Travel Trend Alert: My friend Jennifer Richardson, just launched http://travelesq.com/ where family travel is being reinvented. Jennifer is sharing why we all need to put Texas on our vacation short list. Here are her highlights from the Lone Star State tourism event last week. Top picks: Austin, San Antonio and the wine trail in the Hill Country.
For starters, the logistics are favorable - San Antonio and Austin are each a 4 hour nonstop flight from NYC. The weather is beautiful - temperatures generally range from mid-50s in January, the coldest time of year, to 80s-90s in August.
Austin is often dubbed the "music capital of the world" thanks to its ubiquitous music scene. Other art forms abound as well, including the Blanton Museum at the University of Texas, which houses the country's largest university-owned collection on exhibit, and many galleries. The Austin Children's Museum and the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum are great family options.
For nature lovers, Lady Bird Lake in the center of town offers kayaking and paddle boarding. The lake is surrounded by hiking and biking trails. Also in town is Zilker Park, home to Barton Springs Pool, an all natural spring-fed pool. The Zilker Zephyr, a mini train that tours around Lady Bird Lake and Barton Springs, isgreat for kids. If you want to tour the city, The Duck Tour, an amphibious bus/boat ride through town, is fun and informative for all ages. Adults and kids age 14+ can also take a tour on Segway electronic scooters (nationtours.com). For underground fun, hit the Inner Space Cavern, featuring stalagmites and stalactites as well as animal fossils from the Ice Age. For shopping, check out the "SoCo" neighborhood (South of Commerce) for its many well-curated boutiques.
Austin is home to North America's largest urban bat colony. At sundown you will want to grab a spot near the Congress Avenue Bridge and watch as tons of bats emerge!
There is no shortage of hotels in Austin. Check out Hotel Saint Cecilia, Driskill Hotel, Heywood Hotel or Hotel San Jose for a boutique feel. For a full service experience in town, there is a Four Seasons and a W Hotel. If youd prefer a more suburban setting just outside the city, the Barton Creek Resort in the Hill Country looks great. A bit further is the Hyatt Regency Lost Pines, which is bursting with activities for guests of all ages.
Tip: Before visiting Austin, be sure to look at its festival schedule, as the city has festivals year round.
About a 1.5 hour drive from Austin is San Antonio. In the center of town is River Walk, a beautiful stone pedestrian path beside the San Antonio River where you can find cafes and boutiques as well as parks. For modern art lovers, the McNay Museum looks like a great choice. Its spectacular gardens are great for a picnic with the kids. Little ones will also enjoy the San Antonio Children's Museum and San Antonio Zoo. Just a short ride out of town is the largest Sea World.
History buffs will want to visit the Alamo and the other missions in town. The King William Historic District, the German section, is worth strolling through for its beautiful homes. For a Mexican experience, dont miss El Mercado, the largest Mexican market outside of Mexico.
A great way to get around town is by trolley - not only convenient, but also a fun activity for the younger set. The Segway scooter tours are also available here.
Hotels in San Antonio are plentiful. The Westin La Cantera and the Eilan Resort and Spa are located a short drive from downtown in the breathtaking countryside. Both offer tons of activities for the whole family. The Hotel Havana and Hotel Mokara are more central options.
Texas is the 5th largest wine producer in the U.S. The wine trail in the Hill Country around Austin and San Antonio is a real treat (www.texaswinetrail.com). If you are traveling with kids, the beauty and open space along the trail may be enough of a distraction for you to get in a few sips without compromising their good time.
Thanks Jennifer for this great recap. And for more of her great travel reports visit travelesq.com