10 Easy Day Trips from Austin, Texas

10 Easy Day Trips from Austin, Texas

Whether you live in Texas, or you’re planning a visit to the area, there are so many great day trips from Austin. Not only does Austin have a lot to see and do, the surrounding area offers just as much. You’ll find great food, activities, hiking, shopping and more! 

From small towns, to lakes (well rivers actually), to other metropolitan areas, I’ve compiled my top 10 easy day trips from the capital of Texas. 

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Day Trips from Austin - Heading West

1. Dripping Springs, Texas

Just a short 40-minute drive outside of Austin, Dripping Springs, is perfect for adding to your day trips from Austin list. Littered with breweries, distilleries, and wineries this area is the perfect spot to be outdoors, enjoy a beverage, and relax. 

Food in Dripping Springs focuses on pizza, BBQ, and tacos. Visit Pieous for some world-renowned Neapolitan pizza, try BBQ at Alice’s restaurant on-site at Treaty Oak Distilling, or tacos and Tex-Mex at Flores. 

You’ll also find outdoor adventure and beauty in this area. Hamilton Pool is a gorgeous place for swimming and hiking in Dripping Springs. Reservations are required, so make sure to check their website in advance.

Hamilton Pool Address: 24300 Hamilton Pool Rd, Dripping Springs, TX 78620

Distance from Austin: 23 miles, about 40 minutes.

If you choose to stay overnight, check out these accommodations: 

Lucky Arrow Retreat – Modern cabins and yurts next door to a winery. Event space and a pool on-site as well. 

Camp Lucy – Beautiful grounds and rooms on acres in the hill country. The on-site restaurant is top notch! 

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Hamilton Pool

2. Johnson City, Texas

Continue along 290 West just a few more miles from Dripping Springs and you’ll reach Johnson City, Texas. For a unique day trip from Austin visit the Exotic Zoo in the area! Visitors drive through the zoo in their car and can feed some of the animals right from the window. 

Things to do in Johnson City continue in the town center. For a bit of history, check out Lyndon B Johnson’s boyhood home where you can take a free tour. Afterward, there are several wine tasting rooms within walking distance. Last, grab a meal at Bryan’s on 290 or Pecan Street Brewing. 

The Exotic Resort Zoo: 235 Zoo Trail, Johnson City, TX 78636

LBJ’s Boyhood Home: 200 E Elm St, Johnson City, TX 78636

Distance from Austin: 48 Miles, about 1 hour. 

If you choose to stay overnight, check out these accommodations: 

Carter Creek Winery Resort & Spa – Winery and accommodations all in one! 

Crossroads Inn – A B&B with a plantation home feel. Pretty gardens and a huge porch to relax on. 

3. Fredericksburg, Texas

Take a day trip from Austin to the Texas Hill Country to Fredericksburg, about an hour and a half west out of town. The Texas Wine Trail along 290 offers more than 50 wineries to taste wine at. Downtown Fredericksburg has become the epicenter of the area with lots of restaurants, shops, wine tasting rooms, and more. 

For Hiking in the Hill Country, Enchanted Rock is a great location. Bring a picnic and hike the massive pink granite dome for amazing views of the area. Camping at Enchanted Rock is also an option. You’ll need reservations for any visit, check their website for more details. 

If you want to stay longer than a day, which I recommend to fully experience the area, I have a few recommendations on where to stay in Fredericksburg. 

Distance from Austin: 78 Miles, about 1 hour and 40 minutes. 

If you choose to stay overnight, check out these accommodations: 

Barons Creek Resort – Secluded guest rooms with a bar and restaurant on-site, just a few miles from town. 

Travis Street Guest House – A zen cabin retreat that you’ll have all to yourself. Located in the heart of town. 

4. Lake Travis

Another popular day trip from the central Austin area is out to Lake Travis. Austinites love spending time on the water boating, doing water sports, or swimming. 

Lake Travis, which is really just a controlled section of the Colorado River, can be reached within about 30 minutes of Austin. Several companies will rent boats or water sports equipment to you either hourly or daily. Check out Float On – Lake Travis Boat Rentals. For food on Lake Travis, dock your boat at the Sundancer Grill and enjoy a burger and a cocktail on the patio. When you’re done boating, stop for some shopping at the Hill Country Galleria. 

Sundancer Grill: 16410 Stewart Rd, Lakeway, TX 78734

Hill Country Galleria: 12700 Hill Country Blvd, Bee Cave, TX 78738

Lake Travis distance from Austin: 19 miles, about 35 minutes. 

If you choose to stay overnight, check out these accommodations: 

Lakeway Resort and Spa – This resort overlooks Lake Travis and offers a full marina, swimming pool, and golf. 

SpringHill Suites – Modern decor and a convenient location are perks of this hotel. 

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Lake Travis

Day Trips from Austin - South

5. Wimberley, Texas

South of Austin, Wimberley is a fun spot to visit for a day trip. Along the Blanco river in downtown Wimberley, you can stroll along and visit the tiny shops and restaurants. Shopping in Wimberley you’ll find clothing, gifts, antiques, kitchen supplies, and more. 

If swimming in Wimberley is what you’re looking for, plan to visit Jacob’s Well. A beautiful underwater cave, this swimming spot has become pretty popular and requires reservations. The gorgeous blue-green water and deep hole to jump into are something to see! 

Jacob’s Well Address: 1699 Mt Sharp Rd, Wimberley, TX 78676

Distance from Austin: 38 miles, about 45 minutes.

