When the kids were elementary school aged, my husband and I embarked on an ambitious endeavor to visit all 50 states as a family by the time our oldest graduated from high school. With 27 under our belt, we were well on our way … then the pandemic hit and stalled out all our travel plans for the better part of two years. Our son is now a high school freshman and we are happily back on track – making up for lost time by taking advantage of every long weekend to explore another of our country’s infinitely interesting destinations. This time … the Lone Star State’s capital city was on the agenda.
There are few places more interesting than Austin. Similar to Nashville, the city is a perfect amalgamation of Southern charm and modern sensibilities. Great music, great food, and the great outdoors make it the Bermuda Triangle of a good time – you’re only too easily lost in the pure satisfaction of it all. Options for swimming, boating, even surfing abound. A standing wave isn’t the city’s biggest boast though: it’s fun for all ages at any time of day or night. Vibrant entertainment and inspired local cuisine all withing easy walking distance in downtown make it a snap to find spots to stroll if you’re short on time or like us, trying to make the most of every moment during a weekend retreat.
The crucial first step was in identifying the ideal “home base” – an accommodation comfortable for our family of four to spread out in a locale close to all the action so that we wouldn’t have to spend much, if any, time in the car exploring the environs. We stumbled upon what proved to be the perfect place – and in my opinion quite a revolutionary concept in vacation rentals. Kasa.com offers travelers short-term rentals inside boutique hotels or multi-family properties in a growing number of metropolitan cities across the country.
Different by design, Kasa.com showcases stylishly designed, professionally managed rentals that are more standardized than what you’d find on Airbnb at better rates than many hotels by leveraging vacant units. The reservation process couldn’t have been easier, the experience super reliable, expedient and convenient. The standard of service and customer communication was exemplary – overseen by a globally connected leadership team to make it seamless to stay, and even easier to enjoy your time away from home. Whether it’s business travel or a family vacation, Kasa’s team is in place to assure your delight. As much space as you need, an unmatched standard of cleanliness, easy booking interface for online check-in/out and 24/7 contactless access makes the entire process a breeze.
Our “home away from home” was an apartment in the heart of downtown, literally walking distance to well … everything we wanted to do in the city. The two-bedroom apartment on the 15th floor offered panoramic city views, super spacious accommodations outfitted with all the basics you’d need (bed linens, towels, bathroom essentials), a full kitchen, open dining/living area, laundry and to the delight of our teens – ultra-fast, free WiFi. We couldn’t have been more pleased and are already looking into Kasa’s offerings for the other states we still need to cross off the list.
Other than strolling around downtown and indulging in a couple of pretty amazing meals (as expected, Texas barbecue and steak dinners were not-to-be missed), we thought it’d be especially fun (and educational) to take an Austin Duck Adventure (austinducks.com) to tour the city with a splash (pun intended).
The original Austin tour, the company offers an amphibious excursion – starting out on land driving through downtown (Historic Sixth Street, the State Capitol Building, Governor’s Mansion) before splashing into beautiful Lake Austin for a from-the-water perspective of this vibrant city. Our guide, Captain Bob, couldn’t have been more animated, knowledgeable and entertaining – it’s no surprise that Austin Duck Adventures is one of the city’s longest running sightseeing experiences.
Next up, we decided to keep the water theme going with a Capital Cruises (capitalcruises.com) duffy boat rental for a self-guided tour of Lady Bird Lake, a placid picturesque river that separates South Austin from the North side of the city. Walkers, joggers move along the lakeside paths while aqua enthusiasts take to the water by canoe, kayak, Swan pedal boat or standup paddleboard (all available via Capital Cruises).
While swimming around on the Internet prior to our trip, I came upon Magic’s Theater (magicstheater.com) located inside a meticulously curated magic museum owned and operated by magician John Magic and his family. A short drive west from downtown, Magic’s Theater was an intriguing detour from the traditional tourist experience – John’s “Closeup Magic Show” (sleight of hand table magic performed for a small audience made for an intimate and engaging outing – one that our son in particular found most memorable. John regaled guests with tales of his time working in Hollywood and shared details of the museum’s myriad memorabilia.