Vacation Photos: Austin

We got back from Austin last night, and we loved the trip. Austin is such a rad town, full of swimming, tattoos and rib-sticking BBQ. Here are a few photos, if you’d like to see…

We snapped this photo on the plane ride out there. Toby looked like a mad scientist, his hair shooting off in all directions, while he slept face up on our laps. He also thought we were on a bus, since planes look like buses when they’re on the ground. (He actually ran through the airport, pointing out the windows and shouting ecstatically, “Bus! Bus!”) Also, by the way, we ended up trying out Lugless and shipped our heavy suitcase ahead; it really did make the trip so much smoother.

When we arrived in Austin, we stayed with our good friends Matt and Megan, and their twin babies, who recently moved out there from New York. (Remember their beautiful apartment?) Their new house was airy and bright, filled with cool midcentury modern furniture, including that coffee table, which I secretly wanted to pack in my suitcase and bring home.

Toby loved playing with their twin girls, although now and again he’d get so excited about hanging with two lovely ladies that he’d try to squeeze their faces. You can’t contain the love of an almost-two-year-old!

Their guest bedroom was tricked out with a Tempur-Pedic mattress (have you ever slept on one?), and Toby crashed comfortably in his travel crib on the floor. And Matt and Megan put flowers, a candle and a book of essays on our bedside table—a sweet touch, don’t you think? (I’m going to try to remember that for future guests.)

Our mornings were spent chilling out in their sprawling backyard. Living in Manhattan, we’ve never had any outdoor space, so it was a treat to just hang under the trees and smell the freshly cut grass.

Toby tried out the girls’ swingset…

We dozed and read the paper in the hammock. (Btw, did you see this is going to be a book?)

Three sets of feet this time!

The first day, we all ventured downtown to explore. (People often say New Yorkers aren’t friendly, and I always think we get a bad rap…but Austin-ites are the NICEST!!! We were kind of bowled over by how friendly everyone was.) Of course, we had to stop by Allen Boots

The city was filled with live music, even during the day…

…including this adorable one-man band, who sang the Michigan Wolverines fight song when he found out I went to the University of Michigan.

The temperatures reached 90 degrees during the day—even in March!—so went to cool off with ice tea at Jo’s Coffee. (Note the taxi sticking out of Alex’s shirt pocket, no big deal.) We also had ice cream at Amy’s across the street; our friend Matt wants to patent his combo of Mexican vanilla ice cream with fresh strawberries and Heath bar.

Toby hung with the guys, while eating a banana and watching motorcycles.

And there’s a swing hanging from a tree on the main drag of S. Congress, so of course we stopped to try it out. Toby and I just swung gently, like normal people, but Alex went for it!

Austin street style is super cute: The girls we spotted wore a mix of cowboy boots, plaid button-downs, cotton dresses, and cool tattoos—like this crossword puzzle tattoo on our waitress on Saturday night. After our heavy lunch, we wanted something lighter for dinner, so we got a babysitter after the little dudes went to bed, and headed to Elizabeth Street Cafe for amazing Vietnamese food. We sat outside in the warm breezes and had beers and noodle dishes. (During our trip, we also went to Iron Works for BBQ, and Hotel San Jose for drinks; as well as an awesome street of formerly abandoned houses that have been turned into bars: we sat in the breezy backyard of Icenhauer’s.)

Another day, our friends took us to lunch at Hula Hut, a family-friendly Tiki-Mex restaurant overlooking Lake Austin, where we got fish tacos and beers.

Toby learned to say, “Cheers!”

Barton Springs, the spring-fed natural pool, was even cooler than I expected—both literally and figuratively. The water was freezing! But since the weather was sweltering, it felt refreshing—almost like drinking a glass of ice water—to take a dip.

Our final morning, we went mini golfing before lunch.

