Even though this city is known for its great live music, there can be other wonderful things to do for 3 days in Austin.
While I’m not a travel blogger, we found some fabulous activities that I would love to share. Some of these were told to me by friends and residents of Austin, so let me continue the sharing.
Quote of the day: “Keep Austin Weird” is the unofficial motto of the city as a call for residents to support local and small businesses.
Backstory: My family unit consists of my mother, Charlotte, my stepmom, Nancy along my husband, Rob. You can read more about our relationship in this blog post. For the past 10+ years, we have decided to have experiences for the holidays instead of getting each other gifts.
At this stage of the game, we tend to buy what we need when we need it. And all of us have enough “stuff”. Therefore, this holiday tradition has been a collection of memories.
Content for 3 days in Austin in December
Hotel-Canopy by Hilton
How to get around
LBJ Presidental Museum
Capitol Building, Etc…
Options at Other Times of Year
Austin’s live music scene is the thing most people talk about when visiting this city. Yet going out to bars at night is not our kind of thing. Yet you can see we found many other wonderful things to do on our trip. Join me below to see all of the fun.
We were a tad disappointed that many of the holiday events around town had finished the weekend before we visited, but the 3 days in Austin was wonderful nonetheless.
Revisiting my Perfect Airplane Outfit
It wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I discovered how wearing a dress could be the perfect airplane travel outfit. I blogged about it here and since that was in the warmer months, I thought I’d expound on it for this winter trip of 3 days in Austin.
You may question the idea of a dress (or skirt for that matter) while traveling. But two reasons can make it ideal.
1-If you dislike the idea of your pants pooling on the floor when you go to the bathroom.
2-A skirt or dress can allow some air circulation.
For this trip, I decided to experiment with a knit skirt. While it looks like a pencil skirt, it’s very stretchy and is a thicker knit material. It’s long enough to cover my boots if I’m cold, or I can turn up the waist to make it shorter (which I did when we went out the evening we got into Austin).
You can see that I wore these boots for another outfit on our trip.
Insider tip: One of my secrets for a travel outfit is to wear the same thing on the plane coming and going. For this trip, I ended up replacing this heavy sweatshirt with a lighter-weight one on the trip home because I was plenty warm.
Important items for my perfect travel outfit
1-A t-shirt under the sweater/sweatshirt so I could remove the outer layer if I’m too warm, and switch the tee out for the trip home.
3-Large tote to fit an extra scarf/book/essentials. I like an extra scarf to use as a pillow or for behind my back if the airplane seats are uncomfortable.
4-Since it was wintertime, I made sure to wear my compression socks (we blogged about this company in the past).
Hotel-Canopy by Hilton
We searched for hotels that were under $200 a night and our goal was to stay in the downtown area.
This Canopy by Hilton was new to us, yet there were many pluses that we enjoyed.
The photo above is the outside area coming into the hotel. On the other side of that brick wall is a fireplace with seating around it. It’s part of the patio area that is absolutely a treasure. In fact, we sat out there more than once after our exploring since the weather was mild, and the fireplace kept us warm.
There was also a fountain and many twinkle lights that added to the fabulous atmosphere.
The rooms were very clean and modern. They had motion lights in the bathroom and plenty of storage for clothing. The flooring was concrete in the bathroom which could be cold on your feet. It’s one reason why I’ve learned to bring slippers on my travels lately.
We especially loved the filtered water the hotel provided in the hallway along with filtered ice. And the staff was extremely friendly.
The hotel did have a restaurant “attached” called Verbena. It did fit into our nutrient-dense way of eating with many vegetarian and healthy options. The only drawback was while they provided breakfast, breakfast was take-out only.
The pool had a rooftop pool which was beautiful, however, we wished there had been a hot tub.
Would I stay here again? The hotel was lovely, but I wouldn’t say the area around the hotel was our favorite. If we did return, I think we would stay on S. Congress St.
How to get around for 3 Days in Austin, Texas
Even though we were staying downtown, we knew that some of our planned activities were farther away. Thus we compared renting a car vs. shared ride services (Lyft and Uber). Considering the cost of rental cars at this point along with the fact that our hotel charges $49 a night to park a car, we opted to go with ridesharing.
We also noticed a HUGE amount of scooters and e-bikes available to rent in the downtown area. NO, we did not partake, but we did see other people riding them.
From the airport, we took a taxi because it was there and available. However, getting to the area for the taxis or ridesharing from the baggage claim is not super convenient.
We used Lyft for almost all of our trips to our activities around town.
Insider tip: We have found it’s much easier to schedule your trip to get to the airport on Uber vs Lyft.
Our Weather on the Trip
One of the reasons we chose Austin, Texas for our 3-day holiday adventure was because it’s a warm climate. I realize we live in a warm climate, yet Austin is even further south if you look at a map. Austin is close to 30 degrees on the latitude line whereas Phoenix is closer to 35 degrees.
Funny story: My geography knowledge is dismal. I know where Texas is on a US map, but I hadn’t realized it was really part of Mexico. (Obviously, my history classes never make an impact on me, haha).
Our weather in Austin in the latter part of December was in the high 60’s and low 70’s. One of the things we didn’t realize is how humid the area is.
