After 8 strenuous weeks of accounting and plant propagation, we are finally to the week college students dream about all year long: Spring Break. To most it means taking week-long beach trips or going on cruises – mainly tropical destinations. For others it’s a once-in-a-lifetime trip to New York City or Los Angeles. The past two Spring Breaks for me have been spent in one of my most favorite cities in the country with one of my very favorite families.
Abby and I share a lot of things: a sisterhood in ZTA, our major and a love for all things floral, an extreme passion for Facebook food videos, and there’s a special place in both of our hearts for Pusheen the Cat. She’s my best friend and my Big Sister in the sorority, and I’m immensely thankful for her and her family for a lot of things, but for letting me experience Austin is a pretty big one. I have been on 3 separate occasions, the most recent being this past January.
This year I’m not spending Spring Break on a trip, so I decided to focus on my past trips. I have made a list of the top 10 things (in no order) that I think you should do while in or near Austin, TX.
- Find the wall murals; Austin, TXAustin is a very hip place; there are lots of street art and music festivals like SXSW. It’s very likely that you’re going to find a neat mural on just about every street corner! This is definitely a fun activity, and you end up with great photo-ops. They’re in crazy places, so don’t be afraid to hunt! Some of my favorites are the i love you so much, Willie for President, SMILE! (all on South Congress Street), Greetings From Austin, and You’re My Butter Half.
- Visit Magnolia Market at the Silos; Waco, TX
About 90 miles from Austin, this gem is worth the drive. Whether you’re a Fixer Upper fan or you’ve never heard of Chip and Joanna, this is the perfect place for the do-it-yourselfer or the gardenista (or maybe to just check off the bucket list). Smack in the middle of downtown Waco, The Silos create a completely different atmosphere; you almost forget where you are. Visit their Magnolia Market store to grab the latest innovative home decor you see on HGTV or head over to their garden store to purchase pots for your plants or trinkets for your fairy garden. There is also a bakery onsite with incredible treats. I had a lemon rosemary cupcake and it was heavenly – 10/10 would recommend to a friend. This really is a cool place to visit and relax!
3. Stroll through the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center; Austin, TX
If there is one thing I love, it’s a First Lady. The Wildflower Center combined that love with my love for horticulture, so it was a good day. This botanical garden does a beautiful job of preserving the landscape to show Texas in its natural state. I was able to see this during Blue Bonnet season, and it is something I will remember forever. Great location for pictures or a family picnic. There are several walking trails, complete with tree swings and activities for kids (or big kids). They also give a few admission discounts, one being to students with a valid ID, so make sure to come prepared!
4. Hike to the top of Mount Bonnell; Austin, TX
This is a beautiful lookout over the Colorado River. Beware: there are quite a few steps to get to the top, but they are paved and have a rail (for the most part) unlike our #5 suggestion. The view is definitely worth it!
5. Take pictures on the 360 Bridge Overlook; Austin, TX
I have been here on two separate occasions and both were breath taking. The overlook gives you a view of Lake Austin, the 360 Bridge, and the Austin skyline in the distance. The terrain is rougher to get to the top; there are natural rock ‘steps’. This is more of a hike up and back down, so wear comfortable and appropriate shoes.
6. Visit Gruene, TX
Pronounced like the color, this quaint little town packs a punch. From the historic water tower and the Gristmill to the countless antique shops that pepper the town, there is so much character. This is the perfect place for any collector, historian, or someone who just enjoys the simplicity of small-town life. I suggest grabbing a soda from the general store, or for my readers over 21, tasting wine at The Grapevine.
7. Kayak down Lady Bird Lake; Austin, TX
If you’re wanting to experience the outdoor beauty of Austin without having to hike it, kayaking is a great way to do that! Austin is a very active city, and there are various locations scattered up and down the lake where you can rent kayaks, paddle boats, and paddle boards.
8. Take a picture in the Blue Bonnets
I can imagine growing up in Texas must have been hectic around mid-March and April. Moms hauling their kids out to try and find a perfect patch of the state wildflower to then take the annual family photo. As strange as that may sound, I completely support the practice; this flower is truly beautiful. I found myself announcing when I spotted large patches several times, because it’s really hard not getting distracted. If you visit Texas in the Spring, a Blue Bonnet picture should be on your to-do list.
9. Eat at Chuy’s
The best Tex-Mex you will ever put in your mouth, hands down. This is what consumes my dreams, folks. Try the stuffed avocado at select locations, but the jalapeno creamy dip at all locations. Arrive early and plan to wait, because this place is a crowd favorite.
*NOTE: I drive nearly 1.5 hours from Starkville to Tuscaloosa just so I can eat Chuy’s.
10. Stop at Buc-ee’s
Buc-ee’s is a once-in-a-Texas-lifetime general store experience that you need to have before you leave the Lone Star State. These stores are only found in the state of Texas, but you will see signs advertising for the famous spokesbeaver in Florida. Buc-ees is known for their incredibly clean restrooms, snack varieties like their nuggets or the jerky bar, and of course everyone’s favorite beaver BFF – Buc-ee. There is also a very extensive amount of nontraditional gas station items, much like a roadside gift shop. With nearly 50 gas pumps outside, this store is something you have to see to believe.
Although I’ll be relaxing at home this year, I hope that you guys have a fantastic Spring Break season! Tell me about your adventures in the comments below.