Help a Reader Travel: Austin

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Welcome to another post of helping a reader travel! As I’ve mentioned before, I have not been to every destination (unfortunately), but do get questions from friends and other blog readers on all sort of travel destination questions. Thus far, we’ve been able to help other readers travel to MauiThe Greek IslandsPacific Coast HighwayArgentinaCosta RicaCape Cod & The IslandsIcelandGenevaCanadian RockiesRomeIsraelPeruLas VegasStockholm,ChicagoParis, and Hanoi.

So this weeks travel destination includes Austin, Texas. I received the following email from reader Jill:

“A bunch of friends and I planned a last minute trip Austin in a few weeks. We’ve never been and have heard awesome things! We are looking for some great food, especially bbq, and things to do during the day. I have been put in charge of finding a hotel for my friends and I. We want to be in a great location so we can walk everywhere (or take a taxi if need be) and not have to drive. Thanks!

Jill – This sounds like fun! I actually have never been to Austin, which I still cannot believe, but it is definitely one of my next places to visit in the US. Enjoy the trip and I am looking forward for some great comments as well! Mr. Deals was there a few months ago, so hopefully he can shed some light on great food options.

If you’ve been to Austin, Texas let’s help out reader Jill by commenting below.

Also, if you have any upcoming travel where you need some help, feel free to email me at dealswelike@gmail.com to be a featured “Help a Reader Travel” Monday special. Thanks!

Comments

  1. For BBQ, don’t waste your time in line at Franklin’s. Go instead to JMueller BBQ food truck on South 1st, awesome food and if you get there before 11:30 there’s not much wait. Depending on how many days you’re here, definitely check out other trailers on South 1st, South Congress or East 6th.
    Instead of Salt Lick, you’re better off driving to Lockhart for the authentic somekhouse experience at Kreuz’s or Black’s BBQ. Salt Lick is pretty good so I guess you can go to both if you have time.
    For great burgers, go to one of the Hopdoddy restaurants. Also, Austin now has a few small, very unique restaurants like Foreign & Domestic or Barley Swine. Definitely check those out.
    Finally, although Austin is known for live music, avoid 6th street! Specifically between Congress and Red River. In the past 10 years it’s become know as Dirty 6th and for a good reason. Every bar smells like puke and floors are sticky, I’m not kidding. There’s almost no music left anyway.
    For authentic hole in the wall live bar music you’ll have to find something on 6th east of I-35.
    Nicer bars are all on West 6th (west of Lavaca) or in the Warehouse district on 4th and 2nd. A lot of these, like JBlack’s also have great food.
    During the day, Austin is mostly good for outdoor scenic sightseeing. You can walk around the trail on Town Lake or rent kayaks, drive up Mt. Bonnell, or take a trip to lake Travis. South Congress area has some shops but there’s not too much to look at.
    And of course, if you’re here during Austin City Limits, good luck getting around 🙂

  2. Using Priceline to find rooms in the downtown area has always been successful for me in the past- ended up in the Hyatt Regency many times.

    As for Barbecue, plan on dedicating some time, as the best places are either remote or very popular. Some places like Salt Lick, County Line, and Stubbs are historically popular places, so they are very crowded. In some cases, they have also had a drop in quality along as their popularity, though they do have very nice atmospheres that would bring in people even if their product was garbage. If you try to sample these, do it for lunch and not dinner to avoid the crowd.

    Then there are the BBQ places that truly serve up world class BBQ. Not near as fancy as the previous places, some of these are just as busy, but worth in it. Franklin BBQ is a must- the line is long and they run our of food quickly so plan on showing up in the morning and eating BBQ for brunch/lunch. JMueller is another example. There are plenty of Texas BBQ blogs that can provide a good picture of what places are worth standing in line for.

  3. If coming to Austin and wishing to get to delicious BBQ, please do expect to drive or deal with our lackluster bus system.

    You’ll likely want to stay within or near downtown (south congress just across the river from downtown is also an option).

    For BBQ, either hop in a car and go down to Lockhart (my personal favorite is Black’s, but Smitty’s and Kreuz’s are also tasty), or stay in town (but still drive) to either Franklin (humongous line, get there at opening or be hungry) or Rudy’s (motto: ‘Worst BBQ in Texas,’ but actually has very tasty brisket).

    Things to do:
    The Texas Capitol is ridiculous (and taller than the US Capitol).
    6th Street is your home for the bar scene. 4th St, 2nd St, and East 6th will give different variations on this.
    Food trucks are awesome. Go to as many as you can. Personal favorites are Gordough’s (made-to-order donuts), Flip Happy Crepes (cash only), Torchy’s Tacos, Holy Cacao, many others.

    Go to a movie at the Alamo Drafthouse (any location, but the ones on 6th St or S Lamar have more fun events). Best movie theater in the country, bar none. Go to a signature event if possible (examples: Queen Sing-A-Long (with free mustaches), Spaceballs Quote-A-Long (with raspberry jam, yogurt and combs), Master Pancake Theater (MST 3000 with recent films), many others).

    Take the Duck Tour. Silly, but fun.

    See an improv show (Austin has one of the best improvised theater scenes in the country) – http://www.hideouttheater.com , coldtownetheater.com, salvagevanguardtheater.com

    Hop a ride on the Pubcrawler – think of a strange mutant between a bar and a bicycle that travels around downtown, powered by the pedal-pushing patrons.

    And of course, keep it weird!

  4. I”m with Ollie, the Radisson is perfectly located, within easy walking distance to most downtown sites, and it’s usually (except or UT game days) a pretty good bargain. On the other end of the price range, The Driskill is the best hotel in town. Perfect location, amazing service.

    A couple of other recommendations.

    Full Gospel BBQ is the most respected BBQ blog in Texas and they rated JMueller BBQ on Austin’s 1st street with the highest award possible: 6 stars (they explain 6 stars as “reconsider your honeymoon destination”). The first time I went to JMueller’s I figured it was overhyped, but I was wrong. It deserves all 6 stars!

    No visit to Austin would be complete without a visit to Scholz’s Beer Garten. Generations of Texans have spent time drinking beer out in the Biergarten.

  5. I love Rudy’s BBQ, quite a different experience alltogether.

    Also try AMY’s icecream. One of the best you can find around. Their milkshakes are awesome.

    Along with all that has been said, visit the ground of the University of Texas.

    Try Mont Bonnel for an awesome view of the Colorado River and if you play golf, try some of the awesome courses around town.

    Catch a sunset at Oasis in Lake Travis and drive around the outskirsts of town for some great views.

    Last but not least, Fredericksburg is an awesome little town that seems to have frozen in time. Worth the visit.

    I am Brazilian, but lived there between 94 and 99. Hardly miss this town. Enjoy for me ;-).

    Regards and safe trips.

    Mark

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