Toby didn’t let us do much since he insisted on holding both golf clubs:)

Finally, we headed home. Traveling always feels like such a breath of fresh air, or “a shot in the arm,” as our friend Matt said. Visiting old friends, having a change of scene, eating tacos at least twice daily…Thank you, Austin, for a wonderful long weekend! And thanks to everyone for all your advice. xoxo

P.S. The 5 best shoes for traveling, and 10 tips for traveling with a baby.

(My pink jeans are from Hudson; and my sunglasses are from Lookmatic)

  1. As a native Texan, Austin is one of my favorite places to visit! seems like you hit all of the neat places to visit. Next time check out Hamilton’s pool or Jacob’s well, more natural swimming holes and great views!

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  5. Elizabeth says...

    I just came back from Austin, and you are SO right: Austin-ites are the nicest people!!!!! When my boyfriend and I could not find a restaurant (The Noble Pig – absolutely delicious!), an older gentleman had us follow him; he drove about 15 minutes, with us following him in our rental car, until we reached the Noble Pig! Great city, great food and great people!

  6. Courtney says...

    Thinking of taking a similar trip with my husband and 2 year old. Can you tell me what neighborhood you stayed in and if you would recommend the location? Thanks!

  7. Austin is always a good choice for vacation!

  8. Clari says...

    Hi Joanna,
    Toby is so cuuuute!!
    I have a motherhood question: how do you deal with Toby’s jet-lag??
    Next week we come from Europe to NY for one week hollidays and I’m afraid it will be difficult for my baby (1 year old). If you have good tips to share, I will be happy to read!

  9. Anonymous says...

    girl with tattoos is Shayne, te extraño palote!

  10. Rachel says...

    Hi Joanna!
    So I have to ask, how did you get Toby to sleep on your laps or on the plane at all? I am amazed by that pic! I just got back from a trip to Florida and with a delay at LGA it was way past nap time during the flight down. Nothing we tried would get our little one to sleep (19 months). Any plane sleeping tips or is Toby just a sleep angel baby?

    P.S. We met a Bleecker Playground once but moved uptown last month. I so miss the neighborhood!!

  11. Anonymous says...

    Funny… I had seen your post indicating you were going to Austin, so I knew you couldn’t be in Europe at the same time, but…

    I think you and your husband have a “parallel universe” couple in Brussels. On April 2 I saw a couple who looked JUST like you and your husband at a park in Brussels (which I was visiting as a side trip from my main vacation in Amsterdam.) These people looked so much like you guys that I almost approached them and I pointed them out to my husband saying I thought it was one of the bloggers I read and her husband.

  12. Welcome to Texas! I live in Dallas and am a native Texan and Austin is one of my favorite cities in this Lone Star state. So glad y’all had such a good time – you hit some of the best spots!

  13. so glad you had such a good time in Austin! Love all the places you went to :)

  14. Austin is one of the best places in the world. I lived there for three years and my youngest son was born there, and you’re right the people in Austing are maybe the friendliest I’ve ever met!

  15. Go Blue!

  16. Anonymous says...

    dear Joanna, I have one question, how do you handle foods for Toby during travel???I am also a little bit traveler with my 3yearsold son, and still have many doubts…regarding snacks on the way, fries…Do you let Toby try different things or just prepare something for him in advance and bring to the restaurant with you?:):)I will appreciate your kind comment , thanks, monika hes

  17. oh!! Joanna!!
    What brand of straw cup is toby using?

    It’s time to buy one for my baby!!


    and we will go Austin for his birthday which is next month!!

  18. That one man band used to play outside of where I work in Chicago! He’s the best!!!!! I’m glad to see he’s well!

  19. Hammocks are heavenly, aren’t they? We live in Boston and I found a way to put one on my deck. City living man…


  20. Alexandra says...

    Hoped you liked Elizabeth Street Cafe as much as we did!

  21. Anonymous says...

    I checked out lugless and it was almost $1000 to ship bags for our family (3 bags, one golfbag) within the united states. Seems quite expensive! Was that your experience? I love the idea but the price is almost as much as our tickets for a family of four.

