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Insider Austin Knowledge

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Insider Austin Knowledge

I will FINALLY check Austin off of my bucket list, leaving brisk and (possibly) snowy Pittsburgh to eat all the BBQ, listen to all the live music, and drink all the cold beer Austin has to offer...and I. Can't. Wait! Couple questions for the experts...

Hubby and I booked the Omni downtown for 2 reasons: its location and the fact that we had a gift card saving us a few hundred bucks on the weekend. Disappointed I won't have a more authentic experience, but it's too close to Christmas to blow the big bucks. Looks like this is a very walk-able spot, but in wanting to check out the hill country, Salt Lick BBQ, possibly San Antonio (is it worth it?), and the ubers too and from the airport, it may be more economical to rent a car.

- Parking at the Omni is $40 a day. Anyone know a cheaper garage in walking distance where we could park a rental as opposed to in the hotel?

- I saw something about a package deal where the Salt Lick folks will pick you up, take you there to eat and drink, and then bring you back. Anyone ever go this route and is it a good way to go?

- How about the walking ghost tour at night? Fun?

- Any holiday specific sights worth checking out in early December?

- Little known gems?

- Any chance I'll be able to SWIM in December? Looks like there are tons of beautiful swimming holes right around the city.

- What's the best way to check out this bat situation I keep reading about?

- Any total locals-welcome-tourists-tolerated kinda spots you're willing to let out of the bag? ;)

- And the ONE THING we should not miss is _______>

Hey, thanks a lot for all your help, I really appreciate it and will happily help you if you ever want the same kind of detail in or around Pittsburgh, PA. Appreciate it:)


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8 replies to this topic
Austin, Texas
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1. Re: Insider Austin Knowledge

Don’t be disappointed about and authentic Austin experience. I think the Omni is a great hotel for an Austin stay. It is very centrally located. As far as going to San Antonio, you don’t say how long you are staying in Austin? I think that Austin and a day travelling to Driftwood (Salt Lick) can keep you pretty busy for at least 4 or 5 days. Personally, I would stay in Austin if you are only staying for 4 days or less. I would do a day trip if you are staying longer.

Please remember that the Salt Lick is cash only, but you can BYOB. It is a scenic hill country drive to Driftwood. Worth the trip, even if it is not the best BBQ in Central Texas. In my opinion, the best Central Texas BBQ at Kreuz Market or Smitty’s BBQ in Lockhart.

People can and do still swim in Barton Springs during the winter. I wouldn’t but that is me. I can tell you that in the summer the transition from the Texas heat to the constant temperature of Barton Springs is a shock. I would rather opt for the awesome heated pool on the roof of your hotel, the Omni. Great view of downtown at night.

Bats are long gone to Mexico by December, they usually under the Ann Richards\Congress Avenue bridge from March to October.

The Trail of Lights (https://austintrailoflights.org/calendar) is a cool Austin tradition for many Austinites. I would see if it is going on during your dates. Congress has Christmas lights and a big tree in front of the Capitol.

Based on your comment of having a few beers;>), I highly recommend the Rainy Street district and the South Congress District. If the weather is good, which it often is in Decemeber, hike along the Lady Bird Lake hike and bike trail.

Austin, Texas
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2. Re: Insider Austin Knowledge

You might consider just renting a car on the day you drive to SA. The Omni is a perfect location for walking and or very short cab rides downtown if we have bad weather. A rental can be delivered to the hotel.

Its interesting for a few minutes to see the open pit for barbecue at Salt Lick but our family is not a fan of the food.

The double decker hop on hop off tour is a winner and so are several of the Austin Detours offerings. Nice to have someone else fight the traffic. Lots of tour options at the Austin Visitor Center -4th and Red River.

Www.austintexas.org is the official web site with lots of info.

Esther's Follies is an Austin institution - it sells out so make a reservation.

Welcome to Austin!

Lockhart, Texas
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3. Re: Insider Austin Knowledge

I think you might have heard of this Austin Detours deal:


But ya'll come on down to Smitty's in Lockhart, and find out how it's really done. http://smittysmarket.com/

You can swim in spring-fed waters all year, because the temperature is constant. Barton Springs, San Marcos River right below the lake, etc. It's the gettin' out that can be tough in winter. I did my dive training in winter in the spring lake at San Marcos and like to froze to death getting out.

I don't know if it's your thing (how could it be?), but Urban Axes has recently opened. You're supposed to do weird stuff in Austin, so I guess it qualifies. https://urbanaxes.com/austin/

Corpus Christi...
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4. Re: Insider Austin Knowledge

San Antonio has much to see and do. Incredible amalgamation of ethnic diversity and history as well as the very best Christmas lights experience strolling along the riverwalk at night. Easy to spend an entire day sans the car experiencing what downtown San Antonio has to offer. Check out the Pearl area as well as the central riverwalk.

Take the boat tour!

Agree that Salt Lick is not your best BBQ experience and +1 for Smitty's in Lockhart for the real deal.

You might enjoy an evening of entertainment at Esther's follies in Austin.


Barton Springs is great for swimming year 'round but the only thing colder than the water may be the temperature of the air!

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5. Re: Insider Austin Knowledge

Can I say this yet…thanks, ya’ll!

Only in Austin from Friday – Monday, so maybe San Antonio is too much of a stretch in that short amount of time (this is also where I note that Allegiant Air flies from Pittsburgh to Austin for as low at $40! So we can most certainly come back!)

Well maybe Salt Lick isn’t worth the trip. I’ll take note of these other locations – especially Smitty’s. And Esther’s Follie’s sounds like a must-do. I will make that reso today. And I have never in my life seen anything that looks as cool as Barton Springs! I will force, at the very least, my Northern toes in that sucker. The low here today is 29, so anything above 60 is gonna feel downright balmy!

Bummer about the bats, but I’ll have lots to keep me busy.

Thanks, again, this is incredibly helpful!


Marshall, Texas
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6. Re: Insider Austin Knowledge

I have not done it yet, so bare with me, but car2go is renting mercedes now... Next time I go to Austin I am gonna look into renting one. Might be something for a day trip or for a few days... just a heads up... I know if I do rent one, it will be my first time in a mercedes... I am a bit of a country bumpkin.

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7. Re: Insider Austin Knowledge

Cool! That's a great idea. Yeah, the thought of dropping $120 on parking is just too much for me. I'd MUCH rather spend that kind of change on food and fun. Checking out Car2Go right now. Thanks!

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8. Re: Insider Austin Knowledge

Agree with C2G. Uber. Don't go to the Salt Lick. As others mentioned way better BBQ at other places and agree it is a cool place to go. I don't really like their BBQ so it's not worth the drive.

Bob Bullock Museum.

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