Tuesday, February 28, 2017

New Orleans with Kids

Living in the middle of Texas every time there is 3 day weekend or a school break I look on the map to see where can we road trip and see new things.   In honor of Mardi Gras today I am going to tell you that New Orleans, Louisiana is a great road trip from Austin.  It is about an 8 hour drive and is easily done in one day. We drove there over New Years and the kids had a blast.  Now driving and then parking at your hotel in New Orleans is a problem.  They want close to 60 dollars to park you car at a hotel over night.   So we opted for self parking in down town garages blocks from the hotel because we were not going to be using the car as we walked everywhere.

We stayed in the French Quarter and which was quaint and historic.  Jackson Square is great.  There are artists selling their work, museums, magicians, great shops, musicians and even tarot card readers. This is also where we picked up a carriage ride for an hour long tour of the french quarter.  Our driver was great.  He knew all about the history.  He let my kids ride up front and feed the mule.

Part of the tour you get to walk into one the oldest cemetery in New Orleans.   You see all these amazing crypts.

The one on the right is he renowned Voodoo priestess Marie Laveau's crypt. 

When you are done with your carriage ride the drop off is right at Cafe Du Monde.  This is the world famous open air chicory coffee and beignets (powdered deep fried pastries) and yes they are delicous.  


While waiting in line for a table which can take a while the kids grabbed a balloon from another local artisan. 

We had a great time walking up and down the streets.  Stopping for New Orleans Pralines.  So yummy.  The seafood is amazing Crawfish Etoufee, Shrimp Grits,  Jumbalaya, Gumbo and Oysters.   All great options as sea food and cajun is not very popular here in Austin. 

Swamp Pop was also a big hit. We tried Ponchatoula Pop (strawberry soda) and Praline Cream Soda floats.  Also picked up a few mini voodoo dolls. 

The Street cars are also famous here. This is the oldest continuously operating streetcar line in the world and its been working since 1835.  Take a ride and you can see Audubon Park, Tulane University, Loyola University New Orleans and the Garden District.  A one day all day pass is only $3.   You can download the RTA app and buy a ticket on your phone or pay cash on the street car.

Finally, no trip to New Orleans is complete with out Mardi Gras masks.

Laissez les bons temps rouler!   Let the good times roll.  If you can't make it to New Orleans for Mardi Gras or any other time of the year you can pick up King Cake locally here at the HEB. 


Thursday, February 23, 2017

Spring Free Trampoline

It seems that ever since moving to Austin everyone here has a trampoline in their back yard.  My kids have been dying to get one.   We just need to finish our landscaping and then we promised we too will get a trampoline.    Most people on my street have opted for the Springfree trampoline so I headed to the Domain to see what the fuss is all about with these Springfree trampolines.   It is located at 3220 Amy Donovan Plaza #116, Austin, TX 78758 between Dicks Sporting Goods and Dillard’s.   They have 3 trampolines set up inside the store for you to try out.   There were cubbies for our shoes, even cliff bars, golf fish and juice boxes for the kids a chalk wall and a TV.   All to entertain the kids while the parents discuss what trampoline to purchase.   Only one jumper is allowed on the trampoline at a time.   You have to sign a waiver before you jump but where else do they allow you to jump inside a store before you buy a trampoline. 

Springfree trampolines - have no springs.  They use flexible composite rods.   They are branded as the safest trampoline.  they have a safety net that goes all around it and there are accessories like a basket ball hoop, ladder and ipad holder for the smart trampoline.   What is that you may ask?   It is called "Tgoma" which means there are sensors on the trampoline mat that connect via Bluetooth® to your ipad/tablet. These sensors track your movement and allow you to play interactive games on the ipad while you jump.  You can try this out on the trampoline at the store.   For adults you can get a work out app for the trampoline.  This allows you to track your calories and jumps.

Now lets get down to price.  These babies are expensive.  I mean really expensive. Their smallest starts at $1,749 and their largest is $2,599.  Tgoma is extra and so is the ladder, basket ball hoop and installation.  Your average Walmart, Sam Club, Costco, Target back yard trampoline costs between $300 - $600.  While we haven't made up our mind yet on which one to buy this store is great. They answer all your questions and you can try it out.   From the looks of other back yards I have seen these do seem to hold up longer outside and don't have springs that can lead to break downs in the trampoline and injuries.   My gymnastics loving daughter who is on gym trampolines a lot tells me that Springfree are bouncier.    I will let you know what we decide on later this summer.   Happy Jumping. 

Monday - Saturday 10AM - 8PM
Sunday: 12PM - 6PM

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Where to get Donuts In Austin

I love donuts! You can get them everywhere here in Austin, drive thru donuts stores, donut food trucks and even a donut restaurant.   With so many choices I thought I would give you a few that I have personally tried out.    

