One of the most exciting benefits of a traveling lifestyle is you can choose when and where you want to be at a certain time of the year. This really comes in handy when you want to celebrate your birthday in a new city full of intriguing adventure.
This was a milestone birthday for me and I was feeling a little sad about this one. I am so thankful for life and God blessing me with another year, but I was sad because I feel like this birthday symbolized me becoming a true adult. You would think the fact that I was already a wife, mother, and working as a nurse with lives in my hands would have already categorized me being an adult, and I’m sure it does, but for some reason it didn’t really hit home until I had to check the number 30 for my age bracket.
So for this birthday, I wanted to to spend the day doing something new, fun, lively, and well something that made me feel like a kid again. I chose Austin, Texas for this stop because this is a place you can get it all.
Before I tell you about these birthday festivities I want a disclaimer stating we consumed and unreal amount of calories and this is strictly due to the fact that no judgement can be passed on what is done on a birthday celebration. Just keep that in mind because it’s about to get ridiculous.
We started the day off with lunch at Torchy’s Tacos in Austin’s Trailer Park Eatery. Yes lunch. Because we have a 21 month old and it takes us forever to get anywhere these days.
That being said, these tacos are amazing and we even went back for a second trip a couple days later because we could’t get enough. Austin is known for it’s food trucks and we had to take every opportunity to hit these up.
Both days I went with the shrimp taco because these are always a staple for me and this was not a decision I regret. Hubby went with beef and pork, his faves, and our little one demolished some rice, beans, chips and salsa which is her go-to. We all had a little bit of everything to get this party started!
Walking distance from the Trailer Park Eatery, Gourdough’s Donuts is a place you can’t miss. We took a stroll to this gem. You talk about AMAZING! Gourdoughs offers not just any donuts, these are specialty donuts with plenty of topping and filling options.
It is hard to decide on just which one to choose. We went with Sara’s Joy which is Coconut Flavored Filling With Fresh Coconut & Fudge Icing. Again on a separate occasion (on a different day) we came back for more and went with Mama’s Cake, a Yellow Cake Batter Filling With Chocolate Fudge Icing. This one actually made our daughter dance as she ate it. We call it the donut dance and this is a real condition…..It’s that good.
This is so embarrassing to admit, but yes we went back for thirds during our Austin adventure before we left town by the end of the week. But in our defensive, it was because we found out this place actually has a restaurant location that serves it sandwiches and burgers with none other than a donut bun!
You heard that right, and can I just say it was one of the best things I have ever eaten. If I tried to describe it, it would be almost like a sweet croissant bun but that doesn’t give it justice. Its the perfect amount of sweet and soft that melts in your mouth and to wash it down we went with the Blackout Donut.
This donut is composed of a full chocolate brownie on top completed with chocolate icing and chocolate chips. It is insane this is even a thing but I am witness that it is. I promise this is not how we usually behave when we travel, but this place was SO GOOD and we knew it would be our grand finale of Austin and we wanted to go out with a bang and that we did.
Moving on from food (although I will come back to some of that later because Austin has some of the best food ever) Austin is also known for it’s murals and street art. You will see these hidden gems all over town and it’s a fun time just driving around hitting up all these spots. I wanted to check out a couple for some family photo ops.
Graffiti Park at Castle Hills is a truly unique Austin experience. New works of art go up all the time, so every visit could be a new experience. If you are not into street art, then at least go to check out the awesome view of the city from this spot. We didn’t get to explore this area up close like I would have hoped for because our daughter fell asleep during the stroll before we arrived. So we had to enjoy from somewhat of a distance but it was still a neat stop.
One of the the most famous is the Greetings from Austin mural. This is located on the Roadhouse Relics building and is a short walk from the Gourdough’s South 1st location which is a convenient way to start walking that donut off. This is a beautiful mural and must do photo op. There are so many to see while visiting this city. Here is a link to a few if you want to check them out. This is also an amazing site for all things Austin.
The Capital building in downtown Austin is a beautiful piece of Texas history. Free tours are offered inside and you can’t beat that. We went inside for a quick stroll but with a toddler on board we had to keep our own personal tour “a movin”. Texas loves to do it big and this building is just that. Its AMAZING and my favorite view was seeing this building lit up at night with the main entrance facing onto the Congress Avenue Historic District so make sure you catch this breathtaking view.
Zilker Park is one of Austin’s best features. It is a 350 acre park that has literally something for everyone. We didn’t realize how big this park was until we took a bike ride around the hike and bike trail located around this park and Lady Bird Lake. It was beautiful scenery the whole ride which was good considered this is a pretty long bike ride. We needed it after our calorie count of the day so I’m not complaining.
If trails are not your thing, you can ride the Zilker Zephyr a miniature railway that carries passengers on a tour around the park. This is a really fun experience for all ages, but it only carries you a short distance so you don’t get the true beauty of the park but still composed of exhilarating views.
Also located in the park is Barton Springs Pool.The pool itself measures three acres in size, and is fed from underground springs with an average temperature of 68-70 degrees year round. Let me just say on a warm January day I put this theory to the test and I’m not quite sure I agree with that statement because the water was COLD!
With that being said it so so worth the plunge because this is such a fun and unique experience with a great view of the city. You will see year-round swimmers here and it is an ideal location for that. This park has so much more besides what I listed and is an Austin favorite for good reason.
You can’t go to Austin without eating some great BBQ. I had heard all the hype about Franklin’s Barbecue and the 2 hour wait of standing in line to get your hands on it. With a toddler there is no way we have 2 hours to stand in line so we needed a plan B.
I got a local recommendation to try out La Barbecue. My local connection stated it was just as good and similar in taste due to the companies background (this all comes from the grapevine anyway) so this sounded like a much better plan to us. I was very happy with this decision. The meal was great and we waited in no line so I think that was a win for us! Get it before it is gone.
So you can’t have a birthday without cake. I LOVE me some cake! It’s the only reason I decided to have a birthday this year. Hey Cupcake is another Austin favorite. They have a couple of different locations so we sought one out and bought a few for our bday celebration.
I am going to be honest here. I don’t know what was super special about these cupcakes. I mean, don’t get me wrong, they were good and it takes a lot for me to complain about cake, so this is not a complaint by any means. It was a good cupcake and tasted like most cupcakes do.
It might be that I am more of a whole cake fan than that of cupcakes mostly due to the fact that cupcakes limit my portion sizes when it comes to cake and I think I hold a grudge towards them for that. It’s not their fault, to be fair. Don’t hate me Austin, this is just my personal opinion.
So there you have it. It was a lot of food and a lot of fun all packed into one. At the end of the day, turning 30 wasn’t so bad, but it did take a lot of tacos and sugar to convince me of that. I never thought this would be my life at the big 3-0, living in a camper and traveling with my family.
This is more adventure than I ever thought was possible and life still continues to surprise me everyday. Its amazing what we can receive if we can give up the “chains” of life. We ended the day with family time reminiscing by the campfire at Mckinney Falls State Park, and I feel so blessed and have no regrets of having less junk and more journey.