Friday, January 6, 2023

A Holiday Weekend in Austin, Texas

We take a long weekend around the holidays and drive down to Austin, about a 3.5-4 hour drive south of the Dallas area. We make one stop on the way, at Buc-ee's Travel Center, a massive complex on Interstate Highway 35 that is part of the Buc-ee's chain of country stores and gas stations in Texas, Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Florida, South Carolina, and Tennessee (with locations under development in Alabama, Colorado, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Missouri).  This Buc-ee's (in New Braunfels) claims to be the largest convenience store in the world at 68,000 square feet (6,300 square meters) with 120 fuel pumps, 1,000 parking spots, 64 ice freezers, 83 toilets, 80 fountain dispensers, and 31 cash registers.  We have heard about them (and their famous clean restrooms) and now have to stop and see.

Buc-ee's store and pumps

Buc-ee himself


A little of everything at Buc-ee's

We arrive in Austin, one of the fastest growing cities in the US, as the sun sets and stay downtown, admiring the skyline from our room at the JW Marriott, looking into the city (toward the state capital) and, in the other direction, toward the Colorado river which runs through town.  Austin is known as both "The Live Music Capital of the World" (a reference to the city's many musicians and live music venues, as well as the long-running PBS TV concert series Austin City Limits) and as "Silicon Hills" (due to the large number of technology and chip/computer development companies with locations in the area).

Austin skyline

Our hotel lobby is decorated for the holiday season, as are the streets outside and we wander a bit, enjoying the crisp weather and the sights.

Inside and outside

A few blocks from the hotel, we come across the studios dedicated to Austin City Limits, the longest running live-music series in television history where people are lined up outside to attend a concert. We've never attended, but have watched the popular TV show for decades. We need to get tickets next time we come back (we are approached by people asking if we have tickets to sell - apparently there are are a lot of folks interested in attending).

Austin City Limits

Back in the hotel, the rooftop pool is lit up for the season, but no one is swimming in the chilly weather. However, the open-air bar next to the pool, down a festive walkway. has heat lamps and is serving warm drinks.

Pool in winter

Walkway to the bar

View of the city from the pool and bar

We sit for a cocktail and plan our weekend in Austin.

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