Tiptoe Into Whimsical Woodland Faerie Trail at Zilker Botanical Garden This Summer

Zilker Botanical Garden Woodland Faerie Trail

Woodland Faerie Trail is open at Zilker Botanical Garden through Aug. 10, 2018

Whether you're dipping your toes into Barton Springs Pool, jamming out at a Blues on the Green concert, or cycling around Lady Bird Lake, Zilker Park will keep you busy every second of the summer. There's another adventure to add to this year's list of things to do around this beloved park: Woodland Faerie Trail at Zilker Botanical Garden.

Have You Been to Zilker Botanical Garden?

Zilker Botanical Garden in Austin Texas

Zilker Botanical Garden sits on 26 acres of land and features several themed gardens, including this herb garden

Zilker Botanical Garden was built in 1960 through the combined effort of local garden clubs. It occupies 26-acres of land on the south bank of the Colorado River, and features several themed gardens with native and exotic plants: Isamu Taniguchi Japanese Garden, Mabel David Rose Garden, Doug Blachly Butterfly Trail and Garden, Herb Garden, Hartman Prehistoric Garden, and others.

You'll even find a Pioneer Village complete with a historical blacksmith shop and school house that date back to the late 1800s.

Zilker Botanical Garden is open year-round. The affordable admission fee makes it an easy activity to enjoy with the family. Just make sure to check the website for dates of closure around holidays or during major Austin events (such as ACL Music Festival) that close Zilker Park.

Woodland Faerie Trail

Woodland Faerie Trail at Zilker Botanical Garden

Participants in Woodland Faerie Trail get a space of up to 4-feet by 4-feet to create a faerie paradise

The summer brings a little more magic to the thrill of Zilker Botanical Garden due to a family-friendly activity called Woodland Faerie Trail. Anyone who wants to participate may register on the Austin Parks and Recreation website. Following approval, a space of up to 4-feet by 4-feet is assigned to the participant off of a trail on the property. This space is used to build whimsical faerie homes that highlight native materials and plants–and to just have fun being creative.

In total, there are about 40 faerie homes featured in the garden this year!

While participants do get to have fun building a faerie home that fits their visions, Austin Parks and Recreation encourages the avoidance of artificial materials and environmental consciousness. One of the faerie stories that gets told is that litter is like kryptonite to faeries–and nobody wants to scare those magical creatures away!

Children can learn about environmental science through this activity, as they create natural habitats for local insects and wildlife with their designs. In fact, one of the exhibits this year features an insect hotel built for area wildlife to live in.

Insect Hotel at Woodland Faerie Trail

This family created an insect hotel for natural wildlife to take reside in

Once all of the homes have been placed along Woodland Faerie Trail, guests to Zilker Botanical Garden can walk through to see the fun exhibits. Exploring the trail will delight both children and adults, as it's a bit of an adventure seeing the scenes that await you. Faerie preschool? Faerie dust bistro? Bigfoot? Whatever you find, I'm pretty sure it's all Tinker Bell-approved.

There will be a Faerie Trial by Moonlight event on July 20 and 21, where visitors will walk the trail under the light of the moon to make nighttime faerie discoveries. There will be live entertainment by musical therapists, a hula hooping fairy queen, and face painting.

Woodland Faerie Trail is through Aug. 10, 2018. If you find yourself missing the faeries during Austin's winter months, don't worry. The park usually hosts a Faerie Tea Party each January or February.

2220 Barton Springs Road – Website

 

@theAustinot wants to know:

Have you visited Woodland Faerie Trail this year?

***
We always have unique content on the Austinot, and we love to give things away. You know, like CDs, event tickets and other cool stuff. We only send out our Best of the Austinot newsletter two times/month. It's where we give you a recap of our best articles and give stuff away. Interested? Subscribe to Best of the Austinot here!

The post Tiptoe Into Whimsical Woodland Faerie Trail at Zilker Botanical Garden This Summer appeared first on The Austinot

The Austinot Weekend Concert Picks: June 22-23, 2018

Austinot Weekend Concert Picks June 22 2018

With the weekend on the horizon, it's time to start making those all-important plans. While many of us like to wander downtown searching for any tune that catches our ear, it's always good to have a game plan. To make things easy, we recommend classic Americana, soul/blues seeped in Austin authenticity, and a folk/country act that's out of this world. Enjoy the weekend and the music, and remember to listen local!

Friday, June 22

Altamesa Band Austin

Altamesa (Credit: Connor Beitel/Small Batch Productions)

Altamesa (single release) w/Booher, Otis Wilkins

@ Mohawk Inside (912 Red River St.) – 9 p.m. – Tickets

Classic Americana roots with a Tom Petty swing, Altamesa hearkens back to the glory days of '70s folk rock with a modern sensibility. The band will be celebrating the release of its fourth single from the "From the Idol Frontier" series, called "Shadow on Your Heart/The Dawn." If the track is anything like the first three entries, expect soulful, dusty country, played with power and conviction.

Also playing: emotional rock band Booher and Otis Wilkins of Otis the Destroyer.

The Reverent Few w/South Austin Moonlighters, Denny Freeman

The Reverent Few Band Austin

The Reverent Few (Credit: LifeSketch Photography)

@ Saxon Pub (1320 S. Lamar Blvd.) – Music starts at 6 p.m. – Tickets

Blending soul, gospel, and old fashioned Austin rock-a-blues, The Reverent Few has a sound that's familiar and brand new at the same time. Tunes like "Marjorie" are tailor made for jump up and jam soul nights, while slow burners like "I'll Bring the Wine" scorch and simmer with spine-tingling blues. Well worth your time and attention.

Also playing: blues/rock/soul stalwart The South Austin Moonlighters and guitar legend Denny Freeman.

Saturday, June 23

The Deer Band Austin

The Deer

The Deer w/Kalu and the Electric Joint, Batty Jr.

@ Mohawk Outside (912 Red River St.) – 8 p.m. – Tickets

Masters of  elevating simple guitars, banjos, and vocals into heart-stirring soundscapes, The Deer is a band not to be missed this weekend. Reminiscent of acts like First Aid Kit and Nickel Creek, The Deer grounds its sound in Americana country and heartfelt lyrics. Every song brings me to a point of time in my past, which is the hallmark of quality music.

Also playing: soul/rock master Kalu and the Electric Joint and throwback rocker Batty Jr.

 

@BillTuckerTSP wants to know:

Where are you going for live, local music this weekend in Austin?

***
We always have unique content on the Austinot, and we love to give things away. You know, like CDs, event tickets and other cool stuff. We only send out our Best of the Austinot newsletter two times/month. It's where we give you a recap of our best articles and give stuff away. Interested? Subscribe to Best of the Austinot here!