If you choose to stay overnight, check out these accommodations: 

Collective Hill Country – Gorgeous glamping tents each with their own private bathroom. 

Blair House Inn – Featuring a restaurant, full spa, and outdoor pool, this could be the perfect retreat! 

Blanco River

6. Natural Bridge Caverns

Texas is home to several caves and caverns to explore, one of the best being Natural Bridge Caverns. Open daily, the caverns are a neat site to tour. They offer several tours including a Discovery Tour and Hidden Passages Tour, as well as a combo of both. 

Above the cavern, you’ll find plenty of Austin day trip things to do! Try your balance and agility on the zip rails and ropes course (they have a separate course for smaller children too), test your problem-solving skills in the 5000 square foot maze, or go mining for gems and fossils. They also have food on-site when all these activities make you hungry. 

Natural Bridge Caverns Address: 26495 Natural Bridge Caverns Rd, San Antonio, TX 78266

Distance from Austin: 67 miles, about 1 hour and 10 minutes

If you choose to stay overnight, check out these accommodations: 

JW Marriot Hill Country Resort & Spa – Offering a waterpark, full service spa and 7 restaurants, this resort is a destination itself! 

Hyatt Place San Antonio – Nearby the caverns this hotel would be a good spot for an overnight. 

7. Boerne, Texas

A small town just north of San Antonio, Boerne is a good day trip from San Antonio or Austin. Some of the things to do in Boerne include Cibolo Nature Center with hiking and a wildlife preserve, Cave Without A Name that features a six-room cave, and Boerne City Lake Park surrounding Boerne Lake. 

Once you’ve worked up an appetite, there are some great spots for food in Boerne, Texas. Check out Cibolo Creek Brewing for a meal and craft beer, or Peggy’s on the Green for elevated Southern food. 

Cibolo Nature Center Address: 140 City Park Rd, Boerne, TX 78006

Cave Without A Name Address: 325 Kreutzberg Rd, Boerne, TX 78006

Distance from Austin: 97 miles, about 1 hour and 40 minutes

If you choose to stay overnight, check out these accommodations: 

The Kendall – A beautiful and historic Inn located right on Boerne Square. 

The Bevy Hotel Boerne – All the hotel amenities you look for – a fitness center, outdoor pool, and a restaurant all on-site. 

8. San Antonio, Texas

Did you know that San Antonio is only a little over an hour south of Austin? There are many options for things to do in San Antonio, but I’ll outline the top things to see if you only have one day. 

Downtown San Antonio offers the most bang for your buck if you have limited time. Start your day visiting The Alamo in the center of town, a historic Spanish mission, and the site of the Battle of the Alamo. If you like history, continue to the historic San Fernando Cathedral built in the 1730s. Spend the rest of the afternoon strolling the Riverwalk, and maybe even hop on a Riverwalk boat tour! Don’t miss La Villita, a historic arts village where you’ll find unique San Antonio Riverwalk shopping.  

The Alamo Address: 300 Alamo Plaza, San Antonio, TX 78205

Distance from Austin: 80 miles, about 1 hour and 20 minutes.

If you choose to stay overnight, check out these accommodations: 

Drury Plaza Hotel – Located directly on the Riverwalk in a historic building. 

Menger Hotel – Take yourself back in time with this historic hotel steps from The Alamo. It’s also supposedly home to a few ghostly apparitions.  

The Alamo

Day Trips from Austin - North/East

9. Waco, Texas

Home to Baylor and Chip and Joanna Gaines, Waco is a fun location to add to your day trips from Austin list. North of Austin about an hour and a half, you can easily visit this town in one day. 

To get your Waco shopping fix, Magnolia Silos is a destination in and of itself. With a store curated by Joanna Gaines, food trucks out back, and a bakery on-site, you can spend a few hours just in this location. Afterward, you can head over to the Dr. Pepper Museum which is located downtown in a historic bottling building. 

Magnolia Silos Address: 601 Webster Ave, Waco, TX 76706

Dr. Pepper Museum Address: 300 S 5th St, Waco, TX 76701

Distance from Austin: 102 miles, about 1 hour and 30 minutes. 

If you choose to stay overnight, check out these accommodations: 

Bed and Breakfast on White Rock Creek – Tucked away on a wooded street, this B&B offers a hot tub and breakfast. 

Hotel Indigo Waco – This is a fun spot with a rooftop pool, and restaurant/bar for food and drinks. 

Magnolia Silos

10. Round Top, Texas

Round Top is the perfect day trip for antique lovers. This area is home to a twice-yearly Texas antique market that stretches for miles and miles up Route 237, but don’t worry antiques can still be found at local Round Top shops when the market is not happening.

Start the day by grabbing some food at Royers Round Top Cafe to fuel you up for all that shopping. Shops to include on your tour are the Junk Gypsy Company, Old Depot Antiques, and Townsend Provisions. 

Distance from Austin: 80 miles, about 1 hour and 20 minutes. 

If you choose to stay overnight, check out these accommodations: 

The Frenchie – This perfectly decorated previous farm house is instagram worthy! 

 

Which day trips from Austin are you planning? Let me know in the comments!

Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I earn a small commission if you make a purchase. I only recommend products that I personally know and use, and the income helps to keep this site updated and free for everyone.

High Falls Hike at Dupont State Forest

High Falls Hike at Dupont State Forest

There’s something so wonderful about hiking through the mountains of North Carolina.  The trees, the views, the mist?  I love it all!  There’s a great hike just over an hour from Asheville, NC, at Dupont State Forest.  It’s about 5.5 miles, and the hike takes you to the 3 incredible waterfalls of Triple Falls, Hooker Falls and High Falls. Check out this video for everything you need to know about this hike.

