Making the most of when you can't travel: Port Aransas Vacation Review

The summer is my busiest time of year as a small business owner and it often means that I can't really make time to travel during this time. I took a great family vacation right before summer started, but after that quick trip I've been staying home and working almost 100% of my free time. It's been tiring so I decided I wanted to take a local beach vacation. We live in Texas and let's just say that the beaches here aren't beautiful... I actually went to Galveston last summer and while I did enjoy my time there, the beach leaves A LOT to be desired. This year I talked my husband and two other couples into joining me in Port Aransas. It's less than a four hour drive from our home in Austin and there are SO many vacation rental options right by the beach.

The beach in Port Aransas is much cleaner than the beach in Galveston. There was no seaweed, minimal jelly fish and the sand is generally clean. You can drive your car right up to the beach making unloading chairs and coolers very easy! The beach was busy while we were there, but it was still relaxing and there was plenty of space for everyone.

Screen Shot 2015-07-19 at 8.59.25 PM
Screen Shot 2015-07-19 at 8.59.25 PM

Because our condo was so close to the beach, we were even able to sneak in a quick sunset or two. It didn't fully satisfy my desire to take a trip, but I was able to work in the condo and walk back and forth from the beach, which really was nice. If you are like me and can't travel during your busy season, here are a few ways to make the most of not traveling:

1. Plan a Day Trip- Sometimes just one day out of my routine really helps me get out of my funk! Find a place that is 30 minutes to an hour away from where you live and head out there. You don't need a plan, just explore!

2. Go Somewhere In Your City- A few weeks ago I took all of my employees zip lining. I've only even been zip lining when on vacation, but it was so fun to do it in my own city!

3. Eat a New Cuisine - If you can't travel, you can still easy! Find an Ethiopian, Thai or Indian restaurant and start planning your next vacation.

Luckily I have some exciting travels coming up and I can't wait to write about them!

Five Fun Things to do in Galveston Texas

I grew up in Atlanta, which is just a few hours away from some of the most beautiful beaches in Florida, Savanna and South Carolina. When I moved to Texas, I really missed a quick summer trip to the beach. I finally decided after a few years in Austin that I would venture down to Galveston for a weekend.

Many people tried to talk me out of it by reminding me that it smells (it does a little), it's dirty (it is a little) and the beach sucks (it does a little). But I won't let those people rain on my parade. I headed down to Galveston and enjoyed an awesome weekend. Here are five fun things to do in Galveston.

1. Enjoy the water- We stayed in a beautiful vacation rental that had pools and a lazy river. We spent a lot of time enjoying being outdoors and then we headed down to the beach. I definitely recommend bringing a cooler of drinks and a tent or umbrella. It can get really hot and sunny, so you will want plenty of shade. The beach is not the nicest and the water is brown, but that didn't really stop me from going in the ocean. We played boccee ball and other sand games.

2. Eat some seafood- I LOVE shrimp, so I was extremely pleased to eat my way through Galveston. Every spot has some sort of shrimp dish to enjoy. There are also plenty of places with speciality foods like ice cream, water ice or cupcakes.

3. Walk the strand- This is one of the things I missed the most about beach towns. I love walking around and seeing all of the little shops with t-shirts and keychains. I managed to buy a few t-shirts (why, I have no idea!) and I loved seeing the historical side of Galveston.

4. Hit up the Pleasure Pier- If you have kids who like rides and games, this is a must see for them. There are fun roller coasters, a great view and games to play. It is sort of like a mini carnival on the pier of Galveston.

5. Go to Schlitterbahn- We didn't have time to do it this time, but next time I am definitely going to Schlitterbahn. It is a huge waterpark (indoor and outdoor year round) for all ages. Free parking, free picnics, just have fun!!

Have you been to Galveston? What are you favorite things to do?

Unique Experience: Visiting Football Stadiums

It's no secret that I absolutely love football. In fact, we rarely travel during the Fall because we are so lucky to live in Austin and be able to watch the Texas Longhorns play every weekend.

