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Going On A Road Trip From Dallas? Here Are Some Tips

road trip texas I10

Going around the United States is best done by car. There are so many things to see and places to visit that you can’t do with public or commercial transportation. One of the most splendid places to base your road trip in is Dallas, the third-largest city in the state of Texas. The city is a well-known transit hub and a captivating tourist destination in its own right. Dallas is also an excellent choice as a base due to its location and the countless options to get out on the road to explore the rest of the city, the state of Texas, and beyond. Having a vehicle to go around is just half the fun of traveling, preparations and planning make the other half. Read on for some tips to make your Dallas-based road trip an enjoyable and memorable experience.

Ditch the Car, Get an RV

No, it doesn’t mean abandoning or leaving your car for good. You only need to leave your car in your garage for a while and choose a vehicle better suited for long and laid-back road trips – an RV.  There are plenty of reasons why renting an RV in Dallas is an excellent idea. One is the condition and maintenance of the car. RV rentals make sure that their vehicles are roadworthy, well-maintained, and safe to drive for their customers. You are saved from the hassle of getting your car maintained and tuned up for the trip. Comfort is another compelling reason why you should rent or use an RV for road trips. RVs have spacious interiors, with some are even large enough to be temporary or permanent mobile homes. If you are planning to go on a road trip for several days and will be bringing a lot of stuff with you, the RV is the perfect vehicle to handle all your essential road trip stuff and even things you buy along the way. Rental RVs are also insured and 24/7 roadside assistance is either included or added as an affordable add-on, depending on the RV rental. Just the inclusion of insurance is enough to make you feel assured that the RV rental is also looking out for the safety of their customers. 

Plan Your Road Trip Itinerary

Before you embark on a road trip, you have to determine first the places and destinations you will be going to. You will also need to have a map or GPS to find the best routes to take. If you are going on a trip for a limited time, choose the shortest routes toward your destinations, the best time to hit the road before rush hours or traffic builds up, and pick the places where you might stopover to rest or sleep. If you have a long and flexible road trip schedule, choose routes where you can pass by multiple scenic or tourist spots. If you want to explore cities and towns up close, you can take the freeways to enjoy the urban sceneries and if you don’t mind some unplanned stopovers or detours. Whatever your planned itinerary is, whether it is a weekend trip or a long road trip, remember to put safety first and include the projected duration that you will be driving. Plot the locations where you will be stopping to rest or sleep. You need to rest for at least 15 minutes every two hours to revitalize your concentration and energy for driving, so circle out the probable areas where you might stop and rest. 

roadside coffee shop There can be a possibility that you may not be able to reach your plotted locations due to various reasons, so make it a point to have a backup plan or to decide quickly on alternative places to rest or stay for the night. Also, make sure to limit your total driving time to 8 hours and base your itinerary on that projected time. Stick to the planned schedule to ensure you stay alert on the entire trip and to avoid the risks associated with driving fatigue. It can be tempting to drive longer than 8 hours or drive without breaks, but reaching your destination safely is your top priority.    

It’s Okay to Start with a Short Road Trip

Nothing is embarrassing about calling a 65-mile drive from your base a road trip. There is no clear-cut or unspoken rule about what a road trip is or is not. While most people often think of road trips as long-distance travel by car, in a general sense, a road trip is essentially any leisurely travel or journey in your car. If it is your first time going on a road trip, you can start with a short journey to a familiar destination to build your confidence and get a hang of the road trip experience. 

Texas is a large state and its cities cover a large area. If you are basing your road trip in Dallas as a first-time road-tripper, you can choose the nearest cities or towns. Better yet, you don’t even have to leave the city and go on a road trip within it instead. As mentioned before, Dallas in itself is a superb tourist location and road trip destination. Whatever the purpose of your road trip is, Dallas has interesting places to visit and catch your fancy. If you like to get closer to nature, Dallas has various RV campgrounds and RV parks. Ray Roberts Lake State Park and Vineyards Campground are just some of the places where you can go to explore the wildlife and go biking, hiking, fishing, swimming, boating, and much more. If you are looking for fun, excitement, and attractions, Six Flags Over Texas, Legoland Discovery Center, and Sea Life Aquarium are fantastic places to visit. If you are interested in fairs and local products, the State Fair of Texas gives an extra-large serving of what you are looking for. There are also arts and crafts, games, fundraising events, livestock exhibits, rides, and much more to discover at the fair.       

If you want to start venturing outside of Dallas but not far from it, there are plenty of towns and cities within a 20-mile radius. Grand Prairie, Duncanville, and Farmers Branch are some cities you can check out. Also, some of the nearest towns within this radius are Highland Park, Cockrell Hill, and Hutchins. If you are looking for the nearest major cities to Dallas, Arlington (20.5 miles) and Fort Worth (32.1 miles) are your best bets. If you have the weekend freed up for road tripping, you can check out these nearby towns and cities to have a great start with your road trip. As you build more confidence in taking a road trip, you can venture farther outside of Dallas to Austin, Houston, or El Paso or nearby cities within neighboring states, such as Oklahoma City in Oklahoma, Little Rock in Arkansas, New Orleans in Louisiana, or Albuquerque in New Mexico. After that, a wider expanse and more cities and states in the United States are waiting to be explored.New Mexico

Pack Sufficiently for the Trip

The topic of stuff to bring on a road trip can be subjective and best left to the preference of the traveler. However, one thing that can be agreed on is to have enough essential supplies to last through the whole trip. As a responsible driver, never go on a road trip without a driver’s license, car registration, and insurance. Other must-bring items should include an extra car key, a car manual, a flashlight, and AAA membership or roadside assistance contact numbers. Whether you are packing light or loaded, make sure that you have enough toiletries, toothbrushes, toothpaste, utensils, and zippered plastic bags to name a few. Snacks will also come in handy when hunger strikes while driving far from any convenience store. Make sure to replenish your supplies at the places you stop by before going back on the road.

