10 Unique Things to do in Austin Texas

10 Unique Things to do in Austin Texas

Austin Texas the music capital of the south, home of artists, vagrants, and those who have a passion for beer and all things weird. Should you find yourself in this eclectic capital of the world, here are 10 Unique Things to do in Austin Texas:

1- The Bats

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After living in Dallas for two years, and having made several trips to Austin….I had never heard of the ‘Bats of Austin’. So this is why I’m including this on my list of Unique things, because if I didn’t know about it, maybe someone else wouldn’t have known about it. The story of the Bats is that somewhere south of Austin the natural caves that these bats lived in was destroyed. This caused a mass migration of these bats to somewhere safe, naturally, they picked Congress bridge…..because where else would creatures of the night feel more comfortable than a bridge associated with politics.

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Austin Texas Bats

If you get a chance to, wander down to Congress bridge around the time the sun goes down you will be greeted by a swarm of 1.5 million bats exiting the bellows of Congress bridge. These bats exit from beneath the bridge all at one time, giving those on the bat viewing platform below quite the show. Once they exit, they swarm in a circle until most of the bats have exited the bridge then as one bat cloud swarm their way up and down the Colorado River eating around 1000 mosquitos each. It is very difficult to get a clear picture of this swarm when they emerge, due to it being so dark. Another way to see these blind fuzzy creatures is by participating in our next Unique thing to do in Austin Texas The Bike Tour.

2- The Bike Tour

I was so nervous to go on this bike tour, my internal dialogue went something like this, “Your over-weight, you have a bad back, what if you have to pee? They are going to leave you and charge you more for how slow you are. It is too hot and you won’t enjoy it. Remember how you almost passed out the last time you got overheated?”.

Austin - Infinity Bike and Me - Unique things to do in Austin Texas - Culture Trekking - #AustinTexas #uniquethingstodoinaustin #Keepaustinweird
Infinity Bike Sculpture

This is what the mind does my friends, it tries to limit me in an effort to protect me from any additional pain. What my job is, is to create a mantra to be able to push through that protective barrier (reasonably) and allow myself to take the risk to enjoy something I otherwise would have limited myself from experiencing.

Yes, the bike ride was hot, I was sweating like a blacksmith wearing wool on a summer day, BUT as soon as you start riding you get the wind in your face and it’s really not as bad. Austin is relatively flat with minimal hills, so it is the perfect place to do your first bike tour. You will see Congress Bridge, several statues of important figures of Austin, The Capital Building, Wildlife, beautiful skylines, Hope Gallery and so much more.

I took Barton Springs Bike Tour (Austin, in a Nutshell, is the Tour I did) and the guys were so incredibly helpful, they can pick you up and drop you off at your hotel/Airbnb etc.. They do have water, but if you are planning on going during the summer, make sure you eat first and hydrate well as it is a 2.5-hour bike ride (comparatively you get more bang for your buck by going with these guys).

3- Mexican American Cultural Center in Austin

I can’t mention Austin without mentioning the cultural aspects that helped create this unique city. The Hispanic Culture is still alive and well in Austin and throughout much of Texas.

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Here you will be able to see cultural art pieces by the Mexo-American Community, participate in activities like Dia De Los Muertos. They also are host to teen development programs, creative arts programs and offer a variety of ways to connect with the local community.

So maybe try something a little different in your travels and utilize your time to volunteer and connect with the cultural community of Austin.

4- Climb a ‘Mountain’ in Texas

This is as much of a Mountain as you can get when visiting the flatlands of Texas, Mount Bonell.  It was a tad difficult to find, and the stairs are a lot steeper than you would think, but the views are well worth it.

There is plenty of shade on the way up, and some covered picnic areas once you get to the top. So get in that workout gear, run up and down the steps a few times and then sit down with your classic BBQ taco picnic with a wonderful view of the Colorado River.

Fun Fact: Mount Bonnell was the site of many of the May Pole events in the 1850’s.

5- SUP to the Skyline of Austin

Austin Skyline and SUP - Unique things to do in Austin Texas - Culture Trekking - #AustinTexas #uniquethingstodoinaustin #Keepaustinweird

This is something I didn’t get to experience while in Austin, but really wish I had the time to do so. SUP or Stand Up PaddleBoarding on the Colorado River is a MUST during a Summer visit.

You get to rent this board, get your suntan on, and see incredible views of the Austin Skyline, turtles, and all the wildlife surrounding the Colorado River. They also have tubing, but I personally like to be able to maneuver myself around.

6- Take a Tour of the Capitol and Dress Up Like a Pioneer

Austin - State Capital - Unique things to do in Austin Texas - Culture Trekking - #AustinTexas #uniquethingstodoinaustin #Keepaustinweird

No matter where you go in the city, you cannot miss the iconic Capital Building. It is an odd Pink color from the Red Granite from the nearby Granite Mountain. The contents of this mountain are what is known as ‘Texas Pink’, a certain compound within this Granite gives it the characteristic pink hue. It was originally going to be built out of Limestone, but due to the Iron within the Limestone and potentially causing instability after the Iron were to break down over time — the owners of the Granite Mountain donated the contents of the area to this $3 million dollar project.

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It took nearly 15,700 train cars worth of granite to complete the project, it is estimated that 188,158 cubic feet of granite was used. The building is truly a spectacle that many come to see, but many people miss the tour inside the building.

Go inside, there are choirs on the weekends and holidays that come to sing. Attend a session of debate like the townsfolk used to & see if you can spot the lightbulbs that spell out T-E-X-A-S. Dress up like Pioneers and take fun photos with your friends. Wander through the 22 acres surrounding this building and catch the Capitol from all sides.

See if you can find the 17 monuments on the grounds and learn even more about what shaped Austin into the weird and proud city it is today. There is so much symbolism in the building, the hinges, and even in the tiles within the building that spending an hour or two here is well worth the time.

7- Take a Ghost Tour

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The first time I took a ghost tour was in Edinburgh Scotland. The only reason I went, was because it was the only thing to do besides drinking at 9pm on the Royal Mile. Ever since then I have come to appreciate just how much the backstory behind streets, bars, buildings, and areas have helped shape them into what they are today.

Now whenever possible, I try to fit in a Ghost Tour, just because it brings a unique flavor to my trips and history that not many know of. I also think it is important to see that not all cities are frills, fun, and perfect shots. Every person has a story, I think the same thing can be said of each city.

If you haven’t read my post about the Ghost Tour in Austin, be sure to head there and learn just how wild the west really was.

8- Visit A Festival

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Austin is the music capital of the World (according to them anyway), gotta love that Texas Pride. There are so many Festivals in Austin that it is hard to keep track of them. This is a fantastic way of connecting to the locals and maybe even make a friend to be able to do a house swap in the future.

No matter what festival you choose it is sure to be BIG, BOLD and all out fun. While I was there I was able to attend the Pecan Festival. The infamous 6th street was lined with local vendors, music, and fun for all ages. Once the sun goes down, it turns into a more adult-friendly area as the local bars start to open up and the guzzling games begin.

9- Go On a Graffiti Tour

Austin - Hope Outdoor Graffiti Gallery- Unique things to do in Austin Texas - Culture Trekking - #AustinTexas #uniquethingstodoinaustin #Keepaustinweird

Take a tour of the Hope Gallery, an apartment complex went wrong, then turned into a gallery of art that has been a hallmark for Austin. There are all sorts of characters that congregate here and even a local artist that will teach you how to graffiti!

Get in on the action and create your own work of art while feeling like a rebel. If you are lucky, you will spot the man in the castle above the Hope Gallery who owns this spot. Allegedly he is not a very kind fellow (according to locals) and is quite adamant about his feelings regarding this area. Apparently, he is selling the area off and the Hope Gallery will no longer exist. This is a sore spot for the locals as it is such an iconic spot. There are talks of moving the walls into another area, but only time will tell if that will happen. So be sure to stop by this area and take a few photos, it might be the last chance you get.

