We know what you’re thinking: Why is this Austin blog posting about things to do in San Antonio?! Before you get all “don’t move here” on us, take a moment to read a bit about the origins of this series, and what you can expect in the coming months as we (very) occasionally post about things to do outside the city limits.
Depending on what part of Austin you live in (and traffic on 35), San Antonio is likely not much more than an hour and 15-minute drive South.
This resort will make you feel like you’re worlds away from Austin—both with its natural surroundings, and comforting amenities.
And a massive waterpark complete with waterslides and a lazy river.
How to Make the Most of Your Trip
We only spent 48 hours at the JW Marriott San Antonio, but managed to squeeze quite a bit into our stay. We arrived at the resort early for a morning tee time on their Canyons Course, the easier of the two courses on the property, and honestly, a more enjoyable experience for high-handicap golfers like ourselves. The course is well-maintained and offers beautiful views of the Texas Hill Country from elevated tee boxes and greens. The carts also have GPS, which makes the first time on a new course a lot more manageable!
After finishing our round, we grabbed a quick lunch (and cocktails) in Cibolo Moon, one of several restaurants on the property. The restaurant has a great outdoor patio that was perfect on a breezy spring day, and the food and drinks were equally enjoyable. We snacked on several shared appetizers, but the barbecue burnt ends were the highlight of the experience.I also highly recommend any of the margaritas on the menu (opt for the chili salted rim).
From there, we checked into our room, which had a balcony with a beautiful view of the golf course and was also an easy elevator ride down to the pool. Pro-tip: Assuming the hotel isn’t fully booked, you may have the option to stay on the “conference side” or the “pool/golf course side” of the hotel busy weekends, the conference side stays a bit quieter (less families with kids) and is a good option for couples looking to enjoy a relaxing weekend. However, we had no issues with noise on the “fun side” of the hotel, and the room was spacious, and included several amenities like robes, a mini fridge, and a HUGE television that had complimentary Netflix and Hulu in addition to standard cable options.
Finally, we made it down to the water park which is definitely the most impressive area of the resort. It includes a ton of seating areas adjacent to several large pools, including one with a sandy beach area, and another that is exclusively for adults. There is also a massive hot tub, an impressive bar that offers several frozen drink machines, and an expansive cocktail and food menu. The 1,200-foot-long lazy river is way too easy to fall asleep in (don’t forget sunscreen!). But perhaps the most impressive part of the park, assuming you’re still embracing your inner child, are the waterslides. These aren’t your typical resort waterslides, they’re high-thrill slides that you’ll want to race down over and over again.
That evening, we ventured into town to meet friends. If you’re like us and don’t make it down to San Antonio very often, it is a nice change of pace from Austin, and the city’s culinary scene has come a long way in the last five years—but more on that in a future post. For your trip, think about spending a night out on the Riverwalk or the Pearl District.
The resort also hosts an impressive sports bar called High Velocity that features several massive projectors and countless flat screen TVs. The place was buzzing the first night of our stay with a pending playoff elimination game on the line for the hometown San Antonio Spurs.
For breakfast, the buffet at Cibolo Moon is quite impressive. It includes Texas-based favorites like homemade biscuits and gravy, as well as more standard offerings like bacon and scrambled eggs, a build-your-own omelet station, and fresh baked breads with jelly offerings made from fruit grown in the hotel’s garden.
On day two of our stay, we played The Oaks golf course, which was host to the PGA Tour Event, The Valero Texas Open, the weekend before. The course was in excellent shape from the tournament, with fairways beautifully crosscut and greens that were perfectly manicured. However, this course has a reputation for being one of the most difficult on the Tour and is not for the faint of heart! Professional golfer Kevin Na famously scored a 16 on the 9th hole of this course in 2011.
We capped off our trip with dinner at 18 Oaks, a traditional steakhouse adjacent to the golf course. Our final meal did not disappoint, from the sprawling wine list to the knowledgeable service staff, every part of the experience was perfect. We especially enjoyed the “choose your own steak knife” tray that was presented before our main course arrived. Texas y’all.
Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed our trip, and would recommend a getaway to the JW Hill Country for couples, families, avid golfers, conference goers, or even as a wedding destination. We’ll definitely be back!
The best way to spend NYE is surrounded by friends and with the lowest possible expectations … know that before jumping into this list! The lines for downtown venues are long, the covers are high, and there are thousands of people roaming the streets who apparently do not consume alcohol the other 364 days of the year.
