Known as the capital of Texas and often as the hippest city in the state, Austin moves to its own beat, no doubt. We visited, thinking that the reputation that preceded the destination was leaning towards hyperbole. We figured the buzz-phrase about keeping Austin weird was some sort of ploy to get folks to visit and see how true the sentiment was. Well, it worked! Maybe the word weird was a misfit or a misnomer by today’s standards and needed and asterisk. Something like, Keep Austin Weird*.
*weird by standards set prior to 2007 when hipsters, millennials, and Gen Z’s weren’t the mainstream of society.
That may look odd on a bumper sticker, but it’s definitely more accurate. The music scene melded with the college town ambiance and the seat of government for one of the most conservative states in the country makes for an eclectic mix of people, all seemingly happy to be in Austin. Dodging the ever-present scooter commuters is now a thing in the city. Tourists see the BirdÒ and JumpÒ scooters as a novel way to get around town and take in more sights, others see them as a bit annoying. Whichever side of the fence you’re on, they’re there and they add to the vibe. In preparation for what we thought was going to be an immersion into a quirky stay in the city, we chose to stay Westin Downtown Austin. We figured a brand we were familiar with vs. a boutique hotel would give us a sense of place and simultaneously a sense of familiarity. We loved it!
As we entered the lobby, an abstract wall covering, deep on the back wall of the lobby, gave a nod to the town’s music scene. It was an art installation of a giant guitar and the smiling faces that stood in front of it and us, were our hosts. Checking in was a breeze, especially as we were distracted by the living wall of plants that played well (somehow) off the contract of the guitar that had initially captivated us. Since we were a little early, our room was almost ready, but not quite. We were given a general access key and asked if we wanted to head to Azul, the rooftop pool and bar area. The entrance to the elevator was illuminated by an oversized ATX (the airport code for Austin) with those large white lightbulbs that sit inside metal letters to give that rustic-hip signage a throwback feel that is every bit as modern as today’s date. We knew we were in for some fun. The energy that our check in agent exuded was fun and hospitable. Arriving on the top floor and walking out to Azul, we were able to take in mostly al of the city. What a fantastic view. The heated pool was throwing off steam and was making sure we didn’t miss its presence. I suppose the rival views of the gorgeous city were best enjoyed while soaking in the pool but since we had not changed in to swimwear yet, we sat by a firepit and gazed out at the skyline. The city views were captivating from up here, but in no time at all, we received a text message that our room was ready.
Thinking we might unpack and then head back up to map out our next move out on the city streets, we were happy wo see our floor to ceiling glass wall with the very same views of the skyline. Talk about a fabulous location, the Westin was directly in the middle of it all. We were so comfy right in the hotel that on night one, we decided to stay in and dine in the hotel’s restaurant, Stella San Jac. The Postmodern living room feel of this dining room was just what we needed. The cutting edge dining experience was wonderful after a long day of traveling. We really tucked in and ordered some of Chef Martin’s specialties: shrimp and lump crab roll, braised short ribs with sweet potato mash and green apple slaw. Even the short rib was prepared with a twist and oh so delicious. After dinner, the evening was cool with a slight breeze so we headed back to the rooftop to watch the city lights lay out before us and sip on cocktails before turning in and watching those same lights from the edge of our bed. What a place!
Venturing around the city and taking iconic selfies under the Austin Motel sign and the street art that says, “I love you so much.” All while listening to music pour out of local bars and cafes, and some right on the sidewalk while strolling down South Congress. There’s a beat to every step you take in this city. After shopping for cowboy boots at Allens Boots, another iconic Austin spot, we figured it was time to enjoy some fun and games Upstairs at Caroline and sip our way through sunset. This is definitely the city’s premier backyard party. It’s urban, edgy, full of music, and great service. One of us may not be a millennial but we both felt like hipsters as we grooved to the beats, played Giant Jenga, tried our hand at cornhole and then settled into our groove over a rousing game of shuffleboard. Sometimes it feels good to stay in your lane but we never knew our lane was shuffleboard. How did we get to “that” age? It doesn’t matter, we were
feeling good and the food and drinks were key elements to the harmonization of that feeling. We love Austin!
This place is anything but weird, we would call it offbeat, but never weird. Besides, Keep Austin Offbeat fits far better on a bumper sticker than Keep Austin Weird, with an asterisk and a lengthy explanation. Come visit and you tell us what you think. Stay at the Westin and see it from our vantage point We are sure you will agree.