10- Take a Photo Tour

Austin is one of the few cities that donates money for street art to be produced throughout the city. Only the locals are going to know the best spots, so I highly suggest taking a photo tour.

There are plenty of bright colorful walls, murals, funky statues on balconies, and even colorful stonework at crosswalks. Get out and exercise that creative eye, and maybe even learn a thing or two about how to capture great street photography.

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Because why wouldn’t you have a statue of Willie

Austin….Keep it Weird

You can walk down any street in Austin and your sure to find something to do, see, or experience. Austin is weird and takes pride in keeping it that way through art donations, cultural celebrations and holding unique festivals for just about every subject you could imagine. No matter what you decide to do, I’m sure you’re going to have a fantastic time deep in the heart of Texas.

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As always….Happy Travels, Happy Tales, and See You on the Flip Side.


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Returning to the Texas Nightmare |Facing My Rape & Healing From it

Returning to the Texas Nightmare |Facing My Rape & Healing From it

I grab my water bottle and take a few deliberate swallows of the ice-cold water I keep by my bed. I call out, ‘Zoey’, my cute dog, that has been by my side through each and every one of these terrible moments. She helped me survive in Texas when I was too afraid to go to sleep. I would place my hand on her back and concentrate on her slow and easy breathing until my own matched hers. She is so small, yet so fierce, maybe there is a part of her that feels she has to be now — because I was so broken back then. She responded immediately to my voice and army-crawled over to me, too sleepy to stand up fully. I smile, and a giggle escapes, oh my sweet puppy. She knows exactly what to do, I lay on my left side, lift up the sheet for her to climb under and she lays right near my belly. Now that she has comforted me out of the nightmare, it is time to pet her. She scoots her nose beneath my hand and pushes it up quickly several times until I give in with a smile and scratch her soft fur methodically. I am calm again, I just have to get my mind to stop spinning over the ‘next thing’.

Rape & Healing

My trip to Austin for Travel Con was going to be more than just a trip for my website development, it is a trip of significant progress for me. It was just a year ago that even seeing, hearing, or having someone mention Texas sent the flashbacks flooding in and the panic tightening all my joints in the fight or flight physiological response. Now I was going back, maybe not to Dallas – the place that it happened, but to Austin – a city I often used for escape. The last time I was there, was two days before I moved back to Utah. I was still in a trauma fog back then and don’t remember much, but my mind is still afraid of being back in that State. Some people think it is easy to just ‘control your thoughts’, or that you ‘have an agenda for attention’, or…..well I could go on and on — but what most don’t realize is that PTSD is completely and utterly up to your subconscious mind trying to protect you from those terrible things again. What terrible thing? I was raped when I lived in Texas, a week after my trauma a 21-year-old friend from my church was kidnapped and brutally murdered and left in a van in a ditch — 2 weeks before she was to serve a religious mission.

Returning to the Texas Nightmare

Another week passed and my Dad flew into town for an event, and told me (without knowing what had happened) that he and my Mom didn’t love each other anymore and to not be surprised if something happens between them. I couldn’t work because I would have panic attacks trying to see my male patients. I pretended really well for a long time until I finally broke…..I came back home and found Sam….my therapist at the Rape Recovery Center in Salt Lake City Utah.
I remember her asking me, ‘What does ‘finishing therapy’ look like to you?’ — I won’t tell you exactly what I said, but I did tell her that going back to Texas was a goal to face the past and be at peace with it. It was two months ago, that I was finally able to stop blaming myself …..it took two whole years to get to this point.

Returning to the Texas Nightmare Rape & Healing

I had led a very sheltered life in Utah, people were kind, they cared about what was going on in your life. I never thought that sort of thing would happen to me, but it did, and it is not my fault no matter what the courts ruled. The one thing I KNEW I could always hang my hat on, was the sweet Nurse who examined me in the Emergency Room at 2am — fiercely hugging me while I wept she said, “I’m so sorry sweety, you were raped, no matter what anyone else says — the damage I saw on you is evidence that this was in no way consensual. I need you to believe me when I say that”, she wouldn’t let me go until I told her I believed her and let me cry into her shoulder for several minutes. I was bruised, had scratches on my face, and it was too painful to shower. I had to tell my boss and take two weeks off of work…..I had antibiotics, injections, pregnancy tests, mental battles….I made it through the fog of trauma, the floating through life praying the Lord would take me—but not believing he would hear me. I don’t know that I will ever see her again, but I know that her words are what kept me alive. Now I’m on the other side, I know what that nurse told me was the truth.

Returning to the Texas Nightmare Rape & Healing

I recreated the scenario of that night with my best friend and travel companion Breanna. Funny thing, I was still able to move my arms and legs, relay complex thought processes to her, I was able to tell her no when she asked me questions she knew I wouldn’t like. I hugged her at the end of that experiment, sobbing to her that I finally believed it wasn’t my fault……I knew without a shadow of a doubt I had been drugged. My cloak of shame was removed and the shame turned to anger & now I am reassigning many of those terrible memories a very different emotion.

The next step was to revisit my personal nightmare in Texas with a new set of glasses I had just put on. I was combining my love for travel writing, education, and meeting supportive travel blogger friends in Texas. No one knew how much this meant to me, how many nights before my flight I woke up sweating from the nightmares — I was finally strong enough to sit with my feelings and mourn for all that was lost & was going to Austin to claim my future back. Starting this website was a healthier way to cope than alcohol, overeating, or overspending to numb the pain and loss. It has given me hope again in humanity, reminds me that the world is my oyster and my story is not over yet.

I packed my things mechanically a few days later, I couldn’t chicken out now….I was so close. I packed, unpacked, repacked, unpacked, downsized, had my roommates tell me what to wear. I dove into preparation for my first travel conference, TravelCon 2018 with Nomadic Matt. This gives me something to create, to look forward to and be proud of. Now I want it to grow as I am growing, so I can use it for good & help those who may not be as lucky as I am for being able to have a fresh start.

Returning to the Texas Nightmare Rape & Healing

I got on the plane and couldn’t sleep, so I bought a Scientific America magazine, and started reading about a dry and watered down subject I was totally uninterested in. It worked like a charm, and soon I was drooling onto my shirt with the gentle hum of the propellers outside of my window as my white noise.
I awoke to the intercom blaring and the all too familiar ‘bing-bing-bing’ with the flashing seat-belt sign. We were starting our descent into my memories of Texas. I refused to cry on the plane, so took out my hand sanitizer, put a generous helping on my hands and let the pungent alcohol acost my nostrils. I thought about the bike ride I had signed up for at 330pm. I knew it would be hot and humid, but I was so ready to create some fun memories. (I will do a separate post on this, but for comic relief — I had died my hair the day before, and it has a red tint to it. Ladies, you know what happens when you sweat after dying your hair……yep, it was pouring down my face tinted red like the movie Carrie .)

TravelCon 2018

This is where the magic happens for me. Hearing the speakers, listening to their struggles, their fears, and being in a space of learning filled me and exhausted me. There is still so much to do and things I do not know. One class is all it took for me to have the courage to share this story.

Rape & Healing
Thomas Swick

It was a writing class with Thomas Swick, former Editor for the Florida Sun. I sat in this room of 12-13 women who were all there to learn how to share their stories. He asked us to share our ‘human element’ that is so often missing in travel writing. There are so many frills, flowing dresses, perfect scenes created….that we have forgotten what it is like to be expressive.
He painted a picture with words like an artist paints on canvas…..being an artist, I finally was able to see how writing could be an art as well. I thought of my Grandfather before he passed away he looked me straight in the eye and said, “You are so talented and so special to me, promise me that you will take art lessons or do something artistic. That’s the only thing I want you to promise me”. I have often thought I had failed him in this promise, but now I see I am creating a masterful work of art by creating this website and sharing it with the world.
I felt that sinking feeling of truth that comes into your heart when you know you have to do something, even if it is terrifying. The thing that was at the forefront of my mind, my story, my trauma, my healing, my promises…..I knew I needed to write this…..but how much was too much? I asked Mr. Swick, if there were taboo topics, or if he felt disturbing topics needed a trigger warning…..he said no, so if you are disturbed, I’m sorry…..blame him, lol.

