Where does a group of friends from Cincinnati go when they need a break from the mundane midwest Ohio life? It needed to be a city that is a mecca for foodies, a city that would leave us wanting more, a city that was anything but Cincinnati. After many hours of hard core pintersting, a bunch of nachos and a few drinks…it was decided. We are going to Austin! Oh and for a fun surprise a few weeks before the trip we found out I was pregnant. This is a journey to Austin through the eyes of a pregnant woman!
First Thing First Food…Better yet…BBQ…better yet Franklin BBQ
Yeah, yeah…typically pregnant woman…get off the plane and wants to go immediately shovel something in her face hole. Here is the thing…1) You are not wrong and 2) My fellow travel companions were starving as well. Everyone agreed to go try out the holy grail of BBQ joints in the whole U.S.of A…Frankin’s BBQ. I am so glad we decided to do this right out of the gate…because the line is seriously two hours long…at 10am! So grab a chair (they have folding chairs you
can use) get a drink ( they sell beer and water while you are in line) and relax as you wait from some truly outstanding BBQ. By the time you get to where you can see the food you are ready to order one of everything off the menu. Then you are contemplating taking some home for later. Sooo….we may have done just that, minus the carry out.
Now I’m not going to say we were proud of how much meat we put away, but it was an impressive amount. We should have gotten a free t-shirt and our group photo on the wall. However, after our BBQ bonanza we really couldn’t eat it for the rest of the trip or the rest of year for that matter. After you overdose on some serious Q like that the mere smell of BBQ makes you nauseous, pregnant or not.
I could swear that at some points during the duration of the trip the smell of BBQ could be smelled seeping out of the sewers. Needless to say…still worth it! It was so superb that my friend brought the Franklin BBQ cookbook for her father, a BBQ fanatic, who had to then immediately start working his way through the each savory recipe.
Attempted to see the World’s Largest Urban Bat Colony
If you want to see a beautiful Austin sunset with about 100 strangers and a disturbing bat boy yelling profanities I would recommend going down to the Congress Bridge to “see the bats”. Austin is home to the world’s largest urban bat colony who have set up shop under the Congress Bridge. Every evening they fly out from under the bridge for all to see, which is “suppose” to be an amazing spectacle of mother nature.
Ummmm not so much for us. The only spectacle I got to witness was some serious fashion faux pas and some dude tipping his kayak. To be fair I might not have been in the right viewing area for the bats, for I am not a bat expert. It took a friend of mine jeopardizing their beloved iPhone to shine a light over the railing of the bridge. All so we could get a glimpse of the bat frenzy below. My recommendation, get on the bat boat. Austin offers a sunset cruise and bat tour that seemed to look for promising for those who want to see the bats. http://www.capitalcruises.com/bat-watching/
Eat, Eat and Drink Everything
Ahhh the favorite activity of every pregnant woman, eating. Let me tell you, there is lots…and mean LOTS to eat in Austin. Voodoo donuts…why yes, I’ll have three. Food truck tacos?! Two of those is a mid day snack! Pizza anytime and all the time and I’ll wash it down with chicken tika marsala at the G’Raj Mahal. Oh and I can’t leave out the gourmet grilled cheeses, loaded tater tots, more pizza and even more tacos that I consumed in my short time there.
Speaking of tacos, you haven’t experienced Austin until you have had some amazing food truck tacos in this delectable city. In a pathetic attempt to eat healthy we did venture to the Whole Foods flagship store. It is worth a visit since they have such an enormous variety of things that will make you drool.
Visit the State Capital Building
The Texas Capital building is truly a site to behold and offers tours daily. If you do a little research you can go on one of the their themed tours. We happened to be there before Halloween and they were offering a Rest in Peace Tour, which told the story of the capital building and the ghosts that haunt it. It is a free tour and worth the time to go and check out….plus you might learn something.
If you aren’t the “tour in a group” type of person, download the brochure and do a self guided tour. Don’t be shy in talking with the staff. By striking up a conversation with the security office he let us in a little secret and took us to a employee who gave us a special behind the scenes tour of the Governor’s reception room. It was one of the highlights of our trip. Talking with locals can really make your travel experience memorable.
Go to the Midnight Cowboy on 6th Street
6th street is not for anyone who is pregnant or over the ripe old age of 30. As I roamed the wild streets that were filled with drunken college kids, deafening music and horse shit (literally watch out for it!)…I realized that I am no longer one of them. I have matured to a point, where I wanted to feel like I was on vacation and not on spring break in south padre island. As I ate my mediocre street pizza, likely my third slice of the day, I pondered what the hell I was doing here. Seriously, someone in a bikini just walked by…oh no…that was her actual top for the evening. *sigh* as I looked down at my maternity mu mu covering my ever growing pooch…I needed more pizza to handle this.
