Heading to Austin, Texas. Got any insider tips?

thI’ll be in the Lone Star State’s capital city for a few days in early August. Anyone who lives there/near there or has visited a lot have any insider tips to share?

DF has suggested the Harry Ransom Center, at the University of Texas. I’m also interested in the Texas State History Museum. And, of course, in good barbecue.

All right, proud Texans: Where else should I go? Is there some place that flies under the guidebook radar but is super-damn unmissable? (Note: I’m not renting a car, so suggestions must be approachable by public transit.)

I also wonder if any readers who live in the neighborhood would be interested in getting together for iced tea and irreverence late Saturday afternoon, Aug. 2, or any time Sunday, Aug. 3.

It would need to be a lot of iced tea, since the average August temperature in Anchorage is 57 degrees and an average Austin August is more along the lines of 96 degrees.

What works for you?

Ideally, a meeting place would be near the HI Hostel, on the shores of beautiful (and probably really warm) Lady Bird Lake. That’s where I’ll be staying as of Saturday night. However, I’ll be in downtown Austin all day Saturday so could meet someplace in that vicinity as well.

The reason I suggest the weekend is that most people are busy during the work week. However, I’ll also be at loose ends late Monday afternoon and all evening, before returning to Anchorage late Tuesday morning.

If you’re interested in a meet-up, please send a note to me at SurvivingAndThriving (at) live (dot) com, indicating which day/time works best – and suggesting any meeting places that come to mind. It could be a McDonald’s for all I care, especially since they offer free refills.

And again: Any tips on what not to miss would be greatly appreciated. No doubt I’ll take DF’s suggestion to heart. He has a special connection to the place: Although raised in Alaska he was born in Texas, and he once visited Austin to give a paper at a Gerard Manley Hopkins symposium. Can’t help lovin’ that man.

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  1. Elizabeth V

    You’re in luck: the Bullock Texas history museum is free on the first Sunday of the month… We just moved to Austin and are having a blast with all the free fun in this city!

    The bats are a must-see, of course.

    And there’s a free production of Oklahoma! running in Zilker park while you’re here, also.

    I’d love to come to a meetup, but I haven’t got the lay of the land well enough to suggest a place yet. Sunday works for me!

    • Donna Freedman

      Sunday would be better for me as well, because I’ll be tired from previous activities. But I need to find out more about public transit (off to the website!) and what’s semi-central yet not so crowded that people would be discouraged to drive there.
      Stay tuned.

  2. Shellye

    Welcome to Texas! My DH lived in Austin for years and we visit often – someday maybe I’ll live there myself. You need to visit Barton Springs Creek for a little sun and fun. It’s a natural spring that you can swim in, lay out on the beach, etc.

    You MUST have croissants w/strawberry butter at Chez Zee on Balcones St. You will not be disappointed. Everything on their menu is fab, but the croissants are the BEST.

    Have an awesome time. It’s a bit warm in these parts so dress light and stay hydrated!!

  3. I also highly suggest Barton Springs – it’s cold for us Texans but fun! I went there at least once a year for most of my childhood when we were visiting family. Other than that, you may want to see our state capital building. And we enjoy Kirby’s café when we are there.

  4. PS I’ll be leaving for a cruise out of Galveston Aug 3 or I’d meet you in Austin. 🙁 Maybe next time you are in Texas randomly. 😉 Feel free to visit Houston! 🙂

  5. Rudy’s for bbq and Trudy’s for tex-mex. And be sure to get a mexican martini there, there’s a reason they only limit them to 2 per person. 🙂

    Oh and if you can catch a movie at Alamo Drafthouse, not to be missed!! Especially if there’s a theme!

  6. Valerie

    There is a cool little place called Shady Grove that is super cozy and relaxed. Great place to enjoy some iced tea and a burger! Also, it is accessible via public transportation 🙂 *bonus: it’s on barton springs road if you’d like to go to barton springs creek.

    • Donna Freedman

      Thanks, Valerie. I will check out where it is relative to where I am, i.e., whether I’d have to spend an hour taking two different buses (especially on a Sunday, when service is likely to be truncated). “Cozy and relaxed” sounds good in case we want to linger and chat.

  7. Hi Donna,

    One of the best BBQ restaurants ever is The Salt Lick in Driftwood, Tx.,near Dripping Springs about twenty minutes southwest of Austin.It`s a very famous place yet retains the Texas atmosphere.Wear your shorts and head on out.Austin is also known for 6th Street if you just want to walk it at night and see the crazy street life.Austin used to have such a great small town atmosphere but now it is so big and the traffic is about as bad as Houston and Dallas. All the kids that go the school there find it hard to ever leave! Enjoy it but prepare for very hot weather although not as humid as Houston where I am !

    • Mmmm. One of my friends got Salt Lick delivered all the way to the coast for her birthday once when we were in graduate school. A truly memorable experience for all who were invited to partake.

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