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Nothing says holiday fun like a stroll downtown past the beautiful window displays. 2ND Street District is dialing up the merriment this year with the return of “December in the District.” This month-long celebration includes the two festive events you won’t want to miss. 

Holiday Window Walk 

Starting on December 2, the storefronts of district businesses will transform into decorative holiday scenes! St. Edward’s University students will activate their imaginations and design skills for their chance to win $4,500 worth of scholarships. Participating stores include Austin General Store, Austin Rocks, Luxe Apothetique, and Sneaker Politics.

Vote for your favorite display on the 2ND Street District Facebook page. Everyone who votes will be automatically entered to win a W Austin raffle package featuring bottle service for 10 in the Living Room Bar and massages at AWAY Spa for 2. 

Santa Lounge & Market 

On December 7, the Santa Lounge & Market at W Austin will be open from 1–5 p.m. Enjoy taking printed photos with Santa and listening to holiday carols from local groups and solo artists while sipping holiday cocktails, browsing the local holiday pop-up shops, and giving back to a local charity. The first 150 guests to donate a toy to Boys & Girls Clubs of Austin will receive a drink ticket for one free cocktail. Participating stores will include Beam Organics, Sikara, Toy Joy along with the Toy Joy Kids Zone, Luxe Apothetique, Bonobos, and more. This is the coziest and most fabulous way to get your shopping done!

Support local businesses and make lasting memories while you’re at it. 

 

You may have heard the news that the University of Texas is getting a brand new arena that will replace the Frank Erwin Center.  And as an added bonus, Matthew McConaughey, the Minister of Culture himself, is going to have a leading role in the project.

The public is invited to the official Moody Center Groundbreaking Ceremony on Tuesday, December 3, at the site of the new arena south of Mike A. Myers Stadium. Bring the kids to this and they can say they were there when they broke ground on an Austin institution! Bevo XV, UT’s famed mascot, will be available for holiday photo ops along with Texas Cheer and Pom.

The event features a live concert by Moon Taxi and includes lots of free perks for attendees.

All fans in attendance may also claim a free  ticket to the Texas Men’s Basketball vs. UAB game following the concert. Fans get to choose free food from one of Austin’s best food trucks, including Austin’s Pizza, Chick-fil-A, Evil Weiner, Four Brothers Venezuelan, Garbo’s Lobster Rolls, Pok-e-Jo’s BBQ, Ranch Hand, Redfin Seafood Kitchen, Sugar Rush, and Torchy’s Tacos (these could change, but you get the idea!) Free sodas and water will also be available.

Plus, there will be happy hour pricing on beer and wine.

Now this is super important if you want all of the free stuff: Make sure you RSVP in advance and use the code MOODY.

Hook ’em, horns!!

When: Tuesday, December 3rd

Ceremony timeline:
4:30 p.m. – Grounds Open
4:30 p.m. – Photo ops with Bevo XV and Texas Cheer
5 p.m. – Moody Center Groundbreaking Ceremony
5:30 p.m. – Live Concert by Moon Taxi
7 p.m. – Texas Men’s Basketball vs. UAB (at Frank Erwin Center)

Now in its 55th year of existence, the Austin Trail of Lights powered by H-E-B gets more festive every year. It’s not the holiday season without a visit to this mecca of cheer.

The Trail will be open to the public on December 10 and run through the 23rd, but you can get a head start on all the fun this year by taking the family to Night Lights the official preview party at the trail on Friday, December 6 from 6–10 p.m.

Night Lights Preview Party is the Trail of Lights Foundation’s annual fundraising event that helps keep the Trail accessible for all in the community. As you get a sneak peek, there will be live musical performances from Jackie Venson and Mother Falcon and complimentary Ferris Wheel and Carousel rides all night long. Food and drink will be plentiful with light bites from a ton of Austin area restaurants and complimentary beer, wine, and cocktail tastings.

Tickets are $85 and can be purchased now. Don’t miss your chance to beat the crowds and make the most of this amazing Austin tradition. 

If you can’t make the Preview Party, we have two pro tips for enjoying the trail. ZIP Passes are a favorite of families and small groups, especially on busier nights. You’ll be close to the action and you’ll stay cozy in the heated ZIP hospitality tents. You also get to enjoy the festive lineup of nightly entertainment on the Zilker Stage. Skip the lines and enter early! You’ll thank us later. 

And if you really want to make things extra merry this year, go Platinum with concierge service and a VIP experience. You and your guests can hang in a private lounge with lots of amenities like comfortable seating and an exclusive bar! It’s the ultimate venue for a holiday party. Spring for this one and you’ll be as beloved as Santa this year! 

Austin is filled with fantastic dining opportunities. From tender barbecue to tasty Tex Mex, you’ll find a little bit of everything in the Texas capitol. This makes choosing a place to eat in Austin relatively easy. But what if you’re dining with a large group? We all love a good hole in the wall or food truck, but small eateries aren’t usually accommodating for groups, especially if you’re planning a private dining event.