About DuPont State Park

DuPont State Forest is located along the North Carolina/South Carolina border, about 45 minutes south of Asheville, NC. It is a large state forest that features mountains, forests, waterfalls, and more across over 10,000 acres.

It is a very popular outdoor recreation for those living and around the Blue Ridge Mountains. 

If you’re looking for more tips about hiking or enjoying the outdoors in and around Asheville, NC, contact me!

Best Farmers Markets in Austin

Best Farmers Markets in Austin

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Looking for things to do in Austin Texas? Today, I’m sharing one of the reasons I love my city – we have some of the best farmers markets!

What’s not to love about a farmer’s market? Fresh, seasonal produce, unique artisanal foods, and quirky jewelry, home décor, and gifts from some of Austin’s most creative minds. Farmers markets in Austin are held all over the city, some on weekdays, most on weekends. Going to a farmer’s market is a great way to spend time outdoors with your kiddos, pick up a selection of homemade sauces and specialty foods, and support local farmers and vendors. 

Buckle up for a ride around town as you take you on my roundup of the best of Austin, Texas, farmers markets

Check out my travel vlog on Austin Farmers Markets below!

This weekend, I want to share another reason why I love Austin Texas, the Farmers Market.

Welcome to the Barton Creek farmers market. This Farmers Market is on Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00, some of the highlights are mom’s food for their famous brisket and their sausages, I love Richardson Farms to pick up the cheese and my eggs and my favorite is to have a little breakfast at Tamale Addiction, let’s go see what they have in store for us today.

All my goodies from Barton Creek Farmers Market, one of the reasons I love this market is it’s quite small, you can get in and out plenty of parking, easy to get around and in about 30 minutes, I bought all of this booty. I’m back from the Barton Creek Farmers Market, I parked my car in my building and I am walking over to Republic Square for the downtown Farmers Market.

There’s chocolate, there’s cider, there’s honey and jerky, jewelry, delicious hot and cold coffee, tamale sunflower seed humus, everything you need for the week.

Most of the vendors at Republic Square offer samples so you can actually try before you buy. The republic square market is definitely eclectic, you have poets, you have kids. Saturday Farmers Market at Republic Square it’s a wrap, some at the Mueller market at Sunday morning about 11 o’clock, this is such a big market people everywhere and lots of kids and lots of dogs, it’s very, very kid-friendly so if you have kiddos, this is definitely the Farmers Market to come to, they have a playground, they have more music, everybody’s out with a stroller just having a great time. The Mueller market has a great peaceful Sunday morning vibe.
Now, I’m trying to send people, this is not cooked, it’s just fermented, it sits out and it’s fermented and the spacing is just delicious.
Three down and one to go, let’s head to hope.

I’m at the Hope farmers market and bless us on to you, this is quintessential East Austin.

Kim: Avocado ice cream?

Vendor: Yes, you want to try some?

Kim: Yes

Vendor: I mean vegan and it’s also gluten-free on a pot of ice cream, the avocado is really just for the texture, it provides a little more fat in the vegan ice cream.

Kim: Deliciousness?

Vendor: Yes exactly, that too.

Kim: I’ve never had an avocado ice cream before so let’s see, let’s check it out. So good, I love that avocado fat and the sugar.

So, that’s a wrap for Farmers Market in two days, Barton Creek and Republic Square on Saturday and hope at Muller on Sunday.

Where: 4209 Airport Blvd. (Mueller)

When: Wednesdays 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Sundays 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

If you have kids, I’ll go out on a limb and say Mueller Austin is going to be your favorite farmers market in Austin. It’s a large market, very kid-friendly, and it even has a playground. When I visited, everybody was out with a stroller, just having a great time with their kids. For the adults, there’s live music, beer and kambucha.  There is a vibrant lively morning vibe at this Austin Farmers Market Sunday. If you’re feeling indulgent, try the decadent cookies from Teddy V Patisserie, or the gluten free baguette at GF bakery. Make siure to try Mum Foods for their delicious bbq brisket and pastrami…but get there early as they always run out.  After your shopping, why not have a picnic at Mueller Lake Park which is just around the corner.  From Kambucha to kimchi, prepared foods or organic veggies, Mueller’s Farmers Market has it all.

Where: 2901 S. Capital of Texas Hwy (South)

When: Saturdays 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

With sweeping views of the Austin skyline, the Barton Creek Mall Farmers Market has a great selection of local produce. Think grass-fed meats, brisket, and sausages. And if you’re in the mood for retail therapy, it’s a great place to pick up some funky jewelry and quirky gifts. This farmers market in Austin is held in the parking lot of the Barton Creek Square Mall, so you can always head indoors to cool off. Got small kids? They’ll love the Tiny Tails Petting Zoo. My favorites at Barton Creek were Richardson Farms where I picked up some fresh veggies and eggs. I also get a tamale at Tamale Addiction or a breakfast taco from Taco Deli. One of the reasons I love this farmers market is that it’s quite small, you can get in and out in 30 minutes, and there’s plenty of parking. 

Where: Toney Burger Center, 3200 Jones Rd.

When: Saturdays 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

SFC was founded more than two decades ago with the mission of providing everybody with access to fresh, local, nutritious food. I love going to Sunset Valley for my weekly shopping of staples – the freshest fruits, veggies, cheeses, eggs, and meats. But this eclectic farmers market in Austin is not just a quick grocery run. It’s one of the best things to do in Austin with live music, gourmet food, and shopping for unique knickknacks made by local artists. And for the kids? There’s a cool foam play area for hours of fun.