  22. So glad our state made such a wonderful impression!

  23. We moved from NYC to Austin about 6 months ago. I spent one of our first days here making phone calls to Austin utilities to set things up. I had emotionally prepped myself for being on the phone with all kinds of rude and unhelpful people (like they would be if I were calling NYC utilities). But after several calls and so many pleasant, kind and helpful interactions I burst into tears! I felt absolutely ridiculous but I couldn’t believe how nice people were!

  24. looks like a fun trip! we actually declared austin as part of our 5-year plan a couple of days ago so this makes me even more excited to get there.

  25. lovely pictures! i’m sure a million people are asking, but are you on instagram? would love to follow! xxo jane.

  26. Sounds like an amazing trip! And kid-friendly, too! I love that.

    p.s. I’m sure their new home is beautiful but I just took a look at their old apartment and my goodness it was gorgeous!

  27. man, Austin looks amazing. now I want to visit! and hello Megan! such a pretty lady. :)

  28. So so glad you had a nice trip! I love our town (when not in July/August). Spring is lovely, as your photos show.


  29. Joanna, adore your blog! I’m about to fly for the first time with the Baby Bjorn travel crib for my 7 month old and wondered if you check yours and whether it holds up ok that way?


  30. Toby looks so much like your sister Lucy in this shot!

  31. So glad you enjoyed Austin! I must say, Texans are just friendly in general :) Also, Mexican Vanilla plus strawberry and heath is genius. If I could eat only Amy’s Ice Cream for the rest of my life, I’d be happy!!

  32. Fun photos, Jo! Thanks for sharing.

    It’s depressing to know that Dara-Lynn Weiss is going to profit from subjecting her daughter to that :(

    And I love the polka dot dress, too. For other admirers, I got one that is kinda similar recently at Anthro (the Even Flurry dress–and it’s on sale!).

  33. Holy cow, I’m feeling sooooo homesick right now after seeing those snaps!

    Looks like you guys had a wonderful time, yay!!

  34. What great photos! I would love for Toby and my son to meet! They are right around the same age.

  35. Gracie F. says...

    Haha! I love that man who plays all the instruments on his back. I go to UT and he was on campus the other day! He’s really impressive!

    Glad y’all had fun. Come back now, y’hear!

  36. I would LOVE to go to Austin! Looks like you had a great time :) Good food and good music is the absolute best.

  37. I was just there two weeks ago and literally did everything you did! Barton Springs … Jo’s Coffee … Hula Hut, etc.

    That backyard looks so dreamy.

  38. i was in austin with my best friend thursday through sunday – wish we’d run into you! :)

  39. I meant to leave a comment with Austin recs, but you did everything I would recommend anyways! So glad you found Amy’s (I’m obsessed, thank goodness I live in Dallas and don’t get to partake often), I tweet to them often with my flavor recommendations. And in case you make it back to Peter Pan golf for an “adults only” game of mini-golf, it’s BYOB!

  40. Anonymous says...

    really nice post.
    what camera do you use?

  41. Austin looks like so much fun! Love all the photos and this inspires me to play mini-golf!

  42. Anonymous says...

    Love that Alex has a taxi in his pocket! I spent years with legos and toy cars in my purse!

  43. fun fun fun! you look charming in the polka dots dress!

  44. This comment has been removed by the author.

  45. Wow! I loved these photos, you’re little boy is so gorgeous, the first picture is absolutely stunning!

    Nikki – inspire nordic

  46. wow, I almost feel like I should be part of the family, heh!
    Perfect pictures!

    I need some vacation myself. :)

  47. It looks like you had so much fun! Eating, drinking and being with family is the best! I can really see Alex in Toby now.

  48. Anonymous says...


    I am a fan of your blog, and loved to read about Austin. I used to live there, it is such an exciting city!
    I was wondering if you could share what photo editing software you use. The saturation of your pictures always looks so interesting.
    Thanks in advance!

