Road Trippin’ – Texas

Howdy Y’all! We just recently returned from our second anniversary weekend trip to Texas! Although we only had a little over 3 days to travel around, we got to see so many beautiful places and explore so many wonderful things! Today I am going to show you all of our favorite things we did in Austin, San Antonio and Houston!

Ian (my husband) and I have decided to start a tradition where we go on a road trip each year for our anniversary, and honestly, I think it is one of the best decisions we have ever made! Granted this is only our second anniversary we have done this (unless you count our honeymoon lol), I still think it will be a great tradition where we can just take some time away from it all and spend time with only one another. 

Here is where we went for our first anniversary, and here is where we went for our honeymoon!

When they say, “everything is bigger in Texas”, they mean it! Everywhere we drove the houses were huge, the trucks were huge, all the wide-open land was huge! Heck, everywhere we ate we got huge portions! Texas itself is just a HUGE state in general! (Second only to Alaska) So when I call this a “Texas road trip” just know we only got to see a small portion of the state. But for all we got to see and do, I am very happy with what we did get to see in our short time there!

We flew into Houston on a Friday morning and out of Houston on a Monday afternoon.  So, we really only had about 3 1/2 days to explore each of these cities! Rather than showing you our exact path along our road trip, I am going to focus on the 3 cities we visited and what we would recommend spending time doing! So, here we go!!!


Austin

Austin was honestly such a wonderful surprise! To be honest, I had never really thought about going to Austin, but with my husband being a huge music fan it was a must see for sure! Although we were about 2 weeks too early to catch Austin City Limits, we still were able to soak up sooo much local music and explore so much of the artsy city!!! Austin is so colorful and fun and I would absolutely put it in my top 3 favorite cities I have ever been to!!

Things to do:

  • Walk down South Congress – Whether you are visiting Austin for the night-life or the day-life, South Congress is where it’s at! There are so many fun things to do and explore all in one little strip of town! South Congress is full of shops (new and vintage), restaurants and great live music! Take your time to walk up and down the strip to be able to hit every single spot! You will not be disappointed!
  • Texas State Capital – Austin is the capital of Texas, and we knew we wanted to visit the capital building when we were there. Boy was it beautiful, and BIG! It is has free entry and you are able to walk around throughout and admire the tall center dome and find the lone star located right in the middle. Or you can plan to take a tour. Either way, it’s a great place to stop to admire!
  • University of Texas – The second largest university in Texas and home to The Longhorns, the University of Texas is beautiful! It’s grounds butt right up to downtown Austin and it’s hard to see where one begins and the other ends!
    • Blanton Museum of Art – Located within the ground of the University of Texas lies a museum filled with nearly 18,000 beautiful pieces to be admired by all.  The Blanton Museum of Art is one of the foremost university art museums in the country.
      • Ellsworth Kelly’s “Austin” – “In January 2015, the renowned American artist Ellsworth Kelly gifted to the Blanton the design concept for his most monumental work, a 2,715-square-foot stone building with luminous colored glass windows, a totemic wood sculpture, and fourteen black and white marble panels. Titled Austin, honoring the artist’s tradition of naming particular works for the places for which they are destined, the structure is the only building the artist designed, and will be his most lasting legacy. Envisioned by Kelly as a site for joy and contemplation, Austin is a cornerstone of the Blanton’s permanent collection and will enrich the lives of visitors from around the world.”
  • The Domain – This shopping and residential center is full of lots of great shops, restaurants and bars to walk around a visit.
  • Zilker Metropolitan Park – Zilker Metropolitan Park is a recreational area in south Austin, Texas at the juncture of Barton Creek and the Colorado River that comprises over 350 acres of publicly owned land. Zilker is considered Austin’s “most-loved park” and is the home of Austin City Limits.
    • Stevie Ray Vaughan Statue– Stevie is considered to be one of the most influential guitarists in the revival of the blues in the 1980’s and he is one of Ian’s personal heros.  So, we know we had to pay tribute to him. Actually, visiting his statue was THE ONLY thing that Ian requested we do the entire trip! haha The cool thing is, at the foot of his statue people lay down their own guitar picks as tribute to him.  Like any guitarist ever, Ian is constantly carrying around picks in his pockets so he made sure to leave one for Stevie as well. Barton Springs – Barton Springs – Barton Springs Pool is a recreational outdoor swimming pool that is filled entirely with water from nearby natural springs. It is located on the grounds of Zilker Park in Austin, Texas. The pool exists within the channel of Barton Creek and utilizes water from Main Barton Spring, the fourth largest spring in Texas.
  • Catch some live music – As I have mentioned, the main reason we decided to visit Austin was because of their vast music scene!  So, we knew it was a must to check out a few live shows of our own. Live music is just lining the streets of South Congress, but we also made it a point to check out some music clubs as well.
    • The Continental Club – “The historic Austin live music destination first opened its doors in 1955 as a swanky private supper club, but in the decades since, it’s become a mecca for roots, rockabilly, country, swing, rock and blues music every night of the week. The classic neon sign flashing above the entrance is a landmark on South Congress, and vintage cars and hot rods often line South Congress Avenue in front of the dimly lit club.” The Continental Club has presented so many legendary musicians throughout the years, including Stevie Ray Vaughan, which made it that much more special to visit.
    • Elephant Room – Underground jazz bar with nightly live music, plus more than 20 draft beers & wines by the glass.

