Friday, August 17, 2018

The 48 Hour Tourist: Austin, TX Edition

We continue our guest blogger series with Melissa Rosenberg of The Melrose Chronicles! Melissa is a seasoned traveler and has written her own travel newsletter, plus has been a guest writer on other travel blogs and websites. Who better to tell us all about a fun destination like Austin, TX? Check out her 48 hour travel guide, complete with packing guide, below! Also, be sure to check out her Instagram @themelrosechronicles.

Hey Y’all! My name is Melissa and I’m an actor, dog mom, coffee lover, and travel enthusiast! I’ve checked off 48 of 50 states, traipsed all over Europe, and of course, am always planning my next adventure.  While I feel lucky to have seen so much of the world, people are always asking me: How have you seen so much!? The answer is short but sweet—literally.

48 hours.

No, not all of my trips are this short—you could never meander the London streets correctly or work on that Seaside, FL tan in only two days—but occasionally, just for a getaway, 48 hours is all you need to explore a new town and notch off a fabulous city on your travel bucket list while still getting a sense of the area and feeling like you achieved a great deal!

I wanted to share with you top tips and trades, recommend restaurants and rendezvous’, and even the ever popular: “But how do I pack for such a short trip?!” in one of my favorite cities:

Austin, TX is quite simply everyone’s cup of tea. There’s great foodie finds, unique shops, night life galore, outdoor escapades, and tons of fun to fill your time with so: let’s jump in!

Packing Guide for 48 hours of Austin Awesome:
First of all, the trick to short trips is not to over pack. Keep Calm and Carry On—for real! You won’t need anything more. Check out these items I took on my most recent visit:

*Packing guide details at end of post*

Day One
After an early travel morning or perhaps a late night flight after a long day of work, I always find my body craves a little movement to work out all the travel kinks. If you’re like me, you’re already sporting your yoga pants so head straight to Black Swan Yoga. With three different locations, this studio is hands down my favorite start-the-day-feel-good type of class, and the best part: it’s donation based which is a total thumbs up-ward dog! Don’t have a mat? Don’t worry—you can borrow one for $5.

Yoga not your thing? Part of the beauty of Austin lies in the access to nature. Take a stroll around Lady Bird Lake (formerly Town Lake)! It will ease you into the day with fabulous views of downtown, paddle boarders on the lake, and a simple, sight-filled introduction to the city.

Now I bet you’ve worked up an appetite! There’s nothing I love more than sharing Austin food favorites so pending your mood here are a few options of ATX classics and new brekkie bests, alike:
You can never go wrong with the tried and true, Kerbey Lane Café. With seven locations and a presence since 1980, this signature café is the only place where it is totally acceptable to have your pancake and eat queso too. It’s open 24 hours, has tons of vegetarian/vegan options, and is downright delicious.

Newer to the 512 crew is June’s All Day Café. Situated on a South Congress Ave corner, this two year old restaurant packs a mature punch like it’s been hanging around the Austin restaurant scene for years (not to mention, it’s an Instagramer’s dream). Enjoy a sit down experience in the cozy bistro atmosphere and if breakfast impresses you— I have no doubt it will—come back for happy hour 4pm-6pm daily with 50% off all food and various drink specials.

Three Words: Nutella. Morning. Bun. Josephine House is one of those special finds that makes you feel like you’ve found a secret hideout spot in a vast city. It’s quaint, full of charm, and simplistic in the best kind of way. It’s quite small so be sure to make a reservation if you want to sit down or just pick a pastry picnic to go.

Other great spots to check out: Taco Deli, Juan in a Million, Bouldin Creek Café (vegetarian/vegan), Moonshine (for a weekend brunch experience)

Time to explore! There are about a million options but for the Mod Circus crowd, let’s dive in to some fashion frolics. South Congress is my favorite wandering place. It’s quintessential Austin boasting quirky shops, First Thursday festivals, food trucks, and more. For my fashionista’s looking to take a piece of Austin couture home, if you’re feeling…
Vintage: check out Feathers Boutique
Current Trends: score big at Favor the Kind or Creatures
Witchy Wonders: explore edgy at Blackmail

Other SoCo specialties: Kendra Scott (infamous Austin-based jewelry—this is one of the first locations), Stag (men’s shop), Lucy in Disguise (incredible costume shop with some excellent vintage buys), Prima Dora (souvenirs ), and there are always pop-up trailers worth perusing

With famous festivals like Austin City Limits and SXSW, you can’t come to Austin without hearing some live music. To end an awesome day of exploring, see who’s playing at Stubb’s (double the deal if you get some TX BBQ), Antone’s, Emo’s, or The Backyard. (Insider tip: 9 times out 10 you can also stumble upon live music at any downtown restaurant on a weekend night or outdoor park.) Sit back and relax as you wind down the day with some great jams.

