delicious and the man working there was so nice! We sat and ate and then went back to rest up and get ready for dinner and a night out.
We made reservations to go to dinner at Fogo de Chao, a nice Brazilian steakhouse (the kind where they just keep bringing meat to the table) in downtown Austin. We were there for about two hours and I cannot express how full I was when we left!
After that we made our way to 6th Street, which is the “bar district” in Austin. We found a little bar where we could sit down and watch football (the University of Alabama was playing and I don’t miss games). We stayed there until the end of the game. Then, we went exploring.
One cool thing about Austin that I’ve never seen anywhere else is that they basically have a strip of shot bars. You can get other drinks too, but when you walk into these places you look at the menu of shots and that’s what you order. It made for a pretty quick night. Some of the shot bars we visited were: Rooftop on 6th, The Recess Arcade Bar, the Library, and Cheers Shot Bar. After a really fun night, we ended up deciding to get more donuts and call it. We went to VooDoo Donuts and I got two - a maple bacon donut (this one was my favorite) and a chocolate oreo donut. We got scooters and went back to the hotel and got a good night’s sleep.
Sunday morning we woke up and took some time to pack up and get ready to hit the road back to Houston. We took a bagged breakfast the hotel had for us and left at about 11:00. It took us about two hours to get back to Houston and we ended there at about 1:00. We had a couple of hours before we needed to be at the airport, so we went for a late lunch at a place called Walk-On’s. It was such a fun restaurant (sort of like a Buffalo Wild Wings type place) to watch football and eat yummy food. After this we had to head to the airport and wrap up our weekend. I had a direct flight from Houston to Birmingham, and got home around 9:00pm.
Trip to Austin Texas: Food and Drink
Honestly, everything we ate in Austin was amazing. Austin has a strong “support local” vibe, and all of the food trucks were the best part. Below are the places we ate and what I liked/didn’t like about them.
Metcalf BBQ - 3.5/5 - This place was delicious! The score is reflective of the fact that it would definitely not have been my first choice. We only ate here because literally everything else was closed. It was a cool place but the atmosphere was lacking for that very reason - everything was kind of dead. It might be totally different at night!
Big Fat Greek Gyros - 5/5 - This was literally the best gyro I’ve ever had (and I’ve had a lot!). It was huge. I couldn’t even eat it all and it was so affordable. I will absolutely go back again next time I’m in Austin!
Crepes - 4/5 - I thought the atmosphere was so authentic here. The guy was so nice and the crepe was delicious and affordable. The only reason I didn’t score it higher is because I wish I had gotten different toppings and fillings!
Whole Foods - 3/5 - I’m sure a lot of you guys have been to Whole Foods… it was delicious but it wasn’t a “unique” Austin experience. It was perfect for the moment - we were looking for something healthy since we had just finished running - but I kind of wish we had planned that a little better and eaten at a restaurant that I can’t find in Birmingham.
Little Lucy’s Mini Donuts - 4.2/5 - Had we not gone to any other donut places I might have given this a perfect score, but see below.
Fogo de Chao - 4.5/5 - This food was INCREDIBLE. The only reason I took away a half a star is because I have a Brazilian steakhouse in Birmingham and might have done something unique to Austin here instead. But the food was absolutely amazing and you can’t argue with that!
VooDoo Donuts - 5/5 - These donuts were probably the best I’ve ever had. The menu was almost overwhelming but there was definitely a donut here for everyone. The maple bacon donut is the way to go!
Walk On’s - 4/5 - The atmosphere here was amazing and everyone was hard core representing their teams. The food was great and the staff was so nice. The only reason I didn’t give it 5/5 is because you can find a sports themed restaurant in pretty much any city ever.
What I loved about my weekend getaway in Austin.... and What I Didn't
Would Do It Again: Any portion of my weekend in Austin that involved food…. I would ABSOLUTELY do it again. The food in the city is amazing because there’s such a demand for food trucks and local food. I ate way too much on this trip and I have no regrets!
Might Do Differently: If I had to do this trip all over again, I might fly straight to Austin and stay an extra day. I really didn’t mind the drive from Houston, but there were just a couple more things that I really wanted to do that I didn’t get to because of time limitations. When I initially told people I was traveling to Austin, everyone told me I needed to go to the bat bridge to see the bats migrating at night. If you’re anything like me, you might have just thought “EW why would I want to go see bats?!” so I didn’t make it a priority in deciding what activities I wanted to do. Now, having been and NOT seen the bats, I’m actually really disappointed I didn’t plan for it. It is something the city is actually really proud of, and they’ve made quite a tourist attraction out of it. If I had stayed in Austin for one more night (three nights total) I feel like I would have been able to squeeze in everything I wanted to do while I was there.
Weekend Getaway in Austin - Rating
I would rate this trip a solid 9/10. Don’t get me wrong - I LOVED our weekend getaway in Austin, and I would go back in heart beat. The only thing I did not like about the trip is that it would have been even that much more fun with a bigger group of people. Austin is a really cool city with a young crowd/hipster kind of vibe. All of the restaurants and bars and places to go downtown would be fun to experience with a group of your closest friends!
If you’re looking for some weekend getaways in Texas - something fast, affordable, and full of adventure, Austin should be pretty high up on your list of places to visit!
As always, please comment or reach out to me with questions, and of course let me know if you go on this trip!