An Austin Staycation Can Rival the Best Vacation. Think Not? Read On!

Just when we begin to emerge from pandemic life and try to recoup the lost vacations of the past couple of years, gas prices rise to skyrocket the cost of our favorite road trip. Perhaps you’re undaunted. Perhaps you’re considering the dreaded staying home. Fear not! You’re not staying home, you’re going on a spectacular Staycation!

Just like a vacation, you have to do a little planning for a truly successful staycation. Our Staycation Challenge: Use all local businesses and go only to places you’ve never been. That’s right, eat at local restaurants you’ve never tried. Maybe Austin iconic Hoover’s Cooking (What! You’ve never tried Hoover’s?) or Julio’s. Looking for something new? Try Pecan Square Café, 1417 or Birdie’s. Or hit the best of food trucks—ooohhh there are so many. You might want to try a whole food truck park such as Arbor Food Park,  5000 Burnet, South First Food Court or Ira and Bev’s Food Truck Park, just to name a few.

Cool isn’t just an attitude. Summer isn’t summer without cold drinks. From local breweries (think ABGB, Oasis Texas Brewing Co., Live Oak Brewing or Thirsty Planet to frozen delights at Amy’s Ice Creams or classic Casey’s New Orleans Snowballs, it’s easy to chill. Headed to the lake? Pick up some sandwiches from Foodheads, a cooler from Breed & Co. and sunscreen from Peoples RX and head to bask in the sun. Of course no staycation is truly complete without a frozen Margarita or two or three. Everybody has them but our faves are Trudy’s, Curra’s Grill (they even have an avocado margarita if you’re into categorizing your rita as a food group!) and Eldorado Café.

Get outside. Take a day to visit a park you’ve never been to. Grab a frisbee or outdoor gear from Whole Earth Provision and some cool drinks from Wheatsville Food Coop or Whip In and head out. And don’t forget your favorite canine (furbaby to those of us who see our pups as family), they like staycations too. Need a new leash or toy? Taking your furbaby canoeing or rating and need a life vest? Check out Tomlinson’s or Great Outdogs for everything your pup needs.

Shop local. A good staycation includes some shopping, but only at local businesses you’ve never been to. You know, those shops you pass on your way to somewhere else and the thought always pops up—I need to check that place out. Do it. Make a list and go to all those shops like Terra Toys, Coco Coquette, Lammes Candies, BookPeople or Waterloo Records. Get a new summer hat at Hatbox or spectacular sunglasses at Eyejoy. A new swimsuit from Cove Boutique or By George will dazzle. Sandals from Karavel Shoes or Blue Suede Shoes + Wine will leave you with happy feet! Go be a kid at Toy Joy. Skip the big box and shop local.

Be a tourist. Most people never do the touristy stuff in the place where they live. We often roll our eyes at the thought. Give in. It’s really fun. Watch the Congress Ave. Bridge bats (it is a quirky thing of beauty), do the campy photo thing at Jo’s Coffee on S. Congress (I love you so much), attend on of the thousand festivals in Austin, take a tour with AO Tours (we promise you’ll learn interesting things about your city), take a paddle boat tour or rent a Swan Pedal Boat at Capital Cruises. Take an Austin Mural Selfie Tour by Pedicab to show off on social media how much fun you’re having. We often tell people to act like a local—meaning go to all the best local businesses. For your staycation, act like a tourist. See your community through the eyes of a tourist and you’ll find it interesting, enchanting, fun and more.

Sleep away. Spend a night or two in a local hotel or B&B like Heywood Hotel, Hotel Saint Cecilia or Hotel San José. Pamper yourself at a spa or take the kids to the hotel pool all day. Dine out or indulge in room service. You won’t even know you’re in your hometown.

Summer services too. Even though you’re on staycation, sometimes you need a service—find it locally. AC not cooling quite right? Call ABC Home & Commercial  or Totally Cool. They’ll cool you down. Don’t let a flat heat you up either. Check with Lamb’s Tire & Auto for summer deals on new tires. Taking a day to check off some summer chores? From hardware Callahan’s General Store (if they don’t have your hardware item, it’s a cool place to visit) to software, think Game Over Videogames, local business has you covered. You’ll be made in the shade.

Near or far, vacations and staycations are all about the experience. And you really don’t have to go far for a terrific and memorable summer.

—Contributed by Rebecca Melançon, Local Business Institute