JW Marriot – 110 E 2nd St, Austin, TX, 78701

Austin Proper – 600 West 2nd Street, Austin, TX, 78701

Courtyard by Marriot – 300 East 4th Street, Austin, TX, 78701

Heywood Hotel – 1609 East Cesar Chavez Street, Austin, TX, 78702

Where: 412 Comal St. East (Plaza Saltillo)

When: Sundays 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

This is quintessential East Austin – charming, bohemian, laidback. HOPE is one of the smaller Austin TX farmers markets, but well worth a visit. Try the fresh juices at Cold Cane Press or pick up some traditional Mexican candy at Sweet Tsopelik. And if you’re wanting to add a dash of color to a space, Dolce’s Delights sell vibrant home décor. My favorite stop at this market was a vegan avocado ice cream… so good! There’s live music, a play area for kids, a cool-down zone with a baby pool and fans, and even free yoga to ease those tired muscles. It’s no wonder HOPE is popular with Austinites and visitors alike, one of the best-known Austin tourist attractions for offbeat travelers.

Where: Republic Square, 422 Guadalupe St. (Downtown)

When: Saturdays 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

There’s chocolate, cider, honey and duck rilettes. There’s delicious hot and cold coffee, tamales, sunflower seeds and hummus. You can pick up pretty much everything you need for the week at this immersive Austin farmers market on Saturdays. You’re going to love it here if you’re a fan of organic food. And what’s better is that you’re buying directly from the source. Most of the vendors at Republic Square offer samples, so you can try before you buy. There are a host of activities and all sorts of eclectic offerings (I even met a poet who wrote a poem for me on the spot). Now, doesn’t grocery shopping at a store or supermarket sound boring in comparison?

Where: 11200 Lakeline Mall Dr. (Cedar Park)

When: Saturdays 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

What I love about this farmers’ market is its shady lakeside location – perfect for the whole family and one of the most fun things to do in Austin Texas! It’s a veritable festival of food down here. Local farmers retailing the freshest fruits, veggies, and dairy products. There are artisanal food stalls and chef demos several times a month to inspire the cook in you. You can do your bit for the environment by participating in community composting. And for the kids? There’s a petting zoo, music, entertainment, and tons of fun to be had.

Where: 12700 Hill Country Blvd. (Hill Country Galleria in Bee Cave)

When: Sundays 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Delicious lobster rolls, free wine tasting, divine French pastries, and handmade popsicles… at the Lone Star Farmers Market, you’re spoiled for choice. And right in the middle of this farmers market is a splash pad for the kids to cool off and burn some of that energy. If you work up a sweat walking around, there’s a shaded patio area with tables and a live band. 

Austin farmers markets are a great way for you to eat locally-grown delicious, healthy, organic, seasonal food.  No matter where you live in Austin, there’s a market close by.  Spend the morning or afternoon surrounded by fresh produce, with the smell of hot coffee and wafting music from a local artist setting a relaxed mood. For visitors to the city, farmers markets are a great way to blend in with the locals and have an authentic Austin experience.

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Austin Urban Farms

Has my list of the best farmers’ markets in Austin whetted your appetite for natural, organic, and healthy eating? Why not check out some Austin urban farms as well. 

These farms, such as the Springdale Farm, are within Austin city limits and often host farm stands and farmers markets with the freshest seasonal produce. They’re a great option if you want to join the farm-to-fork movement. A chance to pick up kitchen staples and locally-sourced alternatives to the standard grocery shelf fare. Urban farms are beautiful places to hang out (if you’re looking for unusual Austin activities) and a great way to introduce your family to healthy, sustainable food sources. Spend a weekend or two at an urban farm in Austin. Who knows, you may be inspired to start your own urban garden.

Which Farmers Markets in Austin have you been to? Let me know in the comments!

Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I earn a small commission if you make a purchase. I only recommend products that I personally know and use, and the income helps to keep this site updated and free for everyone.

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Things to Do in Lower Manhattan | Lower East Side Tour

Things to Do in Lower Manhattan | Lower East Side Tour

Looking for some off-the-beaten-path, unusual things to do in NYC for your next trip? I highly recommend adding the Lower East Side to your next NYC weekend. More specifically, if you have even just a long weekend, consider filling your entire NYC itinerary in this neighborhood. There are plenty of things to do on the Lower East Side to keep you busy without having to head uptown. Here’s how I spent an entire, incredible NYC trip on the Lower East Side.

Check out my travel vlog about the best things to do in the Lower East Side NYC

The Lower East side is located in the southeast corner of Manhattan and has been known as the gateway neighborhood where new immigrants first land after arriving in the United States.  This area is bordered by The Bowery to the west, East Houston to the north, the East River to the east and Canal Street to the south.  It’s bordered by Chinatown, Nolita and the East Village neighborhoods.  

If you’re looking for a unique and off the beaten path NYC Experience, the Lower East Side is the place to go.

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What are the Best Lower East Side Walking Tours and Lower East Side Food Tours?

Start out with a Lower East Side walking tour to get yourself acclimated to the layout of the streets and the historical landmarks. There are many walking tours in NYC, but check out Big Onion walking tours, and peel back hundreds of years of Lower East Side architectural, political, and social history. For Lower East Side Food Tours, I recommend Nice Guy Tours for a fun, delicious way to get to know the history of the best restaurants in the Lower East Side, from pastrami to pastry. Ask for Dante, the owner of Nice Guy Tours, and remember to start out on an empty stomach. 