The More the Merrier

You can go on a solo road trip or with your family, friends, best friend, or special someone. While some people prefer to travel places alone on their road trips, one cannot deny that a road trip is more fun and engaging when you have other people accompany you and share memorable moments of the journey with you. Festivals, rides, attractions, and other activities from the road trip are better enjoyed with more people. Photos and videos are livelier when there is someone other than you included in the snaps or clips. Best of all, having one or more companions helps make your road trip safer. You have someone who will remind you to take a break, take turns in driving, and keep you alert on the trip.

Dallas is a versatile location for starting a road trip. Geographically located in the middle part of the southern United States, the areas to go around from this city are almost endless. The city itself holds scenic treasures and attractions as a great starting point for your road trip. With the tips shared here and your quest for fun and adventure, you are well on your way to having an enjoyable road trip and more road adventures in the future.prada art store texas

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Fun Ways To Spend Your Time During Your Girls’ Trip To Dallas

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You haven’t done much of anything since the start of the pandemic except work, run a few errands, and lounge around the house. Now that more people are getting the COVID-19 vaccines and states have loosened restrictions, you’re ready to start enjoying life again. What better way to kickstart your summer than to round up your closest girlfriends and head to Dallas for a few days? 

Why Dallas, TX? 

Known as a great destination with something for everyone to enjoy, you guys are sure to have a blast in the capital of Texas. The city’s exciting history, diverse culture, bustling art scene, excellent food, and plenty of outdoor activities ranging from state fairs to music festivals make it the ideal place to reconnect with your friends and have a good time. Not to mention, it’s very budget-friendly compared to other major cities in the country.

What To Do in Dallas

If you’re planning a girl’s getaway to Dallas this summer, here are a few things you might consider exploring while you’re there. 

Grab A Few Drinks

After resting up from your flight into DFW, the best way to start your girl’s getaway is with a few drinks. Hotspots like Blue Goose or Gloria’s are well-known for their margaritas and tequila, but there’s no shortage of bars in Dallas’ diverse neighborhoods. Looking for the young adult hip scene? Check out McKinnley Avenue in Uptown. If you prefer something more laid back, Lower Greenville is the place to visit. 

Share A Meal 

Not interested in painting the town just yet? You can always meet the girls for some good grub and conversation. Whether you’re in the mood for Tex-Mex, barbecue, southern comfort foods, or excellent street food, Dallas has several restaurants to suit your tastebuds. There’s Elaine’s Kitchen which has excellent Jamaican cuisine. HG Supply Co is ideal if you’re into clean eating. If you happen to be planning a trip to Dallas this summer, you might be fortunate enough to attend the Taste of Dallas Food Festival for a variety of meal options.veggie tacos

Get A Makeover

There’s nothing like a makeover to reunite friends. You spend a few hours catching up on each other’s lives while you get the best treatment from some of Dallas’s best beauty and style professionals. You can find the perfect spots for manicures, pedicures, makeup, hair, and lash Dallas area that will give you the transformation of a lifetime. 

Go Shopping

What’s the best way to complete a new makeover? Go shopping for some trendy fashions. If you’re going to go anywhere in Dallas to shop, you must visit the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. The area is packed with popular shopping centers like the Neiman and Marcus flagship store, North Park Center, Highland Park, and more. Be sure to wear some comfortable shoes as the area has more places to shop per capita than any other city in the country. 

Explore The Arts

Now that you’re all dolled up, why not spend the day exploring Dallas’ art culture? Head downtown to the Dallas Art District and be amazed at the many museums, galleries, and exhibits spanning about 19 city blocks. You’ll find everything from contemporary pieces to outdoor exhibits to pop-up shops and graffiti walls. 

Get Outdoors

You can’t end your girl’s getaway in Dallas without spending some time outdoors. The city is home to some of the most beautiful parks in Texas. While Klyde Warren Park and White Rock Lake are the most popular outdoor spaces, there are several other parks, hiking trails, picnic areas, and more for you guys to take advantage of. 

You’ve been cooped up in the house doing the same thing for more than a year now. It’s time to get back out there and experience the things you’ve missed. Call the girls up and start planning a getaway to Dallas, Texas, this summer. As you can see from the list of activities above, there’s a ton of things for you guys to get into as you reconnect and have a good time.

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Why You Should Mess With Texas and Visit Marfa

Marfa Prada Store

When it comes to traveling to Texas, the sky’s the limit. It’s no wonder, because everything truly is bigger in Texas, including travel adventures. The Lone Star State offers endless opportunities for exploration and pleasurable delights. From sampling unique wines in Wimberley, horseback riding at the Dixie Dude Ranch in Bandera, or “keeping it weird” in Austin…Texas is a full-on showdown destination that is sure to please every traveler’s appetite.

Texas is vast. It is multicultural. It dishes out jaw-dropping natural landscapes and equally impressive hotspots that serve up sass, style, and panache. So with all the expansive possibilities Texas presents, why would you want to visit a tiny town sporting a funky name like Marfa with a population of 1,800? There is no short answer to this question. That’s why this post lays out all the reasons to visit Marfa, Texas (and why you will love every minute of your trip there).

Getting the Lay of the Land in Marfa, Texas

Marfa enjoys sunny scenes and warm, arid conditions. It is situated atop the Chihuahuan Desert plateau in the Trans-Pecos region of far West Texas. Marfa is surrounded by the majestic Davis Mountains and breathtaking Big Bend National Park. The rustic, rocky terrain is peppered with prickly pear cactus and mesquite trees. The totality of the landscape is bold, stark, stunning, and thoroughly wild.the road to Marfa

Multicolored stone, arid breezes, and technicolor sunsets make Marfa a feast for the senses. But be warned, this is a deep desert country. It can get super-hot and dry, so don’t forget to pack sunscreen, lip balm, and vitamin C body cream because you’ll need it to stay moisturized while enjoying the exquisite desert scenery.