That being said, it can be the pinnacle party of the holiday season with the right people, and the right venue. To help you with the latter, we’ve put together a list with ten options that will help you create a memorable farewell to 2016.
Speakeasy is great for ringing in the New Year due to the sheer size of the place. It’s basically three venues in one, which makes staying at the same bar for roughly four hours a lot more enjoyable.
Speakeasy will have a band in the main bar, and DJs in the Kaberet Room and on Terrace59 (the rooftop). Tickets start at $49, but I’d recommend spending a bit more to ensure access to the rooftop, which has a great view, and might even allow you to catch the fireworks over Lady Bird Lake.
This year’s festivities on Auditorium Shores include live performances from Ray Wylie Hubbard, Shinyribs, and almost two-dozen other artists. There will also be food trucks on-site, activities for the kids, and the grand-finale fireworks show at 10 p.m.
This is a great event for families and couples that are looking to avoid the downtown madness, but still want to get out and do something memorable on New Year’s Eve. For an added bonus, admission is free!
If you want to enjoy the mild winter weather in Austin underneath the oaks, look no further than Banger’s. This year they’re smoking Prime Rib, and hosting live music, and a complimentary toast at midnight of Miller High Life (the Champagne of Beers).
No cover to get in, and the party starts at 6 p.m.
Austin’s favorite soul band, The Nightowls, will rock the indoor stage at Stubb’s with an opening performance from Derrick Davis Band. The $60 ticket includes a champagne toast and a complimentary buffet!
The tagline for this party is “don’t go downtown,” and Jason and Deb of 101x are giving you plenty of reasons to avoid the area completely. In addition to the standard amenities at The Goodnight (bowling, karaoke, ping pong, pool, and more), this party is also all-inclusive!
That means the $100 ticket gives you access to free games, a full bar, $5000 in casino game chips, and free appetizers.
Tag this one in the ‘memorable NYE’ category. In addition to roller skating, the 4th annual bash also includes costume contests based on 80’s attire, a balloon drop at midnight, and it’s BYOB! Tickets start at $45.
The CultureMap Tastemaker Awards is an annual celebration of the top talent in the restaurant and bar industry, shining a light on the people and places that make Austin’s dining scene so special.
To honor new restaurants that have hit all the marks — great food, service, and ambiance — and continue to impress local diners, 16 of the best new restaurants in Austin will go head to head in CultureMap’s annual Tastemaker tournament. The results are in your hands as you decide who will be crowned Best New Restaurant of 2016.
As part of the 2016 CultureMap Tastemaker Awards, vote for your favorites in the bracket-style elimination challenge now through May 16. Voting for the first round ends on May 7.
Welcome to 365 Things Austin’s Cocktail of the Week program. We’ve partnered with our friends at Sourced Craft Cocktails to announce a new cocktail (available for delivery in Austin) each week. Whether you’re looking for a fun date night at home, or hosting a party that your guests won’t soon forget, Sourced delivers EVERYTHING you need to make mixologist-worthy craft cocktails.
Originally crafted by Australian born Sam Ross at the famous Milk + Honey lower east side NYC bar, this cocktail will fix whatever ails you!
The Penicillin combines luscious, soothing flavors of honey, fresh ginger, and hand squeezed lemon juice fortified with a healthy dose of blended Scotch whisky. Shaken and poured over a flawless, hand cut artisan ice rock, we finish this life saving remedy with thin pour of Islay Malt to top with a wood smoked aromatic fragrance.
Go ahead, the doctor will see you now!
Johnnie Walker – Black:
The iconic squared bottle isn’t the only thing smooth…this premiere spirit takes Scotch from the four corners of Scotland and blends together into silky pure amber gold. Perfected in 1909 and exclusively featuring whiskies with a minimum of 12 years aging, this rich, complex Scotch offers the perfect balance of dark fruits, sweet vanilla and it’s signature smokiness.
The “medicinal properties” of our Penicillin may/may not be found in Mr. Walker’s Black Label. They are absolutely found in our homemade Honey/Ginger Syrup. Locally sourced Austin honey is combined with richly muddled fresh ginger to deliver velvety goodness…to use the technical medical term.
Fresh Lemon Juice:
We hand squeeze fresh lemon juice every single morning. You’re busy, we’ve sourced the absolute freshest product possible to help you add the acidity to this balanced cocktail.
Islay of Scotch:
Ahhh, the secret…we love sourcing the secret ingredient for you. After pouring your medicine over the perfect hand cut artisan ice rock we provide, we help you with a heady “aromatic.” What, you ask, is an “aromatic” for I thought we were drinking? Glad you asked…this wood smoked smell is placed right on the top of the rock so as you take each sip your nose alerts your brain that we’re now in the comfort of a roaring fire and well on our way back to health!