Day Two
It’s time for morning stretches and fashion catches as we race to squeeze in as much more Austin as we can. The 2nd Street District is home to some serious boutique beauties and you are sure to snag a special something to take home. First, there’s an actual ModCloth store—that’s right, you can shop the ever popular online mecca in person—as well as great spots like United Apparel Liquidators, which always has steals on upscale items, Prize, hosting super home décor originals and unique pieces, and the impressive Esperos handbags/backpacks where a portion of proceeds go towards raising money for women’s education. The 2nd Street District is a bit pricier but pieces are distinct and creative, making it a great area to find the ultimate Texas treasure.

By now, you’re probably feeling inspired to ‘Keep Austin Weird’ and keep on trucking through another day of Texas adventure. Speaking of trucking: Did you know that Austin is one of the first cities to rev up the food truck industry? You can see them everywhere around town and it’s safe to say your Austin experience won’t be the same if you don’t make a pit stop. Continue your day by heading to one of several area food truck gatherings (South Austin Trailer Park & Eatery, The Picnic, East Side Food Park…the list goes on) and get a sampling of tasty treats from popular wheeled meals like Gourdough’s, the OG Torchy’s Tacos—get the queso, trust me—or even mmmpanadas.

If a sit down meal is more your style, I suggest heading to one of my all time favorites, Elizabeth Street Café. It’s an eclectic mash up of Vietnamese and French in an old converted home that is refurbed in the best Austin way. There’s a community table up front if you want to meet some locals and make a friend as well as a great outdoor patio-like space if it’s a nice day.

Another staple area to check out for both food and fashion is South Lamar. If you want another food fusion option, check out Chi’Lantro: a Korean BBQ meets Tex-Mex joint. Opt for the killer kimchi fries or fresh take on a rice bowl. Strut is not only a stellar shop name but also home to some sensational shopping. Grab some excellent accessories and browse apparel. Artisan threads are great but artisan ice cream? Right down the road is the newest addition to the Austin Awesome Ice Cream Association, Lick.  With everyday flavors featuring Texas Sheet Cake and Chocolate, Olive Oil, & Sea Salt as well as incredible seasonal flavors like Carrot & Tarrgon and Fromage & Fig, you can go classic cone or go off the beaten spoon with honest, Texas ingredients. They even have dairy free and vegan options!

Other fun things to check out on South Lamar: Alamo Drafthouse (this was one of the first locations for the now nationwide moviehouse and it has received a major upgrade to become part of a larger plaza and living space), Neiman Marcus Last Call (the high end retail store which was actually created in Dallas, TX has it’s clearance store just off South Lamar—totally worth a rack browsing), or South Austin Museum of Pop Culture (a wacky and wonderful little museum).

By now, you have probably eaten too much and spent too much money on dresses, but are feeling like maybe you want just a little bit more to close out your whirlwind weekend. Make your way to Zilker Park with a blanket and a good book and enjoy the setting sun as your weekend comes to a close. If you are visiting during the summer, see if anything is playing on The Hillside—each year, the park hosts a totally free summer musical that you can watch and enjoy with your own picnic (including glass free beverages). Or, gather that blanket and book to check out Auditorium Shores instead for some tunes (Blues on the Green and other live music events often occur) and a great view. Either option will refresh you and give you a little more taste of Hill Country Culture.

I hope you enjoyed your Austin escape! There’s always so much to do and so many choices to make but this is snapshot of what I assure will leave you saying, “I’ll come back real soon y’all!”

Til the next 48 Hour Tourist, follow Melissa on Instagram @themelrosechronicles for more travel inspiration…and lots of dog pictures.

Packing Guide and Outfit details: 



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