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The Ultimate Austin Travel Guide

In my last blog post, I promised y'all that an Austin photo overload was coming. You may have thought I was kidding, but this post is proof that I'm not! I took so many pictures and explored so much of Austin last week, and I'm so excited to be sharing my Austin Travel Guide with y'all. I've been to Austin a couple times before, but this time I was old enough to actually help plan the trip and choose the activities we did. My family and I were in Austin for four full days, but we managed to pack so many activities into those four days, which is why this post is so lengthy. I'll stop rambling so y'all can go ahead and start reading, but I really hope you enjoy!

// WHAT TO DO //

UT Campus // You really can't go to Austin without exploring the campus, even if you're not a UT fan. The atmosphere of the campus is so cool and unique, as with any college town. We walked along The Drag, toured some dorms, visited my mom's sorority house, stopped at the Co-Op, and visited the Texas Tower, but there's so much you can do! We devoted an entire day to simply exploring the campus, and that was by far our busiest day of the trip. It was one of my favorites, though - I've always wanted to go to the University of Texas so I really enjoyed getting to see my future home.

The Domain // When we told a family friend we were planning on going to The Domain while in Austin, she responded by saying that it is one of the most "Dallas" activities we would do. After walking around The Domain, I have to say that I agree with her. The Domain is a large outdoor shopping area filled with tons of stores, and it reminded me a lot of the shopping areas in Dallas. They had a lot of my favorite stores, such as Altar'd State, Lilly Pulitzer, Madewell, J Crew, Vineyard Vines, Anthropologie (they didn't have a Francesca's, though... how disappointing), and the list just kept going on. The venue is massive! We also went to Sprinkles Cupcakes while shopping... mainly because I was wearing a green shirt and I thought it would look good next to the pink ATM if I took a picture when we went (#bloggerprobs). Pro tip: if you ever go to Sprinkles, get the Red Velvet - it's a classic but so good!

Mayfield Cottage // Y'all... this excursion was such a unique experience and it was one of my favorite activities of the trip! My mom read about this place on Trip Advisor, and after reading some reviews, she decided that we had to go. Mayfield Cottage is this beautiful little botanic garden that, between the ivy-covered stone walls and the variety of colorful flowers, looks like something straight out of a fairytale. The best part is that it has peacocks everywhere! There were about six or seven giant peacocks that were just walking around the entire time. We brought some sunflower seeds to feed to the birds, and they would eat right out of your hand! Not only was this place a picturesque dream, but it was an experience unlike any other.

Mount Bonnell // I've been to Mount Bonnell before, but we went again on this trip because it's one of my favorite Austin attractions. Once you reach the base of Mount Bonnell, you climb up a short flight of stairs, and then you have access to the most incredible view of Lake Austin! The view is especially gorgeous if you go during golden hour, which we did, and I loved getting to watch the sunset.

Graffiti Park // I had seen a couple pictures of Graffiti Park on Instagram, so naturally I wanted to go see what the hype was all about. I wasn't sure what to expect, but our trip to Graffiti Park ended up being a really fun adventure. Graffiti Park is just what it sounds like - a giant area filled with graffiti of all sorts. It's on a hill, so when you climb all the way up to the top, you see an amazing view of the Austin skyline! There are also tons of spray paint cans lying around, so you can leave your mark in Austin and add some graffiti to the walls if you desire.

South Congress // I'm going to be honest with y'all... I enjoyed going to South Congress, but if I were to go back to Austin, I probably wouldn't visit SoCo again. South Congress is a street filled with all sorts of eclectic restaurants and shops, but some of the shops were a little too eclectic for my taste and the ones that I did like were a little out of my price range. Maya Star was my favorite shop, and the only place that had cute clothes and reasonable prices (in my opinion). If you've never been here, I recommend going it, but it's not something that I would do if I came to Austin again. It is home to the famous "I love you so much" mural, though, so if you're looking for cute photo opportunities in Austin (aren't we all?) then come here!

You're My Butter Half // Ever since seeing this mural online, I wanted to go take a picture in front of it with my sister! It's out of the way of the heart of Austin, but worth the drive because it makes for the cutest pictures!

Town Lake // A lot of people go paddle boarding or do other activities on Town Lake, which sounds really fun, but it's also nice to just walk around the lake! My mom used to go running around Town Lake when she was in college, and I can see why! It's so pretty and scenic. We were going to have a picnic there, but decided against it since it's summer and would have been extremely hot. If you're going to Austin in the spring or fall, though, a picnic would be so nice! Town Lake has a big bridge that you can walk on and look down at all the paddle boarders, but you can really go to any part of Town Lake and enjoy yourselves.


We stayed at two different hotels on our trip, and I loved them both. For the majority of our trip, we stayed at the Marriott Renaissance at the Arboretum, and we spent the last night at the JW Marriott in downtown Austin. Both hotels were very nice, and I loved them both, but they were two very different experiences. The Marriott at the Arboretum is nice because of the friendly atmosphere and the good restaurant (and of course the fact that it's within walking distance from Francesca's), and the JW Marriott is a great experience due to the amazing view from the rooms and the rooftop pool. Personally, I preferred the Arboretum Marriott and would stay there again if I ever returned, but the JW Marriott is such a cool experience since it's in Downtown Austin!