Returning to the Texas Nightmare

I could tell he was a little uncomfortable when I asked him this, he was a former editor (they don’t typically like it when things were vague). So I took the first step of courage, and asked him, “Being fully transparent about this is really difficult for me, because I’m terrified of what will be said about me or to me, but here it goes. I was raped in Texas, and this is my first time being back here since it happened. Is sharing that story inappropriate or sharing too much?”
The room fell silent, and I didn’t dare look around the room. Mr. Swick sat back in his chair, stared at me with his wisened eyes, and gently stated, “I’m so sorry………I think your story could help a lot of people and needs to be told”. I fought back the tears when he said this, I was so afraid of being seen as damaged, or that I was doing this for the attention. This was such a HUGE journey for me to come back to Austin or even Texas and I needed to release the pain, fear, joy, and pride I was feeling in an artistic way.
After he said this, the other women in the room began to speak words of encouragement. They shared their story of mental health challenges, and how important it is to not be ashamed to write about it…..but just be ready for the internet trolls. The feeling in the room was such, that we went over time, and lingered after for a little while, sharing in a shared truth. I was humbled, overwhelmed and astonished at the reactions I received.

Sailing in Seattle Rape & Healing

I went back to my Airbnb and started to think about what I was going to share, and not share. I started reading Mr. Swick’s book, The Joy’s of Travel; and while reading a thought popped into my head, “Share your truth”. I started to silently cry (well maybe not quite silent, lol) in my room at this thought. So many years of self-doubt and torture, so many sleepless nights and self-destructive behavior due to poor choices OTHER people had made. I don’t want revenge anymore, I just want to feel whole again, feel like I have reclaimed my future and know exactly what a ‘life worth living’ is for myself. All of this came crashing down on me at that moment when I realized…..I needed to share my story, my truth.
I hope in sharing my truth, it allows you to face those demons within yourself. You aren’t alone, it is bloody scary to face those demons, but you can do it. I guarantee that the battle is worse when you try and do it alone…..reach out…..get the support that is there…..you got this.

Kodachrome Basin State Park Rape & Healing

Don’t give pre-determined labels to people based on your previous experience. What you deem to be cookie cutter definition may not always be what the real truth is. I was a triathlete, and now have health problems from putting on so much weight after my trauma. I was a kind, bubbly, giving person that was known as the anchor for my friends; now I get anxiety from being in a crowd of people. Mother Teresa said, “The hardest battles fought are the ones inside our own mind”, this has never been truer for me than now. I am winning my battle though, I am fighting the good fight, I’m not giving up because Zoey needs me, my sister needs me, and I know that by speaking my truth I will help others as well.

I don’t know that my voice will change the global conversation about this. I don’t know that comments or responses to this will be kind. What I do know, is that I have remained true to my own voice……I have shared my truth……and want you to know that there is hope. If you have nothing else, don’t lose hope.

As Always……Happy Travels, Happy Tales, and See You on the Flip Side. 

Ghost Tour in Austin Texas |Learn Just How Wild the West Really Was

Ghost Tour in Austin Texas |Learn Just How Wild the West Really Was

Ghost Tours in Austin Texas

Meeting Our Ghost Tour Guide

The gothic clad couple disappeared around the corner near the elevators, at the same time my friends rounded the corner and broke into a grin at seeing me. We talked for a while, awaiting our guide, and then a voice boomed out from behind me suddenly. I was glad I had used the ladies room prior to this. I jumped and quickly turned around to the black-clad male I had seen moments before. His arms opened wide, a rueful grin split his face and he bellowed, “WELCOME TO THE AUSTIN GHOST TOURS! Gather round as I tell you how you can safely enjoy this trip, and not give me one more grizzly story to tell the ghosts and guests. Although I wouldn’t be opposed to another tale of woe; I don’t think that sort of story would be good for business”. Ahhhh, a character indeed, I found myself mirroring his grin and became fully engaged in his performance and instruction.

Ghost Tours in Austin Texas

Beginning the Tour:

After a debriefing for safety on the streets, when we would be traveling near 6th street (notorious in Austin for drinking games and accidents) we headed out the painful slow revolving door into the night. The air was thick and muggy, it perfectly set the stage for our walk among the haunted buildings of this strange city. Our guide led the group with the same purposeful walk I had seen him exhibit in the lobby. Why are people always in a hurry? Maybe he truly knew there were ghosts in this city and by keeping the group moving, we would avoid any tragedies or encounters along the way.


Handlebar

Ghost Tours in Austin Texas

Our first stop was at HandleBar. This establishment was formerly a Blacksmith shop, according to our guide. A well known local patron died haphazardly (I forget the exact story of his demise), after weeks of the body sitting in the coffin on the sidewalk in the middle of August’s heat, it was finally agreed that cremation would be the best option. This was unprecedented! A cremation in Austin (then named Waterloo) had never been done before! Our guide continued looking all too pleased with the rapt attention we were giving him. He continued,  “Please note that in order to burn bone properly heat must reach upwards of 1900 degrees Fahrenheit (1037C).

A typical blacksmith shop during that time period would typically only reach 1500 degrees Fahrenheit (815C). The first cremation turned out to be a little, shall we say, chunkier than what you would experience today”. The cremation, done so haphazardly, is now the reason this poor patron is doomed to wander around Handlebar at night. While our guide had not personally experienced any hauntings, he reported that there are multiple accounts of strange things happening within the bar itself & all we had to do was ask the staff to get all the ghoulish details.

Ghost Tours in Austin Texas

He also suggested to get a Pizza next door, this is where the blacksmith forge turned crematorium was allegedly placed. So you can get a Pizza from the forge, and a beer with the ghost. If that is macabre I don’t know what is. For the non-believing patrons: Handlebar is well known in the city for its Wine, and rotating craft beers.  Happy Hour is typically from 4-8 PM, Monday through Saturday and all day Sunday. They also have a free barbecue on Sundays at 4:30 for some authentic Texas brisket and pulled pork. Just don’t think too hard about this story when you go for the BBQ.


Buffalo Billiards

Our next stop was over at the infamous Buffalo Billiards, where hauntings, screams and unexplained phenomenon happen routinely. This place was built in 1861 by the Ziller family and reportedly was the town brothel back in the day. The ghost in this place has been named Bill, and even pulled out a chair for our guide when they did their team investigation. This happened after a scream was heard downstairs by his colleague, and he has sent his safety partner down to investigate. Walking along the bar, all the barstools were upturned on the counter as he ran his hand along the polished wood praying he wouldn’t die from boredom.

Ghost Tours in Austin Texas

He turned around and started pacing his way back along the bar, and all of the sudden a barstool that was once on the counter was now on the floor in his path. While most people would be frightened by this, our guide reportedly called out, ‘Oh, Thank You!’ — and sat down. Nothing else happened that night to our guide. If you ask those who work at Buffalo Billiards if they think the place is haunted, you are sure to get a full accounting of the many many supernatural things that happen there. For those who still are having trouble believing in ghostly encounters: Buffalo Billiards is a great place to stop for beers and a friendly game of pool, foosball, darts, and multiple HD TV’s to catch your favorite football team.