Like many tiny towns in Texas, Marfa started out as a watering hole for various commercial railways in the late 1800s. This sleepy little town was mostly cattle ranchers and tumbleweeds until, like a phoenix from the ashes, Marfa rose to reinvent itself into a magnet for artists, foodies, musicians, and celebrities.

Things to do in Marfa, Texas

Art: Today, Marfa is heralded for its thriving art scene. This is just one aspect among many that make Marfa ironic and quirky. In the middle of seemingly nowhere, the art scene in Marfa has attracted international attention and has been a host to celebrities such as Anthony Bordain, Natalie Portman, and Beyoncé Knowles. Marfa owes its artistic dustup to New York native, Donald Judd, a minimalist artist who was so inspired by the enchanting desert beauty of Marfa, he established a solid art community there in the 1970s. Since then, the quiet town has become a mecca to creatives and art enthusiasts around the world.   

Entertainment: From April to November, Marfa kicks up its heels to locals and tourists alike with colorful festivals featuring jam-tastic live music, scrumptious food, and incredible entertainment. Local bars such as the Lost Horse Saloon and Bar Saint George are also venues for eclectic live music, fantastic foodie delights, and bodacious boot-scootin fun.Marfa ArtLights: As if Marfa isn’t enchanting enough with its wild-west charm, sizzling art scene, and awe-inspiring views…it ups its game with a phenomenon known locally as the “Marfa Mystery Lights.”  These are random, eerie spheres of light that grace the desert landscape. Sightings of these spectral lights have been recorded as early as 1883 when a lone cowhand witnessed bedazzling, sparkling lights while herding his cattle home. Since then, there have been many sightings. But there is a caveat. Nobody knows when exactly the lights show up in Marfa. There is no distinct season or weather condition that conjures the illuminations, but that’s part of the intrigue!

Soaring: Get a bird’s eye view of Marfa while coasting cirrus-streaked skies in the seat of a glider! Marfa’s wind conditions and dry air is the perfect storm for gliding and soaring the scenery 2,000 feet in the air. If you’re not a big fan of heights or hanging out in high altitudes in a glider, that’s okay. Glide vicariously by visiting Marfa’s National Soaring Museum which is a goldmine of history and a treasured landmark for the town.

If you get a kick out of quirk and are looking for a walk on the idiosyncratic side of travel, then Marfa is sure to satisfy your taste for the eccentric. The polarizing contrast of the wild west frontier with the contemporary art scene is a merry mix sure to please. Whatever your travel fancy may be, Marfa will surely aim to quench your thirst for an authentically unique travel experience.visit Marfa

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48 Hours in Austin, Texas

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During my first Austin trip, I didn’t really know what to expect. My plan was to spend a month in the capital of Texas, hoping this would give me a good amount of time to explore the city whose slogan is ‘Keep Austin Weird’. Even though this slogan had me suspect that I’d love the city, I had no idea just how much I’d fall for Austin.

With dozens of live music venues, excellent craft beer, countless food trucks, plenty of outdoors activities, especially along the river, and an overall laid-back attitude, the city won me over during my month there.

Because I had the advantage of being able to spend four full weeks there, I took my time to explore every nook and cranny of the city, but I know that most people spend only a weekend in Austin. And while I’ve already shared 33 Things I Love About Austin, I wanted to give you a more structured overview of how to spend 48 hours in Austin. And while this article outlines a weekend in Austin, the itinerary also works on weekdays.Austin itinerary

My Austin Itinerary

Here is my perfect weekend in Austin for you – including places to eat and drink, what to do and what to see on a first-time Austin trip:

Friday, 2pm: Welcome to Austin

Luckily, nearly all Austin hotels are conveniently located downtown, which makes it easy to explore the city on foot. If you’re not hugely into walking, I recommend you take advantage of Austin’s easy-to-use bike sharing system. The shared bikes, called B-Cycle, have a great ‘Weekender Pass’, which gives you three full days access to the bikes for only $15 and includes an unlimited number of free rides up to 60 minutes (a 24-hour pass is $12). The best way to use the B-cycles is to download the free app – that way you have an overview of all available stations around town.

There are also several electric scooter companies in Austin, if you prefer those over a bicycle. You can rent them from Bird, Lyft, Lime, Jump or Spin. The cost is usually $1 to unlock and then around 15 cents a minute (prices may vary slightly). I recommend downloading several apps so that you have options.

Start with a ride around Downtown to get your bearings: 6th Avenue is the main drag, especially at night, lined with cool (and some cheesy) bars and restaurants. Congress Avenue runs from the State Capitol all the way down to the Colorado River. Once you get to the river, follow the bike path alongside it.

If you turn left, you can ride all the way to Ladybird Lake and beyond (go either until Frontage Road Bridge or Pleasant Valley Road Bridge, cross the bridge and circle back to Congress Avenue Bridge). If you turn right, you will get to Zilker Park and get superb views over the Downtown skyline. Stop at Doug Sahm Hill in Butler Park (on the other side of the river) for the best skyline views.austin itineraryIf you don’t want to rent a bike or take an electric scooter, you can easily walk the same route, it will just take you a little longer. A good walk would be across the Congress Avenue Bridge, turning left on Roy and Ann Butler Hike & Bike Trail, walking through Butler Park, crossing the river via the Lamar Street Pedestrian Bridge, and walking back to where you started on the north side of the river.