Shipley's Do-Nuts - This Houston based donut store is in 6 states and all over Texas. It has a drive thru and sell donuts and kolaches.  Located at 8213 Brodie Lane Austin, TX 78745 M-Thu 5 AM to 4 PM, Fri 5 AM to 3 PM Sat and Sun 6am-3pm 

KCs Donuts  - A mom and pop donut shop that is across the street from Shipleys but can hold it's own.  They have a large variety of donuts.  They are know for their bacon maple. Located at 8106 Brodie Lane, Austin TX 78745 and open daily 7 am – 3 pm

Donut Hole - These donuts have a lot of icing.  There is the Cookie Monster donut with blue icing and crumbled Oreo.  They have alot of seasonal and unique flavor icings here.  This Austin based donut shop has three locations:

  • Lakeway:  (behind Wendy's) 2422 RR 620 S #124 Lakeway, TX  78738 Mon-Sat 6am-1pm  Sun 7am-1pm
  • Lakeway North - 1700 RR 620 N #101 Austin, TX  78734 Mon-Sat 6am-1pm Sun 7am-1pm
  • Oak Hill:  (at the "Y") 6863 Hwy 290 W Austin, TX  78735 Mon-Fri 5:30am-12pm Sat 6am-1pm Sun 7am-1pm

Krispy Kreme - started in Winston Salem, North Carolina back in 1937.   It has since moved to locations all across the country and Canada and their donuts can be purchased in grocery stores.   Nothing tastes as good as a fresh and hot glazed  right off the conveyor belt.   When the fresh and hot sign is on it is definitely worth a stop.   This location has a drive thru and even serves kolaches. 701 East Stassney Lane Austin, TX 78745  Sun-Thu 6:00 AM-11:00 PM Fri,Sat 6:00 AM-12:00 AM

Donut Taco Palace I   - sells donuts, tacos, kolaches and croissants.   They are famous for their hand shaped donuts in the shape of Hook em or Rock on, Thumbs up and I love you.  5446 W Hwy 290, Austin, TX 78735 Sat - Sun 5am - 1pm


Voodoo Doughnuts - This Portland, Oregon based donut shop has extremely unique donuts.  They are open 7 days a week.  24 hours a day and are Cash Only. Located at 212 E 6th St, Austin, TX 78701   

Gordough's Big Fat Donuts This place is a restaurant or a food truck and everything on the menu is made out of donuts.  Donut sandwiches, donut burgers, donuts in salad, donut french toast and of course really decadent donuts like these the Black Out (chocolate icing, brownie batter and brownie bites with chocolate chips) or the Mama's Cake (yellow cake batter filling with chocolate icing)

  • Gourdough's Big. Fat. Donuts. 1503 S 1st St, Austin TX 78704 Mon-Thur 10am to Midnight, Friday 10am – 3am, Saturday 8am – 3am, Sunday 8am – midnight.
  • Gourdoughs Public House - 2700 South Lamar Blvd, Austin TX 78704,  Mon – Fri 11am – midnight, Saturday 10am – 1am, Sunday 10am – midnight.
  • Gourdoughs Public House Downtown - 209 W. 5th Street (between Lavaca & Colorado) Sun-Wed: 11AM - 12AM  Thu-Sat 11AM - 3AM
  • Burnet Road Trailer - 5000 Burnet Rd., Austin, TX 78756 - Mon - Sun: 10am -12am

Little Lucy's -  Is a mini donut food truck located at 74 Rainey St, Austin, TX 78701. 7pm - 12:30am weekdays and 3pm - 2:30am on weekends.  These are great is you are spending any time drinking and listening to live Music along rainy street. 

Round Rock Donut This one is on my to do list.  I want to try their Texas sized donut. 

Now after looking at all these donut pictures who wants to go out and grab a dozen. 


Thursday, February 16, 2017

Peter Pan Mini Golf

When the weather gets nice people in Austin go outside.   After driving by this place many times we decided to try out Peter Pan Mini Golf.   It is located right on Barton Springs Road just down from the Long Center.   It is also a Austin "must do" in the summer.

Parking is very limited.   If you find a spot in the lot you are lucky.   Overflow parking is available next door at McDonald’s along our fence line. There are 2 different 18 hole courses East / Yellow and West / Blue. The East / Yellow course is supposed to be easier but for some reason we went to the West / Blue course. 

This place is great for kids but be aware lots of adults come here too.  College kids, date and families can all have fun.  You can bring a cooler it is BYOB but NO GLASS is allowed.

It gets hot out there and 18 holes can take a while so bring some water. But if you forget they sell snow cones for $2 and bottled water and sodas for $1.  

Mon–Thur 10 am – 11 pm
Fri 10 am – 1 am
Sat 9 am – 1 am
Sun 9 am – 11 pm

Rates:  They are CASH only - ATM onsite
Adults & children 6 and over                Children 5 and under
One course (18 holes)      $7                 One course (18 holes)     $5
Both courses (36 holes)    $11               Both courses (36 holes)   $9

Fun Fact: Did you know this Mini Golf Course and the Peter Pan statue at Hole 1 has been around since 1948.


