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2012 - Summer Issue
Vida Buena
Article: Jessica Muncrief
Photos: Joe Burgess
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Austin is absolutely the center of the Lone Star State, as its political capital and the home of the University of Texas Longhorns. Past issues of Ventanas and ¡Sabroso! magazines have highlighted the exciting downtown dining and entertainment district of the city – this article will focus on some of the city's more unique and perhaps funky attributes, as well as nearby lakeside offerings and area attractions. There is truly something for everyone in the Austin area, but no doubt about it, the experience is Texas style!

    Photo Captions

 1.) Lucy in Disguise
with Diamonds
 2.) Lakeway Resort & Spa
 3.) Lake Travis
 4.) Josey's Grill & Bar
 5.) Lake Austin Spa
 6.) South Congress Ave. - SoCo
 7.) Mighty Cone Food Truck
 8.) Live Music Capital
of the World
 9.) SoCo Shops
10.) Lyndon B. Johnson Ranch
11.) Fredricksburg Texas
12.) Hopdaddy's Burger Bar
13.) Flying Saucer
14.) Cypress Valley
Canopy Tours
15.) Flying Saucer
16.) The Driskill
  Additional photography courtesy of: Lakeway Resort and Spa, Lake Austin Spa Resort, Cypress Valley Canopy Tours
  Additional Information
about Austin Texas
I have chosen a full service lakeside resort for the home base of this excursion, one that by itself provides all the amenities for a memorable vacation. Plus, it is only 18 miles from festive downtown Austin. I will also highlight some other fascinating and challenging experiences that I'll be sharing with everyone I know.

The Lakeway Resort and Spa on the shores of Lake Travis, a 19,000-acre lake that stretches 63 miles, includes 174 guest rooms providing stunning lakeside views. Lakeway offers a variety of recreational activities and amenities for guests to enjoy during their stay including: three swimming pools with swim-up bar, heated whirlpool, outdoor pool deck with cabanas and lounge chairs, 24-hour fitness center and a full service marina and sailing academy. Entertainment includes air hockey, board and card games, croquet, gaga pit dodgeball, horseshoes, ping pong, pool, tetherball and Wii. The Lakeway World of Tennis and four different golf courses are close by.

Josey's Grill and Bar at the Lakeway embraces Austin's roots by incorporating local ingredients, bold flavors and a rich history that represents Texas' famous cuisine. Josey's is open daily for lunch and dinner while breakfast and happy hour can be enjoyed at the Back Porch. The San Saba Spa offers exclusive regional-themed treatments such as the Colorado River rock massage (referring to the Colorado River that runs through Austin), the soothing Texas desert wrap and the San Saba salt glow.

An alternative accommodation for those wanting a health and wellness retreat, is the Lake Austin Spa Resort, voted the #1 destination spa in North America by the readers of Condé Nast Traveler in 2008, 2010 and 2011. The LakeHouse Spa offers the best of the world's ancient and modern therapeutic techniques. The healthy cuisine receives excellent reviews. Lake Austin is located on the edge of the city, close enough to slip out for an occasional taste of the real world à la Austin.

In addition to Austin's famed downtown entertainment district, there are pockets of unique food and music venues throughout the city that are totally alive, such as SoCo, or South Congress Avenue district. Antiques, boutiques, galleries, eclectic shops, restaurants, coffee houses and some very intriguing food trucks make for an exciting excursion. And don't forget, Austin is the "music capital of the world," with live music everywhere.

I boldly tested the hot & crunchy shrimp avocado cone at The Mighty Cone – yes, one of the food trucks on South Congress. It is deep-fried shrimp and avocado rolled in a tortilla and dropped in a paper snow-cone cup. Really! The "Iced Turbo" at Jo's Hot Coffee had sufficient caffeine to keep me wired through several hours of exploring the Avenue. The best burger ever is at Hopdoddy's Burger Bar – and a good beer selection to boot. If you can't stray too far from your Mexican food urge, Guerro's Taco Bar is excellent. Uncommon Objects and Lucy in Disguise with Diamonds are two of the many memorable shops in the area, but finding something that a person actually needs could be a challenge. In warmer weather evenings, you can catch the bats exiting the Congress Avenue Bridge over Lady Bird Lake – just like Carlsbad Caverns, but in downtown Austin.

I want to mention another pocket on North Lamar that caught my attention. It is a small, high energy shopping and restaurant complex called The Triangle. The Flying Saucer is a beer emporium and restaurant with an incredible offering of beer from around the world. Lagers, hybrids, ales – hundreds of them. Check out their U.F.O Club on line. While there, try their pig and peppers pie covered with fresh herb tomato sauce, mozzarella, roasted red bell peppers, beer-brat and jalapeños.

The next day, I decided a road trip was in order. I traveled deeper into the hill country west of Austin to the Lyndon B. Johnson Ranch and then on to Fredricksburg. The 36th president's Texas White House, a National Historical Park, adjoins a Texas state park and historic site comprised of an interactive farm and ranch. Of course, in addition to the fact that a river runs through it, I was impressed that on the other side of LBJ's Lincoln convertible collection was his own lighted landing strip and a small four-engine jet marked Air Force One.

Fredericksburg is a historic, but high-energy community settled by German immigrants. The schnitzels are almost as tasty as the ones I remembered from my army years in Germany…and the beer selection – bold. The architecture is old world and there are lots of shops for visitors. Don't miss the National Museum of the Pacific War, located in Fredericksburg – the childhood home of Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz.

Finally, who's up for zipline? The Austin area hosts three challenging zipline facilities. Wimberley Zipline Adventures southwest of Austin consists of eight separate ziplines ranging from 150 feet to 900 feet – Lake Travis Zipline Adventures on the north side of the lake consists of a three hour course with five zips ranging from 300 feet to over 2,400 feet crossing canyons and lake inlets –

For an eco-adventure west of Lakeway, Cypress Valley Canopy Tours zips you above the canopy of hundred-foot, old growth cypress tress on three sky bridges and six ziplines, the longest of which is 350 feet. An additional canopy challenge provides longer and faster ziplines, but you have to complete the first one before tackling the second. ///
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