But I do also love traveling to visit other stadiums and see other teams play during the Fall.

A few of my favorite stadiums and games I have been to:

1. Texas v. Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl- The best rivalry in college football, just the best.

2. Atlanta Falcons v. Green Bay Packers- My hometown favorites against a bitter rival. We won this game in over time and I almost missed my flight.

3. Texas v. Alabama at the Rose Bowl- National Championship game in arguably the most beautiful stadium in the entire world.

There are also a few stadiums on my wish list:

1. University of Oregon- They have an amazing game day atmosphere and I would love to go there!

2. Cowboys Stadium- I have no clue how I haven't been here before, but I would love to finally get to a game in this amazing stadium.

3. Broncos Stadium- I have no idea why, but I wouldn't mind going to a very early Fall game in Denver.

Are there any other stadiums that I need to visit??

Texas State Fair: Fried Food Guide

Today I am linking up with the #sundaytraveler linkup! Thanks to Pack Me To! I just returned home from the Texas State Fair and lets just say that I ate my fair share of fried foods.

Pack Me To

If you ever find yourself in Dallas during the State Fair or the Texas v. Oklahoma game, you are in for an incredibly good time. It may seem like a silly event, but it is actually a lot of fun and a must-see in my opinion. If you aren't familiar with the Texas State Fair it is home to more fried foods than any other place in the world. We started out the morning at the most popular stand at the fair: Fletcher's Corny Dogs.

I read once that Fletcher's sells over 600,000 corn dogs during the State Fair season! The corny dog is an old state fair favorite and a great place to start out. But then I wanted to get serious about trying the brand new, award winning Fried Shrimp Boil.

I forgot to take a photo so I borrowed this one from the USA Today

The fried shrimp boil was shrimp, corn and potato fried like a hush puppy. It was really good, but didn't quite hold a candle to some of my old favorites: fried butter, fried Oreo and fried jalapeno shrimp.

After that we were feeling pretty full and it was almost game time, but that didn't stop us from getting an order of fried pickles first. I was mostly done with fried foods at this point, but semi-disappointed that we didn't try the other award winner: fried sriracha. Of course, there is always next year.

Texas didn't win the football game, but it was close and we had a great time at the fair and the game.

And of course at the end of the game I got to drive home to Austin and the Oklahoma fans had to drive back to Norman. So I feel like the big winner anyway.

Traveling to Austin City Limits

Since I live in Austin I "technically" didn't travel to the Austin City Limits festival, but I figured since people I know ask for tips on traveling to Austin during this time that I would provide. Austin City Limits (ACL) is an awesome music festival that takes place in downtown Austin each October. This year, unlike years past, the festival is on two weekends with identical line-ups. There are a few important things to remember before booking your trip:

1. Book early- This is so obvious, but hotels in Austin get booked up very fast for ACL. Take a look at the transportation options when planning your hotel or vacation rental. There are shuttles from downtown and there are certain areas around town you can park and walk to the festival. Make sure you are near a transportation method before booking, because it isn't that easy for taxis and Ubers to get down to the festival. The earlier you book, the more options you will have.

2. Plan to stay at the festival all day- There isn't really much around Zilker Park (there are a bunch of restaurants, but most hotels are over 30 min walking back), so plan to stay at the park all day. Bring a backpack, wear light clothes, wear comfy shoes and bring cash for food. The food is part of the experience of the festival and there are a lot of great local restaurants with booths at the park. I highly recommend trying Mighty Cone. This year I ate at Chilantro BBQ and had some amazing kimchi fries. Also, bring tissue for the port-o-potties. You can also bring chairs, blankets or crazy creeks if you want to sit during the shows.

3. Plan for it to be very hot- It is really hot in Austin, even in October. Wear a hat, bring sunscreen and also bring water. You can bring two unopened bottles of water and there are re-filling stations throughout the festival. Hydrate, relax and enjoy the shows.

Those are the best tips I have for enjoying ACL. There are so many great, unknown bands that head to the festival, which makes for an awesome time. Great music in the best city in the world, what else could you ask for?