Pecan Street Festival brings together music, art, and Austin weirdness

Pecan Street Festival 2012  on A is 4 Austin

I should have known better.  It was over 90 degrees and extreme heat and I do NOT get along well.  But away we went to the Spring Pecan Day Festival in downtown Austin.

I expected t roast and melt.  And to be honest, it was even hotter than I thought it would be.  And melt I did. Big time.

But despite the heat, this festival, held annually on 6th Street/Pecan Street (and companion to the Autumn Pecan Street Festival) was also more than I thought it would be.

First of all, it was big.  REALLY big.  It went on and on with block after block of artists’ booths, food, music and just-for-the-heck-of-it stuff for sale. And most of it was truly good.  We saw everything from hand puppets to wall-sized collages in the art booths.  There was even a petting zoo! And the food was far beyond the usual funnel cakes and corn dogs (although both of those were there, too.)  Topping my list for weirdest fair food was the alligator stand, while the homemade ice cold fresh lemonade takes the prize for “Most in Demand and Gratefully Purchased”.

Music venues all along the fair area were open for business with amazing sounds at every turn, too.  We took shelter in the Stage on 6th for a bit to get out of the sun, and were treated to fantastic classic country sounds…amazingly, even our dog and our daughter were welcome there (we’re still not quite used to the rules in Austin, so that was a surprise — in Miami, kids and pets are verbotten in bars

The highlight of the Festival for us was the discovery of a new (well, new to us) band called Les Rav.  Their music was a wonderful mix of Celtic, rock, New Age, chamber, progressive and Indy, with something special on top of all of that.  They are definitely worth a follow.

The Pecan Street Festival is a family friendly event and dogs are welcome (on leash).  If you head out to the Spring or Autumn events, I would recommend taking a good supply of water for you and your pets.  It gets hot, and bottled water is pricy.  Bring cash for food and drink — very few took cards and ATM fees were high.

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Town Lake trail offers nature in the middle of the city

Town Lake in AustinThere are very few U.S. cities that offer residents a huge green oasis in the middle of the city.  Fortunately for us, Austin is one of them.

Town Lake (also known as Lady Bird Lake, or so I am told) and the associated Town Lake Trail offers Austinites and visitors walking and biking trails from just over a mile to almost 7.25 miles.  The trails are wide, and most of the route meanders along next to the lake (which looks like a small river to me, but hey, I’m not from around here!)  Wildlife is sparse, but there are swans, blackbirds and tons of butterflies.

Most of the path is shaded, which is critical given the summer temps around here.  Parking is hit or miss at several locations, but if one area is filled you’ll only have to go a short distance to the next on-street parking or off-street lot.  Most of it is free, too…another plus.

If you want to head out onto the water, there’s a boat rental here, offering canoes, kayaks and boards, plus lessons for the uninitiated.

There are lots of restaurants within a few minutes walk of the trail, so many people finish up their taste of nature with a taste of something more er, um cooked?

Pets are welcome and pretty much equal the number of people on the Town Lake Trail, but they must be on leashes and you must pick up their poop to avoid lake contamination. (Yes, there are trash cans, but bring your own bags.)  Off-road strollers do well here, although I have seen people with regular ones, too.

Lots of Steps but the View From Mount Bonnell is Worth It!

Mount Bonnell Park Austin

Yes, there are over 100 steps to reach the viewing platform at Mount Bonnell.  But when you get to the top, you’ll forget all about that burn in your muscles — the view is simply breath-taking.

Look one way, and gaze out over the water (you know, that wet stuff Austin just doesn’t seem to have enough of!). Look another, a few steps down the path, and you have a clear view of the city skyline.  Turn the other way and walk for a minute or two, and beautiful waterfront homes are in sight.

This is a great place for a picnic (yes, there are tables and benches.) Or find a rock above the water and settle down to read, write, play guitar or just enjoy the view.  Pets on leashes are welcome, parking is free and abundant, and most days this beautiful site is free from crowds.

A word of caution…Parents will need to keep a firm grip on little ones…the edges are real and the drop is significant.

Barkitecture Brings Out Pups and Creativity

Barkitecture Pet Rescue Festival Austin

Since 2005, Barkitecture has given Austinites who love dogs a chance to show off their pooches and support local animal rescue groups.  It’s also a great opportunity for local architects, builders and designers to show their stuff as by creating new twists on the idea of a dog house.

Attendees get to bid on the creative houses, see their dog walk the red carpet, learn about area pet-focused businesses and services and meet pets available for adoption from regional and breed-specific dog rescue groups

That’s the official line….my take on it was a great autumn day downtown with my family and my dog,  Maya (the one hamming it up on the red carpet above) loved meeting the other dogs, And yes, there was a significant amount of tush-sniffing.  But I loved hanging out with a few hundred other dog lovers in a pretty place, while helping rescue groups raise money and awareness.