City Guide: Austin, Texas

Hotels:   

Hotel Saint Cecilia – classy, chic, sophisticated, and envy-inducing are all words that come to mind when I type Hotel Saint  Cecilia. An excerpt from the website reads “ Created in honor of the patron saint of music and poetry, the Saint Cecilia takes inspiration from the great era of the late 1960’s and early 1970’s when a revolution of rock and roll and beat poetry overran the  hallowed halls of established convention. We pay tribute to the great creative legacy of our revolutionary idols and to the spirit of the artist that lies within us all.” The particulars that the author of this failed to mention is the 50-foot heated lap pool that is open 24 hours a day, the lovely poolside dining; this is a not miss hotel in Austin. 

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Kimber Modern – Tucked away on a quiet suburban side street off only one block from restaurants and live music galore – yet tucked in a woodsy oasis – is it a mansion? is it a store? No, it is Kimber Modern, the latest in new hotel technology. Here is, in the words of Kimber  Cavendish, “My  goal was to create an  exceptional architectural work of art, tailored toward the independent urban traveler.  Here you’ll have all the comfort of the finest hotel with the intimacy of a bed and breakfast.  I  invite you to define your own experience through our invisible service concept where everything you could want or need has been provided effortlessly at your fingertips.  Release yourself from the usual constraints and notions of the average hotel. … It’s simply a functional, comfortable and beautiful work of art.””

imgres-2imgres-3Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa – A sort of resort meets movie backdrop, Texas cuisine and live music reign at their open air pavilion, Three Springs Spa holds all sorts of natural treatments to make you look better than ever before, 11 tennis courts allow you to  strengthen your  game while on vacation, one of my favorites (golf!) 4 distinct golf courses, their words, my agreement, are settled in the rolling regions of Texas to create a special kind of game where you feel as if you are in a tournament with just you and your competitors- erm, I mean your family. Beautiful views abound this property, especially with its nature hiking trails and indoor and outdoor pools, make you feel as if you are set in a painting.

Golfers walking off the 17th green of the Fazio Foothills Course at Barton Creek Resort in Austin, Texas, USA.

Golfers walking off the 17th green of the Fazio Foothills Course at Barton Creek Resort in Austin, Texas, USA.

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Travaasa Austin – Conde Naste 2014 rates this as a top hotel and it is easy to see why, beautiful balcony views from a secluded estate, wonderful stables and ropes courses plus zip lining allow for non stop adventures. The infinity pool and yoga studio also allows time to relax and recharge before the spa that has all sorts of refreshing treatments. At night you can dine or help cook with renowned chefs and enjoy culinary masterpieces under the stars on their balcony.    

If you can't tell, I am dying to stay at Travaasa

If you can’t tell, I am dying to stay at Travaasa

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Wine & Dine: 

Elizabeth Street Café – Known for spicy bowls that are fabulously flavorful and the best iced coffee i’ve ever had. Last time I was in Texas I went three times in two days and did not go often enough. Traditional vietnamese fair paired with chic, colorful decor makes for the perfect dining environment.

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La V – best meal i’ve had in Texas hands down. It was pouring down rain as my dad pulled the car around so I hopped out and ran in through the stately doors, I just avoided the downpour. We went for father’s day, to start we ordered powdered sugar donuts, bacon, fruit, coffee orange juice, then we continued with salad and many other delightful dishes to follow. After stuffing ourselves completely full of delicious food, we took a walk through the Texas State Cemetery, beautiful grounds on the opposite side of the restaurant. 

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Torchy’s Tacos – there are multiple locations for this traditionally made, uniquely named food across Austin. I strongly recommend getting the guacamole and the independent (in terms of tacos, not political beliefs, I wouldn’t tell you what to think) The lines always are long but if you know your order you can be seated in 10 minutes and the casual atmosphere provides perfect dining when you want something spur of the moment.

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Dolce Neve – a brand new staple in Austin cuisine. Quality gelato with adorable shirts they have equally adorable workers who are always up for a  chat. I strongly recommend the coffee 😉 Across the way there is also a gorgeous butterfly wall mural where you can take fun pictures with your iced treats for instagram (feel free to follow me: @julia_orr)

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Franklin BBQ – unbelievably long line, unbelievably worth it. Best in the world BBQ, with the best hype in the business. If you are a fan of BBQ or meat in general, make sure to make a stop for the sweet sauces and the savory meals. 

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Fonda San Miguel – A formal Mexican food experience, they have wonderful wall art and even better dishes. Caldo Tlapeno, ensalada de espinacas, and angels on horseback are some of the best dishes I have had there, though anything on the menu is sure to be like a mini vacation for your tastebuds.

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Juliet- Perhaps the youngest restaurant on this all-too-long list, it is truly fantastic italian food, really cool outdoor seating, pretty unique menu, nice place to go out or even just for upscale drinks, they are trying to cater for people who will go there for bar action and for old fashioned italian food like pizza and pasta, not inexpensive but it is on barton springs road so if you want to go there then go for a dip it is a nice location

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Hopdoddy – Insanely long line 24/7. I have seen people standing in pouring rain for over 20 minutes to get inside. This means really good burgers and salads, nice space for seating indoors, not too fussy.

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Homeslice – A total typical tourist stop, those in the know will direct you here. Inexpensive pizza on Congress, across from good live music, featured in many movies (The Chef anyone??) it is a staple for good pizza and better conversation on the street

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Sights:

Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge  – by standing near this bridge, on it, or below it in a boat on the water, during summer and fall there is a very good chance to see hundreds of thousands of bats fly out. Truly magical. 

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Zilker Park – across the street from my dad’s place, there is Zilker Park. Excellent swing set, trust me i’ve tested it. Wide open spaces for running around with dogs or small children plus a good skyline view of Austin.

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Barton Springs – ah yes, the photo  that keeps appearing on your twitter feed. A huge, stunning natural spring in the heart of Austin that they clean regularly it is perfect every time and a great place to grab a towel, a book, and to chill for the afternoon. Fun guaranteed (also if you forget food do not sweat it there is a snack stand across from where you buy tickets on the outside parking lot)! The water is chilly but I guarantee that it will be one of the best workouts. Ever.

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Violet Crown Movie Theater – showing all the Bohemian and current movies your heart desires with excellent snacks and better prices. I recently saw Love & Mercy 🙂 Two locations, Santa Fe and Austin, only for those who truly know the city & now whomever reads this, happy movie going! imgres-2 imgres-1 imgres

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