Austin, Texas

Before You Go
Coordinates | 30.26759° N, -97.74299° E
Baton Rouge to Austin | 432 miles
Driving Time | 8 hours, 16 minutes
Why Austin? | Saddle up for a Texas-sized adventure. The capital city welcomes everyone from cowpokes to city folks. You and your posse can round up a full day of fun visiting one-of-a-kind restaurants, museums, parks and waterways. Austin has been dubbed “The Live Music Capital of the World,” and the city’s unofficial motto is “Keep Austin Weird,” a call to embrace all things local, original and uniquely Austin.

Where to Stay
Situated in the heart of downtown, The Driskill is the perfect place to relax after a day of sightseeing. Built in 1886, The Driskill has been updated over the years, adding conveniences such as satellite television, iPod docking stations and mini-bars. The hotel is also dog-friendly, offering Fido his own pet bed and treats. 

Where to Eat
Terry Black’s Barbecue

Dine like the locals and enjoy grilled and smoked meats at Terry Black’s Barbecue. Mouthwatering brisket and beef ribs are favorites. Their sides–mac and cheese and green beans–pair well with their mouthwatering meats. For dessert, try the pecan tarts, banana pudding or the peach cobbler.   

Kerbey Lane Café
Comfort food is definitely on the menu at Kerbey Lane Café. This cute spot opened in a small house in 1980, and now 39 years later, they have eight great locations around town. Yummy delicacies such as chicken and pancakes or Migas–scrambled eggs, pico de gallo, tortilla chips, and cheddar-jack cheese–are sure to please your palate.    

Home Slice Pizza
Whether you prefer cheese, pepperoni and olives, or the works, Home Slice Pizza serves New York-style goodness with any type of topping you desire. Meats include pepperoni, sausage and meatballs, plus there are veggies like eggplant, artichoke hearts, and house-roasted red peppers. Subs, salads, calzones and desserts like cannolis round out the menu.

Things to Do
Visit with more than 300 animals at the Austin Zoo. The zoo first began as a small facility known as the Good Day Ranch with its very own collection of animals that were rescued from unfortunate circumstances. The zoo still features some rescue animals like African lions, a binturong (aka, bearcats), umbrella cockatoos, tortoises and North American black bears. You and your animal lovers can also take part in interactive programs and camps throughout the year.  
Challenge your brain at the Thinkery which offers 40,000 square feet of play-based, hands-on indoor and outdoor fun. Their newest exhibition, Earth, Wind, Inspire, gives visitors a chance to explore the powerful forces that shape our planet through 13 visual representations and hands-on experiences. Guests can splash and play in currents as they explore fluid dynamics and the connections between water and sound.
Take a step back in time and explore Bullock Texas State History Museum. Appealing to all ages, the exhibits offer interactive displays and immersive environments for families to enjoy. Special features include a full-size recreated Alamo façade and an original Goddess of Liberty Statue, and a WWII AT-6A “Texan” aircraft suspended from the atrium.  
See the sights from the water via Lone Star Kayak Tours. Suitable for ages six and up, the company offers a skyline tour of Austin, a full moon paddle, and a San Marcos River adventure tour. You can also take the Congress Avenue Bat Bridge Tour to see the largest urban bat colony made up of 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats.
Austin can get a little toasty at times, so take a plunge in the city’s crown jewel, Barton Springs Pool, located in the 358-acre Zilker Park. The massive pool measures three acres in size and is fed from underground springs, maintaining an average temperature of 68-70 degrees throughout the year. It’s the ideal place to take an afternoon dip.
If you’re hankering to get out of town for a day or two, then head to Bandera, Texas, to the Dixie Dude Ranch. This 75-year-old real working ranch offers planned activities, including horseback riding and swimming, or create your own fun hunting for fossils and arrowheads. Take note that the ranch is 118 miles from Austin, so make sure your horse has plenty of water for the long haul.

To take in the incredible music that Austin has to offer, they host several music festivals throughout the year. In September, you can check out the Pecan Street Festival and Waterloo Music Festival. ■

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30 Aug 2019

By Julie Engelhardt

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