At only three hours south of Dallas down I-35, the 200-mile journey into Austin brings with it the state’s past — this is its governmental center — and an edgy, artistic flow.
Austin, the live music capital of the state, is even better known for walking down the weird side. From Sixth Street to the Capitol, this city’s exciting activities abound. Explore the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, or learn the history of Dr. Pepper in a getaway that offers a little bit of everything. Walk alongside the edgy and the chic, the bold, the beautiful and always unique to learn why a stroll in the city of Austin is anything but ordinary.
Stop Along the Way
Dr. Pepper Museum
300 S. 5th St.
Waco, TX 76701
Price: $8 adults/$6 seniors/$4 students and children
Nestled in between Dallas and Austin sits Waco, home of Dr. Pepper and the perfect pit stop along the way to Austin. The Dr. Pepper Museum features 100,000 artifacts from Dr. Pepper past and present, from the creation of the refreshing drink served fountain style to a Dr. Pepper delivery truck to a colorful array of bottles and drink souvenirs from back in the day.
Where to Play
South Congress Avenue
Austin, TX 78704
South Congress Avenue, also known as SoCo, spills over with shops, boutiques, antiques, galleries, music venues and even the Congress Avenue bridge, where the local bat population fills the skies at night. From funny to fabulous, the gallery of goods, music and art found here is part of what makes Austin so unique. The first Thursday of each month is the best time to explore here. From the intersection of Barton Springs Road to Elizabeth Street, SoCo stores and venues stay open a little later that night to welcome in families, friends and fun with specials and displays that’ll please any crowd.
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
4801 La Crosse Ave.
Austin, TX 78739
Price: $9 adults/$7 seniors and students older than 13/$3 children 5 to 12
The legacy of former First Lady continues to bloom at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. Dedicated to the preservation of native plants and flowers and sustainable care of natural landscapes, the Wildflower Center educates, enthralls and enchants with its beauty, sophistication and hands-on conservation efforts.
Explore 6th Street
Austin, TX 78701
Culture, chords and cuisine: An eclectic mix of creative talents line the seven-block stretch, known as The Drag, along 6th Street near the UT campus. From the flashy to the far-out, live music of every genre fills the air. Variety and fearless fun bring folks from every walk of life come to hobnob with each other and get a taste for something new and reflective every night.
Tour Capitol Building
1100 Congress Ave.
Austin, TX 78701
Do not be too distracted by all the eccentric people, activities and celebrations in Austin. The Capitol has its appeal, too. With an elegant rotunda and gaze-worthy dome, the architecture alone makes the Capitol building worth the visit. Built in 1853, hearings and meetings continue here, and in certain instances are open to the public. Both guided and self-guided tours are available. For guided tours, please visit the website or call to make reservations.
Where to Eat
South Congress Cafe
1600 S. Congress Ave.
Austin, TX 78704
With a Texas spin on savory meals, South Congress Café embodies the complimentary flavors of Austin. Texas-raised quail and chipotle shrimp quesadillas washed down with a south congress sangria or an elderflower martini offer a savory, perfect boost for exploring the vibrant and active streets of Austin.
400A W. 2nd St.
Austin, TX 78701
Nominated for the 2010 James Beard Award for Best New Restaurant in the country, La Condesa brings Mexico City to Austin with its classic plates including hongos and huitlacoche, and pozole de res, as well as more experimental plates such as acelgas and perro perron — an all new breed of hot dog. The typical colorful décor and extensive tequila collection don’t hurt its appeal either.
Where to Sleep
1220 S. Congress Ave.
Austin, Texas 78704
Price: from $85
“So close yet so far out,” the Austin Motel prides itself in its eccentricity and personal service. The Austin Motel, a family run business, has withstood the ebb and flow of South Austin life for generations. Colorful, quaint and still modern, with poolside options, and even luxury rooms, Austin Motel remains an affordable an authentic choice.
Mansion at Judges’ Hill
1900 Rio Grande
Austin, TX 78705
Price: from $239/$15 per day parking
Goodall Wooten House is a taste of royalty. Also serving as a historical boutique and restaurant, Mansion at Judges’ Hill was built in 1900s. Each of its 10 guest rooms teems with elegant antiques, blushing with luxurious taste and refinement. Sophisticated on-site meals are designed by Chef Rob Snow, accompanied by wine, and enjoyed by all.
Kena Sosa is a freelance writer in Dallas. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.