What are the Most Unique Museums in NYC on the Lower East Side?

Most often, Manhattan’s Lower East Side is not the first stop for museum-goers on their first trip to NYC. But some of the coolest things to do in the Lower East Side are the museums — off-the-beaten-path and quirky, historical, and moving. The Lower East Side is chock-full of unique museums, and The Tenement Museum is an absolute must. This is an actual tenement building on Orchard Street that has been outfitted as an exact replica of how immigrants lived a hundred years ago. You’ll spend a meaningful couple hours learning about life through an immigrant’s eyes. Advance reservations are required for Tenement Museum tours. Afterwards, stop by to see how the “other half lived” with a visit to the Merchant House Museum on East 4th Street — a 19th century brownstone owned by generations of the same wealthy family and perfectly preserved until the early 20th century, now designated as a City landmark. No reservations required, but check the web site for hours; guided and self-guided tours are available.

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Another interesting stop is The Museum on Eldridge Street which is the old Synagogue, where you can learn about the Jewish immigrant history of NYC.   There are also a few art-centric Lower East Side museums not to be missed — the New Museum on the Bowery, with eye-popping contemporary exhibits; the International Center of Photography on Essex Street with incredibly moving, provocative photographs; and the Museum of Street Art, an homage to the best of street art and graffiti that winds up twenty floors of stairwell in the citizenM New York Bowery Hotel.

What are the Best Lower East Side Rooftop Bars and Happy Hour Spots?

Rooftop bars in the Lower East Side are the best way to end your day of walking and eating. Check out the 20th floor of citizenM New York Bowery Hotel (and gawk at the Museum of Street Art as you walk up the stairwell). Or head to The Crown bar at Hotel 50 Bowery, a rooftop bar with vast views and homey little food bites to accompany your drinks. Mr. Purple on Hotel Indigo’s 15th floor offers beautiful views and unusual drinks. And at Last Light on the Bowery, you can take in the lower-Manhattan skyline while sharing wine and craft beers with your friends, or drinks such as the “Naked and Famous” or “Small Victories.”

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What are the Best Lower East Side Clubs?

I’m not much of a club scene girl, but the NY Nightclubs on the Lower East Side are some of the best for dancing and people watching. They range in appearance from frumpy, old, and graffitied to eclectic, colorful, and dripping with velvet. So if you’ve still got some get-up-and-go after happy hour and dinner, head to The Rumpus Room, La Caverna, CBGB, The Pyramid Club, The DL, or The Bowery Electric. It’s one of the things to do on the lower east side that you won’t get anywhere else, and you won’t regret it.

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If you want to extend your trip up the East Coast, I recommend visiting Portland, Maine! Click to read my top 10 Portland things to do.

What are the Best Restaurants in the Lower East Side?

There is no way to qualify the best food in the Lower East Side. You can’t throw a penny without hitting another gem. After you’ve experienced your Lower East Side Food Tour, you’ll be set to conquer the rest of your meals, but it’ll be tough not to repeat. Start your mornings at one of the many Lower East Side coffee shops, including Caffevita, The Roasting Company, or the Ludlow Coffee Supply (my favorite), then grab a great breakfast in the Lower East Side at Yonah Shimmel for the best knishes in NY. It is a must to run to Katz’ Delicatessen for lunch — a Lower East Side Deli that has been around since 1888 and is famous for Katz’ pastrami sandwich.

And save time to spend in the Essex Food Market. Opened in 1888 first for vendors with pushcarts, it has grown to an enormous, modern space with a plethora of cheeses, meats, fish, produce.

Dinner is always a special treat on the Lower East Side.  The restaurants are small with only a few tables, and have an intimate and lively setting.  Start at The Ten Bells for appetizers and a glass of wine, then head to Wildair or Pig and Khao, or The Fat Radish.

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What are the best Lower East Side Hotels?

Trust me — don’t go chain if you want to plant yourself in the middle of New York’s Lower East Side. The best Lower East Side restaurants aren’t chains, and Lower East Side shopping isn’t your typical mall stores, so stay the course and bunk into a Lower East Side boutique hotel — surprisingly, for its small size, the number of hotels in the Lower East Side is more than you’d expect. With so many things to do in the Lower East Side, you won’t want to spend too much time in your hotel, but while you’re there, it may as well be cool and comfortable. Due to its small boundaries, Lower East Side boutique hotels are close to everything in the neighborhood and all the things to do in the Lower East Side. I think the best hotels in the Lower East Side are those that snuggle into the landscape of older, charismatic buildings. I stayed at Hotel Indigo (pictured below), which was hip and trendy, and a little bigger than my other hotel suggestions.  It was, however, part of Marriott Bonvoy, which I love!

The Ludlow Hotel offers magnificent NYC views with huge windows and gritty, urban, chicly decorated rooms. The lobby and bar area quite possibly might be the most comfortable, cozy place to meet up with friends. The drinks are exceptional and fun, although a bit on the pricey side. Sohotel on Broome Street holds the honor of the longest-running hotel in New York City, dating back to 1805. Rooms here are New-York-City-hotel-room small, but they work perfectly for those on more of a budget. Also, Sohotel has “standard twin,” “standard triple,” and “standard family” rooms if you’re traveling to New York alone or in groups with odd numbers. At The Bowery Hotel, you’ll be greeted by a doorman in a top hat before entering the warm, dark, cozy lobby that’ll make you feel like you’ve jumped back in time — right down to the room keys with the red tassels. This is all contrasted with bright, airy rooms decked out in velvet upholstery and modern amenities. Take advantage of drinks at The Bowery Terrace, a second-floor, outdoor lounge laced with brick walls, wood beams, and fireplace. I also love the idea of the Blue Moon Hotel on Orchard Street. This old tenement building has been transformed into a comfortable hotel complete with standard hotel rooms as well as dormitory-style rooms if you’re traveling with friends or on a budget. The hotel sits above Davidovich Artisan Bakery so you can wake up to the homey smell of the famous Davidovich Bagels and pastries.

