Our next stops were in the great state of Texas, where everything is bigger. By the end of a week we would have driven across the entire width of the state, and endured temperatures as high as 110 degrees (key to survival: don’t get out of the car). Though I didn’t have a lot of time to explore I did find a few memorable experiences that you can certainly look out for on your next adventure.
To me, Austin has always been associated with the University of Texas and obnoxious Texans. While UT is definitely still there (and so are the Texans) what lies underneath Austin’s cover is much more unique. You’ve got a modern downtown area featuring luxury hi rises and dive bars on Dirty 6th Street. Small neighborhoods filled with food trucks and hipsters. BBQ visionaries building smokers in converted mobile homes (the lines start at 9am for lunch, so it must be good). The result is a wonderful balance between conservative and liberal, modern and classic, city and country.
Austin is a city on the rise, as seen by the number of tech business growing there. The city doesn’t give off a cutthroat vibe though. It’s very apparent that this generation of Texans are focused on a life outside of the office. I wish we had more time to visit, so my only real recommendation as a visitor is to get there. Go, eat, drink, and enjoy the fact that you’re in a progressive city in Texas. Eventually your mind will be blown.
Work put us back on the road, and with Austin in the rearview we headed down I-35 to San Antonio. Though only 80 miles away, it was like we entered another world. San Antonio takes a huge amount of pride on their predominately Hispanic heritage, and you immediately notice it in the architecture. We did have a good visit, but San Antonio is a hurting town. Many of the buildings and neighborhoods are tired and run down, which is tough to see. The Alamo (remember?) is an underwhelming monument that has been dwarfed by tourist traps. Nightlife is sparse, and finding food that isn’t Tex-Mex is a struggle.
Here are my recommendations for San Antonio, if you ever find yourself in town for a few days:
Do: Go to the Riverwalk for drinks. The River Walk is San Antonio’s best offering for nightlife, and it delivers on being the most unique setup I’ve ever seen. It’s a short stretch of the San Antonio River situated under the city streets, so you’re free to walk and check out the best local bars and restaurants. It’s nice because it’s a quiet spot, but gives you enough options to go on a bender with your friends (if that’s your style).
Don’t: Go to the Alamo. At most, just walk or drive by it. The Alamo is way smaller than expected, and while the museum is surely interesting it doesn’t excuse the fact that this is a tourist trap. Trashy chain restaurants and museums litter this area trying to steal a few extra bucks from you. Save your cash and just stroll by and take a picture, that’s what I did and I don’t regret it for a second.
Overall, a busy trip to Texas. Austin is the type of place I could see myself living in for years. San Antonio is a place where I wouldn’t be upset about taking a business trip to, but wouldn’t voluntarily go back. If I had a few more days I could have done the full run down, but the road was calling my name.