Austin?

Old Jan 8, 22, 6:42 pm
  #16  
 
Join Date: Jan 2022
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I live in Austin and am a Brit.

1. be careful with the BA flight, they have cancelled and itís not daily (from memory) but seems to be more reliable atm.

2. Do NOT stay by the airport. You will wonder .... Stay in downtown or by South Congress area. Not sure what your budget is. But the Hyatt Regency isnít too bad (room are clean and easy to walk over the bridge to downtown) and does deals (sign up for their rewards program) if you can splurge Soho House if you pay 10 bucks a month for Friends membership is lovely if you like that sort of thing.

3. Itís light jacket weather atm. But I like it if you are doing lots of activities.

4. Personally Austin wouldnít be my first choice. Have you considered Mayakoba/Tulum in Mex. Same flight time/BA cover to Cancun. Beach weather if you want warm destination. However if you want good bars, music would recommend Austin. With Covid is can be tricky but if the sun is out still can sit outside for dining etc with jacket.
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Old Jan 8, 22, 6:48 pm
  #17  
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Originally Posted by Charlotte B View Post
I live in Austin and am a Brit.

1. be careful with the BA flight, they have cancelled and itís not daily (from memory) but seems to be more reliable atm.

2. Do NOT stay by the airport. You will wonder .... Stay in downtown or by South Congress area. Not sure what your budget is. But the Hyatt Regency isnít too bad (room are clean and easy to walk over the bridge to downtown) and does deals (sign up for their rewards program) if you can splurge Soho House if you pay 10 bucks a month for Friends membership is lovely if you like that sort of thing.

3. Itís light jacket weather atm. But I like it if you are doing lots of activities.

4. Personally Austin wouldnít be my first choice. Have you considered Mayakoba/Tulum in Mex. Same flight time/BA cover to Cancun. Beach weather if you want warm destination. However if you want good bars, music would recommend Austin. With Covid is can be tricky but if the sun is out still can sit outside for dining etc with jacket.
I want to visit Texas - I donít need it to be sunny just interesting and I was some BBQ!

I think by dividing my time up visiting some different cities it will be interesting for the time Iím there.

As a local living in Austin - out of the Aloft downtown or Moxy hotel at the university which would you chose?

Both allow me to use my Marriott points and pay a small extra to stay. However as I am likely to have a car for the my stay I may need parking too.

Although I also wonder if I could get away with day rental and late drop off so I avoid parking charges?
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Old Jan 8, 22, 7:07 pm
  #18  
 
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Originally Posted by Spinstorm View Post
I want to visit Texas - I donít need it to be sunny just interesting and I was some BBQ!

I think by dividing my time up visiting some different cities it will be interesting for the time Iím there.

As a local living in Austin - out of the Aloft downtown or Moxy hotel at the university which would you chose?

Both allow me to use my Marriott points and pay a small extra to stay. However as I am likely to have a car for the my stay I may need parking too.

Although I also wonder if I could get away with day rental and late drop off so I avoid parking charges?
I know the Aloft location. Not sure where the Moxy is but if it is closer to the university I would go with the Aloft. You'll be closer to the river (nice walks) and other downtown sights and sounds but easy walking distance to the state capitol (a must see) and the university just north of the capitol. There is a good cafe in the ground floor of the Aloft.

There is generally plenty of parking downtown at reasonable rates. What do you intend to do with the car besides park it? If it's just for a day trip then your idea of a day rental from downtown and return that evening is a good one. You'll want to get out of Austin and at least see the real Texas. Head west.

Weather can be pretty variable this time of year but the days are generally pleasant.
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Old Jan 8, 22, 7:25 pm
  #19  
 
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Originally Posted by Spinstorm View Post
I want to visit Texas - I donít need it to be sunny just interesting and I was some BBQ!

I think by dividing my time up visiting some different cities it will be interesting for the time Iím there.

As a local living in Austin - out of the Aloft downtown or Moxy hotel at the university which would you chose?

Both allow me to use my Marriott points and pay a small extra to stay. However as I am likely to have a car for the my stay I may need parking too.

Although I also wonder if I could get away with day rental and late drop off so I avoid parking charges?
either of those will be fine for seeing everything. If you hire a car check Turo as well as airport rentals sometimes can be cheaper. I donít know about parking apologies. If you so park just ensure locked and no valuables etc usual stuff.

BBQ I hear you. a good show chefs table on Netflix covered Snows which is drivable from memory so worth a pre watch.
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Old Jan 8, 22, 7:36 pm
  #20  
 
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Originally Posted by Spinstorm View Post
I want to visit Texas - I donít need it to be sunny just interesting and I was some BBQ!
Then you must also try "chicken-fried steak" (CFS). It's a Texas specialty. It's a cube steak that is battered and fried like fried chicken. Not unlike Germany's Wiener Schnitzel but beef, instead of veal, with a cream gravy. Common side dishes are potatoes (mashed or fried) and another vegetable such as green beans or Mac & Cheese (which is a vegetable in Texas LOL). I haven't lived in Texas in over 30 years so I always look for a good CFS when I visit.