The proof is in my hair above. Those photos were taken the same day. On the left, my hair started straight (because I use a straightening iron on it), and by the late afternoon, it had become curly on its own.
Why is Austin humid? The Colorado River runs through it along with multiple creeks.
The LBJ Presidential Library
One of the activities on our 3 days in Austin was visiting the LBJ presidential library. When I first researched our trip and things to do, this library wasn’t open. So we had planned on spending the day at the Ladybird Garden which is one of the city’s botanical gardens.
However, when I found out that the LBJ library was open, we changed our plans and spent a good 2 hours there instead.
Have you ever been to a presidential library? Rob and I first went to one in Grand Rapids, Michigan for President Ford when we were visiting my best friend. It was a pleasant activity to me as I’m not much of a history buff. Yet you sure learn a lot about the president this way.
One of the things I enjoy is you get a different perspective of the person as opposed to what the media and books report. Of course, since the library is put together by the president himself, it’s all positive things.
The best part about this visit is there was a temporary exhibit about Ladybird Johnson who was a HUGE influence on the president. Some of her clothing was exhibited in this area, and as a female, it was great to see her impact on the world.
Another museum that we visited was one called the Blanton Museum. Lucky for us we were there on a Thursday which is a free day at the museum. While many of the free days are crazy busy, we lucked out as it wasn’t crowded.
This could be because it was right before the holidays OR because every Thursday is a free day at this museum.
Our favorite 2 exhibits at the Blanton museum were
1-The Luis Jimenez exhibit because we recognized it from the “Bronco horse” at the Denver airport (which we don’t even love because it looks so evil, yet it was a reminder of the place we called home for over 30 years).
2- Ellsworth building which we are standing in front of below. It’s not attached to the rest of the museum but definitely take the extra 5 minutes to head over to it. We almost didn’t because we were tired, yet it’s very small and the lights seen from the colorful glass blocks are worth it.
Capitol Building, Etc…
Austin is the capital of Texas and our hotel was within walking distance, so we traveled out to look at it. It’s an impressive campus of not only the capitol building but over a dozen other statues to honor all of the wars along with other memorable events and people.
Insider tip: I would recommend walking around the entire capital building area.
Another suggestion by a friend was to visit the Driskill hotel. It’s a historic hotel that was built to be the finest hotel south of St. Louis. The decorations for Christmas were beautiful and the architecture of the hotel is also magnificent.
The airport is another place that is fun to explore. It’s been recently revamped and includes mostly local businesses as the stores and restaurants.
We also giggled at the “dog bathroom” that was adjacent to the men’s and women’s restrooms.
Since we wanted to help “keep Austin weird” we did visit a small gift shop with unique art made by locals called Prima Dora.
If you know my husband, then you know it’s all about the food. Yet since we’ve been on our nutrient-dense way of eating (as described here), it’s a little more challenging to find places to eat.
As I said in the hotel section, the Canopy’s restaurant called Verbena was terrific. Their push is a vegetable-forward menu with seasonal ingredients which is right up our alley.
If you go, make sure to try the Crispy Potato Mille-Fuille if you like potatoes and mustard.
For breakfast, we found Kerbey Lane Cafe to be so refreshing. While it touts comfort food, it also had gluten-free pancakes along with pure maple syrup.
Another great breakfast option was the cafe at the Driskill hotel called 1886 Cafe.
Now since we were in Texas, it was only appropriate to try out some BBQ, right? The only issue with that is very few BBQ places have any vegetables as part of the menu. Yet we found one that had a couple (although it was still all about the meat) called Stubbs. We were told that their Gospel Brunch on Sunday was amazing, but they had been postponed for now.
I will say that their definition of burnt ends was different than the ones we’ve had previously. They were still good, just different.
Both of our lunch options proved extremely amazing! We found Picnik Austin which is entirely gluten-free. The restaurant’s entire motto is to accommodate all kinds of different diets. I only wish one of these restaurants existed in our community.
The other wonderful lunch place was found purely by chance and called Cafe No Se. Rob had an incredible beet latte to drink. (I know it sounds crazy, but just like anything, don’t knock it until you try it, right?)
Our special night out was at a place called Eberly. The restaurant is a tribute to a woman named Eberly and the idea that Austin is worth fighting for. The food was delicious and the atmosphere beautiful.
We laughed at how the bills were presented each in our own “book”. (My mom was disappointed she had to give the book back, haha).
Options at Other Times of Year
There are a couple of things we weren’t able to see or do on our 3 days in Austin that were suggested to me.
1-Bat Watching. I know, I know, you’re thinking WHAT?? That was my first reaction when a friend suggested this activity. But after researching it here, I would definitely want to see it. Needless to say, it’s only during the late spring to early fall so we missed it on this trip.
2-Architectural Tour. After riding around on so many Lyft trips, I realized that the architecture of Austin is so interesting. However, it was too late to take one of the architectural tours that I found online.
Conclusion for our 3 Days in Austin
First I’d like to thank both Joan and Ann for the wonderful suggestions of where to go and what to do on our 3 days in Austin.
Would we go back? My first answer is we don’t need to. But if we did, we would rather stay at one of the hotels along S. Congress St where it seemed less run down.
And if we returned, we would visit one of their botanical gardens along with finding a couple of secondhand shops (there were a couple near Ebery’s restaurant but it was too late at night to shop).
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