Austin Journals

Yeehaw Austin

An April 2003 trip to Austin by oogabooga

Carlos  N Charlies Photo, Austin, Texas More Photos
Quote: The REAL Austin. Where the hotspots are and what to avoid. From a non-Texan perspective.
Quote:
Right in the middle of the happening South Congress area, this is one of the finest boutique hotels in the South. Geared towards urban hipsters and young creative types, this 14-room space is the coolest place to spend the night in Austin. The property is very modern, with a nice pool and bar in the center. At nighttime, the bar is one of the most interesting places in town to have a drink -- or six. On Thursday nights, the hotel shows movies in the parking lot on a large outdoor screen. In your room, you can borrow CDs or videos from the well-stocked library. Budget tip: There are four rooms in the hotel that share a washroom, but they are less than half the price of the ...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on April 29, 2003

Hotel San Jose
1316 South Congress Avenue
Austin, Texas 78704
(512) 444-7322

Sampaio's Restaurant

Restaurant | "Sam Paio"

Quote:
This is without a doubt the best restaurant in Austin, especially considering the cost. It is a very unique family-owned restaurant that offers a nice ambience, great food, and excellent service. Half of the menu concentrates on Brazilian food while the other half is mostly Tex-Mex fare. The Brazilian entrées are phenomenal, especially the Beef Cebelado. For appetizers, try the cheese bread . . . and top of the meal with a specialty drink, such as a mojito or a caprihaina. The food was presented nicely -- great portion sizes and easy on the wallet. If you have not been here yet, you absolutely MUST go.

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on April 29, 2003

Sampaio's Restaurant
2809 San Jacinto Blvd
Austin, Texas 78705
(512) 469-9988

Iron Cactus

Restaurant

Quote:
The Iron Cactus is the quintessential southwestern cuisine spot. They have many strong dishes, a good atmosphere, and arguably the best tequila menu in the entire country.

They have two locations, one located on 6th street and the other located in northwest Austin near the arboretum -- both are excellent, but different experiences. The rooftop patio at the downtown location is cooled off by jets of cold mist and provides an excellent opportunity to view the sights and sounds below, especially on a busy Saturday night.

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on April 29, 2003

Iron Cactus
606 Trinity St.
Austin, Texas 78701
(512) 472-9240

Carlos ' N Charlie's

Restaurant | "Carlos N' Charlies"

Carlos ' N Charlie's Photo, Austin, Texas
Quote:
This is the only franchise of the large Mexican Carlos n' Charlies restaurant group in the USA. This chain also includes such vacation hotspots as Señor Frogs and Carlos O'Briens. The excellent location just off of highway 620 on Lake Travis adds to the atmosphere of this restaurant and bar. Overlooking the lake and a marina full of boats, this place kinda makes you feel like you're on vacation, even though you're still in town. There's live music on most nights in the bar area. There's a good seperation between the bar and the restaurant, so it's possible to have dinner without being disturbed by the music next door. There is a happy hour that runs all afternoon from 2 un...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on May 4, 2003

Carlos ' N Charlie's
5973 Hiline Road
Austin, Texas 78734
(512) 266-1685

Ritz Pool Hall

Attraction | "The Ritz Pool Hall"

Quote:
The Ritz is one of the gems of 6th Street. This is a cheap place to play pool and drink. There's nothing fancy about this place . . . but that's the whole appeal. In the times that I have gone here, I've met the most unique mix of people from squeegy kids to college students. How much you make doesn't matter here. What you look like doesn't matter here. How you dress doesn't matter here. It's just a simple place to have a few drinks and play some pool.

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on April 29, 2003

Ritz Pool Hall
320 E 6th St
Austin, Texas 78701
(512) 474-2270

Sky Lounge

Attraction

Quote:
I don't really know why I like this place. Oh wait, I do. It's because the best looking girls in Austin hang out here.

This nightclub is similar to the kind of thing that's a-dime-a-dozen in larger cities. The music's not current enough and the trendiness factor is lacking . . . but it's a great place to go and check people out.

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on April 29, 2003

Sky Lounge
416 Congress Ave
Austin, Texas 78701
(512) 477-3151

Mozart's Coffee Roasters

Attraction | "Mozart's"

Quote:
This is a great coffee shop and dessert place. It is located on Lake Austin and offers great moments of relaxation and tranquility. Local musicians perform here sporadically and it's a great place to study if you're into that sort of thing.

This is also an excellent place to check out for desserts, since they have a wide variety of cheesecakes and pastries. A tad expensive for a simple coffee shop, but at least it's not a Starbucks (for now).