Join us at Austin Beerworks on Wednesday, January 27th for a celebration of sausage. The “Kings” of the Austin sausage scene will be onsite providing off-menu sausage creations in a friendly competitive format. Tickets are limited to 250 and will go fast.
Included in the $24 ticket price:
Samples from all eight sausage purveyors
Micklethwait, Salt & Time, la Barbecue, Smokey Denmark, Dai Due, Frank, Freedmen’s, Easy Tiger and Banger’s
Three Austin Beerworks Drafts Includes a glass to take home
The smooth sounds of The Urban Achievers Brass Band
One voting card to nominate your favorite sausage offering You get to pick the winners!
Must be 21+ to attend. Please consider using Uber or Lyft to and from the event!
The best-burger-in-Austin debate kicks up more dust than a West Texas tornado. Even suggesting something on the topic spurs heated debates amongst family members, and some of the nastiest comments we’ve seen on our Facebook page.
Hopdoddy however, always seems be in the conversation, and it’s definitely one of our favorites.
On January 18th, the Austin-born burger bar will open its third area location in Round Rock. Coincidentally, it’s also MLK day, so if you’re looking for something fun to do on your day off, get there early and be one of the #first to try the new location.
Pro-tip: Seating at the bar is first come first served, so if you’re solo, or a party of two, you can often skip the line! Don’t forget to tip your bartender for the privilege.
When: January 18th at 11am
Hopdoddy Round Rock
2800 N. I-35
Round Rock, TX 78681
We’ve teamed up with Austin Rubel and www.SoundPan.net to bring you a playlist to jam out to in preparation of this year’s ACL music festival. Keep in mind that the lineups are slightly different for weekends one and two, and this playlist includes artists from both.
This list is useful for catching up on bands that you haven’t listened to in a while, and hopefully it also provides some insight into a few artists you have yet to discover.
Only two short years ago, one could count pizza delivery options in Austin on two hands. The choices were those inedible national chains, or Gatti’s/Austin’s Pizza, and a few others (we still love you Conan’s).
Oh, how the times have changed. With Favor Delivery, pizza is a few clicks away from anywhere that offers take-out. In fact, a large pie from my favorite shop for thin-crust, East Side Pies, was the first Favor order I completed.
I included a few newcomers on the list, so hopefully there are a few places you haven’t tried. Take into consideration that your favorite spot might not be on the list purely because it’s not in the Favor delivery zone. Or it could be that we haven’t tried it! Feel free to hit us up on Facebook with your recommendations.
As mentioned above, if you’re a fan of thin-crust, look no further. ESP sources local ingredients whenever possible, and that extra level of care is reflected in the quality of their cracker-thin pies. (Why is this pizza on rocks? I don’t know either)
There’s a new restaurant on West 5th Street and we love it so much we’re willing to forgive the fact that Houston had it first! Liberty Kitchen opened at 5th and Pressler earlier this month (next door to Tacos-n-Tequila), and while the menu is seafood-forward, you’re going to need more than one visit to fully comprehend everything that Liberty has to offer.
The space itself is beautiful and pays homage to both the Texas coast, and the Lone Star State in general, but it’s the exceptional food and superlative service at Liberty that really sets it apart.
The menu is a bit overwhelming at first glance, but the staff is uncommonly knowledgeable and happy to help guide guests through the various sections. Deciding where to begin is the hardest part! Our suggestion is to start cold… if you’re into oysters; they’ve got ‘em from the gulf and beyond.
Regardless of what section of the menu you decide to explore next, be sure to order the Deviled Egg Trial— Trust us on this one!
Deviled Egg Trial
We tried several other remarkable dishes, including Lulu’s Sicilian Seafood Salad, which is one of the best salads I’ve had in Austin, and a surprising personal favorite (suggested by a very friendly Chef named Crash), the Point Judith Squid & Sausage Stuffing.
Point Judith Squid & Sausage Stuffing
Other menu highlights include the 40oz to Freedom Gumbo, and the immensely popular Shanghai Salt & Chile Fried Lobster.
Shanghai Salt & Chile Fried Lobster
Still on my wish list: The King Crab and Cheddar Mac & Cheese, several of the daily specials, and the entire brunch menu. As I said before, Liberty Kitchen will take more than one visit to conquer, and I’m up for the challenge.