All About Our #BlogHerFood16 Neighborhood

All About Our #BlogHerFood16 Neighborhood

Last week I told you a little bit about the host hotel for October's #BlogHerFood16 conference, the Hilton Austin. This week I want to tell you about the neighborhood outside those hotel doors!

If you've ever attended our conferences before, you know that we tend to keep you pretty busy on-site, but you have the ability to grab some free time and engage in other activities if you want. #BlogHerFood16 attendees are very lucky because the area surrounding the hotel is jam-packed with things to do and places to go, whether you just want to step out for twenty minutes or you want to fill an entire evening. When our team was in Austin last month, I spent several hours walking around to get the scoop for you. Long story short, our #BlogHerFood16 neighborhood is full of history, entertainment, scenery, and food (of course!). Here's the low-down:

History

One of the things I love about Austin is the architecture. There are buildings from the 1800's mixed in with modern marvels, and they all make for a visually interesting mix. Right across the street from the Hilton Austin, you can find the home of American writer O. Henry. Walk a little further and you'll find the Driskill, an 1886 hotel that is a sight to see, outside and in. We spent about thirty minutes exploring the lobby, the lounge, and the ballrooms; the history is palpable.

All About Our #BlogHerFood16 Neighborhood

Back outside, you'll see lots of art deco architecture on your way to the Texas State Capitol, which is about a twenty-minute walk from the Hilton Austin and well worth the trip. It might look familiar to you because it was modeled after the United States Capitol. The building, set on 22 acres of land and surrounded by sculptures and beautiful landscaping, is open to the public seven days a week; check for current hours when you arrive in town.

Entertainment

"Keep Austin Weird" is the city's unofficial motto, created to promote the small (and often unusual) businesses based there. Austin's got personality; that's for sure! Just five minutes' walk from the Hilton Austin is the 6th Street District, a colorful haven for entertainment. 6th Street is always hopping and if you're looking for fun, stop there first to find bars, comedy, theater, arcades, tattoo shops, dance clubs, karaoke, and other forms of live entertainment (sometimes right outside on the sidewalk, ba dum bump!).

Right behind the hotel you'll find the Austin Visitor Center, which is full of great locally-sourced souvenirs plus helpful staff who can provide more suggestions on things to do in the area. (And don't forget about the Hotel Concierge, who is more than happy to assist, too!)

All About Our #BlogHerFood16 Neighborhood

Scenery

I already mentioned the fantastic architecture you'll find in Austin. If you love taking pictures, you'll be in heaven. When we were there I had a great time taking artsy photos of the buildings and signage in the 6th Street District but we also walked southwest of the hotel for less than fifteen minutes to take in the sights at the Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge, which spans Lady Bird Lake. The bridge is home to the world's largest urban bat colony and in the summer, people gather to see them emerge. Here's a tip: when you're on the bridge, turn to face north and you'll get a great view of the capitol building in the distance!

All About Our #BlogHerFood16 Neighborhood

Austin is also colorfully decorated with murals at every turn, and if you don't live in a place where succulents are part of life, you'll love what you find in this city. (I live in Chicago where the only place I might see a cactus is on television, so #CameraHappy!)

Food

You knew that food had to be an important element here, right? After all, we'd never select a non-foodie city for #BlogHerFood16. Austin's offerings will delight your taste buds at every turn.

Exhibit A: They're famous for barbecue (my mouth started watering when I typed that, to be honest) and you can find great brisket and ribs all over town. Exhibit B: tacos and margaritas, of course. Ask any local for the name of their favorite spot, and they won't hesitate: Everybody has one. Exhibit C: food trucks. Called "trailers" in Austin, you can find one that serves just about every kind of food, from the aforementioned barbecue and tacos to doughnuts, sandwiches, and ethnic specialties, just to name a few. There are even websites that can tell you which ones are closest to you at any given moment, and if that's not a great tool to have in your back pocket during a busy conference weekend, I don't know what is.

Of course, I have only scraped the surface on all of these things because I'm just a mere tourist myself. I'm counting on our Austin locals to chime in with their suggestions over the next few months, in comments and in the official #BlogHerFood16 attendee group on Facebook. Thanks, y'all! (See what I did there?)

We're going to have a great time in Austin, everyone! See you there!

Melisa Wells

Expert Bedazzler, Detail Wrangler, and Eternal Optimist

Social Media Researcher @BlogHer

My personal blog: Suburban Scrawl

@MelisaLW

Don't wait! #BlogHerFood16: Experts Among Us will take place from October 7-8, 2016, in Austin, TX. Register now: Space is limited.
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