The post The Austinot Weekend Concert Picks: June 22-23, 2018 appeared first on The Austinot

Shine Bright in LED Firefly Cloak by Austin Bright Light Design

Firefly Cloaks by Austin Bright Light Design

Firefly Cloaks by Austin Bright Light Design (Credit: George Trent Grogan/Mountain Trout Photography)

"What can we do to make you smile today?" Austin Bright Light Design founders, Gerry Gilligan and Jason Balcauski, asked themselves. The answer? Firefly Cloaks. These brightly lit garments bring smiles to faces, curiosity followed by intrigue, chased with a shot of glee. Austin loves its dance floors, festivals, and moments of abandonment. So what makes this local company so special?

Firefly Cloaks are a metaphor for Austin: they are festive and lively. I've seen this effect when someone first spots the cloak. There's a widening of the eyes, followed by a huge smile. Within the first minute of my wearing one in public, someone delightedly demands to know, "Where did you get that?!"

When I first caught a glimpse of the Firefly Cloak on Instagram, I had to reach out to the creator, Austin Bright Light Design. This is the ultimate shiny object. I had visions of feasting my eyes on it in person and even wearing one. My dancing diva dreams came true last week at The Sahara Lounge Ladies' Night, when co-founders Gilligan and Balcauski brought several of their shimmery wonders for a night of disco, funk, and soul sweating on the dance floor.

The Cloak Effect

Firefly Cloaks in Zilker Park

Dancers in Zilker Park (Credit: George Trent Grogan/Mountain Trout Photography)

We had a blast! Ms. Mack of soul band Ms. Mack and the Daddies loved dancing in a Firefly Cloak, exclaiming, "I feel like I can dance better in this cloak!" Another wearer simply beamed and smiled, then declared she felt like a queen. At each utterance of wonder and appreciation, Gilligan and Balcauski's smiles grew wider. Seeing everyone love their cloaks brought them a lot of joy.

Local fans and early adopters include several EDM shufflers because Firefly Cloaks make dancing so fun. Gilligan noted several times that Firefly Cloaks are also perfect for the socially awkward or introverts among us. Even the shyest cloak wearer will have no problem meeting people, as the cloak works double time as a people magnet and conversation starter.

Festival-goer's Fantasy

Syncing Firefly Cloaks Austin Texas

Firefly Cloaks can sync light programs within 40-50 feet of each other (Credit: Louie Ayuma Photography)

Back in 2013, Gilligan was playing around with making a brightly lighted outfit for Burning Man. Back then, there was barely anything on the market that would stand out in such an over-stimulated, wildly decorated gathering like Burning Man. The inventor never stopped thinking about this type of costume. He and Balcauski, a fellow frequent festival participant, kept talking about the concept. They  knew they wanted the wildest, most fun, most "obnoxious" (their words) outfits ever.

Fast forward to Voodoo Fest in New Orleans, and the prototype for Firefly Cloak was ready!

Find Your Inner Diva With Firefly Cloak

Kevin Russell of Shinyribs With Firefly Cloak at Austin City Limits TV Taping

Kevin Russell of Shinyribs wore his Firefly Cloak during his Austin City Limits TV taping (Credit: Jason Balcauski)

If you can't let your hair down at a festival and channel your inner dance diva, then why even go? As Gilligan and Balcauski walked into Voodoo Fest, throngs of people ran up to them, wanting to ogle, touch, and wear the cloaks. Several people offered to buy them right off the guys' backs. This was their "Aha!" moment.

So the duo launched a Kickstarter campaign to test the waters. They hit their goal and were off to the production line, ready to craft a super technical yet safe product for customers.

In 2017, Shinyribs lead singer and all-around Austin icon, Kevin Russell, wore a gold Firefly Cloak on stage at Blues on the Green. The Austin City Limits TV team caught the show and invited Shinyribs to a taping. ACL requested he bring his dancers, The Riblets, as well as the fabulous Firefly Cloak. Russell wore his cloak during the taping, boosting awareness for Austin Bright Light Design and the Firefly Cloak.

Technically Speaking

Firefly Cloak Invented in Austin

Firefly Cloaks beckon revelers to come closer (Credit: Jimmy Small Photography)

Gilligan and Balcauski spent the better part of three years tinkering, testing (live at festivals), and updating the cloaks. The lights don't simply blink in a repeated motion. Gilligan sought out the most advanced, smart LED lights out there. These have an inline controller and 115 pixels in each cloak. (In non-techie terms, this means the cloaks are extra rad.)

Each Firefly Cloak has more than 300 light programs in it, so you can choose your favorite color scenario. You can choose one base color, a color scheme, or stick with the brightest option: white. Another unique coolness factor is that several cloaks can synchronize to run on the same lighting program. Firefly Cloaks within a 40-50 foot radius of each other can sync up. Plus, they have dance handles!

Gilligan and Balcauski officially launched the glittery, fest-worthy Firefly Cloak for public consumption in March 2018.

Cloak Responsibly

Colorful Firefly Cloak Invented in Austin Texas

You won't NOT get noticed in a Firefly Cloak (Credit: Jimmy Small Photography)

Gilligan and I gave the cloaks a whirl at C-Boy's Heart & Soul, as he animatedly showed me all of the features. Before we moved inside with our cloaks on, we dimmed them to the lowest setting and put them on the lowest speed, so as not to be too distracting to the band or other clubgoers. "Cloak responsibly," he said.

The cloaks are thoroughly tested for safety and wearability, and each one can be worn for around three hardcore days of fests. The battery pack (that fits in a small pocket in the back of the cape) can also charge your phone!

The cloaks have a zip-out liner, pockets, and come with their own baby backpack. The holographic sequins add to the over-the-topness, with current colors including pink, turquoise, silver, gold, and a dark purple.

Due to all of the comfort, safety, and fashion features, production costs are high. The cloaks currently run around $300. However, if you stalk them on Instagram, you'll likely see a discount code come up via Austin Bright Light Design or Firefly Cloak. The team recently shipped out its first large production order, another step forward.

If you need to test drive one before you buy, Lucy in Disguise with Diamonds has partnered with Austin Bright Light Designs to rent out Firefly Cloaks. Plan in advance if you want to rent for a special occasion because they ran out within a single day as soon as the cloaks hit the floor.

Future's So Bright

Keep your eye on Austin Bright Light Design. With Gilligan and Balcauski's bottomless curiosity, constant experimenting, dedication to building the perfect experience, and commitment to making us all smile more, the Austin community can expect truly brilliant things from them!

Website

 

@theAustinot wants to know:

Where would you twirl in a Firefly Cloak?

***
We always have unique content on the Austinot, and we love to give things away. You know, like CDs, event tickets and other cool stuff. We only send out our Best of the Austinot newsletter two times/month. It's where we give you a recap of our best articles and give stuff away. Interested? Subscribe to Best of the Austinot here!

The post Shine Bright in LED Firefly Cloak by Austin Bright Light Design appeared first on The Austinot

Authentic Filipino Cuisine in Angier, NC is Worth the Drive

As I explored my new state of North Carolina, I haven't seen or heard much of Filipino restaurants. When my friend Arturo told me about one small restaurant called Filipino Cuisine in Angier, North Carolina, he mentioned how people would drive there from Virginia to satisfy their cravings. He then offered to drive a few of us food grammers for a weekend adventure. No fool says no to that! And yes, how lucky are we to have such a sweet friend?