  49. Thank you for sharing. Beautiful as always

  50. So glad you had a wonderful trip to Austin. It is one of my favorite cities and I try to make it up there (yes, up, haha I come from Houston or College Station typically) at least two or three times a year. Every time I have gone, I have discovered something different about that town! Love it!

  51. Tempur pedic mattresses are a god send. Expensive, but so worth it for the amount of support you get. I don’t think we’ll ever go back to a normal mattress.

    Great photo essay on Austin! It’s on our ever expanding list!

  52. absolutely love reading about your travels and seeing pictures too, it makes me want to take a trip to Austin. I was so happy to see the Fat Tire bottle in your pictures, one because it is a very tasty beer and two because I work at New Belgium and I love the company and their beer. If you ever make it out to Fort Collins I would love to give you a VIP tour of the Brewery.

  53. toby looks so much like alex! (duh.)

    and you’re right, texans are SO friendly. oklahomans are too. ;)

  54. Terrific post! I love Austin and you hit some of my favorites while introducing me to some new places to try when I return in a few weeks.

  55. What a fun trip! xo

  56. This was do fun to read and see – and I live here!!! I’m glad you enjoyed our city! I love it lots :)

  57. Glad to see all the hot Austin spots you hit! I went to college at UT and miss Austin every day. It’s such a special place…Your pictures are beautiful and brought back great memories!

  58. What a fun trip and great photos to tell the story. I love the one of Toby in the window as a silhouette and the eye shadow looked amazing.

  59. So glad you enjoyed your time in Austin! It’s one of my favorite places :)

  60. Kate says...

    I am so glad you guys loved Austin! I am a little biased because it’s my hometown, but I think it’s pretty awesome. Seems like you guys hit all the bright spots! Come back anytime!

  61. Caz says...

    Looks like such a great trip! I want to go to Austin now! Pity I live on the other side of the world… One day I’ll get there!

    I just have to say though – why is it “normal” to just swing gently on a swing?! No matter what your age, one of the great joys in life is just going nuts on a swing, feeling the rush of wind in your face, and giving yourself that little scared moment where you think you may have pushed it too far!

  62. I love that he sang the Michigan fight song! Hail to the Victors! Love Austin! xo

  63. This vacation looks amazing. Their houses are gorgeous. I can’t believe you went to UM! Go blue!

  64. Sounds like you had a very fun trip. What lovely touches your hosts left on your bedside table!


  65. Glad you enjoyed your Austin trip! Been here for 5 years and I love it here. I really enjoy reading your blog and I was really excited to see that you were going to come out here!

  66. SWEET photos!! I’ve heard Austin is wonderful.
    I love the feet photo! so cute!

  67. Austin is one of our favorite weekend getaways. We got a weekend at Hotel San Jose as a Christmas present, and loved it there. So hip, great service, and the perfect part of town for wandering!

  68. fat tire! (they don’t give us many beer choices across the border in oklahoma, so i drool at pictures of other people’s beer.)

  69. Beautiful photos! Thank you for sharing, looks like you had a wonderful time! I’ve never been to Austin but will have to put it on my travel list! :)

  70. That looks like such a fun and relaxing vacation. I want to visit Austin!

  71. What a great trip! I loved reading about your weekend, I’ve been itching to go back to Austin! The first time I went (which was the only time I’ve gone) I took an “alone vacation”, rented a road bike and explored the city on bike, no map just my iPhone, no schedule…just did what I wanted when I wanted.

    I’d love to go back now and explore again with my husband. I remember everyone was SO friendly…no pretense or attitude at all. Looks like you had a great trip!