Driskill Hotel

We approached the Driskill Hotel and were greeted with the Romanesque revival type architecture complete with white trim and three grand archways leading into the hotel lobby. It was built in 1886 by a cattle rancher, who spent his entire fortune on this hotel. As people began to stay in this historic hotel, strange apparitions, sensations, and unexplained incidents began to happen to the guests.   Room 525 is said to be the most haunted of all the rooms within this structure. It is said that two brides, on two different occasions, newly married, committed suicide in the bathroom of this room.

There were so many reports of hauntings, that the room was indefinitely closed until 1998 when renovations commenced. Even during the renovation, there were strange sensations, unexplained leaks, and visions reported by the construction workers. If you dare to try this room out, make sure not to bring any usable weapons into the room, lest you fall prey to the spirits enticings of woe. Oh, you want a few more modern stories? Ok, well our guide said that after he emailed a member of Concrete Blonde Band who stayed here years before – she related a chilling tale. She had a cat that was quite sassy and would bounce off the walls when she would bring it into a hotel room.

As she opened the door of the cat carrier, the cat did not come out, it did not move. She had to fight to get it out of her carrier and then hide the carrier so that it wouldn’t go back in. According to her email, this is something the cat NEVER did….and then as she climbed into bed, the cat jumped on the bed like a flash of lightning, curled up at her side under the blankets and did not move the whole night….again something the cat NEVER did.

Ghost Tours in Austin Texas

I believe animals know when there is danger, and can sense things that we cannot. So for a sassy cat to behave in this manner…..it would make me question the safety of the place I was staying at. Other descriptions of ghosts seen at the hotel range from children to men and women.  There is said to be a former housekeeper in a long gown arranging flowers in the lobby, a man who checks his pocket watch on the elevator and the little girl that chased her ball to the grand staircase to meet her untimely death is still chasing after that ball.

Who would like to stay at the Driskill Hotel? The rooms here are considered upper-class, and can cost $243-$628 per night depending on how much you want to treat yourself. If you are brave enough, call the hotel, and ask for room 525 for your own ghoulish encounter. You cannot come to Austin without at least walking in the doors of this iconic building.


Republic Square

Here we stopped to have our guide recount the tales of public hangings that allegedly happened in this park. This is where criminals, murderers, and thieves were publicly executed for their crimes. Our guide recounted how it would have been to have your last meal of rice and beans, to ask to lay down in the grass prior to being hung….and then to have hundreds of people watch as you slowly suffocated at the end of the rope. It is reported that 200 people were hung in this square, and at night you can still feel their presence.

Ghost Tours in Austin Texas

It was then that things got really spooky for me, he started to talk about the servant girl murders. These murders are well documented in history, and it is said that the first serial killer was born in Austin. Our guide recounted a gruesome and gory tale in such detail I had to walk away from our group for a few minutes to let my stomach settle down. I am a Physician Assistant, and have seen plenty of gore, guts, and trauma to last me a lifetime – but when it comes to brutality for no other reason than being a sick, twisted and demented monster……I can’t stomach it. I was grateful my guide was kind enough to warn me and gave me time to walk away briefly — to be honest, it triggered my own memories of trauma.

After a brief stint looking at the random, and oddly carved pigeon at the other side of the park – I wandered back to the group just in time to hear what the townspeople tried to do to catch this serial killer. Several options were proposed, a bell to sound when a body had been found. The problem with this was that they would have to wait until someone else was killed to raise the warning. The next option was moon towers, only 15 remain standing in the city today, but these 165-foot towers were the first electric use in a United States City. These huge monoliths were used to help light the city at night so that prowlers and possibly the serial killer could be caught. One tower, in particular, the Guadalupe and West 9th street moon tower is associated with the Servant Girl Murders.

Ghost Tours in Austin Texas

This was one of the last murders that occurred, and the Serial Killer was never found. In total, seven females (five black and two white) and one black male were murdered by the Servant Girl Murderer. Some speculate, although historians may argue this, that the Servant Girl Serial Killer fled to London and became Jack the Ripper. I will leave this up to you, but it does seem suspicious that the Servant Girl murders only happened 3 years before Jack the Ripper murders began happening.

Still not spooked? Then you should check out the wholesome and delightful Farmers Market that happens every Sat at Republic Square Park. It is truly delightful and you can serve yourself some delicious ice cream, and pick your own organically grown vegetable victims to snack on.


SpeakEasy

Our last stop was my least favorite location to stop due to the smell of the garbage cans, the loud music blaring behind me, the lack of breeze and the uncomfortable sick sensation from the last story. Needless to say, stopping at SpeakEasy, made me feel uneasy.
This is where post-mortem photography would happen at the turn of the century. Coffins rolled in, pictures taken for the loved ones before being sealed in their graves forever. One night a fire broke out, and the diligent fire department showed up. This is when things took a turn for the worst for them.

Ghost Tours in Austin Texas

The blaze was out of control, a scream was heard from the upper floors and the firefighters rushed up the stairs to investigate. One of these firefighters was named Jimmy Glass. As they pounded up the wooden stairs in their boots, the scream was heard again…..but from the lower floor as the flames licked the stairs. As the intended rescuers turned to head back down the stairs, there was a loud CRACK and the staircase collapsed taking all three to the ground floor instantly. Jimmy Glass became a victim of the flames as he was the lead, and plummeted straight into the flames that caused the staircase to collapse. It was too late for Jimmy, rescue efforts were attempted, but the flames were more intense and his firefighting brothers could not reach him. Thus Jimmy Glass became a victim, and the source of the blood-curdling scream that had prompted his bold rescue efforts was never found.

Our guide has had several conversations with the managers of SpeakEasy over the years. Recounting unexplained phenomenon of lights burning out within days, right below where Jimmy was said to have fallen to his death. Firefighters showing up at the SpeakEasy Bar multiple times over the years, when no fire alarm was said to have been pulled. Glasses shaking and rattling one night when it was thought an earthquake had hit; later to discover that no seismic activity had been registered in the area. Last but not least, the manager of SpeakEasy hearing a blood-curdling scream after things had closed down and he was finishing his books. He wandered the building, and as he went to look in the massive beverage cooler…..it shut behind him. After shouting for help for at least a half hour, the bartender went to lock up the merchandise and was able to release his boss who was chilled in more ways than one.   

Ghost Tours in Austin Texas

So should you find yourself, wandering the streets near this bar. Avoid the alley, and peer inside this popular place of local beverage worshipping. Who knows, you may even share your glass with Jimmy Glass himself.
For those who want a more practical visit to SpeakEasy Bar & Music Venue: This is a great bar for live music, great historical value, carefully crafted cocktails, a bowling alley overlooking the stage in this three-story local favorite. If you are brave enough, take the 59 steps carefully to the outdoor terrace for an incredible view of the Austin skyline – raise your glass and make a toast to Austin.


Heading Back to Safety: 

We concluded our tour and quickly huddled into pairs for safety sake as we made our way back to the JW Marriot hotel. I was very grateful for the comfort of the lights on the cars that passed by us. All in all, I truly enjoyed the Austin Ghost Tours Guide, his stories, and his passion for performing in an engaging way. There were only two stops that while I enjoyed the story, I didn’t entirely enjoy the location of the stop. Bottom line, I would recommend this as a 7/10 and would do it again purely for how entertaining our guide was.

As always…..Happy Travels, Happy Tales, and See YOU on the Flipside 😉

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What Does Responsible Tourism Mean?

What Does Responsible Tourism Mean?

This post may contain affiliate links, for more information read our full disclosure The travel industry is throwing around this term: Responsible Tourism or Sustainable Tourism. So what does Responsible Tourism mean? Each year we travel, consume, photograph and share on our social media channels, exposing friends and family to expand their knowledge of the cultures of the world.

