DESTINATION:  AUSTIN

by guest blogger Elizabeth Chabner Thompson, founder of BFFL Co.  Elizabeth is an MD, a runner, a mother of 4 athletes and an Austin, TX lover.

The city’s slogan is “Keep Austin Weird,” and pretty much every aspect of this blue city in a sea of red stays true to that motto.  Austin is a town filled with great music, delicious food, unusual shops and a very friendly, active people.

LISTEN

Let’s start with the music.  You can’t take three steps in Austin without encountering a jazz club or street musician.  When walking in the downtown area or along South Congress, it’s impossible not to enjoy the lively outdoor sounds and the absolute eccentricity of it all.  There are over 200 live music venues in Austin!  Some of my favorite places to catch a listen are Cactus Café near UT and Momo’s along 6th Street.

SHOP

Not only can you hear great music along South Congress, but the food and shopping can’t be beat.  Who can make a trip to Texas without buying a pair of cowboy boots?  The selection at Allen’s Boots is mind blowing.

By George boasts haute couture in a down home state.  A few doors down, do not pass by Uncommon Objects, where the cornucopia ranges from teapots to trophies to kitsch beyond your wildest dreams.  I love the diversity of stores, many featuring weird and clever signage.

A visit to UT and the campus store is definitely a must, as the golden brown paraphernalia and a longhorn sweatshirt or hat is a requirement for the ride home.

STAY

For this trip, I chose the clean and ideally-located Radisson, due to the 14 teenage swimmers I was chaperoning for a swim meet at UT!  On past trips, I have stayed at some pretty amazing hotels.  For tennis and golf, try Barton Creek.  This classy resort even has an indoor track for really hot summer days when you need exercise.  The rolling hills surrounding the property are perfect for those craving some outdoor recreation and you may even catch a glimpse of Austin resident Lance Armstrong on his bike!

The Hotel San Jose and the Austin Motel are perfect hideaways for different budgets.  When downtown, stop by the Driskill.  This beautiful Romanesque style building is the oldest hotel in downtown, and is conveniently located near my favorite food truck and jazz clubs!

The boutique hotels along South Congress are perfectly situated for the shopping along that street and for access to Lady Bird Lake for a run along the trails.  No need to drag along a water bottle, as Run Tex and other sporty stores support free water stops for you and your four legged friends.  So thoughtful.  When in season, you can experience the Bat Bridge at Congress as well:  at sunset thousands of bats swarm under the bridges, keeping the mosquito population at bay and spooking out the visitors.

EAT

No trip to Austin would be complete without a visit to Whole Foods on North Lamar.  This enormous gastronomic extravaganza dwarfs any of the offerings I’m used to in the cramped and congested East Coast I call home.  From organic foods to Italian gelato to a buffet of every possible type of food:  Indian, German, Italian, Greek, sandwiches, a carving station, and seafood.  Everything looks and feels a little healthier in Austin.

The food trucks, however, are my favorites.  Fried pickles at Mr. P’s Electric Cock, The Short Bus for Sandwiches, Turf N’ Surf, and Kebabolicious were inexpensive delicious eats.  Because Austin is such an outdoor oriented, active lifestyle city, take a guilt-free trip to County Line or Ironworks for BBQ, knowing you’ll have plenty of opportunities to work it off!

For more about Elizabeth and her partnership with Stephanie to create the BFFL (Best Friends for Life) bag, click here.