Food trucks in Austin

Reward yourself for your walk or cycle tour with your first taste of Austin’s famous food truck scene. I recommend Valentina’s TexMex BBQ (11500 Manchaca Road), Tommy Want Wingy (94 Rainey St), and Chi’lantro (Asian-fusion comfort food; 823 Congress Ave).

If you have a B-cycle or a car, venture a little further and try one of the tasty food trucks on Austin’s East Side, for example East Side King Thai Kun (1816 E 6th St), Micklewait Craft Meats (BBQ meats; 1309 Rosewood Av), or The Peached Tortilla (banh mi tacos & other Asian-fusion fare; 5520 Burnet Rd #100). Alternatively, head to the food truck park on S 1st Street and W Live Oak Street, where you find Venezuelan, Indian, Baja Mexican & Japanese Fusion, and desserts. Vegans will love Arlo’s (900 Red River Street).austin food truck

5pm: A Stroll along South Congress

It is almost time to go out and explore Austin’s nightlife – start with a stroll over S Congress Ave Bridge, which connects Downtown with SoCo, short for South Congress, where you will find a number of independent shops, restaurants and bars, and some fantastic old-fashioned neon signs.

SoCo is the neighborhood to find some of Austin’s most eclectic shops, like Uncommon Things, Lucy in Disguise with Diamonds, Allens Boots (with over 4,000 boots, definitely peek inside!), Monkey See Monkey Do, and the Yard Dog gallery. If you have a sweet tooth, treat yourself to a cupcake at the Hey Cupcake food truck, to some ice cream at the famous Amy’s Ice Cream shop or stock up on candy at the epic Big Top Candy Shop.

There are some great murals down here as well – look out for the Willie Nelson mural and the I Love You So Much graffiti. Güero’s Taco Bar is a good place for a sundowner margarita, and June’s is a wine bar with a nice patio.austin congress ave bridgeMake sure to walk back towards Congress Bridge in time for sunset, because that’s when – between March and October – Austin’s most unique and free show begins: the flight of the bats.

7 – 8pm: The Flight of the Bats

Since 1980, Mexican free-tailed bats have made their homes in the concrete crevasses of the bridge, and over 1 million bats fly out of there at sunset every night. It’s a rare spectacle to see, especially considering you’re right in the heart of a big city. In fact, this bat colony is the largest urban bat colony in the world! You can either watch the flight of the bats from the top of the bridge or from a big grassy spot near the river below. Be warned: This space fills up quickly. Witnessing this incredible natural phenomenon was one of the highlights of my Austin trip.austin flight of the bats

9pm: Bar-hopping along Historic Rainey Street

Just north of Congress Ave Bridge is Rainey Street, a street lined with historic bungalows that are now home to some of Austin’s trendiest bars.

You can either opt for a food truck dinner – there are several on Rainey Street, for example: Art of Tacos, or the tasty Via 313 Pizza Truck behind Craft Pride, Boca inside the Container Bar, or Big Fat Greek Gyros – or you could do a fancy dinner just around the corner from Rainey Street, at what is one of the hottest tickets in town these days: Geraldine’s, a contemporary gourmet restaurant inside the fabulous new Hotel Van Zandt. If you want to treat yourself to a fancy dinner during your 48 hours in Austin, Geraldine’s is the perfect spot. Make sure to reserve in advance.

End your first night in Austin by bar hopping until you can’t keep your eyes open anymore. Places worth stopping at are Blackheart, Banger’s Beer Garden (with over 100 beers on tap), Craft Pride and the Container Bar, which is made out of shipping containers.Austin itinerary

Saturday, 9am: Brunch in Austin

There are several excellent brunch spots in Austin, but my favorite is 24 Diner (600 N Lamar) which serves solid portions of all your brunch favorites and special treats like their sweet potato hash, or a waffle sandwich. Mimosas are only $3.95 and brunch cocktails start at $7. austin 24 dinerIf you have to wait in line (which you most likely will, especially if you’re spending a weekend in Austin instead of visiting on a weekday), head to Waterloo Records a couple of doors down to check out some new releases. Waterloo is a great old fashioned vinyl store, which are hard to find these days (but don’t be surprised to see CDs here, too).

If you’re a Whole Foods fanatic, you have to check out the Whole Foods flagship store after breakfast, which is located just across the street from 24 Diner. The 80,000 sq. ft market is more than just your regular Whole Foods – there’s a bar, a wine bar, an eatery, even a makeup counter. Plus a bunch of products that you can only get here.umlauf sculpture garden

11am: Street Art Heaven in Downtown Austin

Hope Outdoor Gallery is just a couple of blocks from 24 Diner and is a vast outdoor graffiti park – a must-see for street art lovers! The colorful walls are the remainder of an abandoned building, and street artists are allowed to leave their mark here. It is basically an ever-changing outdoor gallery, and you’ll probably be able to see some artists at work during your visit. If you climb all the way up to the top of the hill (the building ruins sit on the side of a hill) you also get some nice views over Austin. For street art lovers, this is a must-visit spot an Austin trip!

If you’re not into street art, head to the small, yet beautiful Umlauf Sculpture Park ($5 admission) near Zilker Park instead.Austin Hope Outdoor Gallery

1pm: Food Truck Lunch in Austin

After your filling brunch, you probably won’t be all that hungry yet, but there’s always room for a small snack from a food truck or for a couple of Torchy’s Tacos. I’ve already given you some food truck recommendations, but for more ideas check out 20 Essential Austin Food Trucks and The Best Food Trucks And Food Trailers In Austin. tacos austin

3pm: Time for Culture in Austin!

