A Whirlwind Trip to Austin, Texas
Back in September, I took a whirlwind trip to Austin, Texas. I was only in the city for about three days - just long enough to experience the first annual TravelCon. Over those three days, I got to get a tiny glimpse of what this self-professed weird city of Texas has to offer. I enjoyed myself quite a bit and I can’t wait to go back for a longer visit! I’d love to see both more of Austin and the rest of Texas as well.
Even though my actual exploration of the city was mostly limited to a small radius of downtown Austin, I thought it might be worth sharing what added up to about one day in Austin. I was lucky enough to hit a few of Austin’s must-dos in my short time there.
Tried Some World-Famous Tacos
Tex-Mex is an American staple but I couldn’t wait to try the real thing in it’s home state. I got lucky because one of Austin’s most popular taco institutions, Torchy’s, had a food truck come and visit the Travel Con attendees. Torchy’s does have multiple locations throughout the city, and I highly recommend you visit one of these establishments if you visit Austin yourself. I had 2 fried avocado tacos and green chile queso with chips.
Visited Two Austin Museums
I managed to find enough free time between conference sessions to visit two museums in Austin. My first visit was to the small but wonderful Mexic-Arte Museum. The art at Mexic-Arte was incredible, vibrant, and really fun to learn about. The gift shop also has an incredible selection of artful gifts that you can bring home - it was hard not to buy too much!
The second museum I checked out was the very campy, Ripley’s Believe it or Not-style Museum of the Weird. It felt like a blast from the past to check out the horror movie props, shrunken heads, circus sideshow shenanigans, and other oddities. I’m not sure if I’d visit again but it was definitely a unique place. If you like campy, creepy things then this is the place for you.
Viewed the Congress Avenue Bat Colony
One of Austin’s biggest claims to fame is their bats! The Congress Avenue bridge is host to over one and a half million Mexican Free-Tailed Bats. It’s considered the world’s largest urban bat colony and watching the bats leave the bridge at sunset in search of their nightly meal is an incredible sight to behold. There are plenty of companies offering tours of the colony that include boats or kayaks (note all the watercraft below). However, since I always love a budget-friendly activity, I chose to view them for free from above just by standing on the sidewalk of the bridge itself.
Other Highlights of My Austin Experience
The Pecan Street Festival
I was lucky that my visit to Austin coincided with one of the country’s largest street festivals, the Pecan Street Festival. There were blocks and blocks of craft vendors, musicians, and food tents. It was a great glimpse into Austin’s local culture and I really enjoyed perusing it with a Blood Orange Austin Eastcider in hand.
Donut Time at Austin’s Voodoo Doughnuts
I’d been hearing about Portland’s famous Voodoo Doughnuts for years, and getting a chance to try them has always been on my list. I was very pleasantly surprised to discover that Austin had a branch and immediately made a point to check it out. I happened to hit it during a lull, and got a namesake donut in practically no time. It was very delicious - definitely worth the hype.
Last But Not Least - TravelCon!
The inaugural TravelCon ended up being a wonderful experience for me. I got to meet some of my travel heroes IRL including people like Brenna, Glo, Oneika, and Rolf Potts. Not only that, but I was able to learn a ton about how to navigate the crazy world of travel blogging and how to be a better travel writer overall. (Here’s hoping I continue to put everything I learned there into practice). Huge thanks to everyone who put the conference together, it was definitely a smashing success.