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Girlfriend Getaway of the Month: Austin!

Hey y’all: Getaway Girl™ Casey Wohl is back and she’s “keeping it weird” in Austin, Texas. Her nicely detailed account gives you plenty of ideas for the perfect fall girlfriend getaway. We are so ready to go! Enjoy!

by Casey Wohl

My friend Ali and I had a fantastic time in Austin, Texas. We arrived on a Thursday and were greeted by Ashley, who drove us to the 405-acre Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort & Spa, which is 20 miles away from downtown Austin and used to be a pecan orchard.

With 492 guest rooms, most with private balcony or patio, the resort brings jeans and business suits together in a comfortable ranch-style setting. Activities here are endless, from Spa Django to the Renegade Equestrian Center to the Wolfdancer Golf Club, as well as hiking in McKinney Roughs Nature Park, white water rafting on the Colorado River, and fun-in-the-sun at the Crooked River Water Park. We enjoyed massages and an amazing dinner at Stories Restaurant that included five courses and items such as scallops, lobster, venison, quail and filet mignon. It was wonderful!
The next morning, we headed back to town to our host hotel, The Driskill Hotel. Built in 1886 as a cattle barron’s showplace, The Driskill is located in downtown Austin with 189 guestrooms and suites distributed between the original Historic Wing and the Traditional Wing, which was added in 1929. No detail is forgotten inside or out as the hotel features a very ornate exterior complete with flags out front, a beautiful columned lobby; original art, oil paintings, and precious antiques; ornate beds designed exclusively for the hotel; marble floors and stained-glass dome. The Driskill has hosted celebs such as Dennis Quaid and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. Singer Jewel filmed her latest video here and both Lance Armstrong and President George W. Bush held press conferences here.

Where We Ate

Our first stop in town was lunch at Guero’s Taco Bar on South Congress. This popular taqueria is housed in a renovated feed store and provides an eclectic atmosphere for patrons to enjoy some of Austin’s finest Tex Mex. I loved the combo Tacos Platos (Chicken Especial & Carne Guisada). Dinner Friday night was at Eddie V’s where we sat in the lounge area and enjoyed the live, four-piece jazz band. We all agreed that while all the food was delicious, my Steamed “Hong Kong Style” Chilean Seabass was the best. This was a great pick for fine dining! On Saturday, Ali and I took several recommendations and ate lunch (and saw a movie) at the Original Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, which was just blocks from The Driskill. We watched their feature movie The Wrestler, but heard they also have Sing Along and Quote Along Nights too.

We heard more recommendations for Uchi (Japanese word for “home”) Restaurant, so we had to try this sushi hotspot, just a 5-minute cab ride from our hotel, despite the almost two-hour wait (which actually turned out to be part of the Uchi experience). We enjoyed lounging in the outdoor seating area while we waited. They really do make you feel at home here, from the comfortable outdoor seating clusters to the soothing decor inside. Executive chef and Florida native Tyson Cole does an outstanding job of pairing traditional sushi with unusual flavors to create mouthwatering dishes. We loved it!

Our Sunday morning brunch at South Congress Café served up another amazing meal. I had to try the Carrot Cake French Toast (which was delish) with their original cream cheese-pecan syrup. Yum!

Where We Shopped

Our first shopping stop: SoCo. On South Congress Avenue, two to three blocks are filled with a diverse selection of funky stores. Here you’ll find boot shops, vintage clothing, galleries, trendy outfitters, antiques, and more, including the costume store Lucy in Disguise with Diamonds where Bob Dylan is rumored to have shopped for retro outfits. We spent some time in the vintage store Feathers (512- 912-9779), trendy boutique By George, folk art gallery Yard Dog, local fashion house Parts & Labour, jewelry and gifts at Maya, and the all black boutique Blackmail.

We also indulged in some shopping on Second Street, which housed great store and trendy boutiques. We visited several, including Girl Next Door, which showcased some amazing jewelry and fashions, Estilo () with a great selection of men and women’s clothing, Mercury Design Studio with cool home furnishings and gifts, Shiki, that had several items I wanted to take home, and Peyton’s Place for some fashion deals.

Other Austin Adventures

Nightlife: Sixth Street (formerly known as Pecan Street) is Austin’s (probably even Texas’s) best known street and the city’s entertainment center. It is lined with many historical houses and commercial buildings dating from the late 1800s and early 1900s. The old buildings now house bars, a host of live entertainment venues, tattoo parlors, art galleries, casual cafes, upscale restaurants, and our fabulous host hotel—the Driskill. Live music from the bars is heard on the streets, and music lovers of all kinds (jazz, blues, country, dance, rock, hip-hop, progressive, metal, punk and more) will be able to find whatever musical style suits their taste. Our first stop on 6th Street was The Blind Pig Pub () and we bar hopped the rest of the evening.

We ended up in the Warehouse District, which is a little less touristy than 6th and where many of the locals go. Ali and I were in awe of the live shark tank underneath the clear dance floor at Qua. We also checked out Cuba Libre, where Ali played the bongos, J. Blacks Feel Good Lounge,  as well as several others. In the South Congress area, we checked out the live music at The Continental Club, which is a great hangout for music lovers.

Sightseeing: We were so thankful that Trenton, from The Driskill, drove us around to see some of Austin’s sights. The bats were not flying this time of year (Austin has the largest urban bat population; at dusk in warmer months, 1.5 million bats fly from their home under the Congress Avenue Bridge), so we at least stopped at the Bat Sculpture for a photo.

He also took us to Lake Austin where we saw the infamous Chuy’s Hula Hut and Mozart’s Coffee Roasters.He drove us by Austin’s City Hall that was designed to look like an armadillo; it even has a tail! We also stopped by the brand new (and super cool) Hotel Saint Cecilia, which is owned by Liz Lambert who also owns trendy and popular the Hotel San Jose. Hotel Saint Cecilia is housed in a renovated 1880s Victorian estate with 14 bungalow-style rooms. On Sunday, we joined Dani who took us to Mount Bonnell (Austin’s highest point at 775 feet). We hiked to the top and enjoyed the amazing views of downtown and Lake Austin. [Editor's note: Click here for our review of Lake Austin Spa, another top Austin destination].

Many thanks to Ashley, Trenton, Dani, Jennifer Walker with the Austin CVB, and the staffs at the Hyatt Regency Lost Pines and The Driskill for their hospitality during our trip. I cannot wait to go back to Austin. As their slogan states, “Keep Austin Weird.” I love it!

<p>Casey Wohl</p>

Casey Wohl, The Getaway Girl™, is the author of the Girls Getaway Guide travel book series. Her third book, the Girls Getaway Guide to Nashville: Leave Your Baggage at Home™ will be published in Summer 2009.  For more information, visit

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