Over Memorial Day Weekend, we made it down to San Antonio & Austin, Texas for five days to visit friends! Here are our "Do's & Dont's" for San Antonio & Austin:
In general, San Antonio should just be a day trip for you when you stay in Austin. You can hit everything you'd want to see in a day.
- River Walk: Walk this area and do the $8 boat tour. It's a super cute area and fun to spend some time here. If you decide to eat at one of the restaurants here, plan on eating at more affordable places for the rest of your stay.
- Alamo: Walk around the Alamo and watch the 10-minute informational video that they have. It's interesting and kind of a must when you're in San Antonio.
- Natural Bridge Caverns: Ricky & I have done a couple of Cavern tours during our travels and this was definitely one of our favorites. For just under $20, it's much larger than any other tour we've done and also super cool. Try not to go during a peak hours though because the groups are huge and you get stuck behind others while they take photo shoots.
- Read through all of the reviews on your Airbnb and seriously study the pictures! We ended up with an Airbnb infested by cockroaches and with a dirty tub but all of the reviews were positive, so it's important to study everything on the host's page. Sometimes things may look great online and you're surprised when you get there! If this happens to you too, call Airbnb right away and let them know the conditions are uninhabitable. They'll help you as much as they can. In our case, they reimbursed us for our first night and put us up in a hotel for our second. We were very grateful!
- Tower of the America's: It's expensive and San Antonio doesn't have a "WOW" view anyway. If you've done the Empire State Building, Freedom Tower, or Chrysler Building in NYC, don't bother with Tower of the America's. There's really nothing to see and it's not worth the money.
- Alamo Tour: Don't spend money on a tour of the Alamo unless you are seriously interested. There's plenty of reading there and the informational video has a lot of details as well. Also, don't wait in line to go inside the church. There's nothing in there... If you're desperate to see it, go early in the morning when they open or at 7:45 PM right before they close.
In general, Austin was our favorite place to enjoy during this trip and we highlight recommended everything below.
- Bike Rental: We rented a tandem bike from Barton Springs Bicycle Rental. The people working there are super cool and understandable. When the chain broke on our bike after about 20 miles, they offered to bring us a new bike or come pick us up - no charge, just genuinely wanted to help. Our 24-hour bike rental was under $60 and we saw the entire city of Austin, the capital, all the hot spots, and biked the 11-mile loop around Lady Bird Lake.
- Lady Bird Lake Paddle Boarding: We rented stand up paddle boards and explored Lady Bird Lake by water on our second day in Austin. It was a new activity for us and we ended up really enjoying it. Again, the rental team was really down to earth. It was $15 to rent and they didn't give us any time restrictions. We paddled down a canal (which we definitely suggest) that led to Barton Springs Pool and you could jump out and swim or relax with your feet in the water there.
- Bat Bridge: At the end of our trip we checked out the bat bridge (free!). You stand on the bridge around dusk and watch one million bats come out from under and fly off into the distance. It's a pretty cool experience. We went right after dinner and brought our dessert to eat on the bridge - perfect!
- Barton Springs Pool: Figure out the zip code and pretend you live in Austin to get the local price. We paid $16 to dip our feet in the pool. It was much too cold to swim in even though the air temperature was over 90. It was also kind of busy so if you prefer to relax with fewer people around, rent a kayak or paddle board and go to the area, we mentioned above. You won't have to pay an additional fee to swim there and it's not crowded!