Filipino Cuisine

Pictured foremost in the image above is the Crispy Pata, which is a Filipino dish consisting of deep fried pig trotters or knuckles served with a soy-vinegar dip. The flavor was delicious! I have a very sensitive case of lockjaw so personally, it was a bit too crispy and chewy for me. I did envy Arturo since he quite enjoyed his Crispy Pata!

Our Filipino friend ordered the sisig (pictured above), a Filipino dish made from parts of pig head and liver, usually seasoned with calamansi and chili peppers. However, if you have never had Filipino food before, I think the best bet is to get their combination plate, which has pancit (traditional Filipino rice noodle stir-fry and my favorite Filipino dish because I'm obsessed with all things noodles), a barbecue pork skewer, and lumpia (Filipino egg rolls). Their Chicken Adobo is also really tasty and tender.

When you go, do save room for the Halo Halo, a traditional Filipino dessert. It's quite a treat with sweet chickpeas, red bean, jello, jackfruit, sweet yams, bananas, all drizzled in evaporated milk. Swirl it with the shaved ice. And yes, that's a mini slice of flan on top.   
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Take Two Steps Back in Time at The Old Coupland Inn & Dance Hall

The outside of The Coupland Inn

Outside The Old Coupland Inn & Dance Hall in Coupland, Texas, north of Elgin

Dance halls hold a special places in Texan hearts. For much longer than I've been around, they've been places for the community to gather, share a dance, and be part of a bigger family. Many historical dance halls dot our state, and one such gem is The Old Coupland Inn & Dance Hall, east of Round Rock and about 40 minutes from downtown Austin.

The tiny town of Coupland became a center for live music and barbecue decades ago, drawing crowds almost as big as the population of the town itself. What is it about this quaint establishment that makes it so special? That's exactly what I sought to find out by spending a day and night at the inn.

Over a Century's Worth of History

Two-step at The Old Coupland Inn and Dancehall

The dance hall is a fabulous place to two-step (Credit: The Old Coupland Inn & Dance Hall)

The Old Coupland Inn & Dance Hall first opened its doors in 1906 as the Coupland Mercantile Company. The building later housed the Albers Drug Company. Plenty of doctors, dentists, and even a telephone company have called the establishment home.

In 1991, the owners at the time–the Worthys–created a Texas-sized dance hall from space previously occupied by a store. The new Coupland Dance Hall held two bars, a dance floor ready for musicians, and a big crowd. Soon after, the Worthys fired up the pit and out came delicious barbecue, born from family recipes. The ribs, pork, and brisket gained popularity as the perfect way to start a night at the inn.

Abbey Road

Abbey Road Owner of Coupland Inn and Dancehall

Abbey Road, current owner (Credit: The Old Coupland Inn & Dance Hall)

In 2017, The Old Coupland Inn & Dance Hall found a new owner in Abbey Road. The Worthys sold the business and property for a well-deserved retirement. After 34 years, The Old Coupland Inn & Dance Hall was about to go through a world of new.

Road has a special place in her heart for dance halls. She spent eight years as talent manager for one of Texas' oldest dance halls in Luckenbach, made famous by the Waylon Jennings song.

The sights and sounds, the feeling of community, and the fun to be had are all dear to Road. The Worthys couldn't have picked a better owner.

All Road's success and experience in Luckenbach led her to buy Coupland in a heartbeat. She's aiming to bring the love experienced in Luckenbach to Coupland, and has been working tirelessly since she gained ownership.

Good Food, Good Vibes, Good Music

The Old Coupland Inn and Dancehall Barbecue Platter

The barbecue platter at The Old Coupland Inn & Dance Hall

Road's experience results in a high level of music curation. She's particular about the bands she showcases. They have to have a certain level of professionalism, fan following, and be able to play quality tunes.

The results of this criteria were evident during the weekend I spent at Coupland. I wasn't aware before booking my stay that nine-time Grammy winner Asleep at the Wheel was performing that Friday night. Country music isn't my forte, but the atmosphere was contagious and I had a rollicking good time.

Road expects the same standard from the service and food. Start out with the brisket-stuffed jalapeƱo poppers–they're the crunchiest I've ever had. The brisket is mouth-watering and the pork ribs could make a nun swear. They're that good!

The two are even better with the delicious, homemade blueberry BBQ sauce. The coleslaw is fresh and the potato salad is rich. The servers are friendly and super helpful.

Where to Stay

Coupland Inn Room

One of seven rooms at Coupland Inn

So you've decided to check out Coupland. Great! Now the big question: where do you get some quality sleep after a night of dancing and drinking? Right there at Coupland, of course! The old-timey inn is home to seven rooms with classic decor. Lodging is right above the food hall, making this an ideal spot to crash.

As you enter the lodging area, you'll be greeted by a large, common room with plenty of couches, television, and several board games. The rooms line the outer edge of the common area.

Rooms are $135 per night. There are no assigned rooms–you simply pick one when you arrive. You'll find a small kitchen and a shared bathroom with shower stalls.

Final Thoughts on The Old Coupland Inn & Dance Hall

Asleep At The Wheel belting out tunes at the Coupland Dancehall

Asleep at the Wheel belting out tunes at The Old Coupland Inn & Dance Hall

The Old Coupland Inn & Dance Hall has gone through several lives before arriving at its current avatar. Abbey Road is carrying on the legacy of this beautiful building, while inserting her spin. She's been hard at work, breathing new life into old bones and creating an experience worth your while. Next time you're making weekend plans, consider visiting The Old Coupland Inn & Dance Hall.

101 Hoxie St., Coupland, Texas – Website

 

@theAustinot wants to know:

Have you ever gotten your two-step on at The Old Coupland Inn & Dance Hall?

***
We always have unique content on the Austinot, and we love to give things away. You know, like CDs, event tickets and other cool stuff. We only send out our Best of the Austinot newsletter two times/month. It's where we give you a recap of our best articles and give stuff away. Interested? Subscribe to Best of the Austinot here!

The post Take Two Steps Back in Time at The Old Coupland Inn & Dance Hall appeared first on The Austinot

Cyclist's Guide to Austin's Hike and Bike Trail Around Lady Bird Lake

Cyclists Guide to Austin's Hike and Bike Trail

Credit: Christopher V. Sherman/Over Austin

People always say to me, "Hey Jonas, you're always riding your bike around Lady Bird Lake. You must be an expert." Flattering? Sure. But the truth is, anyone can do it. I'm just a normal guy. A normal guy who, after not owning a bicycle since childhood, rekindled an old love and hasn't looked back.

What follows is my answer to the question of how to have the best cycling experience on the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail, a 10-mile trail of dirt paths, bridges, and boardwalk that wraps around Lady Bird Lake. Locals know it as "the hike and bike trail" or simply "the trail."

Feel free to pick and choose from my suggestions based on what works for you. Think of what follows as a trail cycling pu pu platter, of sorts.