The world gets a little bit smaller, those in different countries can see your social media posts on Instagram and Facebook and may compare it to your lives. Animal rights, environmental responsibilities are becoming more and more talked about….especially the use of plastic. Stop and question what you think you know about plastic vs paper bags, look at the whole environmental impact. Look at how the production and use of plastic impacts and effects low-income households, did you know there is an actual place called ‘Cancer Alley’? In our ever-increasing virtual connection, what can we do as travel addicted wander lusting Instagram posting fiends to be more responsible when we travel? First things first….to understand what it is.

What does Eco-tourism mean

Responsible Tourism is a multifaceted approach, which includes:

  1. Minimizing negative social, economic and environmental impacts while traveling
  2. Generating greater economic benefits for local people and enhancing the well-being of host communities
  3. Improving working conditions and access to the worldwide industry
  4. Involving local people in decisions, markets, and trade that affect their life and chances at life.
  5. Making positive contributions to the conservation of natural and cultural heritage, embracing the diversity.
  6. Providing more enjoyable experiences for tourists through more meaningful connections with local people and a greater understanding of local cultural, social and environmental issues.
  7. Provides access for physically challenged people
  8. Is being culturally sensitive, encourages respect between tourists and hosts, and builds local pride and confidence.
What does Eco-tourism mean

There are many different ways that this can be addressed and focused on. The Culture Trekking Community is one that focuses on numbers one, five, six and eight. Creating a community where ideas, religions, cultural idiosyncrasies are both shared, respected and embraced. As the Community grows I want to improve awareness on environmental impacts as well as fight the uphill battle of having more meaningful human connections. Today I will focus on the latter.

Where the idea started for my own Responsible Tourism:

The video was quite graphic when I saw this 2 years ago, but it really impacted me in so many different ways. The moral of the story is…..you don’t know what you don’t know until you educate yourself on how small choices like using single-use straws can impact the environment. I now carry a reusable metal straw in my purse at all times. This video is where responsible tourism started for me….watching this turtle in so much pain made me feel like I needed to do more for the environment.

It isn’t just the plastic straws, it is garbage that is left strewn about in all the different places that I visit. I remember walking behind someone in Yellowstone National park…..they dropped a wrapper on the ground (a large one). I was so frustrated by this because they had a bag they could have easily slipped that wrapper into. I picked it up and gave it back to the tourist, who naturally acted like they dropped it by accident (even though I watched them look around before dropping it). It is not that hard to slip those wrappers into a pocket, a bag, in your shoe….anything but on the ground. Taking a few more steps to ensure your rubbish gets into the proper receptacle is not as hard as you think…..as Nike says ‘JUST DO IT’!

Another video that truly impacted me was one man in India, who returned to his home to find the beach he loved filled with garbage. He knew he had to do something so he started knocking on doors and aims to be that change he wishes to see in the world. Take a look at the video & then I want to think about how much of a difference we could make if each of us committed to picking up 3 pieces of trash wherever we travel to. What about taking an extra garbage bag on a local hike in your hometown? We could all use a few more squats in our day, right?

Why am I showing you all these videos? A picture is worth a thousand words (or so they say), but I feel that videos are the way to make an impact that can create change. What is better than a video? Visiting a place like the Washed Ashore Gallery in Bandon Oregon (several displays are located throughout the United States, see the Washed Ashore Exhibit Locations for more information) can both teach our generation and the generations below us how to protect our earth and save our oceans.

Traveling can be an exotic thing full to the brim with activities that will make your friends envy your life & maybe even despise you a little. The more I travel the more I realize that I want to make a difference in the world, no matter how small it is. Ecotourism and Volunteering for cleanups and service can help connect our communities, open minds and hearts, and help start the change we wish to see in the world.

Supporting Companies with good causes:

What does Eco-tourism mean

Save the Baby Turtles!

A Blogger friend of mine in Fort Lauderdale Florida was able to participate in the nighttime protection of hatching baby turtles. These baby turtles get confused by the city lights and instead of going into the ocean (following the moon), they follow the city lights. This leads them to be run over or crushed by bikes, cars or fall into holes they cannot get out of. What these volunteers do is once the baby turtles hit their 10-foot periphery line, they gather them up in a bucket and take all the confused little fellas to the ocean where they set them free. They also move beach chairs and sandcastles to allow for the mothers to come to the beach easier and lay their eggs. Check out her post on Saving Baby Sea Turtles and how you can help or participate!  

Soul Flower Clothing Company

As soon as I found this clothing company, I know I had found my tribe. Just look at their tagline:

Soul Flower is a natural clothing brand for kind souls and free spirits. Mindfully made with natural fibers and heartfelt art, we design our threads with kind vibes from start to finish. We seek inspiration in the simplicity of everyday life – in nature and in music, in free-spirited adventures and in like-minded souls. We create clothing in a way that supports our planet, spreads a positive message, and most importantly — helps you express yourself.”

what does responsible tourism mean

Beyond the message of Freakos‘. When looking into building your eco-friendly and ethical wardrobe, look no further.
The inks they use have a low impact on the environment with citrus solvents being utilized. They reuse paper boxes and packing materials to ‘keep the story going’. All cotton that is used in their clothing is organic cotton, recycled fibers or hemp. Not only do they focus on the clothing, but they also decreased the catalog printing and now use recycled paper with soy-based inks. They are also green office certified (aka: energy wise usage of products and environmentally savvy).

Why is this important? Small companies like this are able to be more environmentally friendly and I support those who make an effort to do so whole-heartedly! I feel privileged to be able to collaborate with this company as I love their manifesto, Soul Flower’s practices, and policies and their clothing is SO COMFORTABLE!

What does responsible tourism mean?

To all my big headed ladies out there (I’m talking literal, not egotistical) – this is the place you should get your headbands! Every time I wear these headbands I feel a little better about myself, I read the inspirational message printed on it and cannot help but feel inspired to finish out the day with a bang! Plus, let’s be honest, sometimes a girl just needs a headband to decrease the stress of doin’ da hur….ya feel me? To get your headband:

What is responsible tourism

The other items I have personally tried and fallen in love with so far are the yoga pants and shirts. If I’m being honest, I wear the pants EVERYWHERE! Not just because the pants are comfortable, but because they have the most adorable prints on them that inspire me to continue to be Eco-friendly in my day to day life & inspire me to live a simpler life to help have less of an impact on the environment.
I wore the shirt for two days in a row people! I know that’s gross but it has been so hot over here, and it is so light, airy and cute with the little leaves on it… I couldn’t resist

Personal Note: It is sooooo hard to find cute and comfortable clothing as a curvy woman — so to find a company that caters to my desire to be eco-friendly and embraces those of all shapes and sizes really just gives me warm fuzzies and I want to shout out from the rooftops how much I appreciate and love them for this.

You don’t just have to participate in environmentally friendly activities at destinations you visit. You can start being environmentally friendly to companies just like Soul Flower. Check out Soul Flower Summer Specials today!

Other Ways to be a Responsible Tourist:

Be Respectful of Religions and Cultures:

Look at local customs and rules when entering churches across the world. Do not make derogatory jokes or compare those within the country to something you deem as ‘more sensible’ or ‘better practices’. Do not impose your beliefs on those within the country unless prompted to. Respect the cultural idiosyncrasies of what is considered ‘normal’ for that country.

What is responsible tourism


The bottom line is, just because something, someone, or a country as a whole does something different than what you know to be normal — doesn’t mean that it is wrong. There are some exceptions where it endangers basic human rights, practices, or harms/mutilates any animal or human being (obviously). Even if you do see something wrong, intervening as a tourist could land you in jail – be careful, be cautious and if you have a concern about the country/destination use a guide that you can ask questions about what is appropriate or if you can do something/intervene without landing yourself in jail.

Be Respectful of Shop Owners Overseas:

Do not take photos of products, items, or anything in different countries that could affect their livelihood. Do not get offended if they ask you not to take photos, there is a reason! Unnamed countries citizens will visit these economically struggling countries and take photos of their products and produce them at a fraction of the cost, but they are not authentic products.