Eat and Drink:

  • Bird Bird Biscuit – Fried chicken and biscuit sandwiches?? Yes please! This brunch spot was phenomenal and the atmosphere was so fun!
  • Gordough’s – Gordough’s has all the donuts you could ever dream of! Including donut sandwiches and donut burgers!
  • Laundrette – Gourmet New American fare served in a polished cafe space in a converted gas station/Laundromat.
  • Terry Black’s BBQ – Terry Black’s is one of the most popular and most highly ranked BBQ places in all of Texas. And it really lives up to the hype! All of the food was amazing! Just be mindful of what you are ordering! Ian “accidentally” ordered a $35 beef rib! His eyes were way bigger than his stomach and we ended up having to eat half of it for breakfast the next morning because he could barely eat one half of it!
  • Easy Tiger – Hip hangout with both a bakery/café and a Creekside beer garden serving simple snacks and cheeses.
  • Wonder Bar – One of the newest and most-instagramable bars in Austin!

Colorful Murals to check out:

  • Groovy Blues (5111 Burnet Rd, Austin, TX 78756)
  • Erin Condren Wall (11601 Rock Rose Ave Ste 128, Austin, TX 78758)
  • Clouds (3500 Guadalupe St, Austin, TX 78705)
  • Cute Nail Salon (1211 E. 7th St, Austin, TX 78702)

San Antonio

Our original road trip was just going to be between Houston and Austin, but one day when I was talking to a co-worker they mentioned how we should also check out San Antonio.  Boy, am I glad she suggested that!  San Antonio was such a fun, vibrant city with TONS of culture! (which was my favorite part!) We were especially excited to see the Missions as we are avid National Park/National Historic Park fans!

Things to do:

  • San Antonio Missions – a National Historical Park and part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site preserving four of the five Spanish frontier missions. These outposts were established by Catholic religious orders to spread Christianity among the local natives. “ Within the park grounds, four separate mission sites offer recreation opportunities for the whole family. Step back in time while never leaving the city at Mission San Jose, Mission Concepcion, Mission San Juan, and Mission Espada. All four of the mission sites at San Antonio Missions National Historical Park also still contain active catholic parishes. The churches hold regular services in these historic buildings. They are open to park visitors during park hours, except for during special services, such as weddings and funerals.”
  • The Alamo – The Alamo Mission in San Antonio, commonly called The Alamo and originally known as the Misión San Antonio de Valero, is a historic Spanish mission and fortress compound founded in the 18th century by Roman Catholic missionaries in what is now San Antonio, Texas, United States.  After visiting the other missions, the Alamo was a little underwhelming to be honest.  There is so much history and lots to learn about it, but the surrounding area is so touristy around the location that it is a bit distracting. Still a must see though!
  • Riverwalk – The San Antonio River Walk is a city park and network of walkways along the banks of the San Antonio River, one story beneath the streets of San Antonio.  The Riverwalk was so much larger than I expected; it goes on and on for miles! There are so many fun things to see and do while strolling down the picturesque path.
    • Boat Tour – You can take a boat tour on the river to learn all about San Antonio’s history and a closer look at all the best views!
  • Historic Market Square – Market Square is a three-block outdoor plaza lined with shops, and restaurants in downtown San Antonio, Texas. Market Square is the largest Mexican market in the United States. The “El Mercado” section has 32 specialty shops and the “Farmer’s Market Plaza” section has 80.  This section of San Antonio was probably my absolute favorite!! It was absolutely chalk full of Mexican heritage and had tons of amazing homemade or imported (from Central America) goodies that you can purchase! I bought myself a handstitched pillow there that was original made in Guatemala. 
  • Confluence Park – Green space offering landscaped hike & bike paths by the river, native plants & unique structures.