Now for the best part... the food! Y'all. We ate at so many good restaurants on this trip. Since my mom went to college in Austin, we went to a bunch of restaurants that she went to in college, and they were so good. I didn't have a single bad meal while in Austin!

Z Tejas // We ate here during the first night of our trip, and the food was good, but the really unique thing about this restaurant was the view. Their patio overlooks a gorgeous scenery of trees, and is the perfect place to watch the sunset from above. I'm a sucker for a good sunset, and this sunset was nothing short of spectacular. As for food, my mom and I split the Chicken, Artichoke, & Mushroom Stack and the Smoked Chicken Chile Relleno. Both were good, but I preferred the latter of the two.

Texas French Bread // We ate here for lunch while exploring the UT Campus, and I fell in love with the atmosphere of the place. From the wooden walls, to the abundance of tiny succulents, to the chalkboard menus, I was in love! If you want a sandwich in Austin, this is the place to go! I had a veggie sandwich and it was hard to eat because I have sensitive front teeth that make it hard to bite into food, but the few bites I did have were delicious! My sisters also got blueberry muffins, so I tried a bite of theirs, and they were the best blueberry muffins I'd ever had!

Polkadots Cupcakes // After reading their menu online, we stopped at Polkadots Cupcakes after lunch at Texas French Bread to try their unique flavors like Black Bottom and Salted Cookie Dough. They were all out of Salted Cookie Dough, but their Black Bottom Cupcake (basically a chocolate cheesecake cupcake) was so decadent and delicious! The whole cupcakery is so cute and quaint - it's full of pastel accents and has the cutest little patio!

Knotty Deck // When we couldn't decide where to eat for dinner one night, we settled on simply eating at the hotel's restaurant, Knotty Deck, since their menu looked pretty good. My mom and I weren't very hungry, so we split two appetizers - the jalapeno hummus and the pesto bruschetta. Since it was just a hotel restaurant, our expectations weren't very high, but we were blown away by how good the food was! Both appetizers were addicting and we kept reaching for more. For dessert, we had a slice of their ginger chocolate cake, and every bite was heavenly. While I would never have chosen to eat at the hotel, I'm so glad we did because it was the perfect meal.

Kirbey Lane // There are few things that I love more than brunch, and one of those things is brunch for dinner. At Kirbey Lane, they serve brunch all day, and they're open until midnight, so you can enjoy their famous pancakes whenever you please. I got the apple whole wheat pancakes per my mom's suggestion, and they definitely did not disappoint! I also tried some of her migas - I'd never had migas before, and let me tell you, I've been missing out!

Hula Hut // Within five seconds of arriving at The Hula Hut, it became one of my all time favorite restaurants simply based on the atmosphere. The Hula Hut is right on Lake Austin, and the entire place is decked out with grass skirts, palm trees, docks that are painted pink, and more! Sadly, my camera battery died, so I wasn't able to capture the gorgeous atmosphere or the amazing food (my shrimp quesadillas were the best meal of the trip!). Take my word for it, though, - if you're headed to Austin, you must come here. And the best part? They have a location in Dallas, so I've already placed it high on my list of local restaurants to try. I'm definitely going there ASAP!

Amy's Ice Creams // Did you even go to Austin if you didn't enjoy a scoop or two at Amy's Ice Creams? Amy's is pretty much my favorite ice cream place I've ever been to. They have a bunch of classic flavors that are so good (Mexican Vanilla, Sweet Cream, Chocolate) but they also have fun rotating flavors like Chocolate Cheesecake! However, the best part about Amy's is their toppings. They have so many toppings, from candy, to fruit, to syrup, and instead of merely sprinkling the toppings onto the scoop of ice cream, they mix the toppings in by folding them into the scoop of ice cream! You can watch them mix your toppings in, and it's incredibly cool. I got the Mexican Vanilla with Reese's Peanut Butter Cups mixed in, and it was the perfect treat to enjoy on a hot day.

Whole Foods // Being the Whole Foods addict that I am, I'd been looking forward to going to the biggest Whole Foods in existence. They have a huge selection of lunch items, especially compared to our tiny local Whole Foods, and their dessert case is definitely colossal too! This Whole Foods had such a nice patio area, so we ate lunch outside, and after lunch, we went up to their rooftop area to get another view of downtown Austin.

Overall, it was an amazing trip and I'm so glad I got to travel to Austin with my family! If you've never been, you should definitely take a trip there sometime - it's such a fun experience.

I took wayyy more pictures than what you saw in this post, but I didn't want this post to be longer than it already was! Click here to access my VSCO where you can see a lot more snapshots, and click here to watch my Austin Travel Diary that I posted on my YouTube channel!

Have you ever been to Austin? What was your favorite thing you did? Let me know by leaving a comment below!

Black & White Stripes In Austin

The Austin photo overload has officially begun! I took so many pictures while I was in Austin last week (enough to fill up a 16 GB memory card... whoops) and I'm so excited to share them with y'all. I'm putting together an Austin travel guide which should be up later this week, but for now, I wanted to share one of my favorite outfits I wore on this trip.