What is responsible tourism


Moroccans, for example, rely on their skill and artistry of furniture, clothing, architecture, woodworking to profit from their craft and provide for their families. How many times have you visited a country and thought, ‘Oh I can get that back in my own country, I don’t need to buy it here’. This is why it is so important….so many countries rely on tourism and the money it brings in to put food on the table. So please….before you take a photo in a store, ASK the owner if it is ok.

Be Aware and Educate Yourself on Regional Issues:

What is responsible tourism

Human trafficking, terrorism, and so many more unsavory things happen in this world. I have too much of a tender heart to focus in on the negative all the time, so rarely listen to the news – but I do search for those individuals who have the capacity to handle situations such as this. I support them, I share their stories and donate when I’m able to.

It is important to be sensitive to cultural and religious practices (as part of Responsible Tourism) that help to positively define a culture, but that never means we should tolerate those who continually violate the basic human rights of food, safety, and shelter.

With having experienced Rape and sexual assault myself, the topic of sex trafficking is a very passionate topic for me. Operation Underground Railroad is a team of individuals of highly specialized individuals who have years of experience in special forces, law enforcement working proactively since 2013 with local governments that I wholeheartedly support. This is a video that had me in tears for how grateful I was to the men & women who do this. Please support them in whatever way that you can….
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c_CgQcNkUlw&feature=youtu.be
If you would like to Donate to O.U.R. please feel free to do so, if you are unable to donate, then try and Volunteer for O.U.R. to help aid in their efforts.

Small changes can make a big difference:

Wear environmentally friendly products:

  • Keep any soap while camping at any location away from runoff areas (at least 100 feet).
  • Bury or pack out your human waste. Look at the requirements for each camping spot you visit for their rules and regulations.
  • Wear environmentally and Ocean friendly sunscreen as this often washes off the ocean, causing damage to coral and marine life.
What is responsible tourism

Biodegradable products:

  • Bringing your own straws, skip the straw at Starbucks. If this doesn’t make sense, please keep watching the video of the Turtle above until it does.
  • Get a recycling bin or start a recycling group in your neighborhood. (More information below on recycling that could be available in your country).
  • Make a list of low-cost companies that produce Biodegradable Products and keep a list. Hand the list out to anyone who uses straws, show they alternatives. Don’t force it down their throat — educate with KINDNESS! Honey works better than vinegar when trying to entice people to change their daily habits or companies to change the status quo.
What is responsible tourism

Utilize the Reusable Grocery Bags:

  • This is such a simple change that we can all do (especially those of us in the States). In most other countries they are charging for the plastic bags, yet when we implement it here to try and help support the environment….everyone loses their minds! They tried to do this when I lived in Texas and I would stand there and see with my own eyes, these grocery baggers get verbally assaulted for doing their job and charging for the plastic bags. Come on people…..be better than that……do better than that…….realize that this isn’t just about YOU and YOUR needs, but for the betterment of humanity and animals. If you still aren’t convinced that plastic bags are a big deal, watch this video of the whale found dead with hundreds of pounds of plastic bags in its stomach. If that doesn’t convince you, well…..I don’t know how to help you become a better human being.
  • I need some advice myself on this one….grrrhhh….. I have all the reusable bags I can handle. I start daydreaming on the way to the grocery store, then out of habit, forget to take the reusable grocery bags I brought off the garage wall where I put them so I wouldn’t forget them. If you have some advice on how to remember these things…..let a girl know in the comments below.

A Call to Action for Responsible Tourism:

Ecotourism

  • Here is a great resource if you would like to participate in Ecotourism on your next trip: Ecotourism.org

Volunteering through worldwide programs/cleanups

Companies that Participate in Eco-friendly Product Production:

Clothing: Patagonia, Thought Clothing, Encircled Clothing

How to encourage clothing companies to not use plastic hangers

Straws: The Last Plastic Straw is a great website for a list of all the different types of straws, where to get them and how they are better than the plastic straws. There is also a site completely dedicated to Living a life without plastic, this is where I get my reusable metal straws (bamboo and glass is also available).

Home, Pets, Cleaning supplies and more: Life Without Plastic gives you so many bamboo or steel options that can replace many of the household items that have or contain plastic. Gift certificates, gift registry, and points program are also available on this site to help you invite friends to the #noplastic movement.

Trash Bags: Biodegradable Trash Bags, Green Legacy Tall Kitchen Trash Bags

Grocery Bags: Reusable Grocery Bags

Sandwich Bags: Eco-Friendly Reusable Sandwich Bags

Recycling throughout the world: Recycling in the States (contact your city councils to arrange this), Recycling in Australia, Recycling in Canada, Curbside Recycling available in New Zealand please check your local city councils, Recycling is also available in the United Kingdom for each household (mandatory supply of bins from government), Spain also has recycling available in some areas, and the Netherlands actually pays you to bring in your recyclable materials (typically at grocery stores).

IF YOU HAVE RECYCLING IN YOUR COUNTRY AND IT IS NOT LISTED HERE, PLEASE LIST THE RESOURCE OR WHO TO CONTACT BELOW  🙂

A Must Read Plastic Free Blogger: If you are like me and feel a little overwhelmed by how many things in your home contain plastic, visit Beth Terry: My Plastic Free Life Blogger. She will teach you, take you step by step through the process and show you how to live a plastic-free life.

Worldwide Plastic Pollution Coalition – Now NO ONE has an excuse to not participate in reducing their plastic use. This is a global alliance of individuals, organizations and businesses working together to stop plastic pollution.

what does responsible tourism mean

How To Tour Responsibly:

We have such a duty to protect creatures who outlived the dinosaurs, are essential to our planet’s ecosystem – the Sea Turtles. We don’t have to start being Eco-friendly or participate in Responsible Tourism practices only when we are traveling. Get involved in the activities now, one goal or plastic straw at a time.

Be respectful of religions, people, cultures, and races as long as they do not infringe on basic human rights to live life peacefully, safely without fear of bodily harm and can provide for basic human needs of shelter, food, and water.

Get involved in volunteer programs locally where you can help end human trafficking, gang violence, opioid epidemics, and so much more. There seems to be an Instagram hashtag or Facebook group for everything these days. If you have any suggestions for local groups you are passionate about, please let it in the comments below with a link to their site.
Teach those around you, share the information on your social media platforms….it just takes one rock in a pond to start a ripple that turns into a wave. Be that change you wish to see in the world.

How do you like to contribute to Responsible Tourism?

What is the most important thing to you regarding Responsible Tourism?

Travel Hacks for Road Trips

Travel Hacks for Road Trips

No matter if you are traveling with children, alone, or just with your furry friend – Road Trips can either be Hell on Earth; or a vacation in and of themselves. So after driving all over the Western United States for most of my life, here are a few Travel Hacks for Road Trips I highly recommend following when planning your own Road Trip at home or abroad.

Download Road Trippers

This is a fantastic app for your road trip, and can also be accessed online to help plan your vacation on the road. I first found and utilized this when taking a Road Trip from Dallas Texas to Nauvoo Illinois. I was going to be traveling through a bunch of open fields. After planning out my route I explored all the spots along the road that had a good rating and found this gem in the middle of nowhere! It is in the Spinach Capital of the United States. A statue of the spinach-eating machine himself has his own little garden and fountain. This also happens to be across from the Police Station, so you have ample entertainment for all!

This app and website are a fantastic way to make those 12 hour drives a little more bearable on the road. From a medical standpoint, it also gives you an excuse to get out of the car every few hours to walk around. People who sit and travel long distances can have swollen legs and blood clots at times as well if they do not walk around sufficiently.

How to stay awake while driving

Get enough rest the night before

Doing this will help you be more alert on the road and less prone to falling asleep at the wheel.

