Four days is not nearly enough time to experience everything that Austin has to offer, but we managed to pack in enough to give us a wonderful overview of Texas' capital. I'm excited to share it all with you! Because I blog about educational travel, I received complimentary admission tickets, discounts, media rates, and other benefits for some of the attractions we visited, as well as for the hotel where we stayed. Other attractions we toured are free to everyone. We paid full price for the rest. This has no bearing on my reviews. Everything I'm sharing is something that I whole-heartedly recommend. If you notice any gaps in my narrative, it's because something wasn't worth sharing, whether or not I paid for it.
We started our adventure early on Sunday, November 18. We flew from Sacramento to Austin and lost two hours in the process due to the time difference. When we landed in Austin, we had a quick bite at the Salt Lick Taco Bar in the airport to make up for the disappearance of lunchtime. It was a great decision. I'd heard that the Salt Lick BBQ was a don't-miss, but it was too far from where we'd be staying for us to visit. There's a full Salt Lick restaurant at the airport, but this grab-and-go taco bar was perfect for us and absolutely delicious.
With happy bellies, we headed outside in search of a giant, color-changing guitar. It wasn't hard to find.
We'd decided not to rent a car while we were in Austin because most of what we wanted to see was an easy walking distance from where we'd be staying. We would need a way from the airport to the hotel and back again at the end of the trip and this guitar was the answer. Well, not the guitar itself. The guitar is the bus stop for CapMetro Line 20. For $1.25 per adult (kids ride free), we took a clean, safe, and convenient 30-minute bus ride from the airport to the hotel. What a bargain!
The bus let us off a block from our hotel, the DoubleTree Suites Downtown.
The DoubleTree ended up being perfect for our family. The location is great, the staff is friendly, and everything is clean and well-maintained. And I have to mention the warm cookies! After a long day of traveling, being greeted with a warm cookie is such a nice touch.
Our room was huge - although I probably should say 'rooms' since our 2-bedroom suite had a living room, kitchenette, and two bedrooms, each with their own full bathroom! This is the living room, with the kitchen behind me, the dining area to my immediate left, and the doorways to each of the bedrooms visible. I've lived in apartments MUCH smaller than this, with far more people! In fact, that's a sofa bed there on the right. You could easily sleep 8 in this room and still not feel crowded.
We even had a small balcony. This was our view to the southeast.
We got settled into our room, then set about exploring the rest of the hotel. After feeling the water in the outdoor pool, Trevor opted not to swim. I'm sure it's wonderfully refreshing in the Texas summer, but Thanksgiving in Austin is not swimming weather. At least it wasn't in 2018.
Steve's cousin, Jeff, lives in Austin with his wife, Mary. They took us to dinner at one of their favorite Austin restaurants, Loro. It is an Asian smokehouse, combining the best of BBQ with the best of Asian cuisine. Jeff ordered pretty much one of everything for us to try and oh my gosh. It was SO good. Every single thing was outstanding. If you live in Texas and haven't been to Loro, you need to go. And yes, I realize you might live in Texas and be 600 miles from Austin. Go anyway. It's worth it.
I was so busy eating that I failed to take pictures of the food as it kept coming. All you can see here are lots of empty plates! Like I said, everything was spectacular. The ribs are only served on Sunday and Monday nights from 5:00 pm on, so if you can, go then. Go early though, as the ribs sell out quickly. It's not a bad idea to go early anyway, since the place fills up very quickly. It was standing room only (and several layers deep at the bar) when we left around 7:30 pm. There's a large amount of outdoor seating and even though it was cold out and raining lightly, that was packed too. I'm telling you - the food is that good.
After dinner, Jeff and Mary drove us around town and gave us the locals' tour. It was very helpful to get oriented and both were full of interesting facts about their adopted hometown. They also gave us some great restaurant recommendations for places near our hotel. They dropped us off at the DoubleTree, where we declined the offer of more warm cookies. (If you know me at all, you know that I have to be ridiculously full to turn down a warm cookie! Loro was amazing, I'm telling you.)