City Review: Austin, Texas
Me and Austin, we're going steady. This was my third time visiting (although I swear I've been there more than that LOL), and I've now had the pleasure of seeing this incredible city at just about every season aside from spring.
From my first visit during the late, balmy summertime last year (check out my blog post here to learn more), to experiencing the frigidity of an early Austin morning in the Winter (and running a half marathon during that frigid morning no less), to blue skies and 65 degree weather during the late fall. I've seen her at her best, and I've seen her at her worst and I can honestly say, I still love her no matter which side she decides to show on that particular day.
Austin is a special city. Truth be told, I think I love it for a lot of the reasons I love LA. It's young, it's vibrant, it's alive with experiences, sights and sounds, but it feels "new" enough to where I don't merely feel like I'm actually in Los Angeles. But yes, it's quite similar and if you've been there then I'm sure you've picked up on those similarities as well.
Nevertheless, with each visit I discover something new and even more fabulous about this town. I was grateful that Austin was the destination we spent the most time in (due in part to the fact that we took a day to drive up to Dallas) so as to explore even more destinations as well as revisit my favorite haunts.
That being said, let's dive in! Here's my City Review of Austin, Texas featuring the places we visited over the course of our long weekend in this city I love.
South Congress is THE street in Austin (in my humble opinion). Every time I've visited Austin I've made it a point to hit up this street to check out some of my favorite shops featuring local artwork and gifts in addition to the more traditional shops like Madewell, Warby Parker, etc. They also have an incredible selection of restaurants including one of my favorites, Café No Sé. Should you have the opportunity to visit this "bright spot in the South Congress Hotel," featuring "seasonal menus in a chic, rustic-modern space,"order the quinoa bowl. The almond pesto is next level.
Like Café No Sé, Mañana Coffee is also located at the South Congress Hotel. This bright, modern coffee and juice spot has become one of our go-to coffee destinations in Austin. It's tucked back in a little corner area on South Congress which offers wonderful serenity and sunshine too, especially on their front little patio area. Plus, their coffee is great!
Prototype Vintage is hands down one of my favorite vintage stores in the country, maybe even the world! (Again, just based on my "limited" experience thus far in my twenty-seven years of life). From the moment you walk in you're overwhelmed with vibrant, well-merchandised apparel and accessories for both men and women. I don't think I've ever left this place empty-handed. It's a MUST-visit!
The Kendra Scott flagship store is located at the corner of South Congress and E Milton Street in the heart of South Congress and absolutely worth visiting. The infamous jewelry designer started her brand in Austin back in 2002 and it's now home to this magnificent flagship location featuring a small cafe with outdoor seating and the most spectacular architecture and natural light you'll ever witness in a retail shopping destination.
Parts and Labour is a funky gift shop featuring something for everyone in the family. Filled with home accessories, apparel, gifts, and even a small gallery at the back, this is one of my favorite places in Austin to pick up unique souvenirs that are guaranteed not to be found anywhere else.
If you're looking for on-trend apparel and accessories, look no farther than Co-Star Austin. Featuring a wide variety of apparel including local tees, this is a fun destination to "invest" in an everyday piece that you'll always remember from Austin.
I'm quite surprised that this was my first time officially visiting this next destination, but boy am I glad I finally got around to it. Big Top candy shop is one of the best I've ever been to! We had to do a solid 2-3 laps around the store just to see everything! Plus, they had Runts AND regular Sprees - two of my all-time favorite candies that are quite challenging to find. Say no more, I am s-o-l-d.
South Congress is filled with wonderful gift shops where you're guaranteed to find something to bring home for everyone. Mi Casa is one such destination filled with southwestern inspired art, gifts, and the like. Pick up a unique "Texas" gift here that you can hang up on your walls or display in your home.
A random stop but makes sense given our desire to purchase a cooler for upcoming road trips, the Yeti flagship in Austin is a great destination for picking up your next cooler, lunchbox, thermos, etc. If you know and love the brand like we do then that really shouldn't come as any surprise!
A visit to Austin would be utterly incomplete without a visit to my favorite bookstore. Clear your schedule and give yourself at least half a day to survey the scene at BookPeople. Unfortunately we visited just 45 minutes before closing time and they are encouraging customers to limit their visit to 30 minutes so while we felt a bit rushed on this particular visit, it was worth every single minute scouring the shelves.
As you've likely seen if you follow me on Instagram, the Antique Trove in Roseville, California is my home away from home. There was a period of time where I was visiting once a week to see what new treasures I could find. Well, it turns out something quite similar exists in Austin and it's called the Austin Antique Mall. Talk about giving yourself some time to go through a place, the Austin Antique Mall makes the 40,000 square feet Antique Trove look tiny. I will admit, the Austin Antique Mall wasn't quite as well-organized or merchandised throughout like the Antique Trove is so I would definitely recommend giving yourself plenty of time here as you're likely going to dig.
