Ok, well, maybe by “living it up” I don’t mean taking part in the awesome music scene in Austin, or going to any of the many great bars, or even shopping.
But, if you are like me, an adventurer with kids, than you will manage to live it up the best way you know how…with kids in tow.
Truth is, we didn’t do much in Austin, well, except eat, and THAT list will come soon enough. What we did do a lot of was spend time with our family there, especially our little nephew whom we hadn’t met until now and for whom we had traveled so far.
From the second I laid eyes on that cute little boy I fell in love, and though I suspected at first that my kids would be upset, they were not for they themselves had fallen in love with their little cousin just as hard and just as fast. Aside from the food, which is great in Austin, we really enjoyed the sights (which we took in when we weren’t napping).
Austin reminds me of Madison, WI in that it is college town. It is larger than Madison and of course warmer, but the vibe seemed similar in many ways. I can’t say that is a good or bad thing. I liked Austin from what I was able to see. It felt young and hip, artsy and friendly.
I also found it to be an active town, with lots of sidewalks and people who love to bike and jog. Dog and kid-friendly it was easy to navigate and we found a lot of places to take the kids to, from shops to restaurants.
I can see why many people say Austin is a great city. Some of the things that many people suggested we do, but we never got around to was watch the hundreds of bats that come out from under the crevices of the Congress Avenue Bridge each night around sunset to feast on thousands of insects they find along the way. This awesome display is said to go on till October. It’s free and my kids would have totally loved that, except we just never got to it.
Another spot we were told by locals that we should check out was Austin Children’s Museum, which by the way is free to the public every Sunday from 4-7pm. With wonderful exhibits and daily story time it definitely is one way to get in from the hot sun, especially around this time of the year, but we skipped it as well.
Instead we window shopped for boots at Justin Boots where my kids quickly learned, to their disappointment, that the Flintstone feet they inherited from me do not fit well into boots and where I learned that I look darn sexy in a cowboy hat!
We ate ice cream at Big Top Candy, where a regular scoop means bigger than your toddler’s head and where you can find any type of candy treat you’d like even, so I’ve heard, chocolate covered bacon!
But the one place we spent most of our time outdoors was at Barton Springs. Located in the incredible Zilker Park which also had wonderful walking and jogging paths, as well as a dog park and other resting areas, the springs are a cool, relaxing reprieve from the Texas Summer heat and a favorite of many of residents. It is also the home to the rare Barton Springs salamander (Eurycea sosorum).
And so, though we missed a lot of the things that people say there is to enjoy about Austin, we enjoyed Austin for the things it is not: loud, pushy, fast-paced, cold, or rude. It was the opposite of all of that. It was great for us because of the comfort and welcoming feeling it provided us, and yes, for the many, many naps! For that we are most extremely grateful.