IF YOU ARE TIRED AND START TO LOSE CONCENTRATION THAT IS THE FIRST SIGN YOU ARE AT RISK FOR FALLING ASLEEP AT THE WHEEL.

Pull into a gas station and take a power nap.

I have done this a few times in the past, where I pull into a busy gas station and take a 15-20 min nap. This always helps me feel more refreshed.

Avoid sugary foods or high carbohydrate content as your snack.

When you eat high carbohydrate and high sugar content foods, it starts a vicious cycle of fatigue. Why? Well, you eat that doughnut or candy, your body sees it as too much sugar, so it releases insulin and then drops your blood sugar again. Then you become very sleepy or hungry again, starting the cycle over. I try to avoid sugary foods whenever driving for this reason.

Keep Cool

When I get warm I tend to fall asleep much easier. It is more comfortable to be warm, but I would rather have cold toes and arms before risking crashing my car and killing someone else.

Audiobooks

This is my favorite way to stay awake. Imagine this like the old radios back in the day that would tell the cowboy stories to the children. The children would be so enthralled by the battles and day to day explanations because they didn’t have TV, this was their entertainment.

Audiobooks typically have quality actors and actresses that are able to do multiple accents, voices, and inflections to keep the listener engaged. Yes, some of the audiobooks are entirely too boring and drab to listen to on the road, but there are many that are not.

I personally have signed up for Amazon’s Audible Book subscription for $14.95 per month. I am an affiliate with them, but I have never been more grateful for the positive entertainment value it provides and now listen to them on the way to and from work all the time.

Podcasts

This is something my flatmate is really into. She has several Podcasts that she listens to on a daily basis to and from work. I think this could also work for road trips as well, you may just need to download the podcasts to your mobile device prior to starting your trip.

What are some of your favorite podcasts?

Caffeine

If all else fails, just start swigging Caffeine. Think of all those boring meetings from work you have survived on the sweet nectar of the Gods.

Travel with a friend:

Switching off while driving is really important while on the long road trips and stretches of the road.

Stretches and Facial exercises:

This is an odd one, but I start stretching my legs, toes, fingers, neck, back arms etc…. It keeps your heart rate slightly more elevated than at baseline, thus increasing blood flow to your brain and keeping you refreshed.

Facial exercises also help to keep me awake at the wheel. I open and close my mouth as hard as a can, wiggle my jaw side to side, see how many animal sounds I can make with my tongue etc….

Check road conditions and weather conditions

With the age of the internet came the ability to check your road conditions prior to starting your journey. There have been several instances that I wish I would have, and others where I didn’t and wish I would have.

There was one instance where I didn’t want to leave my parents house to drive back to Las Vegas and did not look at road conditions. I ended up leaving the house when it first started to snow, and by the time I hit Cedar City Utah, I was in a complete blizzard. Traveling at 25 mph on the freeway because of road conditions, and was nearly hit by a snow plow.

Organizing the car

This is paramount for safety while driving. The less distracted you are on the road, the better off and safer you will be.

I will put all the luggage in the very back of the car, the cooler in the middle of the back seat where it is easy for your friend to reach if needed. If you are traveling alone, set up your ‘snack bag’ where you can easily reach it.

Wear sandals

Make sure you have Sunglasses to help with Glare.

If you are driving at night, turn down the dashboard lights. This will help your eyes not feel as tired from trying to adjust to the brightness of the dashboard vs the road.

Have your music or audible book playing before you put the car in drive.

Garbage bag, paper towels, and Kleenex should also be nearby where you don’t have to bend over, reach, or stretch to access them.

Check Your Car for Maintenance

Before you pack anything in the car, make sure your spare tire is filled up and in good condition.

Have a small gas can handy, just in case you miss an exit and the next gas station or turn around isn’t for another 50 miles and you are on empty.

Make sure you check your tire pressure after everything is loaded and in the car.

Change your oil, cabin filter, and engine filter before you go. This will help with gas mileage in your car.

Have your local mechanic esure all fluids are topped off, and the washer fluid is the appropriate one for the area you are traveling to.

I once was driving from Las Vegas to Utah in the snow and went to use my windshield wiper fluid and it froze on my windshield. I had to do an ACE Ventura head out the window to drive to the next town to get it fixed. They had to thaw out the windshield wiper lines with a hairdryer and vinegar, then unplug them. This really cut into my total driving time and was a major stressor. So mention to your mechanic if you find you will be driving to different climates and what they suggest for those areas.

Plan for Gas Stops

Don’t push the car to the point the gas light comes on! I always make a rule for myself that should I take a long road trip where I have never been before I never let the tank get down past 1/4 tank. Even a 1/4 tank is pushing it for me, I typically will fill up at 1/2 tank because I know I will be able to drive for several hours to the next gas station.

Get On The Road Again

Road trips can be a fantastic way to make bonds with friends, and see new destinations. It is important to plan, stay safe and stay awake on the road. There are over 100,000 car accidents per year from people falling asleep at the wheel in the United States. Make sure you know your own limits on when you need a break, even if it is just a mental break. There are plenty of unique things you can see on the road, not every place has to be Instagram worthy. The best adventures will always be the locations that make you feel more fulfilled and productive in your daily life, spark your creativity or help you create a more meaningful connection.

 Happy Travels, Happy Tales & See You On The Flip Side.


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Unique Things to do in Dallas Texas (from a Local)

Unique Things to do in Dallas Texas (from a Local)

Dallas is a great place to visit, with food being the center of this southern culture. When I lived there, the day that the Dallas Cowboys were playing you could smell BBQ smoke in the air. Even if you aren’t a football fan, there is till plenty of Unique Things To Do In Dallas Texas.

Football games

As I mentioned before, you MUST attend some type of football game to experience the culture. While Football games in Texas are not exactly a unique thing to do on the whole, but until you have been to a TEXAS game…..you really have no idea what a real game is. The tailgate parties are……well…..off the chain (as some would put it). The fans are either avid (and sometimes rabid) Cowboys fans. Every morning I would walk into work, and if you wanted to start a heated discussion to wake the office up you just had to say loudly, “How ’bout dem Cowboys”? Everyone has an opinion, and you don’t even need to watch Television with how excited people get about this.

Unique Things To Do In Dallas Texas

There are also plenty of visiting games, concerts, events that happen at or near the AT&T Stadium. I was able to go with my Dad to the NCAA championship and show off his giant flag, which he does for these events. Yes, yes I know he has the coolest job in the world. He has been to NCAA Basketball games, World Series Games, Sugar Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, Superbowl and so many more. I have stood on countless football and baseball fields with him while he puts his creative outlet onto the national stage.

This particular football game had so much energy from the crowd, the tailgate party etc… were second to none in my book. It is definitely true when people say, “Everything is bigger in Texas”, their football games are no exception and why I included it in these Unique things to do in Dallas Texas.

Dallas Arboretum

With more than 1 million visitors a year to this 66 acres of carefully curated botanical paradise, you shouldn’t miss a visit to the Dallas Arboretum. When I entered the gates, I didn’t know what to expect, but it reminded me of the Edinburgh Botanical Gardens. Each season, they change the gardens just a little bit to match the season.

It is open year-round and also has a children’s garden next to it that is sure to wear out your kiddos so you can enjoy the foodie paradise of Dallas Texas. If you are there during the summer, make sure to purchase a season concert ticket. The concerts they host here are highly entertaining. The people who come, come along with their short picnic chairs, small tables, wine bottles, and snacks for the evening. You get to watch the sunset over White Rock Lake being serenaded by the energetic bands that grace the outdoor stage.