Getting Ready

Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail Map Austin

Map of Austin's Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail around Lady Bird Lake

I don't discriminate when it comes to the time of day that I bike the trail. When planning your own trip, you may want to note that the boardwalk portion doesn't open until 5 a.m. (and closes at midnight). But no one has ever accused me of being a morning person.

Also, if you're looking to see the bats fly out from underneath the Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge, try to time it right in the evening (you'll pass under the bridge twice).

When I head out, I usually wear sunglasses, athletic gear that can get wet (more on that later), and $3 in cash. But really, all you need is a bicycle and ideally a helmet (I prefer a mountain bike, but the hike and bike trail is smooth enough for any type).

Start Riding

Turtles Along Austin's Hike and Bike Trail

Turtles are out along Austin's hike and bike trail

I live on the east side, so I ride south down Robert Martinez Jr. Street until I get to the baseball field (Mendoza Field), which is part of Edward Rendon Sr. Park. I take a left onto the dirt path and suddenly I'm on the trail. There are many points of entry, with parking and without, along the 10-mile loop. But this is my story. And this is my entrance.

Keep riding, through an underpass, past the Holly Street Power Plant, the wall covered with murals on your right, and the basketball courts on your left. Make your way over the unused train tracks and hit the Holly Shores At Town Lake Metro Park, where you ride straight across the peninsula. Wave to the people fishing and, as you cross over the wooden pedestrian bridge, look for turtles if the sun is out. They're everywhere.

Pleasant Valley Road Bridge Sunset

Sunset view from the Pleasant Valley Road Bridge

Follow the hike and bike trail and you'll soon reach the Pleasant Valley Road Bridge. The walking/cycling path is narrow, so keep an eye out for oncoming bikes and pedestrians as you ride by. If it's the evening, this is one of the best sunset views I've seen in Austin.

Have you ever wanted to see what the Lady Bird Lake looks like in tie dye colors? Then this is your sunset spot.

Cycling Lady Bird Lake's South Shore

Lady Bird Lake Gazebo

Gazebo at the end of the peninsula

Once you're on the other side of the bridge, you have some options. I like to take a right before the first pedestrian bridge and go out on the peninsula, where a gazebo sits at the tip. This is a great time to think about the mysteries of the universe or just give your mom a call. Once mysteries are solved or mom is updated, I'm back on my bike, retracing my tracks and veering right to go over the pedestrian bridge.

Soon you'll pass a workout station on your right. Depending on how I'm feeling at this point, I may get in some pull-ups or sit-ups, or just pretend I didn't see it until I've passed it. It would be silly to turn around at that point. So I bike on.

The boardwalk is coming up. This 1.3-mile section of the trail opened in June 2014, and looks brand new and kind of futuristic. Heading west, I continue on the twisting, winding path while peeking at the approaching downtown skyline on the other side of the lake.

Downtown Austin View From Boardwalk

View of downtown Austin from the boardwalk (Credit: Flipintex Fotos)

Around this point of my trip, I start to calibrate (as I do so often) how grateful I am to live in this city. I remember my time in New York City, where our idea of nature was taking the subway to Central Park. Or living in L.A., where I'd sit in traffic on the PCH for hours just to get to a Malibu hiking trail.

I now live in a city that has planned its infrastructure so well that I'm on a boardwalk looking across the blue water at a bustling downtown and the heavily wooded dirt path straight ahead, all in the same breath.

Shaded Hike and Bike Trail in Austin

So much green!

And just like that, I'm off the boardwalk and surrounded by green, with sun rays trickling in all over.

Bats, Dogs, and Vaughan

Congress Avenue Bats From Hike and Bike Trail

If you can time it right, you can see the bats do their thing as you're cycling along the trail

Soon I'm passing under the Congress Avenue Bridge, known for the aforementioned bats. Time it right, and you'll see over a million bats fly out from hiding. If it's around sunset, between March and November, you can expect a crowd waiting to see the show. If it's around any time of day, you can expect the smell of bat droppings. You'll be through it soon.

➡ Keep reading: Guide to Bat Season in Austin 

Auditorium Shores is now on my left, and I maintain focus in that direction to avoid seeing a second workout station on my right. Out of sight, out of mind. The famous Stevie Ray Vaughan statue is ahead on my right, but I can't look for too long because I'm cruising into the Auditorium Shores Dog Park.

The trail cuts right between the lake and the park, and these dogs always tend to be heading to one or the other in a hurry. The smart move is to slow down and make sure you avoid all the dogs who just remembered they have somewhere to be.

Stevie Ray Vaughan Statue in Austin

Stevie Ray Vaughan statue

Now is maybe a good time to mention you need to keep your head on a swivel at every point on the trail. Walkers, runners, cyclists, scooter-ers, dogs, and dog leashes are all in play.

Swim Break?

Barton Springs Austin

Barton Springs is a perfect break from cycling the trail

Pass under Lamar Boulevard Bridge and follow the trail next to flowing Barton Creek, which is a mixture of blue and green I'd never seen in water before moving here. If I'm ready for a swim–and during the summer I almost always am–I veer left and follow the walkway to what eventually becomes the south entrance of Barton Springs Pool.

I lock my bike, pay the $3 entrance fee, and am soon in the ice cold refreshing springs that can either boost your energy or cure your hangover, depending on the situation. Note: Barton Springs is closed on Thursdays.

➡ Keep reading: Guide to Barton Springs Pool, Soul of Austin

Barton Creek Pedestrian Bridge Austin

Looking down on the Barton Creek pedestrian bridge, part of the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail
(Credit: Christopher V. Sherman/Over Austin)

Back on my bike, I reverse course and follow the trail until I come to a footbridge, where I take a left. In the middle of the bridge, notice Barton Creek opening up into Lady Bird Lake, and maybe get yourself a picture of the water, canoes, kayaks, and paddleboards.

Return to Lady Bird Lake's North Shore

Lady Bird Lake View from Mopac Bridge

The view from the Mopac Expressway Bridge

Once again, I'm riding next to Barton Creek, this time back toward Lady Bird Lake. Lou Neff Point, where the creek meets the lake, is a worthwhile photo opp. Trust me.

Riding alongside Lady Bird Lake again, look for Zilker Park on your left. Before you know it, you're at Mopac Expressway Bridge, ready to cross to the north shore. I like to stop in the middle of the bridge and take in the activity on the water. Sometimes there's water polo practice going on below, and there are always nice houses if you look west (one day!).

➡ Keep reading: Guide to Austin's Zilker Park for Every Season of the Year

The trail stays relatively straight here, and our growing city, full of new buildings and cranes putting up new buildings, is in plain view to the left. Soon I'm back under Congress Avenue Bridge. Up until a few months ago, this section of the trail was the most dangerous part–a windy wooden bridge with blind corners, combined with crowds of people watching the bats during sunset hours. In early 2018, the bridge was updated. For a trail-lover like me, it made a big difference.