Tex-Mex (Texas' take on Mexican food) is also a staple.

A fast food chain, closely associated with Texas culture, is Whataburger. You'll see then everywhere.

And yes, rent a car and drive 80 mph down the highway. Optionally, while listening to either Country music or Southern Rock (ZZ Top, 38 Special, Lynyrd Skynyrd, etc.) The hat and boots are completely optional! Get a good look at the wide open spaces in-between towns and cities. That's the real America.

I haven't spent much time in Austin but would recommend the Moonshine Grill (https://moonshinegrill.com/). Their downtown location is near the convention center. Excellent Chicken-fired Steak.

In San Antonio, a walk along the River Walk in downtown and a visit to The Alamo will get you started.

Now if I can find my way to England someday to try an authentic Fish & Chips!

Since I won't be there when you arrive, Welcome to America! Please don't be offended when people ask you to pronounce "tomato" for their amusement.
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Old Jan 8, 22, 8:08 pm
  #21  
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
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Love Austin. Stay at the Kimpton and eat and drink at bangers

hotel Emma in San Antonio is amazing

dallas is probably most boring place I have ever visited. Houston is better-go to the space centre

austin is cold in January
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Old Jan 8, 22, 8:36 pm
  #22  
 
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Originally Posted by LarryJ View Post
Then you must also try "chicken-fried steak" (CFS). It's a Texas specialty. It's a cube steak that is battered and fried like fried chicken. Not unlike Germany's Wiener Schnitzel but beef, instead of veal, with a cream gravy. Common side dishes are potatoes (mashed or fried) and another vegetable such as green beans or Mac & Cheese (which is a vegetable in Texas LOL). I haven't lived in Texas in over 30 years so I always look for a good CFS when I visit.

Tex-Mex (Texas' take on Mexican food) is also a staple.

A fast food chain, closely associated with Texas culture, is Whataburger. You'll see then everywhere.

And yes, rent a car and drive 80 mph down the highway. Optionally, while listening to either Country music or Southern Rock (ZZ Top, 38 Special, Lynyrd Skynyrd, etc.) The hat and boots are completely optional! Get a good look at the wide open spaces in-between towns and cities. That's the real America.

I haven't spent much time in Austin but would recommend the Moonshine Grill (https://moonshinegrill.com/). Their downtown location is near the convention center. Excellent Chicken-fired Steak.

In San Antonio, a walk along the River Walk in downtown and a visit to The Alamo will get you started.

Now if I can find my way to England someday to try an authentic Fish & Chips!

Since I won't be there when you arrive, Welcome to America! Please don't be offended when people ask you to pronounce "tomato" for their amusement.
Having been to Texas a few times, i can definitely recommend whataburger and hard eight bbq. Try the Dr Pepper shake If currently available at whataburger. If you're a dessert lover then Braums for a fancy Sunday is well worth it.

​​​​​​Regarding driving, just be aware that everything is a long drive in Texas. When up in Dallas with family, who live in Anna, even a decent restaurant can sometimes be a solid 30 min drive either way.
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Old Jan 8, 22, 9:20 pm
  #23  
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Originally Posted by Spinstorm View Post
Thanks for all the tips - I have booked into Austin.

Wierdly BA auto allocated my seats - 30F which is the aisle middle seat and 30D on the other side coming back.
I didn't select the seat - and the entire row which is the exit front aisle at the start of WT on the 787-9 is empty

Is that normal? I have never seen an auto allocated seat on booking before check in?

Also where would be the best place to sit in WT as a Gold on the 789?
corporate-wage-slave Any thoughts here?
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Old Jan 8, 22, 10:13 pm
  #24  
 
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Austin is in Stage 5 (highest) COVID restrictions. Not a great time to visit.
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Old Jan 8, 22, 10:36 pm
  #25  
 
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Originally Posted by LarryJ View Post
Then you must also try "chicken-fried steak" (CFS). It's a Texas specialty...
Don't forget the curiously named "Chicken Fried Chicken!"

When I go back to Texas there are two chains I visit for their somewhat unique, but very different approaches to food. Shields up!

1) Waffle House. There's one near Austin airport that is as good as any other. Very fluffy omelets. I'm sure this suggestion will generate some comments!

2) Saltgrass Steak House. There are three in/around Austin, but the one in Round Rock is my favourite.

Unfortunately the few places in Austin I really liked have closed as it has changed a lot (as mentioned above) since I lived there.

rb211.
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Old Jan 8, 22, 10:41 pm
  #26  
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As a tripple vaxxed person I am not super concerned about Covid as I take precautions. Iím sure like everyone else on here.

