I was provided with a Mazda CX-5 to facilitate this post. All opinions are my own.
Last month, I visited Austin, Texas for a few days. I was there for a conference, and flew in a few days early so I could utilize the weekend to travel. While I was there for about a week, I really had about a weekend’s worth of hours to explore the city.
For the first few days, I stayed up on the northern end of the city. I was working from an office up there and wanted to have an easy commute into work.
I flew in Saturday night, and the first thing I discovered was that frontage roads can be confusing. One missed turn can mean a mile or two reroute. After a couple days, I started to get the hang of them, and figured out which lanes I needed to be in to make my turns. I was very glad for the blind spot monitoring and awesome acceleration of the Mazda CX-5 as I maneuvered through these roads.
Sunday happened to be Easter so I drove up to visit with Stephanie from The Vintage Modern Wife. We’ve been online friends for years and it was so great to meet her and her wonderful family in person. We had a great afternoon celebrating Easter, and I experienced some fun Texas traditions.
I was also told that I needed to check out Buc-ee’s on my drive back to Austin. It was definitely an experience. I’m still not quite sure what to make of the entire store, but they had a little bit of everything. And I mean everything. They had home decor, convenience store snacks, and full on meals. All of this in a gas station.
Back in 2010, I visited Austin for a couple days. I didn’t get to see much of the city, but my friend and I did go down to the San Marcos outlet mall. I remembered how awesome that outlet mall was, so it was added to the itinerary one evening. This outlet mall is huge and amazing. It has a variety of brands, including some awesome designer brands. One of my favorite stores was the Williams Sonoma outlet. I seriously wanted to ship that entire store home.
The conference that I attended was hosted at the JW Marriott right in the heart of downtown Austin. It was a great location because we could easily walk around the city for food, drinks, and fun.
One of the favorite things that I did in Austin with friends was the Midnight Cowboy Speakeasy. We made a two hour reservation starting at 9:30. When you make the reservation, you find out which of these buttons you need to actually push in order to ring the bar.
They can accommodate groups up to 8, and for groups in the 5-8 size, you actually get a private room in the back. The cocktails are inspired by flavors throughout the world, and were absolutely delicious. The bar was an easy walk to and from our hotel, and was a super fun time.
Thursday evening, I headed down to the bat bridge to see all the bats fly out at dusk. We did see a few bats; however, that evening the majority of them decided to only fly around the opposite side of the bridge.
Saturday was my chance to explore the city. After a morning of mural hunting with some friends, and a delicious lunch, I decided to check out the area around South Congress. One of my goals was to find the “Greetings from Austin” mural because I felt like it is pretty iconic for Austin.
This area of Austin is so cool and there were lots of unique stores. If you have some time, I definitely recommend exploring the South Congress area of Austin.
Saturday evening for dinner, I met a friend at Banger’s Sausage House in the Rainey Street district. Rainey street used to be a residential area, and the little bungalow homes have been turned into bars and restaurants. There is even a bar made out of various shipping containers!
Throughout the week, I loved driving around the Mazda CX-5. While it might seem like a minor feature, the vented seats were essential for the warm Austin weather. I could have the cool air blowing through the seats as I drove around town. For chillier climates, heated seats and steering wheel were also available.
With the integrated Android Auto, I could utilize my Google Maps and blast my favorite Spotify playlist. There was a good amount of construction going on around the area so having the latest maps was helpful as I was driving around. Android Auto will utilize either Google Maps or Waze for navigation which is great when driving around during rush hour.
Mazda vehicles also offer an Active Driving display. This puts information such as current speed, navigation directions, and blind spot notifications right in the driver’s field of view. I had a couple days of decent length drives so it was nice having both my speed and the speed limit easily in view. I’ve tried taking pictures of it in the past, and they don’t really turn out so you’ll have to head to a local Mazda dealer to check it out for yourself!
Austin was such a fun city to explore, and I didn’t even see the majority of it! There were a few places that my friends and I did make sure to hit – Torchy’s Tacos (get The Democrat, it is the best one), Cooper’s BBQ, and Mozart’s Coffee Roasters, just to name a few.
The Mazda CX-5 was a great size for me during this trip as well. I loved being a bit higher off the ground, and it was small enough to be easy to park, but had tons of space in the trunk and back seat for my suitcases and friends.
In addition to being comfortable, it also includes safety features such as rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warnings, lane keep assist, and adaptive headlights that turn with the wheels.
If you get a chance to visit, I recommend taking a boat tour out to see the bats (they can easily go to where they are), and look up a map of all the cool murals around downtown. I’ve added Austin to our list of places for Brad and me to travel with Kevin & Renee. It would be a perfect spot for a couple’s weekend away!