For our 45th wedding anniversary, my husband and I took a trip to two large cities in the big state of Texas: Austin and San Antonio. We were in for a lot of fun with a dose of history.
We flew first to Austin, the state’s capital. I’d booked a hotel room downtown, within walking distance of all we wanted to see. I didn’t realize until we checked into the Driskill that it’s a hotel with a history.
Built in 1886 by Colonel Jesse Driskill, a wealthy cattleman who spared no expense, the Driskill was known as the finest hotel south of St. Louis. Sadly, Colonel Driskill soon lost his hotel in a high-stakes poker game.
Today, the place is supposed to be haunted by a number of ghosts, including the Colonel himself, who allegedly makes his appearance known by the smell of his cigar smoke. On a less spooky note, the Driskill was also a favorite hotel of Lady Bird and Lyndon Johnson. The story goes they had their first date there at the Driskill Grill in 1934.
From the Driskill Hotel, we walked down historic Congress Avenue to see the Texas State Capitol. There, we encountered a demonstration at the edge of the Capitol grounds. A passionate crowd with anti-Putin signs protested the invasion of Ukraine.
The Capitol Building, like Texas itself, is big and showy. Inside were portraits of Texas governors, the most famous being Sam Houston, Ann Richards, and of course, George W. Bush.
Austin is known for its live music scene. (Maybe you’ve seen Austin City Limits, the longest running music series in television history.) Sixth Street, lined with bars featuring all types of musical performers, is the epicenter of what’s happening. It was a short walk from the Driskill, so once the sun went down, we were off to find the tunes.
My husband and I were definitely part of the older crowd packing the music venues, but we had a great time listening to country and rock while also people watching. I’d heard Austin is a popular bridesmaids’ weekend destination, and I saw the proof.
After three nights in Austin, we moved on to San Antonio, an hour south. Our first item on the agenda there was to see the Alamo. We’d been warned this site wouldn’t measure up to its depiction in the movies (true), but it was still awesome to stand within its walls and imagine that motley group of men, vastly outnumbered by Santa Anna’s army, who fought and died for the freedom of Texas.
San Antonio is also known for its River Walk, and I’d picked a hotel with easy access to this attraction. We took the lazy boat ride through the channeled waters and walked the surrounding streets filled with restaurants. We were true Lone Star tourists eating lunch at a restaurant called The Republic of Texas where we drank an Alamo beer.
Our riverboat guide had told us about a free projected light show at the nearby San Fernando Cathedral, one of the oldest Catholic churches in America. Watching scenes of the history of San Antonio flicker on the ornate facade of this historic church was a nice way to end our final night of the trip.