If you haven’t heard, Austin is not only the 3rd fastest growing city and the #1 place to live in the United States but now it is also one of the country’s best destinations for a summer getaway according to a new study from WalletHub.
WalletHub, a personal finance website, compared 40 key indicators of budget-friendliness and fun-friendliness in 100 U.S. metro areas across six key categories: 1) Travel Costs & Hassles, 2) Local Costs, 3) Attractions, 4) Weather, 5) Activities and 6) Safety to come up with its list. Overall, Austin ranked third behind Washington, D.C. (No. 1) and Orlando, Florida (No. 2).
Austin’s highest marks were for most attractions (No. 13) and most activities (No. 18). So, it has to be asked, what are we all running from in Austin’s summer months? Sure it’s hot but if you get creative, there are lots of ways to stay entertained and “cool” if you just put your mind to it. Here are some suggestions for a great and easy summer “staycation”:
When I think of a “Staycation”, I typically think of a hotel and night(s) away without having to pack a big suitcase, fly or drive long distances, or plan a big trip with all of the activities way ahead of time. A visit to Lost Pines Resort + Spa definitely meets these criteria.
Situated on 400 acres along the banks of the lower Colorado River, the Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort and Spa is a great way to get away from it all and is just 23 miles from Austin. With onsite activities ranging from horseback riding to a waterpark with a lazy river, there are plenty of things to do without ever leaving the resort. If that’s not enough, try zip lining through Lost Pines nature park, kayaking the Colorado river, or hiking through nearby McKinney Roughs Nature Park.
While a weekend or even a night away sounds amazing, not all Staycations need to involve sleeping away from home. Some of my favorite Staycations are day outings doing things that are different than we normally do, making memories, and taking a whole lot of pictures to look back on.
There are several lakes in and around Austin which provide a range of activities for both the water sports enthusiast and the occasional floater or boater. For a day of fun and a few thrills, rent a boat on Lake Travis or Lake Austin and go waterskiing, wake boarding, or tubing. Or, for a more relaxing experience, rent a stand up paddle board, kayak, or canoe and get a view of downtown Austin from Ladybird Lake. Whatever you choose, be sure to take a cooler full of drinks and snacks to keep you going.
After a day on the lakes, be sure to take a dip in Deep Eddy pool, the oldest swimming pool in Texas. This pool isn’t chlorinated or heated and is fed from a hand dug clear water well so is a perfectly refreshing way to end a hot summer day. If you plan ahead, you may even be able to catch a Deep Eddy Splash movie!
Finally, be sure to enjoy a burger and cocktail at Pool Burger – an Austin original Tiki Bar and burger trailer right there at Deep Eddy Pool.
While I often visit Barton Springs Pool for a quick dip (it’s cold after all), rarely do we make a family day of it…and, why not? For a fun filled day, load up a wagon with everything you need – swimsuit, towel, a good book and plenty of food and head down to Zilker Park. With very little planning, you can spend a day splashing in Barton Springs Pool, playing on the playground or playing pickup soccer or football at Zilker Park, and then lighting up the barbecue before heading to the Summer Musical at Zilker Hillside Theater (be sure to reserve your space early though – these summer productions are popular!).
Another great adventure is to spend a day visiting and photographing all of the great “Austin-y” murals. You can even use this opportunity for some great family (or selfie) pics! We are all well familiar with the “i love you so much” mural on the North facing wall of Jo’s Coffee Shop on South Congress, but there are so many other great murals in Austin to visit and take your own photos. Some of our favorites are: Hope Outdoor Gallery, also known as the Austin Graffiti Park, at the corner of 11th and Baylor Street; the Greetings from Austin Mural on South 1st Street; the “HI HOW ARE YOU?” mural at Guadalupe and 21st Street, and the Austin, Texas Mural on Guadalupe. Or, you could visit some of the less photographed and “different” murals, check out this mural guide for some ideas.
For a treat between murals, make sure to stop for a light and healthy summer lunch at Flower Child, True Food Kitchen, Picnik, or my personal favorite, Koriente. For a late afternoon cool down, head to Amy’s Ice Cream – an Austin tradition for over 30 years.
When you are done, turn your photos into a gallery to adorn the walls of your Austin abode. There are a million gallery ideas on Pinterest and many tutorials on how to create your gallery wall. Personally, I think bright mural photos would make a great canvas print gallery wall.
If you want a vacation experience without ever leaving your house, try a backyard fun weekend. Rent a water slide, outdoor movie screen and projector, and some outdoor games to stay cool, entertained, and relaxed right in your own backyard. Just add a pop up tent and some concessions to turn it into a party with friends and neighbors to celebrate birthdays, back to school, 4th of July, or just summer! For some ideas, check out our blogs on outdoor games and concessions.
If you can’t decide which of these “staycations” to embark on this summer, why not try a few, or try them all? Or, if you have some great “staycation” ideas of your own, we would love to hear about them!