I was just playing around to see where I could fly from Austin and £239 return on Alaska to HonoluluÖ

£397 plus my 30,000 Avios to Austin.

Good value in return in economy to Hawaii? £700 plus 30k Avios?
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Old Jan 8, 22, 10:56 pm
  #27  
 
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I’ve been to Austin in December and after a few days I found myself wondering why on Earth I was there (work and family were the answers but still).

The city has some bars, sure, but so does Shoreditch. They have signs not to bring guns in said bars (Shoreditch hasn’t). There’s a level of homelessness that I’ve seldom seen outside the US, I’m talking about hundreds of tents under the motorway and hundreds of poor souls outside the Salvation Army office.

Downtown is a rather deserted collection of skyscrapers and hotels; the university district is livelier, sure, but… worth the hours’ flying?

As for the environs, I didn’t find the nature there to be particularly breathtaking although it was fun to stop in La Grange.

Bottom line: while I’m sure that the city during SXSW is great, outside of that it seemed a better version of Dallas or Houston. I’d rather go to Phoenix, at least from there you have some amazing outdoors all around you.
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Old Jan 8, 22, 10:59 pm
  #28  
 
Join Date: Jul 2016
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I live here in Austin and happened to see your thread. Out of the hotels you are mentioning, would stay at the Aloft. My favorite downturn hotel is the JW, the Aloft is nice and a great location, and there's a brand new Marriott that's also nice. I've stayed at all 3.

We're a covid hot spot right now and it's going to get worse next week. Saw earlier our test positive rate is up to 38% and 1 in 5 Texans have covid at the moment. Not sure if that factors into your plans but just an FYI.

The best BBQ in Texas is in Austin. Lockhart used to be the place back when I first moved here in 2003, but the Austin scene is so much better now. BBQ is kind of weird, need to get there early, especially on a weekday, unless it's specific places that make enough to stay open all day. And depending on the place, there may be lines.

Probably the best easy BBQ place near downtown is Terry Black's. Usually not a huge line and very, very good. Just over the river from downtown on Baton Springs.

Some other top BBQ spots are Franklin's (known as the king of brisket, but need to get there early and stand in line for hours), La Barbecue, and Micklethwait.

There are some cool bars in downtown Austin in that area. Some of my favorites are more upscale lounges, including the Roosevelt Room, Peche, and the lounge on the 5th floor at Hotel Zaza (forget the name). 4th Street, West 6th near Parker and Yard, and Rainey Street are all generally better than dirty 6th to hang out on.

Austin weather in January is really all over the place and random, can be warm or even get snow. Just never know, although right now it looks good for the next 10 days.

If you're planning San Antonio (and I would, San Antonio is pretty cool and easy to get to from Austin), I would definitely plan on eating breakfast tacos and Tex Mex food there. Different from Austin's and I think in a lot of ways better.

Getting to Houston or Dallas and back in a day can be done, but it would be a real pain. With good traffic the drive is 3 hours each way, not to mention Houston can take an hour or more just to get from one side to another depending on where you're going. Dallas is pretty business focused and shuts down at night, so unless you're going for sports or a specific reason (like one of the museums), I might skip it.

Houston is HUGE and has a little bit of everything, so it would be fun to visit.

If I had five days, I would probably think about spending a day in Austin, a day in downtown San Antonio with a hotel on the riverwalk (The Westin Riverwalk is a great property for this and part of Bonvoy), then two in Houston and drive back to Austin to catch the flight if possible.
Austin is a relatively young city with most of the growth being really recent (and since I moved here). A lot of the activities are outdoors, sports, and live music, and the restaurant / bar scene. There's also the infamous bats under the Congress bridge, but sadly they aren't around in January.
If the weather holds up, there are some cool outdoor areas in Austin to go hiking / bike riding, like McKinney falls state park, Barton Springs, and the lady bird lake trails. There also is usually always some live music going on you can get into.

Some of my other favorite downtown restaurants for dinner include:
- ATX Cocina. Upscale Tex Mex.
- Moonshine. Mid scale southern food.
- Fixe. Upscale Southern.
- Red Ash. Upscale Italian.
- Casino El Camino. True dirty dive bar burger.
- Bangers. Craft beer and sausage joint- OneTaco. They have a truck at Star Bar, cheap, and excellent. Not a huge menu but doesn't need it.
- Gloria's. Nothing super special, but really solid example of Texas Mexican food. Used to eat there for lunch when I worked in the building.
- Torchy's Tacos - Solid "gringo" tacos, meaning you can get non-traditional taco combos like fried chicken queso tacos. A little far near campus but not too bad, or can get it delivered.