We are on the home stretch! It's impossible to miss what is coming up on your left, a massive sculpture called "Forever Bicycles" by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, installed in 2017. I won't explain the meaning and symbolism here (we have a ride to finish), but it's worth stopping to read about.

Forever Bicycles Sculpture Austin

"Forever Bicycles" by artist Ai Weiwei (Credit: Mike Thompson)

We'll be finishing the loop along the lake, on a dirt path, with the open grass of Edward Rendon Sr. Park on your left. I am suddenly back on the east side, feeling good and ready to head home.

Happy Cycling

To me, cycling is a workout, as well as a way to see both metropolitan and natural parts of our city. It's fun, a stress reliever, and a meditation of sorts. And finally, cycling this trail provides an unmistakable sense of community. I'll never tire of seeing Austin residents, people and dog varieties, being their best selves on the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail.

Hope to see you out there!

 

@theAustinot wants to know:

What's your favorite part of cycling the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail?

***
We always have unique content on the Austinot, and we love to give things away. You know, like CDs, event tickets and other cool stuff. We only send out our Best of the Austinot newsletter two times/month. It's where we give you a recap of our best articles and give stuff away. Interested? Subscribe to Best of the Austinot here!

The post Cyclist's Guide to Austin's Hike and Bike Trail Around Lady Bird Lake appeared first on The Austinot

7 Top Puerto Vallarta Things To Do

Walk along the sandy beach, take a boat ride to the different islands, or eat all the street tacos - here are the top 7 things to do in Puerto Vallarta!

The post 7 Top Puerto Vallarta Things To Do appeared first on A Taste of Koko - Austin's Top Food & Travel Blog.

VAT Refund 101: How To Get Money Back When Shopping In Europe

When I was in Europe, I spent $1,953.87 at the Gucci store in Milan and received a refund of $231.92 thanks to the VAT refund!

The post VAT Refund 101: How To Get Money Back When Shopping In Europe appeared first on A Taste of Koko - Austin's Top Food & Travel Blog.

20-Course Omakase At Otoko Austin

My dining experience at Austin's fine dining Japanese restaurant, Otoko, that only seats 12 people every night for it's $150 20-course omakase.

The post 20-Course Omakase At Otoko Austin appeared first on A Taste of Koko - Austin's Top Food & Travel Blog.

Sam's Town Point Honky Tonk Bar Makes Friends out of Strangers

Sam's Town Point Honky Tonk Bar in Austin

Neighborhood dive bar Sam's Town Point keeps south Austin tradition alive (Credit: Ramsay Midwood)

Dive bars used to be a dime a dozen in Austin, but these friendly hangouts are an endangered species due to the city's ever-changing landscape. Sam's Town Point, far south Austin's dive bar paragon, is quietly hanging in there, delivering up the coldest beer in town and tasty live music for those in the know.

Walk into Sam's Town Point, a portal to Austin's past, when everybody knew their neighbors, when half of the town hung out day-drinking and two-stepping at their local honky tonk. Live music has been a staple at Sam's since the beginning. Today, a solid roster of local bands still play their hearts out on the tumbledown stage, under dim lighting and faded signs.

Cowboy Boots Optional

Sam's Town Point Dance Floor for Honky Tonk in Austin

Sam's Town Point's dance floor beckons one and all (Credit: Ramsay Midwood)

Plenty of bars in Austin have live music nightly, but Sam's Town Point has been hosting shows since 1986 when it opened. Current owner Ramsay Midwood is an acclaimed Americana musician, longtime resident singer, and advocate for the bar.

And he plans to keep the hits coming. Midwood books fantastic acts. Local darling of Austin's music scene, Shinyribs, played his first gig at Sam's Town Point, as did Mike and the Moonpies.

Country punk ensemble Rattlesnake Milk plays there, as do Nikki Lane, Cale & the 45s, Jonathan Terrell, Daisy O'Connor, The Hillbilly Hustlers, and Midwood himself. The list goes on. The talent is impressive, since this dive bar remains super divey-casual.

Rattlesnake Milk Sam's Town Point in Austin

Rattlesnake Milk plays at Sam's Town Point (Credit: @drumrug)

Newer additions to Sam's calendar of events are Steel Mondays, a steel guitar evening of fun, Karaoke Wednesday with Scott Wade, and the Crescent Soul Revue with Jimmie Dreams. So while the place has an undeniably honky tonk feel, it's not all Justins and Stetsons.

Similar to my beloved Skylark Lounge and C-Boy's Heart and Soul, heading to Sam's Town Point is always a safe bet, even when you don't know who's playing. Odds are in your favor if you feel like cutting a rug or merely having a listening session.

Somehow staying true to its roots and classic honky tonk protocol, the bar patrons and servers are friendly and welcoming. Sam's is easy to go to alone for this reason. It's a gathering place for the neighborhood, a place where you can brush off the stress of the city and the traffic, and get to know those around you.

Sam's Town Point Owner Ramsay Midwood

Owner and musician Ramsay Midwood has been a part of the Sam's Town Point story since 2002
(Credit: Bob Zinc)

"We aim to be the friendliest little bar in Texas." This is Midwood's motto on Twitter, and I'd say he's at least in the running. The crowd is a mix of loyal regulars, neighbors, music aficionados, and enthralled hipsters.

The dance floor is big enough for a little boot scootin'. Even on a slow night, besotted couples and groups of friends put on a lively secondary show. Step out onto the patio, and you'll likely be invited to sit with a group of folks. Pull up a chair, order a beer, cider, or wine, and a bite to eat, and relax. You're in for a real treat.

➡ Keep reading: Places in Austin to Take Your Two Left Feet for Texas Two-step

Sam's Town Point: Then and Now

Late Sam's Town Point Owner Wally Grossman Jr.

The late Wally Grossman, Jr. and his mom, Penny, ran the bar for decades (Credit: Ramsay Midwood)

In 1986 when the Grossman family opened the bar, Austin had not experienced much southward sprawl. Thus, the bar was literally on the edge of town. Take that fact, and an investor named Sam from Chicago, and that's how you come up with the name: "Sam's Town Point." Penny Grossman and her son, Wally Jr., ran the place for decades, booking acts and cracking open ice cold beers for the masses.

As luck would have it, Ramsay Midwood inadvertently stumbled across Sam's Point in 2002 and fell in love on the spot. He started playing gigs there and soon headed the house band, backed by a rotating group of Austin musicians. Midwood took an unofficial role as advocate for the bar, helping organize things. He became part of the family at Sam's Town Point.

Tragedy struck in 2011, when Wally Grossman, Jr. died in a motorcycle accident. Penny Grossman could no longer bear the thought of running the bar without her son, nor could she manage the business end herself. When she started speaking of selling it, Midwood stepped in and offered to help. Grossman was so pleased at the thought of Midwood's involvement that she decided he should be the one to take over the bar.