Places to eat and drink:

  • A restaurant along the riverfront – There are so many great options to eat right on the Riverwalk path!  Each boasting great views of the river, greenery and charming atmosphere. Here are a list of a few:
    • Rainforest Café
    • Saltgrass Steak House
    • Boudro’s
    • Hardrock Café
    • On The Bend Oyster Bar and Lounge
  • La Panaderia – At either location of this specialty bakery featuring long-fermented Latin American breads, sandwiches and coffee drinks, you’ll be tempted to linger and savor several selections as things pop out of the oven throughout the day.
  • Liberty Bar – This San Antonio institution has been around for years, formerly occupying a crooked old house. It now resides in a magnificently restored convent

Colorful murals to check out:

  • Gay Pride Walk (139-101 E Evergreen St, San Antonio, TX 78212)
  • Rainbow Wings (The Strip 1416 to 1503 N Main Ave. San Antonio, TX 78212)
  • Essex Modern City is an art exhibit full of absolutely beautiful murals to admire all in one location. Be sure to check their hours of operation before planning a visit though, because I believe they are only open 1 or 2 Saturdays of the month. Unfortunately, when we were visiting we were unable to go in and see the murals up close because they were not open.

Houston

Unfortunately, when our flight was scheduled to arrive in Houston, tropical storm Imelda had just passed through. So our time in Houston was limited due to the amount of rain they were receiving. It definitely was a bit of a disappointment, but we still got to do a few things on our list!  For the purpose of showcasing fun activities that YOU can do if you decide to travel to Houston, I am going to also include things that we wanted to do ourselves but were unable to.

Things to do:

  • Graffiti Park – “For a few blocks in Houston’s East End, nearly every square inch of building is covered in colorful street art. Many of the works painted here were created as part of the Houston Urban Experience (HUE) Mural Festival, an annual gathering of artists launched in 2015. Affectionately dubbed “graffiti park” by locals, this sampling of murals is just the latest of a citywide effort to embrace the genre and add color and beauty to Houston’s downtown.”
  • Kemah Boardwalk – a 60-acre Texas Gulf Coast theme park in Kemah, Texas, approximately 30 miles southeast of Downtown Houston, Texas. The Boardwalk is built entirely along the shores of Galveston Bay and Clear Lake, and is considered among the premier boardwalks in the United States. The boardwalk was full of fun games, rides and restaurants!  Unfortunately, while we were there we were unable to take part in any of it due to the rain.
  • Galveston Pleasure Pier – Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier is a pleasure pier in Galveston, Texas, United States. Opened in Summer 2012, it has 1 roller coaster, 15 rides, carnival games and souvenir shops. Much like Kemah, we were unable to take part in this due to the weather.
  • Color Factory – Color Factory is a pop-up interactive art exhibition with brightly colored room-sized installations, each themed around the concept of color. It has run both in San Francisco and New York (we went to the one in NY) and now it has made it’s way to Houston!  To be honest, one of the main reasons we decided on this Texas anniversary trip was so we could go to the Color Factory because we loved it so much in NY!  They had announced that they were coming to Houston in September and we thought “that’s perfect! It will be there right in time for our anniversary!” but we were discouraged to find out as the time got closer and closer that they were still not opening by the time we would be there, so we were unable to attend.  But just because we couldn’t doesn’t mean you can’t! That’s why I thought I would include this in my recommendations!  (update: The Color Factory has recently released that they will be opening late October. Tickets are on sale now)
  • NASA Space Center – Houston, we have lift off!! Space Center Houston is a leading science and space learning center, the official visitor center of NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston and a Smithsonian Affiliate museum.  Take a look around at all the space artifacts and learn all about our nations explorations into the unknown.
  • Smither Park – This park is a small little urban green space with a quirky collection of large mosaic sculptures created by local artists.  Though the space is not vast, the artistry that went into the mosaic is awe-inspiring! 

Places to eat and drink:

  • Rise No2 – Chic cafe serving classic French fare alongside wines in a casual, charming space.
  • Bebidas – Compact cafe offering fresh juices, coffee, baked goods & light fare with a spacious patio.
  • The Breakfast Klub – Hotspot for diner-style American eats & stick-to-your-ribs soul food including chicken & waffles.
  • Present Company – Gourmet burgers, pub grub & cocktails in lively, neon-accented surroundings with outdoor seating. This restaurant is beautiful with its colorful and fun décor!
  • Papa Bros Steakhouse – This Texas steakhouse has all the variations of steak that you could ever dream up!
  • Better Luck Tomorrow – This colorful bar is a great place to hang and relax with a great drink in hand.
  • Electric Feelgood – This new restaurant/bar is full of bright neons and lots of fun! Boasting its own short slide with a landing that offers a view of the downtown skyline.

Colorful murals to check out:

  • Paint Drip Wall (1435 Westheimer Road, Houston, TX 77006)
  • Houston is inspired (907 Preston Street. Painted by Gonzo247)
  • The Abstract Happy Beach Wall (800 Chartres St., Houston, TX 77003)

Photography by Auburn Artisan

Texas was the absolute best host for our weekend anniversary trip! There was so much to do and so much to see with such a short distance between Austin, San Antonio and Houston! I would have loved to have a little more time to explore each city a little more in depth, but the fact that we were able to see any of it in the amount of time we had is still such a blessing! Happy travels!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.