It’s an exciting trip to plan when you get to return to one of your favorite cities! One of my volunteer duties as president of my sorority alumnae chapter is attending our national convention. I was pretty excited when it was announced the convention would be held in Austin, Texas!
I’ve had the pleasure of visiting Austin several times as it’s home to LIVESTRONG. It’s a growing city, even sprawling a bit, but there is still a lot of character and good vibes. I was able to fly in a bit early to spend time with a great friend who lives in Austin (we met through LIVESTRONG so I get to see her again soon when I join Team LIVESTRONG to bike across Iowa to raise money for their programs and services for cancer survivors). It was hot as Hades for our sightseeing day – temps registered in the mid-90s with ‘real feel’ of over 100 degrees! No worries, we had so much fun! It’s a good friendship when you never run out of things to talk about, laugh at and share.
When in Texas, you need to eat barbecue! My girlfriend highly recommended The Salt Lick so that was our destination for lunch. It’s usually super busy but we arrived at a good time and missed the crowds. The Salt Lick sits on a great tree-lined property, with a spacious outdoor seating area and plenty of room indoors. There is also a wine tasting room next to the restaurant. The smell of barbecue is amazing as you arrive! A huge barbecue pit filled with a variety of meats greets you upon arrival inside the restaurant. The menu offers many options! I settled on a turkey sandwich, which comes with potato salad and coleslaw. And I ordered a refreshing sweet tea. The food servings are very plentiful. I was soon stuffed full! We had great service, a young man with true Southern charm and other wait staff checking in on us. One caution – The Salt Lick only takes cash at this Driftwood location.
Our next stop was at the recently opened Vista Brewing. Again, I loved the modern, rustic architecture of the tasting room and the production area across a small walk. The property is pretty spacious with plenty of outdoor seating, a rope swing and a small stage for live entertainment. While trees dot the landscape to provide some shade, the time of day lent itself to light sweating so we opted to relax inside the cool, light, airy tasting room. The staff is really nice, approachable and friendly. There is a nice variety of craft beers to choose from, as well as a menu of food options with ingredients from the property farm and orchard or Texas farmers. Their website also mentions something about being able to spend the night in small cabins – drinking, eating, watching the stars. Sounds awesome to me!
We spent the evening hanging out at her house with her beau, dogs and cat. Our dinner reminded me of home – Via313 pizza. if you live in the Detroit area, you know 313 is Detroit’s very own area code. Turns out that the owners of this pizza place are from my big city. They have a Detroit style pizza and their company background pays homage to this city. And the pizza is really good!
The next morning, before the conference officially began, I wandered a few blocks from my hotel to Mellow Johnny’s. This Austin-based bike shop holds a great selection of bikes, clothing, accessories, repair shop and a coffee bar for people to relax. I ‘might have’ purchased a few items. Then I stopped at LIVESTRONG to greet other friends and enjoyed a great taco lunch.
I also found some time between conference sessions to slip on workout clothes and shoes so I could walk along the Colorado River. Austin has a great trail system along the water, encouraging people to walk, run, bike and even scoot(er). There were lots of people enjoying the day on kayaks, paddle boards, and tubes. I love being outdoors like this, and love seeing so many people take advantage of the space. Even when the temps are almost 100 degrees! Austin’s riverwalk reminds me of Detroit’s revitalized riverfront, with the great riverwalk, activities and businesses along the way.
I left the trail to walk across Congress Bridge to South Congress Avenue Entertainment District. This is home to cute shops, Home Slice Pizza (yom!!), the Austin Motel (sadly the Snack Bar is no longer there), Continental Club and more. I was bummed to see almost an entire block at South Congress and Nellie St. had been bulldozed to make way for new developments. Some cool businesses once resided here.
All in all, Austin did not disappoint. I really enjoy this city, the energy, welcoming people and fun. I can’t wait to visit again!