On Wally's birthday, Dec. 13, 2016, Penny Grossman handed the reins to Midwood. She declared that if he took over the bar, "It would make the 30 years worthwhile." The previous owner didn't go far, though. She still has her designated chair at the front of the bar, where she can see the stage and hold court. Midwood is protective when he speaks of her. He is determined to take care of her and her legacy.

Sam's Town Point Sign

Come one, come all! We are all friends here (Credit: Ramsay Midwood)

While dive bars offer buckets of charm and personality, they often also come with a sheen of decades-old funk on everything. When he took over, Midwood set to work deep-cleaning the place and updating a few essentials. One can't help but notice that Sam's Town Point sits on a spacious plot of land. Midwood wanted to make use of this incredible asset.

He first had to survey the property, then clear all the brush and debris. He added fire pits for winter, and twinkly, green laser lights to the grand old oak out back.

He's slowly starting to see plans materialize for the rest of the buildings, with music studios and Airbnb rooms to rent. A gazebo and old beauty salon sit on the property. Midwood has some ideas for the beauty salon, so check back in a few months to see what comes to fruition in that space.

"Friends Are the Best Part of Life"

Friends Are the Best Part of Life Sign at Sam's Town Point

Sam's Town Point makes friends out of strangers, as all good dive bars do (Credit: Ramsay Midwood)

The sign as you leave the bar states, "Friends Are the Best Part of Life," a reminder of how friendly our Austin was and can still be. Sam's Town Point recalls a time when neighbors knew and looked out for each other. Without getting too many tears in my beer over this nostalgic feeling, I'll say it sure does my heart good to spend time at Sam's. This far south Austin dive has stood the test of time for 30-plus years, but staying afloat in a rapidly expanding Austin gets trickier all the time.

Check out the music schedule, pick a show or seven, and go already! We have to support our local treasures like Sam's Town Point, lest we risk losing them. Bring your chillest vibe and prepare to have a darn good time.

2115 Allred Dr. – Website

 

@theAustinot want to know:

Have you ever visited Sam's Town Point?

***
We always have unique content on the Austinot, and we love to give things away. You know, like CDs, event tickets and other cool stuff. We only send out our Best of the Austinot newsletter two times/month. It's where we give you a recap of our best articles and give stuff away. Interested? Subscribe to Best of the Austinot here!

The post Sam's Town Point Honky Tonk Bar Makes Friends out of Strangers appeared first on The Austinot

6 Summer Vacations To Book Right Now

Jet off to these six best summer vacation spots to escape the Texas heat and humidity!

The post 6 Summer Vacations To Book Right Now appeared first on A Taste of Koko - Austin's Top Food & Travel Blog.

Empowered Coffee Designs Meaningful Opportunities for Employees

Empowered Coffee Austin

A friendly smile, as sported by William here, is served with each cup from Empowered Coffee (Credit: Josh Baker)

What comes to mind when you think of coffee shops in Austin? Maybe an industrial interior, memorable coffee, latte art, or the barista–that bearded, tattooed, man-bun sporting espresso master. At Empowered Coffee, you will find all of these, except the barista you first envisioned.

This unpretentious coffee shop has one goal: serve a great cup of coffee. No long lines, complicated drinks, or pseudo-intellectual conversations. Empowered Coffee employs adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities (IDDs). The mission is to empower IDD adults by providing meaningful employment and growth opportunities.

Coffee From Wine

Owners of Empowered Coffee in Austin

Dr. Kim and Jonathan "Mr. Dr." Davis, founders and owners of Empowered Coffee (Credit: Josh Baker)

Dr. Kim Davis and her husband Jonathan founded Empowered Coffee. Dr. Davis had the opportunity to help Kayleigh, a young woman with Down Syndrome, finish the Austin Half Marathon in 2017. Kayleigh's commitment impressed Davis tremendously. Over a bottle of wine, she and Jonathan dreamt up a coffee shop, run by adults who have IDDs. Empowered Coffee opened shop two months later!

The impersonal experiences at chain coffee shops brought about the couple's tag line, "The Friendliest Way to Start Your Day!" Empowered Coffee is fulfilling this mantra.

Empowered Coffee Dream Team

Jobs for Intellectual and Development Disabilities in Austin

Dr. Kim and Jonathan Davis with Empowered Coffee's team (Credit: Josh Baker)

Jonathan Davis attributes a lot of Empowered Coffee's success to his team leader and general manager, Whitley Priddy. Priddy ensures the coffee shop functions like any other, with the normal ups and downs that arise.

Priddy loves working with IDDs and takes pride in teaching skills to a group of adults. According to her, people with intellectual disabilities don't have enough resources to gain the life skills they need. So her role at Empowered Coffee is a fantastic opportunity for her to be one such resource. She enables her crew to learn communication skills, manage inventory, and even help with accounting.

Allison Abramo, Program Manager of Supported Employment Program at The Arc of the Capital Area, contributed her expertise to designing training programs for Empowered Coffee employees. Her focus is on creating a work environment that leads to success for both employees and employers.

Work Perks

Empowered Coffee Jobs for IDDs in Austin

Whitley Priddy and William set up the coffee station (Credit: Josh Baker)

The employees of Empowered Coffee love working there, so much so that they make the daily to and from Pflugerville. The Davises aid this effort by paying for half of the ride share bill through Lyft.

Because Empowered Coffee is all about empowerment, employees are paid well over the average hourly rate. The coffee shop doesn't accept tips in the traditional sense. Instead, all tips are donated to Austin-based organizations that support increased physical activity for individuals with special needs.

IDD Employees at Empowered Coffee

The friendly faces of Empowered Coffee (L-R): Alden, Morgan, Casey, Tyler, William, Spencer, and Haley (Credit: Josh Baker)

The Davises and Priddy work hard to make sure employees get the most out of their jobs. The trio spends hours teaching employees important life and job skills, like accounting, operating a POS system, customer service, inventory, and more. Every person's learning curve is respected.

In addition to being an inclusive workforce for adults with IDDs, the coffee shop tries to be as environmentally friendly as possible. All the coffee is provided by Third Coast Roasters through sustainable sources, is fair trade, and often single origin.

Butter Bombs, a popular supplement produced by local company Lady Bird Provisions, are stored in biodegradable sugarcane containers. Taco Deli provides delicious tacos for purchase. Adry's Bakeshop, another inclusive workplace in Austin, makes the pastries at a home-based, artisanal bakery.

Small Shop, Big Impact

Delicious Pastries and Coffee in Austin

William and Alden helping a customer (Credit: Josh Baker)

Despite being only a few months old, Empowered Coffee has already done amazing things for the intellectually disabled community. Employing adults with intellectual disabilities, while leaving special treatment at the door, is fairly exceptional. The team works hard to work with employees in a collaborative fashion.

The owners and manager are always open to help others, especially those who want to start similar ventures. They offer their knowledge to anyone who's interested, spanning everything from writing job descriptions to training plans.

While the coffee shop has received an outpouring of support from the community through social media, buying a cup of coffee is the best support you can provide. Empowered Coffee is a for-profit business, with the intention of donating profits to organizations that advocate for people with intellectual disabilities.