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on April 29, 2003

Mozart's Coffee Roasters
3825 Lake Austin Blvd
Austin, Texas 78703
+1 512 477 2900

Quote:
The Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum is a wonderfully designed space. It effectively takes the visitor on a tour throughout the history of this proud state. The highlights include the exhibits discussing the oil industry and the civil war. This museum is particularly interesting for non-Texans like myself. It is truly amazing the amount of importance this state has had on the world. There are two theaters in the museum. One is an IMAX that is definitely worth checking out, although it is identical to most of the other IMAX theaters in museums throughout the world. The other is a State of Texas theater that is definitely not worth having a look at. Both theatres have a seperate ...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on April 29, 2003

Texas State History Museum
1800 North Congress Ave
Austin, Texas 78705
+1 512 936 8746

SXSW (South By SouthWest)

Attraction | "SXSW"

Quote:
This annual festival has gotten larger and larger over the years. In its current incarnation, it is arguably the most important new music festival in North America. There are literally several hundred musical acts in many different genres that invade Austin during the third week in March. Some acts are already very prominent while others are still trying to break into the buisness. The bars and clubs are filled to the brim with entertainment lawyers, music journalists, and L.A.-types. The downside, of course, is that all of the usually free venues carry a steep cover charge during the festival week. You can buy a wristband for $125 that allows you entry to all of the venues prov...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on April 29, 2003

SXSW (South By SouthWest)
Various locations throughout the city
Austin, Texas 78765
+1 512 467 7979

Kayaking

Attraction

Quote:
This is one of the most affordable and enjoyable ways to spend a day in Austin.

First, drive to the city boat dock just past Barton Springs and under the Mopac Expressway. Then, park your car and rent a canoe, kayak, or paddleboat.

If you decide to go east on the river, you can kayak straight through the downtown area and see the sights, but in my opinion, the much better direction to head is west. When you head west, you see amazing homes overlooking the lake, and you get the feeling that you're not in the city anymore and just relax.

An excellent and highly recommended way to spend the day.

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on April 29, 2003

Kayaking
Below the mopac bridge over town lake
Austin, Texas

Austin Zoo

Attraction

Quote:
People think of San Diego, they think, "Wow, I really want to go to the zoo." When people think of Austin, they think, "Wow, Austin has a zoo?"

There's a reason for that.

Do not waste your precious zoo-going dollars at the Austin Zoo. They are missing . . . um . . . animals. Instead, take the hour-long drive to San Antonio, where they have one of the nicest zoos in the country.

Member Rating 1 out of 5 on April 29, 2003

Austin Zoo
Highway 290 and Rawhide Trail
Austin, Texas 78731
+1 512 288 1490

Mount Bonnell

Attraction

Quote:
A trip to the top of Mount Bonnell is a nice way to spend a couple of hours in the afternoon. But calling it a "Mount" is really just a good example of Texan bravado -- it's much more of a hill.

There are good views of the hill country and downtown Austin. At nighttime, the place becomes overrun with teenage makeout parties. At 10pm, everyone is shooed out of the park by the police.

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on April 29, 2003

Mount Bonnell
3800 Mount Bonnell Road
Austin, Texas 78702
+1 512 499 6700

Capitol Complex Visitors Center

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction | "Capitol Building"

Capitol Complex Visitors Center Photo, Austin, Texas
Quote:
It's a cliché, but the nicest site in Austin is the State Capitol Building. Made out of beautiful pink granite and rising 15 stories into the air, this building oozes history from every corner. It's also a completely free attraction. It is one of the most accessible public buildings in the nation with essentially unlimited access for the public, exceptions being the senators' offices and the floor of the house/senate during session. Since Texas is a big-money state, there are plenty of weasly lobbyists hanging around the building on weekdays, trying to influence a few votes here and there. The grounds of the building are worth a look as well, with several interesting stat...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on May 7, 2003

Capitol Complex Visitors Center
112 East 11th St
Austin, Texas 78701
+1 512 305 8400

Austin Bats

Attraction | "The Famous Bats of Austin"

Austin Bats Photo, Austin, Texas
Quote:
A really unique way to spend an evening in Austin is to head down to the Congress Avenue bridge around sundown. Here, the world's largest urban bat colony sleeps all day and swarms out at sunset. There are over 1.5 million bats living under the bridge, and each and every night, they leave to search out food. You can park your car at the Austin American Statesman building on Congress Avenue after sundown for no charge, then you can either grab a seat on the grass or go up onto the bridge in order to watch the bats and take photos. Usually, later in the summer, the bats come out a bit earlier, making them considerably easier to see. The pictures attached to this report do not show any ...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on May 7, 2003

Austin Bats
Congress Bridge
Austin, Texas 78724