I spent 10 days in Texas to visit my friend and his husband in Fort Worth. Needless to say, I had so much exploring the different cities and eating so much ribs, steaks, and tacos and drinking Dos Equis beer, tequila and margaritas!
Texas is the second largest state in the United States by area. It shares a good amount of history with Mexico so you will see a lot of Mexican families living here and the cultural influence is evident in the available food in the area (which I love by the way!). Texas was ruled by several countries like Spain, France and Mexico before it gained independence. Texas is also known as the “Lone Star State” referring to its independence from Mexico in 1836 and joined the Confederate States of America in 1861.
First Stop: Waco, Texas (Daytrip)
Waco, Texas is a city located between Dallas and Austin. Since we were on our way to Austin, we decided to stop over Waco to visit the famous Magnolia Market!
Magnolia Market Silos: a shopping complex in the downtown area, known for the two high silos built sometime in the 1950s. The area is owned by TV personalities, Chip and Joanne Gaines, and they were able to turn the complex into a booming tourist area through the Fixer Upper TV series. You will find different food trucks from drinks, meals, to desserts and you can purchase plant and home accessories and furniture as promoted by the famous TV series. Clearly, the place is also marketed for Millennials as you will find a few “Instagrammable corners” in the complex.
By the afternoon, we arrived in Austin, Texas, the capital city of Texas. Some will argue that it’s considered a cultural and economic center of the metropolitan area. From quaint villages, high rise building to lakes and rivers, Austin offers a variety of options for different kinds of travelers. For a first time guest, I thought that there were a lot of homeless people in Austin compared to the other places I’ve been to in the US. I don’t think they were harmful but it can be scary especially at night cause some tend to talk to you or go near you.
Things to do and eat in Austin:
Lady Bird Lake: is known as Town Lake and a river-like reservoir on the Colorado River. You can rent a paddle board or kayak for an hour or so to get a good view of the city during sunset.
South Congress Avenue: a neighborhood known for local shopping and cultural district where you can find quaint bookstores, eclectic local shops, restaurants, and food trucks! This is a nice area to stroll and just look around. We found a lot of good Mexican finds! There are also a lot of food options if you ever get tired from walking.
Guero’s Taco Bar, Austin: I recommend this Mexican restaurant located in South Congress Avenue! Order their tacos and frozen margaritas. The interior looks like an old cantina in Mexico. It made me want to go to Mexico actually!
Food Trucks in Austin- as mentioned food trucks are becoming popular in Austin. You can find tacos, shawarmas, cupcakes, and ice cream trucks!
Rainey Street Austin- a historic district full of historic homes and is also a good place for a nice night out. We found a bar with a large porch and a live band. This is the usual scene in the area which will surely bring you back to how Austin looked like years ago!
Sixth Street Austin- Another historic street but has a different wilder vibe than Rainey Street. They have a stretch of different bars and pubs where you can listen to live country music while drinking beer and eating good steak or your favorite Mexican food. There are also several souvenir shops in the area selling shirts with funny captions like “I got drunk in sixth street” so you have an idea what goes down in that area.
Barton Spring Pool- an outdoor swimming pool filled with water from the natural springs. It’s within the Zilker Park, an area that you can explore if you want to go trekking and visit other parts of the spring. The pool has an entrance fee so we decided to go for a hike inside the park and swim in the creek.
Campbell’s Hole- is part of the Barton Creek Greenbelt. After a 30 minute easy trek you will find it. You can swim and go further up if you want to explore the other areas. There weren’t a lot of tourists when we went so it was nice. We found a peaceful area to rest and admire the view.
Texas State Capitol- the capitol building and seat of government of Texas is located in the downtown area. In 1986, it was declared as a National Historic Landmark. It was interesting for me that tourists are allowed to enter and view the senate room and house or representatives and take pictures while in other countries, or at least in my country I don’t think there’s that much of freedom to lurk around the corridors of the capitol building. If you are lucky, you might even meet some of the senators or governor in their offices.
Gus Chicken Restaurant- known to be one of the most delicious local fried chicken in Austin and I agree. You will see a lot of locals eating here and usually there’s a line so come early!
SH Donut Austin- if you are looking for a quick breakfast then head to SH Donut. It’s a small shop offering Pan-Asian and European bread and pastries!
Magnolia Pancake House- If you are looking for good buttermilk pancakes or a hearty breakfast in Austin, this is a good option!
Next Stop: San Antonio, Texas
San Antonio, Texas is a city heavily influenced by the Spanish and Mexican, giving it a very rich history.
San Antonio Riverwalk- also known as Paseo del Rio is a city park with different walkways that run along the riverbanks of San Antonio river. It is well visited by tourists especially for quiet romantic dinners. The Riverwalk is lined up by hotels, bars, shops, and a lot of nature. It is near the Alamo so you can take a stroll here after.
The Alamo– a historic fortress built in the 18th century by Roman Catholic missionaries. It is famous for the Battle of Alamo, an important event in the Texas Revolution where the Texians defeated the Mexicans after suffering under their cruel regime.
Historic Market Square– a three-block outdoor plaza filled with local shops and restaurants. It is also known to have the largest Mexican market in the United States.
Taquitos West Avenue– Authentic Mexican Tacos, still one of the best tacos I’ve ever tasted! It looks messy but I swear it’s really good especially with the hot sauce
Last Stop: Fort Worth, Texas
Fort Worth, Texas is known as the center for longhorn cattle trade. I also got to see and ride one!
Modern Art Museum- a post-World War II museum in Fort Worth showing old and modern artworks.
Fort Worth Stockyards- located in the Downtown Fort Worth– the central business district in the area where you can also find different local shops, restaurants, and bars! It is also a major tourist area, where it showcases a village designed to mimic the traditional saloons and honky tonks. I was able to ride a longhorn cattle and if you have enough time you can also see a Longhorn show!
Mercado Juarez Café- serving Tex-Mex favorites in the area. Recommended!
Riscky’s BBQ- don’t leave Texas without eating in a BBQ steakhouse, it’s just a must!
Shiner Honky Tonk- This is hard to find. It’s near the entrance of the Fort Worth Stockyards. In one of the old buildings you will see a sign “the smallest honky Tonk- Shiner” follow it! For those who don’t know, honky tonk is known to be both a bar and a venue that provides country music.
Tacos La Banqueta– the search for authentic taco continues! This one is in Fort Worth and is also considered to serve authentic Mexican tacos! Also a must try!
That culminates my US Trip! I definitely need to come back and visit the other parts of USA. Next stop: back to Asia! Ciao!
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