  72. Dear Joanna,
    so far I’ve been only Your secret admirer,
    looking,loving Your blog, yet, not saying anything…
    a ‘moment’ ago I decided to make a coming out ;) ,post comments etc.
    I’ve also created my own small blog (in Polish) and realized how nice and…hard it is!
    now I do appreciate You even more! :)
    You must know, surely You must know, Your blog’s simply great, but I’ll say it anyway! :)
    btw fantastic pictures and a wonderful holiday!
    greetings from Poland,
    dziki lokator :)

  73. nice comments and gorgeous cowboy boots!

  74. Go Blue!! (About to graduate myself :)

  75. I love Austin! I grew up in Houston and my sister lives in Austin, so this made me really homesick. Amy’s is the best! love it. I had some amazing champagne ice cream there once. Also love the lakes and the casual style. Oh my gosh, I really miss it!
    ps. love your jeans!

  76. Toby’s little sneakers are so cute! Glad y’all enjoyed Austin :D

  77. I love your pink jeans! Thanks for including the brand.

  78. Amy’s Ice Cream is my FAVORITE! Next time you’re in Austin you should try Mexican Vanilla + Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups! I promise you it will change your life. They also have a really awesome outdoor theater set up during the summer time. Super fun for kids (they do a lot of family friendly plays) or romantic for picnic dates :)

  79. These photos are so great! Thanks for the recap. Looks like a really fun time. xo.

  80. So glad you had fun! I live in Texas (a few hours drive from Austin), and I notice when people visit here from up North they always remark on how friendly Texans are. To be honest, living here, I have never noticed it. And, when I went to NYC two years ago, I didn’t notice the natives had a “less friendly” attitude. Strange!

  81. Woah, madam, what brand are those sunglasses!!

  82. Wow! It looks like you all had such a fabulous time! And…GO BLUE! Hail to the Victors Valiant!

  83. I can practically FEEL how much fun you had, and how much you loved your trip.

    And Hula Hut is awesome. I love that place. I was just thinking about it this morning.

  84. I’m dying to go to Austin! You guys fit so much in on a long weekend! Guess you’re not preggo, since you were drinking beer : )

  85. I was at Icenhauers on Rainey St this weekend too!

  86. Looks like u had a ton of fun!! Toby is so cute!

  87. says...

    what great pictures! Austin looks lovely- I love your coral jeans and denim shirt! details please!

  88. I went to school at UT Austin, and Austin will forever be one of my favorite places! Just looking at your photos I could hear the cicadas and feel that glorious Texas heat! I’m so glad y’all had a good time!

  89. LOVE that last photo of Toby at the airport.

  90. Ah! What a great trip to Austin! You hit all the cool spots. I was at Barton Springs on Saturday- wasn’t it a perfectly awesome day to be laying by a giant creek pool? It’s so great seeing familiar places on your blog. Happy you made it out to Austin!! Come back soon!

  91. elisa says...

    Toby is SO big!! And so adorable and seemingly calm. Looks like a great trip, you’ve inspired me to put Austin on my list of warm places to take my little family in the winter. Still so cold in Seattle.

  92. way to go!! im from austin (but now live in nyc) and yall did it proud…good choices! what neighborhood do your friends live in? cute house…

  93. how was it using lugless? after you posted it I’ve been thinking of using it next december because I hate baggage so much that I always try to shove everything in a carry on which isn’t fun. I’d just be nervous they’d lose my bag but I guess it happens in airports as well if not more!

  94. This is one of my all-time favorite blogs. You seem to always be blogging about things that I’m thinking about!

    Since you already have more experience than me traveling with an under-2 year old on a plane, I was wondering what your experience has been having him on your lap during the flight. My husband and I will be flying from Kansas City to Los Angeles this summer with our almost 16-month-old son, and I’d like a seat, but he’d rather save money and go with the lap. My son is a squirmer! I’ve never done this before, so I was curious about how it has been for you. Thanks!

  95. Looks like such a wonderful trip! Toby is getting so big! Austin sounds wonderful; can’t wait to travel there someday!

  96. the dress is from steven alan — last year, though, sadly!