Kayaking on Lake Ray Hubbard

I have always wanted to try Kayaking, and still, it has a draw for me. When I was browsing Groupon in the area, I found a lovely little Kayak instructional boot camp on Lake Ray Hubbard in Rowlett. Rowlett is about 45 minutes to the north of Dallas and well worth the visit! When you arrive you pay the fee to rent and get the kayak safety instructions (or you can just go out on your own). Our guide took us all around this lake just after the terrible flooding in 2016. The lakes and rivers were overflowing because of all the rain.

Unique Things To Do In Dallas Texas

It was a sunny day and being in the water in the humid Dallas summer heat felt amazing! We kayaked around the lake, even stopping at a makeshift dock in the middle of the lake. For the people who were brave enough, you can jump off the top of this rickety 2 story platform into the water. Be careful of the rusty nails when climbing up the ladder. Would be a good idea to have a tetanus shot prior to attempting this, lol.

Visit the Lake Ray Hubbard Homepage for more information on this and other hiking, boating, stand up paddle board information. Also, the reason I did not suggest Kayaking on White Rock Lake, is because it is so over utilized that it has become quite dirty in the last few years.

Texas State Fair

State Fairs are a fun way to get out of the house, enjoy the rodeo, and the fried food. Texas, not surprisingly, takes their Stat Fair VERY serious. The contest of ‘who has the best fried food’ has even been featured on the Food Network.

It isn’t just the food, it is the rides, the unique art, the games and even an adult real car truck race track that draws people from all over the world to this massive festival. Be sure to take a photo while there with the man himself, ‘BIG TEX’, he is the iconic symbol of not just the State Fair but Dallas as a whole.

Unique Things To Do In Dallas Texas

Ever since watching the food network episode on the Texas State Fair, I have wanted to see how it stacked up against the other State Fairs I have been to. For me, well this place did not disappoint. I was able to get a season pass to the fair at a relatively cheap price. It gives you a certain number of rides you can go on, tickets to purchase food, special event entrances and so much more.

My favorite food was the classic ‘Fletchers Corny Dogs’, which has won multiple awards for the covering on their hot dogs. Just to tell you how delicious it is, I NEVER eat hot dogs because I think they are gross mystery-meat, and I enjoyed this.

Unique Things To Do In Dallas Texas

Not only can you eat food but there is typically an exhibit of one kind or another involving food. If it is butter statues or 3D art with canned food that will be donated for Humanitarian efforts – it is certainly worth a look.

Unique Things To Do In Dallas Texas

If the rides, art, food, shows, pavilions, exhibitions are not your thing and you get overwhelmed with the crowds, then find a quiet corner to plan some games with your family or friends. This State Fair has something for everyone.

The only thing I felt was missing from this fair that I am used to is a competitive Rodeo, complete with a clown. It is TEXAS after all…..

Seasonal Activities:

Kaboom Town

This is a great celebration for fireworks and is on the North End of DFW area near a town called Addison. This is where all the locals go to see the air show, fireworks, and lounge about in the heat watching music shows. Check out Addison Kaboom Town if you are in Dallas over the Fourth of July.

Praire Lights

Drive through Christmas Lights are typically not my thing, but this was a show like I have never seen before! There were scenes from movies recreated, music to accompany it, a lighted garden that had every square inch of the place covered in lights. Texas truly does do everything BIGGER! Check out Grand Prarie’s, Praire Lights, for more information.

Downtown Dallas

Unique Things To Do In Dallas Texas

Just walking around downtown Dallas is going to be a fun adventure. There are a few things that I would suggest seeing and doing:

Yoga at Klyde Warren Park

This was surprisingly very fun and all ranges of people can attend and participate for free. It is a way for Yoga teachers to bring people in the community together and gain clients for their business. I was invited by a friend and doing Yoga outside in the elements in the morning is far more grounding and peace-giving than I thought it would be.

For more information on Yoga and other events visit Klyde Warren Park Website.

Katy Trail

This trail is a highly utilized area in Downtown Dallas and for good reason. Perfect for the joggers, runners, bikers, wheelchair and rollerskating excursions. This is an easy trail that stretches 7.5 miles across, around and through the city.

Unique Things To Do In Dallas Texas

Not only can you get some exercise in, but be motivated to reach your favorite restaurant along the way. This trail is adorned with quaint bars, eateries, and walkways lined with beautiful trees and plenty of shade. For more information check out the Katy Trail and the other 10 best hikes in Downtown Dallas.

Crow Collection of Asian Art and Artifacts

Unique Things To Do In Dallas Texas

This is a free exhibit that hosts some of the finest artworks of the Orient. Here you will see Asian fashion through the years, murals that will fill the room, and even a full Samurai outfit perfectly preserved. For extra luck be sure to go out back and ring the gong for good luck. Check out the Crow Collection website for more on the opening times of this fabulous find.

Perot Museum

Unique Things To Do In Dallas Texas

For every science nerd out there, this is the place for you. Admittedly I am a science nerd and love psychosocial historical facts. Here you can see a building that recycles rainwater in its structure. You get to pretend to be a weather woman or man in front of a green screen and see just how hard it is to be coordinated on camera. This area teaches of cyclones, and you can create your own indoor cyclone right there!

Next head over to the Dinosaur exhibit and see how evolution has shaped so many of the birds, flora, and fauna as we know them today. The Perot Museum is a great place for learning and integrating the love of science for all ages. One of my favorite exhibits was the stone and rare stone exhibit. I couldn’t believe how many colors, and textures that were in rocks. There was one rock, where it had a magnetic charge to it and you could never get the dust off of it, isn’t that so WEIRD!

Dallas World Aquarium

This was one of my favorite places to go when I lived in Dallas. Seeing animals behind cages isn’t something I typically enjoy, so this was the perfect place! When you enter it is like entering the Jungles of Belize. You are greeted with a stunning waterfall in the center of the building with habitats safely and subtly sectioned off to prevent from territorialism of those residing here.

Unique Things To Do In Dallas Texas

The path you take mimics one that you would take hiking. As you wind your way around and through this building, you are greeted by sharks, otters, monkeys, owls, and sloths. At the end of the path, however, is the crowning jewel…..the fishes!

Each tank is designed to mimic that of each of the oceans throughout the world along with their respective species. My favorite was the Figi tank and the tank with the glowing fish!

If you only had time to visit one place in Downtown Dallas, the Dallas World Aquarium would be my suggestion. Make sure you arrive early as parking is very limited and can cost almost $25 if you have to park elsewhere.

Find all the Texas BIG Signs

This is another fun activity that is sure to get some exercise in and satisfy those who like geocaching and treasure hunting. Take some time and research where all the BIG Texas Signs are in Dallas and the surrounding area.

Unique Things To Do In Dallas Texas

This will take you all over Dallas and every few months they change their location. It may seem trivial and like a lot of work, but I guarantee that you will feel like a kid again as soon as you see one 😉

Look at events like the Urban Slide

Dallas is never short of supplying activities throughout the city. One such event I found was in the heat of summer, an Urban slide that was 2miles long in the middle of the city. This was the highlight of my summer! Despite Dallas being flat as a pancake, they found a way to make this work and I am so glad they did.

Unique Things To Do In Dallas Texas

Make sure to browse through Facebook and search for local events to see what is in the area. Many times the local businesses or events will advertise to the surrounding population on Facebook as a way of coordinating these things.

In Summary:

As much as I wanted to loathe Dallas for all the bad experiences I had there, I really enjoyed the activities that the city and local venues provided. I personally feel it is a great place to visit, but I don’t think I could ever live in Dallas again.

I would like to go and see some of my favorite spots I have listed here. It is true what they say about Texas, everything is truly bigger in Texas. If you are visiting or moving to Texas and would like more information please email me at culturetrekking196@gmail.com and I will try and aid you in whatever way that I can to help you have the best adventure while visiting.

As always Happy Travels, Happy Tales, and see you on the Flip Side. 

Where to Stay in Dallas Texas

Booking.com

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