Finding the perfect restaurant is only the first step of organizing a group dining experience. You’ll still have to think about how your guests will get there. Hosting a 40-person corporate happy hour at Banger’s sounds great until you get a call (or five) from colleagues trying to find a parking place around Rainey Street. Book a charter bus to simply shuttle everyone instead. GOGO Charters Austin has a large network of minibuses and charter buses that will make your group’s evening much easier.

A charter bus rental will save guests the frustration and cost of parking along Austin’s busy roads. A professional driver will pick everyone up from your office, home, or any other designated location and whisk them away to your dining reservation. It’s that easy. No trying to parallel park in a spot way too small for your SUV or paying $45 for two hours of parking.

Now let’s think about the food. Where is the best place to take a big group?

Well, it depends.

If you’re organizing a rehearsal dinner or a birthday celebration, you’ll want a restaurant with a private room. If your company is hosting a laid-back social gathering, reserving a big patio table is a better bet.

Private Rooms

Booking a private dining room is as much about the ambiance as it is about the food. Are you looking for a classy space with tasty family-style Italian fare? Il Brutto in East Cesar Chavez is your go-to spot. Their private dining room can seat up to 40 people, while bigger groups of up to 100 can rent out the shaded patio. Enjoy all the pasta and wine you want—with a private bus rental you’ll have a built-in DD.

Is contemporary Mexican more your thing? Try La Condesa in Downtown Austin. Taste test their many types of guacamole and chow down on dishes like savory carne asada or an array of ceviches. La Condesa serves up family-style menus for parties of 11 or more in the main dining room. The restaurant also has a private dining room called The Flour House which can seat up to 20 guests. Groups over 20 should ask about renting Malverde, the restaurant’s indoor/outdoor private event space.

If you want chic decor and delicious New American cuisine like bison tartare and delectable hush puppies, look no further than Eberly for your private dining needs. This Bouldin Creek eatery has six separate dining spaces available for private events. The Study at Eberly is the perfect intimate space for wedding dinners and can seat up to 40 people, while The Cannon Room is a wonderful space for a company or organization’s cocktail hour.

Spacious Patios

Patio restaurants and bars are a dime a dozen in Austin, but picking the best outdoor space can still be tough.

Beers, brats, and big patios are a great combo. Fortunately, you’ll find all those things at Easy Tiger on Sixth Street and Banger’s on Rainey Street. Both patios have large communal tables that are great options for drinks with coworkers, birthday celebrations, or kick-offs to an evening of bachelor/ette party festivities.

Easy Tiger has individual patio table reservations that can seat eight to 10 people, as well as the option to reserve different sections of the patio. If you’re having an exceptionally large event, you can reserve the entire patio for 250 guests standing or 120 seated. Banger’s only offers table reservations Monday through Thursday for groups of 12 or more. Full buyouts of the iconic Banger’s yard are also available upon request.

“Fresh” and “farm-to-table” are a match made in restaurant description heaven. Contigo brings fresh, local ingredients together to create American cuisine like burgers, ox tongue sliders, and chicken wings. The restaurant has a sprawling deck with community style tables that can be reserved for private events of up to 50 people.

Food and drinks are always best when enjoyed with a group. So why not make your next gathering even better with great ambiance, cuisine, and private group transportation? Call 512-640-4096 to get a personalized charter bus quote for your next flavor filled Austin outing!

 

In our over-connected lives, we all feel the need to unplug and escape from our cities, our work, and our screens. Enter Getaway, a company that offers simple escapes to tiny cabins nestled in nature. They are on a mission to help you find the time and space to truly be off, and we are all about it. Take some time to rest and recharge while marveling at the wonder of nature. 

Each cabin has a queen bed or queen bunks, fresh linens and pillows, a bathroom with a hot shower and running toilet, heat and AC, and a kitchenette with a mini fridge and two burner stove. They also have a firepit, grilling grate, and an outdoor seating area, so you can make the most of the great outdoors. Quite simply, it’s everything you need and nothing you don’t. Did we mention every cabin is dog friendly? You can bring your pup along for a fee of $40.

Here’s how it works: First, choose your Outpost, cabin size, and dates. They’ll send you the exact address of your cabin after you book. Next, you’ll get an email and text with your cabin name and keycode. And then the best part: don’t do anything. Don’t do anything at all. Lock away your phone, connect with loved ones, and enjoy quiet time in nature. You’ll have everything you need to truly relax.

With the beautiful wooded landscape in the heart of Texas, you will feel totally secluded. But neighbors are close and the support team at Getaway is just a text or email away. You won’t need to worry about a thing while you are trying to destress. 

Click here to learn more and book your escape today. Doing this right before the holiday madness will be the best decision you make all year. Use code 365THINGS for $25 off a 2019 stay.

When all he could find on the market were uncomfortable and outdated boot options, one UT Austin alum decided to make his own. As he set out on his mission, Will Roman ripped open all kinds of boots and spent months experimenting with improvements to both structure and design. Along the way he was inspired to make boots that were not only great looking, but a force for good. 

Founded by Roman, Chisos is a boot company on a mission to spread the gospel of Texas by creating the world’s best cowboy boots and advocating for Texas land conservation. Named after the Chisos Mountains in Big Bend National Park, the values of generosity and stewardship are core to the company’s mission. 

