I'll be honest, we just got back from a weekend in Austin and I'm still exhausted!
This was our third trip to Austin and I've found that each trip we've had really different experiences - so you can't spend just one weekend in Austin and get a true feel for the city.
On our first trip, my husband and I had the opportunity to have an ‘adult only’ weekend for our wedding anniversary. We stayed right by the river at The Line. During this trip we were able to experience the downtown feel and explore South Congress from there.
On the second trip, we stayed with friends in East Austin in a residential area. During this trip we did a lot more driving around vs. walking.
This trip, we had the opportunity to stay at the Canopy by Hilton Downtown which is located between the Downtown area and the West End of Austin. This location allowed us to explore into the West End by foot further than we had seen before. Here's where we went:
Compared to other hotels downtown, I'd say the Canopy is on the smaller side, standing 6 floors tall with 140 guest rooms. Despite its smaller size, the hotel offers a rooftop pool, valet parking easily accessible underneath ($45/day), is pet friendly with a pet "retreat" (potty area) on the 3rd floor, an up to date fitness center and a lovely on site restaurant.
Still acknowledging this COVID world, the hotel felt extremely clean with lots of sanitizer and wipes available - the room was literally marked with a Hilton CleanStay Room Seal to let you know it had been disinfected. The hotel also had a refreshing, clean fragrance to it when you enter.
Taking a load off in the lobby at the Canopy by Hilton Austin Downtown
We stayed in a double queen room; I liked the separation between the sleeping quarters from the bathroom/shower area with the sliding door. Our room had a really nice view of 6th street from the 6th floor.
The main sleeping quarters + bathroom area in our room at the Canopy by Hilton Austin Downtown
In terms of amenities, the pool space was really wonderful - but a lot smaller than I anticipated. Prior to our stay, I had looked into a cabana rental, which I would have been disappointed with in hindsight. The cabanas were pretty small and didn't offer much more than the standard pool chair (which was free), besides providing shade (this weekend was overcast, so we were actually looking for the sun!). The fitness center was also compact, but the equipment was new and well maintained. The treadmills had live TV options and additional televisions were hung throughout the space. I was also impressed with the range of free weights and additional equipment (kettlebells, slamballs, BOSU's, and a variety of platforms for step ups or box jumps).
Enjoying the rooftop pool + the fitness center at the Canopy by Hilton Austin Downtown
We experienced the hotel restaurant twice - the day of our arrival to grab beverages for the pool, and for brunch on our last day. Our initial impression of Verbena was not great - we ordered 1 glass of white wine and a margarita - which rang in at over $40. Our dine in experience was a bit better. I ordered the crispy potato mille-feuille; the salad and eggs were nothing special, but the potatoes were AMAZING. The bacon jam on top was so good - it reminded me of a German potato salad with the hint of vinegar. We also ordered oysters here - they were excellent, but only 1 of the 3 varieties listed on their menu was available in the restaurant that day. I'll also say that the service is quite slow and the timing was really sporadic. For example we'd order a few bloody mary‘s at the same time and then each receive them separately. This wasn't really a big deal, it was just the pace of service that was a bit lacking.
Outdoor area for Verbena Restaurant + some of our food - located at the Canopy by Hilton Downtown Austin
MORE DINING STOPS
1315 West 6th Street - Austin, TX 78703
NOTE: show up for your exact reservation time!
We had made a reservation in advance and were running a little behind. We attempted to call the restaurant multiple times before our reservation time and no one answered. When we got there, they had given our table away. So I was a little annoyed that no one was available by phone.
They were able to seat us in a holding area until they had a table available. Once we got inside, everything went smoothly with great service. This place has more of a casual feel, serves small plates and has a great spread of cocktails. The food is Asian fusion and we loved the pork buns.
inside the JW Marriott
110 East 2nd Street - Austin, TX 78701
We also seemed to experience slow service here initially. We waited almost 40 minutes before our first beverage arrived, then the service got a bit quicker as the night went on. Despite the wait, the view here was gorgeous. The food was tasty, but be prepared for small portions at a cost. The ahi tuna tacos and shrimp lettuce cups were our favorites. I will say, I was disappointed with the craft cocktails. I ordered the Texas Sipper which was vodka, elderflower, blood orange and topo chico - all I tasted was blood orange juice, so we opted for vodka tonics and rose the rest of the night.
Edge Rooftop Bar + one of the photo ops at Taquero Mucho in Austin, TX
508 West Avenue - Austin, TX 78701
This place does not take reservations in advance, so it was a gamble in my mind... but we went anyway. We tried to grab a light bite here before our reservation at The Edge, but the wait for food was over an hour and a half. Luckily, you can still experience all of the fun, Insta-worthy photo spots here without being at an actual table. You can order cocktails from the drink stand outside; I found them to be super sugary, but it was fun to have one at the start of the night and snap a few photos with the pink decor.
1400 South Congress Avenue - Austin, TX 78704
We got incredibly lucky and made a last minute stop at Perla's before leaving town. My friend was visiting from Park City and we hadn't made a trip down South Congress yet, so we felt it was important to show her the area before leaving.
I'm thanking the rain for this one, because when we stopped by, the patio was closed due to the rain earlier. At the time of our arrival, the rain had just stopped and they were slowly letting guests be seated outside again - so they were kind enough to squeeze us in.
We had amazing service at Perla's - the waitress explained the oyster selection to us and informed us about the mimosa service as the best value. We also had a situation where we needed forks - and seconds after asking, a random guy appeared from nowhere with them. They were magic, I tell ya!
Mimosa service and oysters (we loved the Wellfleet, MA + Village Bay, NB ones the best!) at Perla's: Austin, TX
2901 Enfield Road - Austin, TX 78703
So the forecast for the entire weekend was rain. Sadly, the most rain we witnessed was during our tee time at Lions Municipal Golf Course. We booked this course for a few reasons. First, it was only a 10 minute drive from our hotel. Second, it has quite an interesting history. In 1924, the Lions Club opened Lions Municipal, the first public golf course in the city. It was also one of the first golf courses to desegregate prior to the Supreme Court decision in Brown V. Board of Education in 1954. So I thought it was worth the visit.
A few things to note:
-We were unable to enjoy a beverage during our time here. Outside alcohol is prohibited...but they weren't selling any and didn't have a "beer cart".
-A weekend round runs at $35 pp and $15 pp for a cart = $50 each
-The carts do not have windshields, so if it rains, you have no protection from precipitation/wind from the front end (which we certainly experienced first hand!).
-For weekend tee times, you can book on the Tuesday before the weekend, which book up fast.
Compared to previous posts, I feel as if this comes off a bit negative, or that I have a lot of complaints - which I don't really mean to do. I think the main objective here is to give some honest critiques so you, as a future traveler, can be prepared more than I was for this trip. So the things I learned for next time are:
-be patient - service is hit or miss, so give yourself time and don't rush
-make reservations - reservations often book up even 2 months prior, so be sure to have some places lined up
-remember that things will be expensive (hence the $20 margarita at the hotel)
Overall, we had such a fun trip to Austin. There is so much you can do, see and eat - we still have a long list of things for next time, so stay tuned!