Austin has a number of places to get your culture nerd on: there are several top-notch museums (Blanton Museum Of Art, Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum, The Contemporary Austin, Mexic-Arte Museum) – pick the one that best fits your personal interests. The Guardian has a great overview of the 10 best museums in Austin, my personal favorites were the art museums. If you’re not spending the weekend in Austin, but visiting the city during the week, make sure to look up opening times.

And then there’s also the Texas State Capitol, an imposing red granite building that is only second in total size to the National Capitol in DC (it is even 15 feet taller than the one in DC!), which can be visited in a free half-hour guided tour (note that the last tours on Saturdays start at 3.30pm).Austin Culture

6pm: BBQ Dinner in Austin

Austin is famous for its BBQ scene and you have to try at least one barbecue joint on a Austin trip. Franklin’s (900 E 11th St) is the most famous one, but the notoriously long lines there can make it difficult to fit it into a short visit, so here are some alternatives: Kerlin BBQ (1700 E Cesar Chavez St, Austin ); La Barbecue (1906 E Cesar Chavez St), Freedmen’s (2402 San Gabriel St); Terry Black’s BBQ (1003 Barton Springs Rd); Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew (6610 N Lamar Blvd) and Lambert’s Barbeque (2nd Street District).austin bangers beer garden

8pm: Sunset Drinks in Austin

For sunset drinks, head up to one of the rooftops. For great views and al-fresco cocktails, head to The Hangar Lounge (318 Colorado St), The Market & Tap Room (319 Colorado St, Austin) or The Handle Bar (121 E 5th St).hangar lounge

9pm: Live Music in Austin

You can’t visit Austin without getting a taste of its wonderful live music scene. Austin has something for everyone – country, rock, jazz or blues – whatever you’re into, pick up a TimeOut and see who is playing where on the weekend you are in town. If you are spending the weekend in Austin, you’ll find live music in all of the following venues, if you’re visiting during the week, check their websites to see if there’s live music on the day(s) you’re visiting. The Continental Club on South Congress is one of the most popular and oldest venues, Antone’s is best for blues, and The Broken Spoke is great for two-step, The White Horse for country and then there’s the Red River Music District with venues like Stubb’s, Mohawk and Cheap Charlie’s.

Note: If you want to take a free Texas two-step dance class at the Broken Spoke, skip the sunset drinks and head to the Broken Spoke around 8pm. Lessons take place Wednesdays to Saturdays from 8.30pm to 9.30pm.

11pm: Drinks at a Speakeasy

If you aren’t tired yet, hit up one of Austin’s excellent speakeasy bars. The Midnight Cowboy, right on 6th Street, is probably the most popular one, and getting inside without a reservation is impossible (reserve a table online). A solid and less crowded alternative is Garage which is located in a parking garage and has a large selection of delectable cocktails.cocktails

Sunday, 9am: Texas-style Breakfast

Austin is known for its Tex-Mex cuisine and breakfast tacos. The more tacos you can fit in your Austin itinerary, the better! For some of Austin’s best breakfast tacos, head to El Primo (2011 S 1st St); Veracruz All Natural (1704 E Cesar Chavez St), Juan in a million (2300 E Cesar Chavez St), Pueblo Viejo (1606 E 6th St) or Taqueria Mi Trailita (5301 Manor Rd).

If you’re more in the mood for a full-on Tex-Mex breakfast, head to Curra’s Grill (614 E Oltorf St, Austin) for Huevos Curras (eggs over carne asada), chorizo con huevo and other scrumptious Mexican-inspired breakfasts, plus a number of creative Tex-Mex style cocktails. Trudy’s Texas Star (various locations) is another solid option for migas, chilaquiles, huevos motulenos or other Tex-Mex breakfasts. Drinks are only $2.50 until noon and $4.50 after that (until 4pm).

Bouldin Creek Café (1900 S 1st St) is the best vegetarian restaurant for breakfast.tex mex breakfast

11am: Kayaking on the Colorado River

After your brunch feast, it is time to burn some calories. If you’ve opted for a B-Cycle bike pass, take a bike and head to the river, where you can rent kayaks at Congress Kayaks ($15 per hour). It is now time to get out on the river, and an hour kayaking can bring you all the way to Lady Bird Lake (west) or to Zilker Park (east).

If kayaking is not cool enough for you, rent a stand-up paddle board at Live, Love, Paddle and paddle around Ladybird Lake ($20 per hour).

Going out on the river was one of my favorite activities in Austin, and the views over Downtown from the river were wonderful. If you head to Ladybird Lake, moving away from the Downtown buildings, you’ll notice how green Austin really is. Kayaking on the Colorado River

12pm: A Walk in the Park/Pool Time!

Finish your visit with a walk through Zilker Park, which, at 351-acres, is one of the biggest green spaces in Austin. If you are a fan of Botanical Gardens, it is well worth checking out the Zilker Botanical Gardens ($3). If you’re visiting during the summer months, pack your bathing suit and stop for a swim at the gorgeous Barton Springs pool, over three times longer than a football field and fed by the Barton Spring, the fourth largest natural spring in Texas. ($8 for non-residents, $3 for residents). If you visit Austin during the hotter months, you should definitely add Barton Springs to your Austin itinerary.Austin parks

2pm: Food Truck Time

After your swim or walk in the park, treat yourself to one last food truck meal before heading to the airport. Within walking distance from Zilker Park are the amazing sandwich truck Hey!…You Gonna Eat or What?, The Mighty Cone (fried meats & veggies in tortilla cones), and Kebabalicious (all three are located in 1720 Barton Springs Rd).gourdoughs

48 Hours in Austin: Practical Information

  • Lyft and Uber were banned in Austin, but there are several similar rideshare options – like the Austin-based non-profit rideshare Ride Austin, or Fasten. Update 2018: Lyft and Uber are both back in Austin!
  • If you’re on a budget, take advantage of bus No 100 which brings you Downtown from the airport in less than half an hour for only $1.75 (you’ll need exact change). A taxi, in comparison, is around $30.
  • The best way to get around if you don’t have a car and don’t want to rely on car sharing services is the B-cycle bike sharing program.
  • Austin’s public transportation system is pretty decent though, and a 24-hour bus pass is only $2.50 (a single ride is $1.25).
  • GoogleMaps directions worked well to show me bus routes and schedules, but you can also download the CapMetro app for the most accurate information and to buy tickets via the app.