  97. meredith, no way! haha, austinites are hard core.

  98. So glad you had a good time! I loved reading about everything you did, and Toby made me laugh out loud.

  99. I dunno, I just dig that Alex went straight for the swing. (Haha, because I would too!) Wasn’t he also the first one to whoosh down the Carsten Höller slide? I remember that because I remember thinking I soooooooo wanted to try it, heehee. :)

  100. You thought last weekend was sweltering? You should visit us in August! Most Austinites say it’s too cold to swim right now.

  101. i was in austin this past weekend for a family wedding. i even made it over to barton springs as well. the water felt SO good! glad you got a great taste of texas :)

  102. I am so happy that you got to experience Austin, my hometown. It looks like you hit the best places in town! I’m so glad that you and your family had a great trip!

  103. Peter Pan!! My boyfriend surprised me with tickets to Austin a few years ago (and tickets to the KU/UT basketball game!) and mini golf was the first thing we did on our trip. So fun, but at night the statues can get super creepy! Taking our own beers was a bonus, though :) Looks like Toby travelled like a champ!

  104. I second Annie’s question!!

  105. kelsi, i think so? they had free iced tea at the BBQ place where we went, too — next to the jug of water. it’s such a popular drink, it seems. no one really drinks it here!

  106. We were also in Austin this weekend! We saw the same one man band and had plenty of Jo’s coffee, though we also trekked (literally, we did SO much walking)up to Mellow Johnny’s bike shop and Juan Pelota (bike and coffee shop owned by Lance Armstrong) for coffee. Our favorite place was Whip In – tons of beer on tap and great Indian food with an awesome patio!

  107. Lovely photos!
    I want to go to Austin so badly.

  108. Anonymous says...

    I bet that backyard was like a vacation in itself after NY. like being able to walk out your door (in your pajamas even) into your own private park! Toby and those little twins are adorable together.

  109. Erica says...

    what great pictures! looks like you all had a great time.

  110. It’s so nice to see pictures of my home on someone else’s blog! (and so stylishly, too!) Glad you had a good time here–we love it!

  111. Great pics! Looks like you had a fun time with family and friends. Love the polka dot dress… where is that from?

  112. Baby Toby is no more – that kid is too cute and goin’ places!!! What a great set of vacation pictures…thanks for sharing. :)

  113. I feel like you’ve mentioned fish tacos several times before…I don’t like fish but you always make them sound like such a good, Summery food! The pics are lovely. Now I want to go to Austin!

  114. looks like you guys had a great time! i love austin. and that last photo of toby at the airport!

  115. It’s official. Austin is next on my list!! I cannot wait to get into that water:)

  116. Austin is such a great town! I’ve only been once for the Austin Yoga Festival, but my trip was full of great food (I had the best cupcake of my life at Hey Cupcake! and some really great pizza in the ghetto of East Austin), friendly people, and just a really fun, laidback atmosphere.

    Did you drink sweet tea? :)

  117. …and i can’t believe it’s only $3/person!

  118. kelsey, that is so awesome. that place is magical.

  119. Love that you made it to Austin, and you hits lots of my favorite spots! I would always get a season pass for Barton Springs so that I never had to worry about having cash for the entrance fee and I’d always keep a towel and swim suit in my trunk during the summers!

  120. What a great trip! Austin seems awesome. Another one to add to the travel list.

  121. best houseguests ever! we’re busily planning trip #2. hurry up.

  122. Aww your trip sounds wonderful! Glad that you had a great time and that photo of Toby sleeping on your laps is so cute. Have a great afternoon:) Kisses

  123. Haha Peter pan golf! It’s more fun to people watch there than golf because it’s byob! I’m glad you had so much fun! What an awesome trip! Did y’all make it all the way out to salt lick?

  124. Looks y’all had such a great time! You did so much in just a weekend ; ) !!! Love the pink jeans!

  125. Your son is SO adorable!