What are your favorite things to do in Manhattan on the Lower East Side? Let me know in the comments!

Enjoy your trip to NYC’s Lower East Side. Send me some pics of you on your next trip to NYC, and let me know of some of your favorite things to do in the Lower East Side to add to my next NYC itinerary. 

Top 10 Portland, Maine Things To Do & See!

Top 10 Portland, Maine Things To Do & See!

For the longest time, Maine wasn’t really considered a travel destination. It was too far east and too far north. Too cold. Too folksy. But over the couple decades, Maine has become known as an old school east coast Americana gem. It’s part small town, part cultural hub, part port town, and so, so much more.

If you’re headed to Portland, Maine in the next few months, I have put together a list of the best things to do in Portland ME based on my experience there. Below you’ll find recommendations on tours, places to eat, places to sightsee, and what to do to make your trip to Portland unforgettable. You can watch my video below or view my list of top 10 things to do in Portland Maine below.

The Real Portland Tour is the only sightseeing tour in Portland Maine that includes a full city tour and a trip to three of the lighthouses.

“So to tell me what the Real Portland Tour is.”

“It’s the real deal – I’m a real local born and raised.”

We got to see the full city tour of Portland. From the bustling downtown area and eclectic shops, to the art district, to the world class restaurants and bars.

Then Derek took us out along the Casco Bay to see its islands and forts on the way to the Portland Headlight.

Derek from the “Real Portland Tour” – he’s so cool – he has all of this information. He knows so much about the city. He’s originally from here and he’s a librarian. So the amount of facts that he knows and everything that he can tell you about the city…he talks about the “hah-bah,” and he’s going to the “pahk.”

He was so knowledgeable and interesting and had the greatest stories about the town where he grew up. Definitely put the Real Portland to her on your list.

Also while you’re visiting Portland, you have to check out the gorgeous lighthouses along Casco Bay. It’s gorgeous. You can take a tour, you can drive yourself, sometimes in the summer you can bike.

The rugged Maine coast is known for its beautiful lighthouses, and just outside of the city of Portland along Casco Bay is the Portland Headlight. It’s the most photographed lighthouse in the entire US of A.

And another great Lighthouse to visit is the Spring Point Ledge. Only on the weekends you can actually walk out there. You have to jump in the different rocks to make it all the way out.

This is just quintessential Maine. This is why you come to Maine. It’s what you see in all the pictures, so definitely worth checking them all out.

Portland Maine is a foodie town for foodies. In 2018, Bon Appetit listed it as the restaurant city of the year.

And did I say I like to eat? Some of their most well-known restaurants include Central Provisions, Fore Street Eventide, Street and Co., and Duck Fat. There was so much delicious seafood – lobster, oysters, and fresh fish.

While I was there I actually had two lunches and two dinners on two different days.

A little tiny secret but don’t tell anybody (shhhh!) is to come to the top of the parking lot at the customs house for the best view of downtown. Just across the street from the beautiful Customs House is a nondescript parking garage. If you go to the top level, its open-air and you can see the spectacular views of all the city roofs throughout downtown Portland

Another great thing to do while you’re in Portland is to go on the Maine Foodie Tour.

This morning I’m on the Bon Appetit tour which starts at 10:30 in the Munjoy neighborhood. Most of the food in Portland is all about the seafood but this is a very unique tour that gives you croissants, clams, a little bit of Tex-Mex, and some other exciting things.

You even get to go to a kombucheria.

And what’s crazy about this picture is the fact that, if you can see behind me, it is a longhorn flag from the University of Texas (Hook ‘em Horns!) and we are here in Portland, and we’re checking out a Tex Mex restaurant. Austin girl. Tex Mex restaurant. It’s a match made in heaven. Yum!

If you’re looking for exclusive tips and tricks and hacks make sure to go to the description below and join my travel tribe

And next item on our list are the infamous east coast oysters. I recommend two different places to get these incredible little morsels. The first is the Shop which is about a 10-minute Uber ride from downtown Portland and all of their oysters are a dollar fifty all day long. We’re at the shop now and they are famous for their oysters. Their oysters are dollar 50 everyday all day long do matter what you order and they also have a hand something or other. They have tuna.

We order the calamari in a ragu. The coup de gras is…I have two orders of everything they have on the menu. I cannot wait to dig in.

The other play to try the oysters is at Scales, which is right there on the Harbor. So tonight we’re at Scales and we heard that they have the best oysters in town and I have to say that these two may be the best oysters I’ve ever had in my entire life. They’re really good. They’re amazing.

Yeah, when you come to Portland, food is the way to go. And oysters are only a dollar during happy hour. We had so much fun eating our way around the city

The next thing that you have to do when you’re in Portland is to go on the Lucky Catch Cruises. This is well worth the trip and it’s so fun to go out in Casco Bay and learn how the lobstermen catch your dinner.

The Lucky Catch Tour has been around for more than a decade and honestly it’s one of the best things that I did during my visit in Portland, Maine. It’s also a great value.