48 hours in Austin

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Polaroid of the week: Street art in Deep Ellum, Dallas

Polaroid of the week

polaroid of the week usa texas dallas deep ellum street artI love it when I visit a place without any expectations and end up being pleasantly surprised. And I happened to visit one such place this month. A place I never even thought I’d visit: Dallas. In my head, Dallas was a big, personality-lacking, dull, corporate kind-of-city.

Instead, I found a city filled with interesting attractions, a fantastic restaurant scene, great bars, street art (even more than in much more alternative Austin!).

To be honest, I didn’t even plan to visit any other Texan cities while I was in Austin, but as so often, the opportunity to go up there for the weekend arose suddenly, and I jumped on it, because.. Why not? And I already began to think that I should’ve allocated more time to exploring Dallas when I, upon researching cool stuff to check out in Dallas, came across this list of 50 free fun things to do in Dallas of which I wanted to check out over a dozen! All I got during this brief weekend trip was a teaser of the city, and the desire to come back for more (which is luckily extremely likely to happen if I get to spend more time in Austin in the future, which I’d love) – especially after I came across my friend Adam’s comprehensive list of coffee shops, LGBT nightlife, restaurants and hipster things to do in Dallas.

I didn’t fit in much more than wandering around the Arts District, some of the historic downtown, Thanks-Giving Square, Fountain Place, Klyde Warren Park, and finally spending an evening of bar and restaurant hopping in Deep Ellum, but this was enough to make me realize that Dallas is much cooler than I thought it was.

Especially Deep Ellum, a trendy, young neighborhood filled with street art, great eateries and cool craft beer bars, impressed me, and I learned that the former warehouse district is also the epicenter of Dallas’ live music scene. The name Deep Ellum is an adaptation of southern black dialect for ‘deep Elm Street’ and you find 42 music venues here, ranging from blues to jazz to alternative music, thanks to which the neighborhood got the nickname ‘Little New Orleans’.

Thanks for surprising me in such a good way, Dallas, and I hope I’ll see you soon again – I promise, I’ll bring more time!

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Polaroid Of The Week: Austin, Texas

polaroidoftheweekphoto11

Last week I returned to one of my favorite cities in the U.S.: Austin! This was my second trip to Austin this year, after a long weekend in February (which was a great escape from the East Coast winter back then). My main reason for this visit was a travel conference, the inaugural TravelCon, which brought 80 speakers and 600 attendees to Austin, and which turned out to be fantastic. (You’ll definitely see me at the next one in Boston in June 2019). But I also wanted to make sure I’d have time to visit all my favorite food haunts and places around the city, and so I booked flights that allowed me to spend three days pre- and three days post-conference in Austin.

And how glad am I that I decided to fly in early – as soon as the conference started, I was busy attending workshops, talks and keynote speeches, attending meet-ups and parties, and bad weather arrived in Austin. While it was still hot and humid, it was overcast and rainy, and a post-conference day trip that I’d been very much looking forward even had to be canceled, because of the high level of bacteria in the water at Hamilton Pool, where I was supposed to go yesterday. But I guess that gives me an excuse for another trip to Texas – that along with my failed trip to Big Bend in 2016.

TravelCon, the conference that brought me to Austin last week, felt like a high school reunion. Among my fellow speakers were some of my favorite blogging buddies (Shannon of A Little Adrift, Dalene and Pete of Hecktic Travels, Laurence of Finding The Universe, Jeremy of TravelFreak) and fellow bloggers I’ve been following for several years but never had the chance to meet in person, such as Kiersten of The Blonde Abroad, AngieAway or Kristin of Be My Travel Muse. I got to catch up with Wandering Earl, Audrey and Dan of Uncornered Market, Cailin of TravelYourself, Alex In Wanderland, Amanda of A Dangerous Business, Matt of Expert Vagabond … to name just a few… and to listen to some inspiring talks, even though I missed the one I was most excited about – internet marketer Pat Flynn’s talk, the man I owe it to that I started making money blogging in the first place.

I missed his talk because it took place at the same time I spoke about LGBT Travel Blogging with my blogger BFF Adam. As every conference I ever went to, I left feeling motivated and inspired by the workshops and presentations of my peers, the success stories of the people I met, and the travel industry professionals I had the chance to network with. It still blows my mind to see how far the travel blogging industry has come since the early days in 2010, when Globetrottergirls was launched.

Before the conference started I managed to check out the latest street art at Hope Outdoor Gallery, I went to Barton Springs (a large swimming pool fed by natural springs), I watched hundreds of thousands of bats emerge from their hiding place underneath Congress Ave Bridge at sunset, I tried out Austin’s awesome new dockless bike sharing system and the new dockless scooters (I preferred the bikes because whizzing around Austin on the scooters was fun but I felt lazy) and I made sure to hit up all my favorite taco places (Veracruz Natural and Pueblo Viejo) as well as my beloved Gourdough Doughnuts. To offset all the tacos and other delicious food I ate, I did some stand-up paddle-boarding and I went for long runs along the Colorado River, finishing strong with a 28k (17 miles) run yesterday (I should probably mention that I am training for the New York marathon, I am not crazy!).