So get involved with this awesome little coffee shop, and head over for a coffee and taco. The visit will truly start your day in the friendliest way!

410 Pressler St. – Website

 

@theAustinot wants to know:

Have you been to Empowered Coffee, or do you know of other local businesses like it?

***
We always have unique content on the Austinot, and we love to give things away. You know, like CDs, event tickets and other cool stuff. We only send out our Best of the Austinot newsletter two times/month. It's where we give you a recap of our best articles and give stuff away. Interested? Subscribe to Best of the Austinot here!

The post Empowered Coffee Designs Meaningful Opportunities for Employees appeared first on The Austinot

Mülü, Hottest New All-Natural Superdrink

How do you fuel your day? Today I'm trying a new all-natural superdrink called Mülü. 

The post Mülü, Hottest New All-Natural Superdrink appeared first on A Taste of Koko - Austin's Top Food & Travel Blog.

Day Trip to Lockhart, Texas to Find More Than Barbecue

Smitty's Market BBQ in Lockhart Texas

Lockhart is home to Smitty's Market, but that's just the beginning of what this Texas town offers
(Credit: Samantha Saenz)

Lockhart is synonymous with barbecue, so much so that it's been dubbed the Barbecue Capital of Texas. As a result, every year, people make a pilgrimage to indulge in the holy trinity of meat perfection, otherwise known as Black's, Smitty's, and Kreuz.

This small Texas town of 12,000, located just 30 minutes south of Austin in Caldwell County, has come a long way from its humble beginnings as a cowboy town along the Chisholm Trail. Lockhart is even starting to expand past its reputation as The Lone Star State's ultimate barbecue destination–though that reputation is still firmly in place.

The "city with a vision" has become a home for breweries, musicians looking to escape Austin's skyrocketing prices, and big city-esque establishments. You should expect to linger longer when you explore downtown because there's much more than barbecue waiting to be discovered.

Thank you to Ellison House and various other businesses featured in this article for hosting me at no charge. All opinions are my own.

What to See in Lockhart

Indulge in the great outdoors, shopping, and Caldwell County's rich history by visiting the points of interest below.

Caldwell County Courthouse

Caldwell County Courthouse

Stroll the grounds of Caldwell County Courthouse located in the center of Lockhart

"Lockhart was an old cowboy town-a rough cowboy town," Taylor Burge, co-owner of Chaparral Coffee, told me over lunch. Take a glance at the town's history and you'll agree.

While assistant surveyor Byrd Lockhart was the first to step on Lockhart soil, Caldwell County was founded in 1848 and named for Indian fightin' and Texas Declaration of Independence signin' Mathew Caldwell.

Throughout the years, both Lockhart and the surrounding county have weathered Comanche raids and cattle drives, housed Confederate soldiers, and formed part of the Independence and Chisholm trails.

There's no doubt that if the beautiful red Pecos sandstone-trimmed walls of the courthouse could talk, they'd have a lot to say. So when you're in town, don't miss the opportunity to stroll the courthouse's gorgeous grounds and pop inside to marvel at the architecture.

You may even catch a glimpse of the bullet holes on the second floor where Sheriff John Henry Franks and Lockhart City Marshall John L. Smith had their infamous shootout on Feb. 19, 1915.

110 S. Main St. – Website

Caldwell County Jail Museum

Caldwell County Jail in Lockhart, Texas

The former Caldwell County Jail is now a museum open to the public

On East Market Street, there's a towering five-story red brick building that was built in 1908. No, the Norman style castellated building didn't house any wealthy residents, only the area's inmates until 1983.

Today, the historical jail has been turned into a museum. Visitors can see the cells on the second, third, and fourth floors, as well as donated artifacts representing the county's history.

314 E. Market St. – Website

Dr. Eugene Clark Library

Dr. Eugene Clark Library in Lockhart

Visit the oldest continually operating library in Texas

While you're in town, don't miss seeing the oldest operating library in Texas. Built in 1899, Lockhart's library was funded by Eugene Clark, a doctor native to New Orleans. Dr. Clark practiced in Lockhart for 13 years before moving to San Antonio and becoming ill. On his deathbed, he left $10,000 to the city of Lockhart to construct the library.

Walk through the doors to gawk at the breathtaking floor-to-ceiling stained glass windows; browse the books; or climb the red spiral staircase to catch a glimpse of Irving Club, the second oldest Women's Federated Club in Texas (staff permitting). The club was founded in 1886 as a place for woman writers to meet regularly. Some of the original furnishings from Feb. 20, 1900, still occupy the room today.

217 S. Main St. – Website

Lockhart State Park

lockhart-state-park

Blaze your own trail at Lockhart State Park (Credit: Samantha Saenz)

Swim, golf, hike, or camp at this 263.7-acre state park on the outskirts of town that was created in the 1930s. Clear Fork Creek snakes along several of the park's hiking trails, allowing visitors to take in scenic views as well as wildlife.

2012 State Park Road – Website

Where to Shop in Lockhart

In addition to numerous antique and upscale vintage stores, you'll find several boutiques and clothing stores on the square. While you make your own discoveries, don't miss the following local businesses.

  • Inta Mint Lockhart: Are you into the color mint, or just want to shop intimate apparel? Follow the green-hued staircase down to shop for loungewear and more.
  • Lulu's Eatery & Clothier: Clothing store in the front, restaurant in the back, Lulu's is a one-stop shop.
  • Take Care Apothecary: This purveyor of natural and organic soaps, incense, and home goods has everything for taking care of number one. Stop in to see for yourself.
  • Rollfast Ranchwear: Ben Sparks (of Western Swing band The Rollfast Ramblers) and his wife Jen are selling Made in the U.S.A. western- and vintage-inspired clothing. Their funky little shop has a 1940s feel. 

Where to Eat and Drink in Lockhart

You can't visit the Barbecue Capital of Texas without indulging, so look to the places below to get your carnivorous fix. But while you're at it, don't miss the opportunity to dine at the other culinary gems in town.

The Original Black's Barbecue

Original Black's Barbecue in Lockhart

Brisket, sausage, ribs-you can have it all at The Original Black's Barbecue

Although there's now a location in Austin off the Drag, The Original Black's Barbecue has called Lockhart home since 1932. Ownership has spanned four generations, making this barbecue joint the oldest in Texas owned by the same family.

Black's offers nine different types of meat, including brisket, pork spare ribs, smoked turkey breast, chopped brisket, beef and pork ribs, chicken, and chopped pork. The restaurant also offers a plethora of tasty sides to accompany the meat of your choosing. In my opinion, the sides are what distinguish this barbecue purveyor from the competition, so don't skip 'em.

215 N. Main St. – Website

Smitty's Market

Smitty's Market Pitmaster in Lockhart

Martin tends to the pit at Smitty's Market

Over a cocktail, I was told the coals in Smitty's barbecue pit have been burning for 100 years. But Edgar "Smitty" Schmidt's grandson, John Fullilove, was quick to put that fire out. "That's my competition's claim," he told Williams Sonoma, referring t0 Kreuz Market. But the truth is still impressive. Fullilove says Smitty's coals have been "burning for 20 to 30 years for sure without relighting."

