If you’re wondering where to stay in Austin and don’t want to deal with pricey and crowded downtown hotels, I know just the place…
I was recently invited on a whirlwind trip to Austin to celebrate the 300th TownePlace Suites location in North Austin (Tech Ridge). While my mom had both visited Austin and stayed at a TownePlace Suites before, I’d done neither and jumped at the chance. Thanks for hosting me, TownePlace Suites Austin!
TownePlace Suites is perfect especially for longer trips because each one is a fully-loaded extended stay hotel — it has everything you need to feel at home when you’re traveling, like an in-suite kitchen, spacious elfa closet from The Container Store, awesome gym, and Weber grills outside that you can use whenever you like. Plus, it’s brand new and beautifully modern.
As I said, the main reason I was in town was to attend the celebration event and enjoy the brand new hotel, but since I flew in a day early I had time to explore the city a little bit. Since the Tech Ridge TownePlace Suites is north of the city, I hitched a ride downtown via an similar-to-Uber-but-not-actually-Uber service called Ride Austin. (Uber isn’t available in Austin anymore due to some kind of political thing, so keep that in mind if you’re visiting!)
In doing some sightseeing research before the trip there was one suggestion that popped up in every Google search: the Congress Avenue bats. Sounds weird. Let’s do it.
But first, food.
I asked friends on Facebook what to eat and they unanimously said TACOS. I decided to visit Maudie’s and have a true Tex-Mex experience. Was not disappointed, and because there are several Maudie’s locations in Austin, you’ll probably be able to find one nearby no matter where you decide to stay.
After stuffing my face/before seeing the bats, I’d intended to hit up an antique/vintage store called Uncommon Goods that a couple of my favorite Texan YouTubers talk about all the time, but by the time I made it downtown through the thick Austin traffic, they were closed. Sad times.
Instead I walked around in SoCo — the nickname for the neighborhood along South Congress Ave. It was a hipster paradise, with tons of patios, beers, and interesting shops. Unfortunately weather was overcast throughout the time I was in town so my pictures didn’t turn out as well as I’d hoped, but here’s one I ended up liking:
As sunset approached, it was time to head to the river for the piéce de resistance — the Congress Avenue bridge bats. Every night at dusk, up to 1.5 million bats fly out into the night sky in search of food. It’s hard to grasp just how many bats that is until you see it happen.
If you’re wondering how I got a video from that angle it’s because I decided to book a $10 river cruise to see the bats so I could hear a bit more background information from the cruise tour guide, but seeing the bats is a free event if you opt to stand on top of the Congress Ave. bridge instead of taking the cruise underneath.
The cruise is great because you get to hear some interesting facts about the city skyline and the culture of Austin — how it’s an incredibly active city with exercise paths and parks everywhere. Sounds like my kind of place!
After the sunset cruise I was pretty whipped, so I headed back to my hotel room/home away from home, took a bath in the spacious tub, finished this graphic novel my brother got me for my recent birthday, and hit the hay.
The next evening, it was time to celebrate! At the 300th TownePlace Suites party, there was tons of local flavor to take in.
There was live music. There were custom TownePlace cocktails like this smoked peach old fashioned.
There was a make your own spice blend station.
There was an awesome local food artist — Jessie Bearden — replicating an iconic Austin postcard design in only different flavors of barbecue sauce!
And there was a grill-off between two great Austin chefs who were challenged to create a dish incorporating something from the TownePlace “In a Pinch” market at the front desk — luckily they had plenty to choose from like bagged snacks, frozen dinners, fresh fruit, and a variety of beverages.
Between the appeal of the phrase “keep Austin weird”, the killer Tex Mex food, and knowing exactly where to stay in Austin when I’m in town, I’ll definitely be back sometime very soon! Find a TownePlace Suites near your destination at their website.