Hope that helped!
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Old Jan 8, 22, 11:09 pm
  #29  
 
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A couple thoughts:

1. San Antonio:

I would spend one night (or a long day) in San Antonio. It has a nice little downtown, where you'll see the impressively diminutive Alamo and can check out the River Walk, a slightly Disneyfied but still sort of charming pedestrian path along the (very small) San Antonio River through downtown.

Then, head to San Antonio Missions National Historical Park and spend a couple hours seeing the Spanish colonial missions. They're some of the oldest European buildings west of the Mississippi River, and you'll get a good introduction to the colonial origins of Texas and its culture. You'll feel proud of yourself for "doing something cultural," and it's a good excuse to walk a mile.

2. Barbecue:

Prepare to get barbecue at least twice (more is acceptable). If you're like me, you will order a bit of everything the first time, only to discover, a third of the way through the brisket (do get that) that you have grossly overestimated your digestive capacity and you are now about to force yourself to consume 4,000 more calories that you don't even want.

Try the pecan pie for desert.

You may be immobile for two hours following lunch.

3. El Paso:

I realize you almost certainly won't do this, given your schedule, but I would consider booking the quick AA nonstop from AUS to ELP and spending two nights in El Paso. You said you wanted to get a sense of Texas? El Paso is as Texas as you can get. Or, it's the Hollywood conception of Texas: Head east and you drive through the heart of the West Texas desert. Head west and you're in New Mexico (really; the city's about 10 miles from the border). And walk a mile south and you're in Mexico.

El Paso, which is actually several hundred thousand people, is actually kind of fun: It has a small, not-unattractive downtown, with several strips of bars; a few decent restaurants; a university presence that provides for some hipster restaurants; and a deeply confusing cultural identity. That's because across the narrow Rio Grande is Ciudad Juarez, which both is a major Mexican border city and was, at least a few years ago, a fabulously dangerous place, wracked with gang violence. And yet: El Paso has a reputation as one of the safest cities in America. Why? A huge federal law-enforcement presence doesn't hurt. Nor, ironically, does the fact that many of the families of the cartels' leadership choose to live in the more-expensive parts of El Paso. The cartels have let it be known that El Paso is not to be messed with, particularly since it would bring needless trouble from the U.S. government, which is far less receptive to their conduct than the Mexican state governments.

All to say: You'll get a lot of Texas in a very short time in El Paso, and it's safe to boot.

(And, if you're feeling especially adventurous, pay the 25 cents to walk across the bridge into Mexico, get s drink at Club Kentucky, and then walk back. You can say hello to the U.S. CBP officers standing on the U.S. side of the border at the halfway point across the bridge, who will be thrilled to see a Brit walking by. And you can see America's immigration crisis for yourself, as Central American migrants wait along the bridge, hoping for entry to the United States, while Mexicans nonchalantly walk across to enter the U.S. with their work visas.)

4. New Orleans:

Probably a 75-minute flight from Austin, New Orleans has, in my view, the richest and most distinct regional culture in the United States. It's a distillation of Cajun, Haitian and other Caribbean, and Deep Southern. It is also a beautiful city, with Spanish moss lining the streets of the Uptown and the Garden District and stately mansions near Tulane University.

More importantly (to me), the food is extraordinary: You will not find Cajun cooking of anywhere near comparable quality elsewhere in America. Superior Seafood has happy hour oysters for, last I checked, fifty cents apiece. The historically black Treme ("treh-MAY") neighborhood has at least one Southern fried-chicken buffet that will leave you waddling, after you finish gawking at the photos on the walls of every major politician in modern U.S. history eating at the place. There are several famous steakhouses. And it's hard not to love the distinct style of jazz or their jazz bars in and near the French Quarter. It's both quintessentially American and bizarrely foreign. The weather may be iffy, but it's a relatively quiet time to visit.

5. Phoenix/Sedona:

I like Phoenix in the summer, when the temperature regularly exceeds 40C. Why? Because I am, apparently, cold-blooded. But even in the winter, it's worth a couple days; Tempe is home to the massive university, Scottsdale's apparently nice, and even the heart of Phoenix has some good places to eat. But the better idea is to take a car (a car is not optional in Arizona or Texas) and drive the two hours north to Sedona. Sedona is one of the most strikingly beautiful places on Earth: It is home to the red rocks, geological features whose ochre hues and striking formations understandably attract new-age types. You'll love the easy hikes, natural beauty, Native American culture and good dining options. (It's got a sort of West Coasty cultural vibe, given how many Californians vacation there, so if you decide to go vegan...). Easily worth 3-4 days.
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Last edited by ezefllying; Jan 8, 22 at 11:23 pm
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Old Jan 8, 22, 11:47 pm
  #30  
 
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Bleah.

Austin is a pretentious, overcrowded mess these days. So monotonously extra.

San Antonio would be more relaxed and fun.

But you know what they say--you make your own fun.
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