If you’d like to know more about Lucky Catch Cruises make sure to check out last week’s video. It’s all about my tour traveling with Captain Brian and Kate.

Crazy little tidbit about Portland is that the pedestrians always seem to have the right of way. It doesn’t matter whether you actually have the green light to go or not!

And then there’s more food. I’m now at the Holy Donut that is famous for putting a potato – shredded potatoes in a sugar donut. The best part about it is they have gluten-free just for me.

It’s like not exactly cooked all the way through here so I can get that sort of gooeyness to it and then it’s just..I mean it’s just ridiculous. If you’re gluten-free and you come to Portland, Maine, not only do you have to eat the delicious seafood and the oysters, you have to come to Holy Donut and get a gluten-free donut.

So let’s talk bars in Portland – actually, let’s talk speakeasies in Portland.

In Portland, Maine, it was one of the first cities to have prohibition in the entire country so they are known even to this day for the speakeasies. Definitely check out Lincoln’s while you’re in town.

Portland is such a walkable city. I recommend staying in town. You don’t need a car and it feels 10 minutes walking distance.

And next is more food, but this time it has a Texas twist.

It’s been quite a morning here in Portland. It’s been raining and it’s really, really cold. It’s May and it is about 35 degrees here. Not good weather for the Texas girl in me. But right now, I’m headed to warm up and I’m going over to the Highroller Lobster Company.

It’s only been around a few years. It used to be a food trailer and now it is brick and mortar and the reason I keep looking down is because I was told to come and get the most delicious lobster taco. And instead of a taco shell it is a grilled cheese.

(Euphoric music plays)

I got the jalapeno mayonnaise and the lime mayonnaise, so I get a little bit of Texas here in Portland, Maine. There must be like 6 lbs of lobster on this. It is so friggin’ good. You definitely have to try this. Cheers!

#1 The Best City Tour in Portland, Maine

The Real Portland Tour is the only sightseeing tour in Portland, Maine that includes a full city tour and a trip to three of the lighthouses. We got to see the full city tour of Portland, from the bustling downtown area and eclectic shops to the art district and the world-class restaurants and bars. We headed out to Casco Bay to see its islands and forts on the way to the Portland Headlight.

Our tour guide, Derrick, was amazing! He knows so much about the city for two reasons:

  1. He’s a local, born and raised
  2. He’s a librarian! He was so knowledgeable and interesting and had the greatest stories about the town where he grew up.

Definitely put the Real Portland Tour on your list!

#2 The Best Lighthouses in Portland, Maine

Also while you’re visiting Portland, you have to check out the beautiful lighthouses along Casco Bay. You can take a tour like I did, you can drive yourself, and sometimes, in the summer, you can even bike! The rugged Maine coastline is known for its beautiful lighthouses and just outside of the city of Portland along Casco Bay is the infamous Portland Head Light. Did you know it’s the most photographed lighthouse in the entire US?

Another great lighthouse to visit is the Spring Point Ledge. On the weekends, you can actually walk out there you have to jump on the different rocks to make it all the way out. It’s very picturesque and definitely worth checking them all out.

#3 The Best Restaurants in Portland, Maine

Portland is a foodie town for foodies! Did you know that in 2018, Bon Appetit listed it as the restaurant city of the year? Some of the most well-known restaurants include:

There was so much delicious seafood, lobster, oysters, and fresh fish while I was there that I actually had two lunches and two dinners on two different days!

#4 Best View in Portland, Maine

Fourth on my list is a little well kept secret: Come to the top of the parking lot at the Customs House for the best view of downtown! The parking garage is just across the street from the beautiful Customs House. If you go to the top level it’s open air and you can see the spectacular views of all the city routes throughout downtown Portland.

#5 Best Food Tour in Portland, Maine

5th on the list is to go on a food tour! I went with Maine Foodie Tours on the Bon Appetit. Most of the food in

Portland is all about the seafood but this is a very unique tour that gives you croissants clams a little bit of Tex-Mex and some other exciting things. You even get to go to a kombucharia.

#6 Best Oysters in Portland, Maine

Next on our list are the infamous East Coast oysters. I recommend two different places to get these incredible little morsels.

  1. The Shop which is about a 10 minute Uber ride from downtown Portland and all of their oysters are $1.50, all day long.
  2. The other place to try the oysters is at Scales which is right there on the harbor. While in town, I heard that they had the best oysters in the whole city. My opinion? They may be the best oysters I’ve ever had in my entire life! The oysters are only $1 during happy hour.

#7 Best Boat Tour in Portland, Maine

The next thing that you have to do when you’re in Portland is to go on the Lucky Catch Cruises. It’s so fun to goout in Casco Bay and learn how the lobster man catches your dinner. The Lucky Catch Cruise has been around for more than a decade and honestly, it’s one of the best things that I did during my visit to Portland. It’s also a great value! If you’d like to know more about Lucky Catch Cruises, check out last week’s video and blog here.

#8 Best Dessert in Portland, Maine

Then there’s more food! If you’re in the mood for something sweet, head over to the Holy Donut. They are famous for putting shredded potatoes into their Donuts. If you’re gluten-free like me, they have several options for us, too!

#9 Best Bar in Portland, Maine

Now let’s talk bars in Portland. Actually, let’s talk about speakeasies! Portland, Maine was one of the first cities in the entire country to have prohibition so they are known even to this day for the speakeasies. My top choice is Lincoln’s.