Every time I run along the river and Lady Bird Lake I marvel at how active Austinotes are – kayaking, standup paddle-boarding, running or cycling – and how many of them exercise with their dogs. And every time I see this it makes me think I should just get a puppy and move to Austin. But I am not ready to leave New York just yet – in fact, after enjoying the extension of my summer thanks to the glorious Texas heat, I am ready to return to New York and take in the fall colors before leaving for my next trip in a few weeks.

If you go:

Here’s my guide for 48 Hours In Austin

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Polaroid of the week: Sunset over Austin, Texas

Polaroid of the week

polaroid of the week usa texas austin sunsetI have to apologize if I’m getting on your nerves with my constant ravings about Austin – I’ve already sang the city’s praises here and here – and if that’s not enough, here are 33 things I love about Austin. I can’t stop gushing about Texas’ quirky capital. I arrived in New York last week and have been enthusiastically talking about how great Austin is ever since my plane touched down here, almost forgetting that I’m in my favorite city in the world.

But my last week in Austin was a great one, and I finally got the local introduction to the city that I had hoped for: from someone who had lived in Austin for many years and knew the city inside out. Together, we hit up some of East Austin’s coolest bars (including the fabulous Weather Up bar, which I learned had a branch in Brooklyn’s Prospect Heights neighborhood, just around the corner from where I lived two years ago – not sure how I had missed that place back then!), I was introduced to the magic of pinball arcades (I need to bring them to NYC – so much fun!), finally watched a movie at the Alamo Drafthouse while enjoying craft beers and a surprisingly tasty meal, wishing I could always enjoy restaurant service and booze in a movie theater (apparently Brooklyn is getting an Alamo Drafthouse in a few weeks – I am excited!), and had a midnight diner meal at the Magnolia Cafe which came to fame thanks to the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.

And then my last night rolled around, and my love affair with Austin came to an abrupt end. It ended on a high note, however: after the weather had been pretty bad all week, with lots of rain, thunderstorms and even flooding, the sun came out again for my last evening in town. I went for my usual evening run along the Colorado River and was rewarded with this sunset – making me feel all fuzzy and warm inside. Austin, I’ll definitely be back – thank you for the amazing time!

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Polaroid of the week: Wonderfully weird Austin

Polaroid of the week

polaroid of the week usa texas austin graffiti parkOh, Austin… I don’t even know where to start.. This city has swept me off my feet the minute I got here! Over the years, I’ve been told by several people that I should go and check out Austin because I’d like it and it was ,my kind of city’ (and that’s what piqued my curiosity and made me eventually come here!). And yes, they were absolutely right!

So what’s ‘Dani’s kind of city’, you’re asking? A green city. A city known for its giant food truck scene. A city filled with craft beer bars, some of which have over 100 (!!) beers on tap. A city with more live music venues I could possibly visit in a month. A dog friendly city where dogs have their own little beaches along the river. A city that has wonderfully weird celebrations such as Eeyore’s Birthday (an annual hippie festival that takes place on the last Saturday in April). A city where apartment complexes don’t only come with communal swimming pools and BBQ areas, but also with kayak parking lots and their own docks on the river. A city where there are more kayaks and SUPs on the river than cars on the road (who am I kidding, the traffic in Austin is definitely something that we need to work on.. but still: on weekends, there are so many kayaks and SUPs on the river that it seems like half of Austin is out on the Colorado River). A bike friendly city. With a bike sharing system, even! A city with a forest filled with hiking trails inside the city limits. A city with great weather – year-round! (New York, I still love you, but I sure could do without your winters…). A city with impressive art museums. A city with a thriving coffee shop culture. A city with a giant store dedicated entirely to hot sauce (help, I’m spending all my money here!). A city with a winery and a whole wine country nearby. A city with enough mouthwatering food to make me gain five pounds (and I’m not done yet!). A city where you people gather in a dive bar on Sundays to play chicken shit bingo. A city with hipster bars that make me think ‘Am I in Austin or am I in Brooklyn?’ A city with speakeasy bars. A city with the most decadent doughnuts I’ve ever seen. A city with street art.

Okay, about the street art: there is by far more street art in other cities I’ve been to, but pictured above is the Hope Outdoor Gallery, sometimes also referred to as Graffiti Park, where it is legal to spray graffiti. Every time I went there, I saw young girls practice their skills, couples working on pieces together, experienced graffiti artists adding a new mural. How many cities do have an area like this, where people can simply come and do graffiti work? In terms of being a ‘gallery’ – it’s a gallery where the collection of art changes constantly. And in addition to being an outlet for artists, this place also offers fantastic city views of Downtown Austin, especially when the sunset skies paint the buildings in warm golden colors.

Yes, it’s official: Austin, I’ve got a huge crush on you.

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Life Lately & Upcoming Travels: May 2016 Edition

May 2016

In my monthly round-ups, I am looking back at my travels over the past four weeks, what went well and what didn’t, and what’s next for me. 