There was respite for my weary old pregnant soul though. In the midst of the sea of bachelorettes and frat brothers there is a secret bar hidden away called the midnight cowboy. This bar is truly unique as it doesn’t have a sign outside and you can only access it by being buzzed in. There is a red light outside that will come on if they have tables available. After you are buzzed in you magically enter another world. You have been transported into a vintage speakeasy that offers handcrafted cocktails and is serene enough for you to have a conversation with those around you. No loud music, no loud drunks and they had cozy booths to sit. Sitting is highly valued and revered to the pregnant. Everyone got amazing cocktails made table side and they were even able to whip up an enticing non-alcoholic spritzer for yours truly.
Hamilton Pool Preserve
This gorgeous natural pool is only 23 miles outside of Austin and definitely worth a day trip to visit. The actual hike to the pool is not that strenuous. If an out of shape pregnant woman was able to do it without dying in a cactus patch, so can you. You can hike all around the pool which offers plenty of selfie opportunities and photo opts. There are a few things to consider:
1) There are certain months were reservations are required to go to the pool. Double check the official website https://parks.traviscountytx.gov/find-a-park/hamilton-pool .
2) There is a fee per vehicle so be sure to have the money to pay…because there is literally not much around the preserve except vast wilderness.
3) Bring water because its hotter than a hoochie coochie out there.
4) Get your camera, your selfie stick and go pro ready for some amazing photos and take in this natural wonder.
Austin Brewery Tour
Traveling with a pregnant woman is like traveling with your own personal Uber driver. It would just be downright shame to not take advantage of this golden opportunity. So we put together a brewery tour that would make Jack Maxwell proud. We started off with the one and only Oskar Blues. Since I was not drinking I can give you the tour through the taste buds of my fellow travelers and the amenities that each brewery had.
Oskar Blues- A super fun joint that hosts live music and has a variety of games that customers can enjoy while they partake of the hoppy goodness. After an exhilarating game of exploding kittens over some drinks it was time to move on. Be sure to check out the distributing area of the brewery, it’s quite impressive.
Pro Tip: Get a flight to sample the different options that each brewery has to offer or it can be split up among the group to avoid getting drunk faced in a hurry.
Jester King- This was hands down a favorite of the group, and I will admit for someone who wasn’t drinking this was a great brewery. They did sell things other than beer, but per my comrades this is the place to go! Fair warning, this place is huge!! Outdoor covered seating and selling food aka pizza put this place at the top of my list.
Zilkner- This brewery just happened to be conveniently located next to the Cat Cafe that was a must see destination. Just expect decent beer and tight spaces here, nothing to write home about.
Last Stand Brewing Company– This brewery was a little bit of drive, so combine this with a trip to Jester King because they are in close proximity. They also sell the epitome of gourmet drunk food here. Loaded tater tots and grill cheese…I died and went to carbohydrate heaven. The crew enjoyed the beer, but the best kept secret isn’t the brewery, but the gin distillery across the street.
STOP AT REVOLUTION SPIRITS FOR THE BEST DAMN GIN
YOU WILL EVER TASTE!
We stumbled into the distillery on a whim and it ended up being a hidden gem. Amazing gin cocktails are one of the few things at the distillery, in addition to giving a great tour about how gin is made. They even made a non alcoholic version for me! The entire group raved about how delicious and flavorful the gin was. When my best girlfriend who is a well respected gin connoisseur, declared it to be the best gin she has ever had, we had to buy a bottle to take home for me to try in a few months.
Skip forward 10 months, in honor of me having my first sip of the nectar we threw a gin opening party. I must say that I concur with my fellow travelers…it was beyond amazing. That is coming from someone who is not a gin drinker. Get there and try it for yourself and then bring me a bottle back!
Blue Cat Cafe’
I know what you are thinking, seriously a Cat Cafe’?! Who wants to grab a coffee in a place that smells like
day old kitty litter and cat urine! That is not the case my friends. While slightly hokey this place is a must stop on any cat lovers itinerary. Not only are some proceeds going to support your furry feline friends, you can adopt some of the cats as well.
Please note that the cafe does not stink. However, if you have cat allergies stock up on the Zyrtec before entering. Otherwise you will look like Will Smith in Hitched. Be sure to pick yourself up some amazing cat ears…you should never leave home without them!
Learn the Two Step at the Broken Spoke
Dust off you boots and two step your way into one of the last true Texas dance halls. This was a true Texan experience that I absolutely adored and loved. You don’t need to know how to dance, but don’t get in the way of those who are.
They do offer quick lessons on how to do the two step
and other line dances, which we accidentally missed. We did managed to muddle our way through a few songs, but onlookers judged us privately. Yeah, yeah…we are from Ohio…all I know is the electric slide and the cupid shuffle. They do have dinner and drinks here for those interested. They even offer a pregger punch for those not looking to partake, which was pretty darn good. To cap off our evening we two stepped right into Torchy Taco’s, because hey, dancing and being pregnant works up an appetite!
Word of advice: If you are looking for a really unique and beautiful place to stay go to the Driskill Hotel. It can be hella expensive so if your budget doesn’t allow for it stop in at the bar. Walk around and enjoy the grandeur of this historic hotel.
Most of all, remember no matter what you do in Austin have fun and stay curious!!