#10 Best Taco in Portland, Maine

Our last thing to do is another food item, but this time it has a Texas twist. Head over to the High Roller Lobster Company which started as a food trailer. Now it is it’s brick-and-mortar and I was told they serve the most delicious lobster taco. Instead of a taco shell, they use grilled cheese to hold the lobster meat and toppings. And if you love tacos like I do, check out my video and blog on the Top 5 Tacos in my hometown of Austin, Texas.

I hope you enjoyed my list of the best things to do, see, and of course TASTE in Portland. Share in the comments if you’ve been to any of these places!

Travel Tips & FAQs for Portland, Maine

Where to eat in Portland ME?

Start by watching the video at the top because Portland is a FOO-DEE-TOWN. 

I can highly, highly recommend the following establishments: Highroller Lobster Company, Holy Donut, The Shop, Scales, Central Provisions, Fore Street, Eventide, Street & Co., and Duck Fat. If you want a great starting point, I highly recommend you try the Taste of Portland Food Tour by Bon Appetit.

What to do Portland ME?

Do you like eating? Drinking? Seeing historic architecture? Maybe lobster fishing is more your speed. As a coastal town, Portland really has it all. Great tours and activities for tourists, plenty of places to relax, eat, hang out, drink and more. Honestly, your best bet is to get a place somewhere downtown and just walk around. You won’t have a dull moment.

Where to eat lobster in Portland ME?

Maine is lobster central. I can personally recommend Central Provisions, Highroller Lobster Company, Fore Street, Eventide, Street & Co., and Duck Fat. All offer approachable and amazing seafood offerings that highlight the local catch. 

If you’re looking for something a little more high end, try out the Back Bay Grill, Emilitsa, and Union Restaurant.

What airlines fly to Portland ME?

Portland ME isn’t a huge hub for airlines or international travel. Luckily, plenty of domestic carriers offer direct flights to Portland International Jetport (PMW). They include: American, United, Delta, Frontier, Southwest, Sun Country Airlines, Jet Blue, Cape Air.

What county is Portland ME in?

Portland Maine is located in Cumberland County.

How far from Portland ME to Boston MA?

There are a lot of different ways to get from Boston MA to Portland ME and vis a versa. You can fly, drive, take a train, or take a ferry. To simplify things, it’s a 2 hour drive from Portland to Boston, which is often the quickest and cheapest way to get between the two cities.

How far from Portland ME to Bar Harbor?

It is a little over 3 hours to drive Portland ME to Bar Harbor, a noteworthy town on the Atlantic Ocean and at the start of the Acadia Mountains. This drive is a popular tourist track to see a lot of historic coastal towns along the way.

 

THE BEST LOBSTER BOAT TOUR IN PORTLAND, MAINE

THE BEST LOBSTER BOAT TOUR IN PORTLAND, MAINE

The Lucky Catch Cruises Lobster Tour to Portland Headlight

Want to go on the best lobster cruise in Portland? My favorite is the Lucky Catch Cruise. What makes this company so different is the education you receive about the lobster industry and all that goes into a lobster fishing trip.

 

Lucky Catch Cruises Information

The cruise lasts for about an hour and a half and takes you through the daily routines of a lobsterman and has been around for

more than a decade. We had the opportunity to haul in traps, measure the lobsters, and band their claws. Once our cruise was over, we could take our catch over to the Portland Lobster Company where they would cook up our delicious dinner. It is a great value and one of the best things I did during my stay in Portland Maine.

 

Booking your Lucky Catch Cruise

There are a couple ways to book your cruise. You can book a tour at luckycatch.com or you can go down to the long wharf and front office of lucky catch cruises portland maine lobster boat tourbook at their kiosk. Make sure to book early because you don’t want to miss the opportunity and they book up fast. In summer, there are 5 cruises a day starting at 10:30 in the morning the last one leaving at 5:30 in the afternoon. Make sure when you go on the tour you ask for Captain Brian and Kate. Kate was actually a marine biology teacher, and so the information they provide is exceptional.  On this tour you don’t have to worry about being seasick, you are only in the bay. There are three possible itineraries each and every day. The first two trips to Portland Headlight, two trips seal watching, and one trip to the Whitehead Passage. Our cruise was to the Portland Headlight and it was beautiful to see this iconic lighthouse from the water. It was the first lighthouse that was commissioned by George Washington and the second lighthouse in the US to be completed, right after Boston. The cruises leave from the Long Wharf right in the center of Downtown Portland. It’s very easy to locate because it’s right next to Dimillo’s on the water.

 

All about the Lucky Catch Vessel

The vessel we were on was a 37 foot Maine built fiberglass lobster boat designed to be smooth and stable in the ocean waters. alongside the lucky catch portland maine lobster boat tourBuilt in 1983 for the sole purpose of commercial lobstering, this Lucky Catch didn’t carry it’s first paying customer until 1997. Not only do you have a great time on this tour, you get a huge education about the lobster industry in Maine. You get to know the conservation practices of the fisherman and you realize how sustainable they make their own industry.  I recently learned that they catch more lobsters now than they did 60 years ago. So make sure to come in the summer to the lucky catch tour. They run commercial lobstering fishing from October to May so the Lucky Catch is only open during the off-season from May until October.

 

My review of the Lucky Catch Cruise

aboard the lucky catch portland maine lobster boat tourNot quite as scary as the deadliest catch but it’s been a lot of fun, a lot of adventure and we got a ton of information from Captain Brian and Kate. Thank you Lucky – Catch it’s been a

blast!

Book a tour with Lucky Catch Cruises