It’s January 14th which means that it has been approximately one month since Matt and I snuck away for a much-needed weekend, sans children. (Who doesn’t love the word “sans?”) When deciding where to go, we knew we needed the getaway, but with it being Winter and Christmas and all, there just weren’t a lot of great, easy OOT options that seemed worth it. On top of all of this, we knew we would likely also be getting away to celebrate our 10 year anniversary this spring, so we wanted to wait and pull out the big guns for that trip.
Then we had the bright idea for an Austin Staycation, and might I go ahead and say… BEST IDEA EVER. I’m convinced that Austin is THE coolest city on the planet. Unfortunately, I never get to fully appreciate its awesomeness because, well, I live here. But three nights and four days in downtown ATX without our beloved children, and I have a whole new love and appreciation for my city.
I wanted to share a little of the stuff we did (and loved) in case you’re ever in need of a weekend getaway yourself.
We stayed at the (relatively) new J.W. Marriott. We chose the JW primarily for location, and it did not disappoint. If you stay here, you are a hop (not even a skip or jump) away from Lady Bird Lake (and by Lady Bird Lake, I mean “Town Lake”). This is the main reason we chose it. But you can also walk to several restaurants AND entertainment. The hotel has its own restaurants and bar and a Starbucks to boot. This was perfect for the long, relaxed coffee drinking mornings which we hardly ever get to enjoy at home because… we have three kids. Best part? A view of the city on the lake side. Matt is a sucker for good views, and well this view didn’t suck.
We saw “White Christmas” at the Paramount Theatre. Confession: I’ve lived in ATX since 1990, and I had NEVER been to the Paramount. Let’s just say it was so fun to sit in an old-timey movie theatre, watching an old-timey movie, while it was cold outside and Christmas was in the air. Paramount is walking distance from JW, so this was also a win.
We ate at Quattro Gatti on Congress. This is probably more of a lunch place, but after White Christmas, we were STARVING and we had both put off dinner till later. Our mindset was get to food and get there fast. QG is right down the street from the Paramount, so we walked (kind of ran because we were cold and hungry)! This is a romantic, cozy, little Italian restaurant, and the food was delicious. Our only complaint was that we should have ordered more food. (Did I mention we were hungry?)
We ran town lake. Like three times… because, why not? We knew if the weather was nice we’d be making much use of our active-wear… and that we did. We considered doing other cool stuff like using the city bike rentals, but I was afraid I would run over someone or get hit by a car. Queen of catastrophic thinking. We probably could have been more adventurous and done some stand up paddle-boarding or something cool like that, but instead we just hit the trails like the hard core athletes we are. “We run because it’s fun,” or so Matt says.
We shopped downtown. There are some cool little shops around second, third and fourth street… now if only I could remember their names. We did a little Christmas shopping, but mostly enjoyed just walking around in the coolest, friendliest city on the planet.
We ate at Uchi. Because, duh. Uchi is always on the list. We considered dropping it so we could try some more new Austin restaurants, but we just couldn’t… and, well, we made the right choice. If you’ve never ordered the brussel sprouts, they are basically like vegetable-candy. And Uchi sushi will always be one of the most delightful ways to get your omega 3s. Brainpower. Gastro-power. Uchi-power.
We went to church at The Austin Stone (Downtown Campus @ Austin High School). If you are visiting Austin or if you live here, check out The Austin Stone. Since this is our church, but isn’t our usual church campus, we felt like we at a home away from home. They were playing Christmas music which always makes everything good even better, and if you’ve never heard it, Austin Stone’s rendition of JOY TO THE WORLD will make you want to jump and dance for joy.
We had brunch at Moonshine. I think this might have been Matt’s favorite part of the whole stay-ca. I think he was secretly starving from Friday PM till Sunday brunch, cause you know, we ran a lot, and well, sushi is delectable, but you have to order like 3000 pieces before you feel totally full. Plus, Matt has the metabolism of a hummingbird. (Look it up, hummingbird’s have high metabolisms.) Moonshine is soul-food. It’s home-cooking that makes you want to go home and take a long nap (which we did). At moonshine, you play a flat fee per person for Sunday brunch and then it’s all you can eat. And Matt made that worth it for both of us. If you live in Austin or if you are visiting, GO TO MOONSHINE BRUNCH. (Get there early, it’s popular.)
We went to an improv show at the Hideout Theatre. This was super-fun, and so NOT US, but I felt really cool and cultured and like MAAAAAYBE I was watching the next Tina Fey. The Hideout Theatre is hidden in the back of an obscure little Congress coffee shop… the whole situation made me feel like I had VIP status. Plus, Matt and I were super impressed at the creative thinking and skill it took for those entertainers to think on their feet! It was inspiring if I might say so.
We ate at the Odd Duck on South Lamar. AND we walked the entire two miles back to our hotel when we were finished, New York style. Y’all. The Odd Duck. I have no words. It was SO good. Once again, we were in way over our heads on the coolness factor, but not in a way where we felt like we were lame. I don’t feel like my words can adequately tell you about how delicious and interesting this restaurant is- you just need to go experience it for yourself. We will be back.
That’s prettttty much it. I hope this helps you if you ever come to Austin or even if you live here and want to experience the awesomeness of your city. Leave a comment if you have any other Austin recommendations, vacation recommendations, or if you have more questions!
Peace and LOVE,