In terms of style and fit, the designs forgo traditional western patterns for more Texan, understated motifs and a proprietary post-tanning process creates the unique softness and beautiful depth of the Chisos heritage cowhide. They are also ready-to-wear and require no break-in period. 

The company has just debuted its inaugural line of intricately designed, responsibly sourced cowboy boots. The artwork of the handcrafted first-edition collection alludes to the West Texas mountains, and a portion of every sale goes to support Texas land conservation. 

“Boots are core to the legend of Texas and the identity of Texans,” Roman says. “What a great tool to bring people together to take care of the special places in our state.”

The first-edition Chisos boots retail for $495 and are exclusively available at Chisos.com.

It’s almost peak hosting season, when friends and family will be knocking at your door. Could you house use a deep clean before the festivities? We thought so. This year make it a green clean!

Modern Maids is exactly what it sounds like, a cleaning service for the 21st century. A green cleaning service! Ban those toxic chemicals from your life. They provide all the supplies and equipment and offer flat-rate pricing that makes booking super convenient. Once you’ve noticed that crazy layer of dust that lives on each of your ceiling fan blades (gah!) you can book with Modern Maids in under a minute.

And what’s really great is that you can leave your home to go Christmas shopping while they clean and knowthat everything will be fine. They are insured and bonded and do background checks on their employees. For apartments, they even have a key release option where you work with your leasing office to let them in your pad.

Cleanliness leads to happiness, so let Modern Maids take it from here. And guess what! Our readers receive an exclusive 25% discount of your first cleaning when you use promo code 365thingsaustin. Click here to schedule an appointment.

The charming community of Liberty Hill, which is just a short drive from Austin, gets super creative when it comes to festivals. This year its first hot air balloon festival will be no exception! Bring the whole family to the evening events on the big day, which will include a truly beautiful Hot Air Balloon Glow and a good ole’ fashioned street Dance featuring People’s Choice Band. There will also be a silent disco with three high-energy DJs—hip hop, 80s and Top 40. Flip between the three genres for the ultimate dance party. 

If the kids want a next-level experience at the fest, treat them to a tethered hot air balloon ride for $25. Children must be tall enough to see over the basket. 

Hot Air Balloon Glow

There will be free parking and shuttles at Liberty Hill Junior High, Bill Burden Elementary, and Liberty Hill Elementary. No coolers or pets are allowed on the shuttles. 

All money raised benefits the Liberty Hill Development Foundation, an organization that helps maintain and restore the Liberty Hill International Sculpture Park.

Check out all the details, including more festival events, here.

A note about weather: The event is rain or shine and tickets are non-refundable. Although the pilots will do everything in their power, balloons cannot be inflated in adverse weather conditions.  

When: Saturday, October 19, 7-10pm

Tickets to the Balloon Glow and Street Dance are available here

Location:
Lions Foundation Park 

If you’ve never ventured out to the adorable Texas town of Gruene with its famous dance hall and hill country setting, you are really missing out. This year’s Gruene Music & Wine Festival + Craft Beer Event is the perfect excuse to escape for a few days and see the best of what the area has to offer. 

The Gruene Music & Wine Festival dates all the way back to 1986 and began as a one-day event. And now it’s blossomed into a four day celebration not only of Texas and Americana music, but also a celebration of wine, craft beer, food, and gift items handmade in the Lone Star state. The 33rd year of this Texas gem runs October 10–13th!

To get an idea of what you are in for, the “Texas Tastings & Tunes” event on Saturday now includes over 40 wineries with 100+ wines available for tasting and the ‘Le Cordon Gruene’ food alley. Sunday’s event includes a Texas-sized Craft Beer Tasting, a second stage, and the big game on a big screen TV. An Artisan Market has also been added to both Saturday and Sunday events.

From live music to food trucks, tastings, and an artisan market there is something fun to do all day every day! 

Check out the full schedule of events here! VIP and General Admission tickets are selling fast, so snag yours quickly. 

At 365 Things Austin we are obsessed with helping you make the most out of life in Austin. And doing that means eating your way through it! We are a foodie town full of hungry people who like to take risks and try new things.

That’s why our newest podcast—launching Monday, Sept. 16th—is all about Austin’s thriving, changing, bursting restaurant scene. The choices are overwhelming, so let us help you embrace it all.

Our monthly culinary-themed podcast is hosted by local food blogger Natalie Paramore. She’ll interview Austin’s best chefs (some you may have heard of, not maybe not!) and talk about their restaurants and what inspires them. We’ll also find out where they like to eat when they have a day off and what they make for themselves at home.

Nerd out with Natalie and her guests as they explore topics like ingredients, sourcing, traveling, and the creative process. The first episode will feature chef Callie Speer of Austin’s Holly Roller.

To listen, find us on iTunes and please RATE, REVIEW, and SUBSCRIBE! 

Callie Spear, head chef and partner at Holy Roller, Austin.

Callie Spear, courtesy of Austin Chronicle.