Barbecue has been smoked and sold under the Smitty name since 1948. Head into the smoky, expansive building on the square to get your hands on brisket, prime rib, pork chops, smoked turkey breast, and some of the best sausages in town. Texas Monthly has called this place one of the Top Barbecue Restaurants in Texas.

208 S. Commerce St. – Website

Kreuz Market

Kreuz Market Lockhart Texas BBQ

Kreuz Market, serving Lockhart barbecue since 1900 (Credit: Robert Hensley via Flickr CC)

At Kreuz Market, ribs and sausages are served on butcher paper with "no sauce and no forks." And you will be reminded of this many times as you make your way through the line, so consider this your forewarning and don't ask. Eating by hand was the way Charles Kreuz Sr. did things back in 1900 when he opened his grocery store and market. His successors intend to keep the tradition going.

And that's not the only one of his grandfather's traditions that Keith Schmidt is keeping alive. As you may recall from above, Kreuz claims on its website: "the building's new but the fire in the brick pits is the same that's been burnin' for 100 years. Pit Master Roy Perez and Lehman Schmidt drug the burning coals a quarter mile from the original location to make sure of it."

Chew that one over, as you savor ribs, turkey, brisket, and pork. And don't forget to try the German-inspired sides like potato salad and sauerkraut-you won't find them anywhere else.

619 N. Colorado St. – Website

Caracara Brewing Company

Caracara Brewing Company in Lockhart Texas

Wheat or IPA, the choice is yours at Caracara Brewing Company

BYOBBQ is the name of the Caracara Brewing Company game and the winner is always Y-O-U! (That acronym stands for Bring Your Own Barbecue, in case you weren't sure.)

Grab barbecue from your establishment of choice and head to Caracara to enjoy one of the blonde, wheat, or IPA beers brewed by Mike Mann, co-founder of The Beer Diaries.

100 A E. Market St. – Website

Chaparral Coffee

Chaparral Coffee Lockhart Texas

From coffee to iced tea, Chaparral Coffee will quench your thirst

Lockhart only has one coffee shop. Fortunately, Chaparral is doing things so right that I can't imagine needing another one.

Love and Lattice Homemade Pop Tarts in Lockhart Texas

Chaparral Coffee carries mouthwatering homemade pop tarts made by Love & Lattice

Husband and wife duo, Austin and Taylor Burge, are serving coffee, tea, beer, and wine with a smile. Did I mention the out-of-this-world Love & Lattice homemade pop tarts? Stop in, grab a drink, and indulge in said pastries as you take in a picturesque view of the courthouse.

106 E. Market St. – Website

Loop & Lil's Pizza

Loop and Lil's Pizza in Lockhart

Loop & Lil's has picture perfect pizza sold by the slice or whole pie (Credit: Samantha Saenz)

"Oldest best friend owned pizzeria in Lockhart, Tx" is what Loop & Lil's website comically boasts. That's because a group of pals from Austin (Chris Hoyt, Layne Tanner, Richard and Miranda Platt) got together and opened the family-style pizzeria in June 2015.

Since then, the quartet has been slinging pies with freshly-made dough and carefully-selected cheeses. Platt is a former Whole Foods employee and takes ingredient quality seriously.

This pizzeria also serves hot sandwiches, desserts, and fresh salads, along with a rotating selection of Texas craft beer on draft.

107 N. Main St. – Website

The Pearl

The Pearl Cocktail Bar in Lockhart

Enjoy a Franks Manhattan or classic Margarita at this historic bar in Lockhart

For 78 years, there has been a bar in the 122-year-old building The Pearl now occupies, making it the oldest bar in Lockhart. The Pearl, whose name was inspired by the owner's father who worked at The Pearl Brewery in San Antonio, opened its doors in 2016 as a place to "enjoy cold beer, spirits, and lively conversation." Since then, it has gone on to be voted Best Bar in Lockhart for two consecutive years. It also won Best Cocktails and Best Bartender in 2018.

Fill a seat and order a beer, glass of wine, or expertly-crafted cocktail such as the Franks Manhattan that was named after the same Sheriff John Henry Franks who met his demise at the courthouse.

619 N. Colorado St. – Website

Extend Your Stay at Ellison House

Ellison House Lodging in Lockhart

The historical Ellison House is the perfect home away from home (Credit: Samantha Saenz)

Didn't get enough of Lockhart's exquisite cuisine and small town charm? Then turn your day trip into a weekend thing by booking the Ellison House. This picturesque boutique boarding house, only blocks away from historical downtown Lockhart, is the perfect choice whether you're looking for a single room or whole house rental option.

Ellison House was originally built in the 1860s by James F. Ellison for his family, and went on to house several well-to-do families throughout the decades. It's been restored to all of its former glory, exuding a modern farmhouse vibe that can only be described as a 360-degree visually stunning experience.

Proprietors Quarters Room at Ellison House in Lockhart Texas

The Proprietors Quarters is one of four sleeping options at Ellison House

Guests looking for a unique lodging arrangement can choose from four spacious rooms: The Colonel's Retreat, The Temple Room, Ellison's Library, or The Proprietor's Quarter. Each room has a keyless entry system and includes access to a shared living room and giant kitchen, plus secluded porches and patios. With such beautiful and tranquil accommodations, Ellison House might make you consider a permanent switch to small town life.

434 N. Blanco St. – Website

Honorable Mentions

Here are a few other attractions and places you may find interesting while you're in Lockhart.

  • Chisholm Trail Roundup: Every second weekend in June, Lockhart celebrates its Chisholm Trail history with a rodeo and music festival. It's fun for the whole family.
  • First Friday: Every first Friday of the month is an opportunity to support local business. Participating merchants are open from 5-8 p.m. for your shopping pleasure.
  • Sip and Stroll: Drink, chow, wander, and trailblaze at this annual mini-festival hosted by the Downtown Business Association. One ticket entitles you to a total of 10 beer and wine tastings at participating businesses stationed throughout town. Tickets raise funds to promote and beautify the community.
  • Lockhart Bistro: Don your fancy pants to dine at this upscale diner that offers appetizers, main courses, and 20 craft beers on tap.
  • Arts & Craft: Take a class, enjoy a game night, or browse the photo gallery while sipping your favorite adult beverage. This business is a bar, art studio, and community center all in one.

 

@dollarsaenz wants to know:

What's your favorite thing to do in Lockhart, Texas?

 

The original version of this article was published Aug. 16, 2016.

***
We always have unique content on the Austinot, and we love to give things away. You know, like CDs, event tickets and other cool stuff. We only send out our Best of the Austinot newsletter two times/month. It's where we give you a recap of our best articles and give stuff away. Interested? Subscribe to Best of the Austinot here!

The post Day Trip to Lockhart, Texas to Find More Than Barbecue appeared first on The Austinot