Travel dates :: February 20 -26, 2016
After a restful few days at Thousand Trails Lake Conroe RV Resort we headed west to Austin, Texas! This has been on our short list for destinations since we hit the road. We had a 5-night reservation at McKinney Falls State Park and we were meeting up with two other traveling Airstream families – Advodna and FollowTheSun.Earth. We had never met these families before (in real life) but had followed each other on Instagram for sometime. . . you know, Insta-friends. That seems to be how we meet all of our favorite traveling families these days.
We were able to get three sites, all in a row, at McKinney Falls State Park within a quiet loop. The spots were HUGE with lots of space between our sites. The hook-ups were only water and electric with just a short walk to a clean bathhouse for showers. Cost was about $20/night.
We spent the first night sharing stories, food and letting the kids run around playing together (ages 8, 5, 4, 3 and 18 months). We love these get togethers with other traveling families. It gives our kids an opportunity to play with other kids and allows us to socialize, too.
Our first full day in Austin we walked over to the waterfalls. McKinney Falls State Park is just a 20 minute drive into downtown Austin but you’d never know it when you’re in the park. There are lots of hiking trails and of course, the beautiful water falls are a short walking distance from the campgrounds. The kids completed the Junior Ranger book and earned their Texas State Junior Ranger badges.
Our second night in town we drove down to the South Congress area and ate at the famous Torchy’s Tacos. They have a wonderful outdoor eating area right on the bustling and trendy South Congress strip.
Oh my goodness, they were the BEST tacos I have ever eaten and I’ve had a LOT of tacos in my life. I consider myself a bit of an expert. But apparently I have so much to learn. I am fairly certain that you could earn yourself a PhD in Taco Consumption (PhDTC) right here in Austin. Pictured above is TWO tacos – under $7 worth of food. Incredible, right!?!
And don’t even get us started on the Torchy’s Queso. You must order it. Wash it down with a cold Mexican Coke. Ahhh. . . you’re hungry now, aren’t you?! Sorry to do that to you (not sorry).
We would soon learn that delicious, amazing meals like this are just part of life in Austin. The food was ridiculously delicious everywhere we ate. We upheld our responsibility as a “tourist” to the fine city of Austin and ate as much as we possibly could. . .but we had more dining recommendations than we had days to eat! Problems. . . I tell you!
Day three in Austin we drove into the City to check out the capitol building. It’s the capitol of Texas, you know. We easily found metered street parking and walked to the Austin Capitol Building Visitor’s Center.
The building alone is reason enough to visit but the Visitor’s Center had a ton of wonderful exhibits scattered throughout the various floors. Lots of beautiful architecture and stars EVERYWHERE, even in the windows. 🙂
Going on a weekday we practically had the whole place to ourselves! The kids enjoyed the computer games (think Texas matching, crossword and puzzles), the short informational movies and the displays.
They tried on real rawhide cowboy outfits and hopped into a real saddle. We saw a massive cast iron pan and learned all about the history of the Texas cowboys. It was a wonderful facility and if you have touristy questions make sure and stop by the information desk to ask the experts – we found them to be super helpful and friendly.
The capitol building offers tours, but it was lunch time, so we didn’t tour the building. Instead we walked several blocks to a nearby restaurant. . .
Yelp recommended Pelons Tex Mex Restaurant and what a beautiful building it was! We had high expectations after our Torchy’s experience. . . but of course were NOT disappointed. We had family style fajitas and I think they were some of the best fajitas we’ve ever had. Amazing service and we all left stuffed.
That afternoon we headed back to the state park and we went fishing! Texas State Parks has a FREE Fishing Program that allows ANYONE in a state park to fish without a fishing license – even if you’re out-of-state (Liam was thrilled about this)! We bought a container of night crawlers for a few bucks from the state park office and tried our luck, but unfortunately the only thing we caught was some rays from the afternoon sun. We had fun trying, though!
By the fourth day at McKinney Falls State Park there were FIVE beautiful shiny Airstream trailers in our loop. We didn’t know the folks in the other two Airstreams, but got to visit with them over a campfire and some local barbecue and beer.
The kids played in their fort in the “woods” between our campsite. . .it was wonderful, really.
Our final full day in Austin we drove 30 minutes out of town to go the Saltlick Restaurant. This place came highly recommended. Let me tell you – it was WORTH the drive.
The Salt Lick has a popular have an all-you-can-eat option on their menu. . but frankly we weren’t up for the challenge after doing a sort of all-we-can-eat week already. . .so we opted for the platter that gives you a little bit of everything – pork rib, brisket and sausage. Served with beans, potato salad (a style I’ve never had before) and coleslaw. It really is as good as it looks and it was MORE than enough food.
We ordered the kids half of a roasted chicken and Liam STILL talks about it being the best chicken he’s ever had in his life. A kid who couldn’t care less about eating could NOT get enough of his meal.
Later that night we went with two other traveling families to the Thinkery (children’s museum) in downtown Austin. It is part of our ASTC membership so we got in for FREE (learn more about the ASTC Passport program here).
We loved both the indoor and outdoor exhibits – the kids especially loved climbing around in the “Our Backyard” exhibit outside. After the museum closed we spent an hour playing at the park across the street with our friends. Perfect weather and a great area for the kids to play.
Our last morning in town we went to breakfast at Magnolia Cafe – also a place recommended to us and just down the street from Torchy’s on South Congress. I don’t have a photo for you, but just make sure and go for breakfast when you’re in town. We left happy and full.
And that is pretty much how we left Austin – happy and full. Our hearts were happy thanks to the quality time with awesome Airstream families and our waistlines a bit fuller from consuming some of the BEST calories we’ve ever eaten. I am not kidding when I tell people we ate our way through Austin – we generally do NOT eat out this often (it would be too expensive) but if you can swing it in Austin, you totally should.
Have you been to Austin, Texas? Have you eaten at any of these places that we mentioned.