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Midway Food Trucks and Playground

What is Midway?  It is a field with food trucks, tables, chairs, bathrooms and of course a playground. It is BYOB (bring your own beer/wine/booze) plus many Friday and Saturday nights their is live music.    It is also dog friendly.  So what is not to like.    The food trucks can change so check out the website or the Midway facebook page prior to going.

It is located at 1905 South Capital of Texas Highway.   Their hours are vague.  When the trailers are open so are they but figure in nice weather and for lunch and dinner.

We checked this place out on a beautiful sunny mid 80 degree day in February.  Got to love Austin winters.  It was great.  We sat in the shade under large a large tree at a purple picnic table.  There were 4 trucks there.  A cheesecake truck (Celia Jacobs Cheesecake Experience), lobster roll truck (Dock and Roll), vegan truck (Revolution Vegan Kitchen) and a Lebanese truck (Beirut Austin).  My kids enjoyed the mac n cheese and tater tots and vegan nuggets from Revolution.

This is definitely a great place to take out of town guests or just some fun family time.   Kids can run around and parents can sit back and relax. 


Thursday, February 9, 2017

Where to get the best burgers in Austin

Now what can I say there are a lot and I mean a lot of hamburger places here in Austin.   I have by no means tried them all but here are a few worth mentioning. 

1) Hopdoddy - has craft burgers and truffle fries.   They offer a kids burger that comes with regular fries and they sell amazing shakes like s'mores and nutella chocolate pretzel.  Bonus this place also has a full bar.    (3 locations in Austin and 1 in Round Rock)

2) P. Terry's - is great for on the go.   There is a drive thru and it serves fresh burgers and fries and even has a root beer milk shake the kids with love.   They also serve breakfast including homemade banana bread. (14 Austin area locations) 

3) Phil's Icehouse - with a variety of burgers to choose from and hot dogs, corn dogs and more for the kids.   They serve beer and wine.  (3 locations)   All 3 Phil's locations are co located with an Amy's Ice Cream.    Amy's makes ice cream, fruit ices and frozen yogurt.  It is best known for their world famous Mexican Vanilla Ice Cream.  Several have playgrounds.

4) Mighty Fine - has burgers that look and taste home made.  The have cheese and chili cheese fries as well as hot dogs, grilled cheese and shakes for the little ones. (5 Locations)

5) Hat Creek Burgers - offering a turkey burger and grain burger and salads too you can even take vegetarians to this burger place.   There sauces are delicious and go well with their regular or sweet potato fries. They have mini burgers, grilled cheese and chicken strips for kids. As well as milk shakes.   They serve beer and wine and breakfast too.  They also have playgrounds.  (6 Locations)

6) In-n-Out - as we have moved from California less than a year ago my kids still request to go to here and we all love it.   A #2 no onions is what I get but my husband loves the double lettuce wrap and animal style fries.  My kids like the size of their small burgers.   (3 Austin locations)

7) Burger Fi - has made to order burgers stamped with the burger fi logo.  They sell hot dogs and custard too.  Try a shake or float.  (1 Location)

8) Five Guys -  needed to be on my list.  I have been eating five guys burger since I was in grade school.   The original five guys was in Arlington, VA and then they closed and moved it to Alexandria, at the intersection of King and North Beauregard Streets.   Not a great location but very close to my parents house and where we would pick up there delicious burgers.  Now they have grown nation wide.   They offer only sodas, no shakes just made to order burgers.   (Peanut allergy alert) They offer free peanuts in shells while you wait.  (5 Locations)

9) Shake Shack  - This is exactly what it sounds like Shakes and Burgers.  Plus hot dogs and even a chicken dog.   They serve beer and wine and the Domain location has ping pong tables and corn hole. (2 Locations)  

10) Whataburger - This is a Texas based burger chain so I am adding to the list however it has been my least favorite.  It has a drive thru and those orange signs are hard to miss.  They offer fast food burgers, chicken and kids meals. Maybe I am missing something because many people like this place. (Many locations)


Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The Texas State Capitol

The Texas State Capitol is located right here in downtown Austin.  It is a great opportunity to visit and teach your kids about the government, elections and representation.  This building houses the governor office and the Texas legislature.  It is the the sixth tallest state capitol in the United States and taller than the US Capitol building in Washington, D.C.   The building gets it unique reddish rust color because it is made from local Texas red granite from a quarry in Marble Falls. 

The capitol is over 360,000 square feet and is surrounded by 22 acres with various statues and monuments.  



30 minute guided tours are available from the South Foyer during the following times:
Monday through Friday - 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Saturday - 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Sunday - 12:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
The Capitol is closed for tours on New Year's Day, Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Self-guided tours are available during the following times:
Monday through Friday - 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday - 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Self-guided brochures of the Capitol and the Capitol Grounds are available at the Capitol Information and Guide Service inside the Capitol South Foyer and at the Capitol Visitors Center.