Recommended by numerous websites and resources, Room Service Vintage should be at the top of your list for vintage stores to check out in Austin. Located in what's called the "North Loop," which is a fun, trendy little area in Austin surprisingly filled with a few different vintage stores, Room Service Vintage is incredibly well-priced and offers a wide variety of beautiful accessories for your closet AND home. Honestly, it's a good thing we have a small car because I was ready to load up on furniture for my future apartment. I'm talking a beautiful vintage couch for $300!!!
Directly across the street from Room Service Vintage is Revival Vintage. Also offering a beautiful selection of furniture and vintage apparel, Revival has a small corner of the store dedicated to Austin gifts and trinkets which makes it the perfect place to pick up a few souvenirs as well. Worth giving a follow on Instagram, Revival features mainly their in-store furniture offering and let me tell you, it's incredible!
During our time in Austin we visited the University of Texas at Austin campus store. As we were driving through campus, we realized that we had actually finished our half marathon back in January right by the campus but it was fun to actually drive onto campus this time. First of all, it's a STUNNINGLY beautiful campus. I was ready to enroll right then and there! While we didn't purchase anything at the store (I was looking specifically for a crewneck sweatshirt which they didn't have on site), it was a fun stop and worthwhile should you find yourself wanting to pick up some University of Texas at Austin souvenirs.
My only complaint about Pavement Austin is that I visited it last during our vintage shopping day and I was exhausted and not in the right frame of mind to scour the hundreds of racks in the store. Someone in Austin told me Pavement is like Buffalo Exchange but better and boy they were not wrong. From racks of vintage apparel for men and women to beautiful consigned pieces, Pavement truly has something for everyone. Just make sure you visit early in the day when your energy levels are still high and you're ready to dig!
This is probably the most random recommendation I've ever offered but if you know me even remotely or have been following the blog for a while then it shouldn't come as any surprise. There's this place in Austin right off the freeway called Couch Potatoes that we saw on the way in to Austin late Thursday night. The only reason it was remarkable or noticeable for that matter from the freeway is the three larger than life Couch Potatoes sitting out in front of the store visible to all passing cars. Yes, that's right, Couch Potato statues. Just have a look for yourself.
My better half and I are so not food people so when it comes to traveling, eating is probably one of our last considerations. Unfortunately this can often be to our detriment as we're so excited to go out exploring the city we're in that we find ourselves at the end of the day ravenously hungry and have to just land at the closest eating destination. That's what happened to us on our last night in Austin and thus we landed on Lazarus Brewing Co. directly across the street from ARRIVE Austin. It is definitely simple bar food and doesn't have many options but it was surprisingly better than expected. First of all, their chips are THE BEST. Thick, crunchy tortilla chips, mmm my mouth's watering just thinking about them. Plus, it has a great vibe and is massive! Definitely a place I'd recommend visiting with a group of friends, grabbing a beer after work and taking in the sites and sounds of East Austin.
I'm not ashamed to admit we indulged in pizza during our time in Austin. To be fair, after a day of driving, the last thing we usually want to do is find a restaurant and go out to eat. So, we ordered the Eros Pizza from Spartan Pizza located close to ARRIVE Austin. When it comes to pizza, I'm a five cheese pizza with pesto or white sauce kind of gal so if you're like me in that regard, I highly recommend the Eros Pizza. We added kalamata olives for a little extra flavor and it was quite delicious!
While we didn't actually dine at Vixen's Wedding, I wanted to include it in my city review as we did visit the bar and based on our brief experience enjoying a drink, would highly recommend it. Vixen's Wedding serves "intensely flavorful eats inspired by Goa, India, Portugal," and Texas in a modern, vibrant space located at the base of ARRIVE Austin.
And there you have it, that's Austin! Well, my version of Austin on this particular visit that is. If you're interested, check out my blog post "My 3,321 Mile Cross-Country Roadtrip to Chicago," that I wrote last year after driving to Chicago with my better half and stopping in Austin for our first visit. There you'll find some additional recommendations for the city as well!
Compared to the other cities we've visited on this cross-country road trip, I was happy to feel the vibrancy that Austin has to offer. Aside from people wearing masks and social distancing rules of course, Austin felt alive and well, normal. As normal as a place can feel right now. I have a sinking suspicion that we'll be spending lots more time there in the future so hopefully more to come but for now, those are some of my recs for this city!
Please feel free to reach out should you have any questions about any of the cities I've visited either by sending me a message on Instagram (@almostfabme) or emailing me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.