Where I’ve been

This month I spent between three US cities I love: New York, Austin and Tucson. I also road tripped through the Southwest, visited Dallas for the first time, and spent time with some amazing people. Overall, a great month.May 2016 Arizona Texas

May Highlights

Spending nearly a month in Austin

Austin had been on my travel wish list for a while, but I always knew that I wanted to dedicate some time to exploring the city, not just a long weekend. After all, Austin is known to be a foodie city and I had more restaurant and bar recommendations than I could possibly check out in a month, let alone a weekend. And so I didn’t have to think long when a housesitting opportunity for nearly four weeks came up. And I am so glad that I spent so much time in Austin – it quickly became one of my favorite cities in the US, and I even could see myself returning for a longer stint (although I feel like I’m cheating on NYC just by saying this out loud!). You can read all the things that made me fall for Austin here: Polaroid of the week: Wonderfully weird AustinAustin Texas

First time SUPing

I had several people come visit me in Austin which meant: a good excuse to do a lot of sightseeing. We kayaked on the river, checked out some museums, hiked in the Barton Creek Greenbelt (basically a forest area in the city with lots of hiking trails), bar hopped our way through Austin’s nightlife districts, sampled food trucks, went on a wine tasting trip to the Texas Hill Country, watched the flight of the bats, and saw live music. But my favorite thing? Finally going stand-up paddling, something I’ve been wanting to try for a while now. And I had a blast! I am pretty sure that this is something I’ll be incorporating more often into my travels from now on, and I’m already contemplating where I could try it out on the ocean (which I feel will be much harder than on the calm Colorado River in Austin!). I think that this could happen in California later this year. And then: SUP yoga. Okay, who am I kidding here.. I don’t think I have a good enough balance for a headstand on a paddle board, but who knows.stand up paddling austin

Road tripping through the Southwest

I was supposed to fly from Tucson to Austin, but at the very last minute, the opportunity for a road trip with a travel buddy arose, and of course I jumped on it. We decided to break up the long drive (900 miles) into three days: to White Sands, New Mexico on the first day, Big Bend National Park the second day to hike the Santa Elena Canyon Trail, and then the remaining distance to Austin on day 3.

While this plan didn’t quite work out as planned (see What Went Wrong below), it was a fantastic road trip. I love the barren scenery of the Southwest, returning to White Sands was everything I hoped for, and I had great company – which was important, especially on the long drag of the I-10 from El Paso to Fredericksburg, which doesn’t have any road side attractions and is apparently the most boring part of the I-10 (which runs from coast to coast).Road Trip May 2016

Returning to White Sands

I loved the white dunes of White Sands when I visited this desert in the south of New Mexico in 2013, and I loved it the second time around, too. Even though I’d been here before, the dozens upon dozens of dunes, the bright white sand, the solitude and tranquility of this place – everything had me in awe again. And this time around, I got to experience two things I missed out on when I came here during my New Mexico road trip – I got to sled down some of the dunes, and I got to see the sunset. Would I visit White Sands a third time? Absolutely!White Sands New Mexico

Exploring Dallas

If you read last week’s Polaroid, you already know that Dallas wasn’t really on my list of must-see places, but I am not one to turn down an opportunity to check out a new city, and so I found myself in Dallas for a weekend – and pleasantly surprised by the city! Dallas, as it turns out, is way cooler than I thought it’d be, and I regretted immediately that I hadn’t allowed more time for my visit. I loved especially Deep Ellum, a trendy neighborhood with clubs, bars and great restaurants, and I hope I’ll get the chance to return one day to explore more of Dallas.Deep Ellum Dallas

What went wrong

Road trip fail

We were on our way to Big Bend National Park on Day 2 of our road trip, had finally left the quite boring I-10 and were driving towards the Mexican border when on the completely deserted road a Prada Store appeared on the right side. A Prada store in the middle of nowhere?! It had been about twenty minutes since we even saw the last house! Of course we had to stop to photograph the store. And that’s when I realized that my camera bag wasn’t in the car. We had driven for three hours from Las Cruces and were two hours from Big Bend. I knew exactly where I’d seen the bag the last time: Under the desk in our hotel room in Las Cruces. Shoot. What to do?!

prada art store texas
The Prada ‘store’ in the middle of nowhere

In the end, we decided to drive the three hours back to Las Cruces, because a) I didn’t want to go to Big Bend without my camera gear and b) I was afraid that my gear would get damaged or lost in the mail if i asked the hotel to ship it to Austin, and I had just replaced my lens that broke after the attempted robbery in Mexico City last month. And so we drove back to Las Cruces, on the most boring stretch of the I-10, only to drive it again, for the third time, the next day. Oh well.. I guess it could have been worse, and luckily we discovered it not only in Big Bend, which would have meant a five hour drive back to Las Cruces.

However – I kept thinking how lucky I was to not have lost all of my camera gear – this could have ended much worse than with an additional 6 or 7 hours in the car.road trip

A broken screen

You might have noticed by now that I’m just not very good with electronics.. I lose them, I break them, I washed them (a USB stick, not too long ago), and this month it was the screen of my beloved iPhone that had to stand in for this category. My phone falls .. often.. But this month, I finally managed to break the screen (something I hadn’t done in a while) – and not just crack the screen, but really break it.

broken iphone
Ouch.

Emotional roller coaster

…and that’s all I am going to say about it. Or to borrow Taylor’s words: ‘Heartbreak is the national anthem, we sing it proudly.’ That song was playing a lot on the radio this month and I could relate well to this line.heartbreak is the national anthem

Financial struggles

I don’t want to go into detail here either, but let’s just say that the life of a freelancer is not always as glamorous as it might seem. I get to travel a lot, yes, but trust me, I don’t make a lot of money, and this month was a tough one.May 2016 pics

What’s next for me

An unexpected change of plans

I am only spending a few days in NYC before I’m flying to Germany! I had no plans to visit my home country until October, but a sudden turn of events is bringing me back to Europe for a while. Unfortunately I can’t talk about the details just yet, but I hope I can shed some light on the recent events in next month’s round-up or in July at the latest. Let’s just say that this could be life changing, and I am not exaggerating here.

Of course I’m super bummed out about missing on some fun in the sun in NYC (y’all know by now how much I love my New York summers) but 1) I hope I’ll be back stateside soon and 2) it’s not the last time that there’s summer in NYC and 3) I already have a pretty packed calendar for Germany, and one confirmed visitor for a week of fun in Berlin, a place that I also happen to love in the summer!May 2016 NYC Austin

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