Standing on the steps of the Texas Tower, the main building on campus 
At the doors of Texas French bread... how cute and colorful are they?
The yummiest veggie sandwich with an amazing avocado sauce
A really pretty blue door at the architecture building
Finishing off the day with a chocolate cheescake cupcake (try saying that three times fast)

Found a cute mural on The Drag!
Visiting the Alpha Delta Pi house (my mom's sorority when she was in college)
Striped Top (only $13!) // White Shorts // Sandals // Earrings // Monogram Necklace // Nail Polish

When I stumbled across this black and white striped top while browsing on SheIn's website, it was love at first sight. I was a little bit hesitant about buying it, since I've heard mixed reviews about the website, but this top was too fun to not buy (and you really can't beat the price!). It's definitely not the best quality, but I think it's so cute and makes such a statement with the gingham sleeves. I paired it with some white shorts and white sandals for a more summery look, but I also think this top would look so classy and sophisticated with black jeans and black flats when fall rolls around.

I wore this ensemble while exploring the University of Texas campus. It was so hot and my family was practically dying of heat, but it was so cool to get to see my potential future home. I've always been a UT fan and I really enjoyed walking around campus, shopping along The Drag (a street with a bunch of shops and restaurants), touring a couple dorms, and eating lunch on campus! We ate at a place called Texas French Bread that was so aesthetically pleasing (I hate using that phrase but it's the best way to describe the cafe) and finished off the day by enjoying cupcakes at the cutest little cupcakery called Polkadots Cupcakes!

This day was our busiest one, so I felt like I should make an entire blog post devoted to it, but check back later this week to see a full recap of my trip!

Have you ever been to Austin? What did you do & see while there?

Link Love Vol. 24

Happy Friday, friends! I've spent the past week exploring the city of Austin, and to say it's been fun would be a major understatement. We managed to do and see so much over the course of five days, and of course I've taken so many amazing pictures that I can't wait to share with y'all!

If I had to sum up my week in one picture, this would be it... I've had four cupcakes in the past five days!
As for now, I'm back again today with another volume of Link Love, where I share my favorite blog posts & articles that have been floating around the Internet. Since I've been travelling, I haven't had a ton of time to be online, but I have had a few minutes to catch up on everything while my family takes quick breaks in the hotel. Keep on reading to see the links I've been loving!

1 // Dorothy's friends provide an interesting perspective on the life of a blogger

2 // I'm definitely not the most artistic person out there, but this DIY painted vase looks fairly easy and is too cute to not attempt!

3 // I think I've linked these in a post before, but the week before we left, I made these cookie butter bars that were so good!

4 // Want to excel at work? Stop saying these seven things ASAP.

5 // Isabella's experience of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro sounds so incredible, and her pictures are equally breathtaking!

6 // As someone who has an affinity for all things pink, I loved this article about all the places to find Millennial Pink in Los Angeles!

7 // I'm always looking for new hashtags to add to my Instagram posts, so of course I bookmarked Madison's ultimate hashtag guide!

8 // Speaking of Instagram... I've been posting a ton lately so you should go follow me here!

9 // After reading this post on how + why to have a signature nail polish, I've been thinking a lot about my signature color. I've always loved Fiesta, but right now I'm wearing Bikini So Teeny and loving it!

10 // Palm Beach is one of my favorite places ever, and Katie's pictures from her trip there were stunning!

11 // Lake Tahoe is another one of my favorite places ever, so of course I loved Sami's Tahoe travel guide!

12 // Also on the subject of travel, I've been obsessed with Greece lately, and I love all of these pictures of the Greek islands!

13 // Did you hear about the infamous summer bucket list girl? We should all strive to be like her...

14 // I hate myself for mentioning the NSale (I'm sick of hearing about it) but I loved Kate's detailed post on the sale. It was too informative and thorough to not share!

Leave any of your latest blog posts or links you've been loving in a comment below - I could always use more reading material!

What's In My Carry On Backpack

I don't think that I could survive going on vacations without bringing a carry on backpack. Regardless of whether I'm going on a road trip or an airplane flight, I always make sure to bring a backpack full of my travel essentials. Today I've partnered up with Cayleigh from CNPrepster to show y'all what we keep in our carry on bags. We're both currently on vacation, and even though I road tripped to my destination, I still brought this very backpack full of all these essentials. I'm in Austin for the week, and it's been so much fun so far. I can't wait for y'all to see all the fun pictures!

I've used this backpack as a carry on bag for a couple years now. It was my school backpack a few years ago, but I've since then retired it and I take it with me on trips now. It's the perfect size and I love all of the pockets it comes with!

Laptop + Cord // The nice thing about my backpack is that it has a sleeve just for my laptop, so I can easily slide it in there. I always make sure to bring my laptop and all of my technology chargers so that I can catch up on emails & blog posts if I have a couple spare minutes while on vacation.

Phone // Because how else could I download an entire season of The Office on Netflix to watch while travelling? My phone is in my pocket most of the time, but if I'm not using it, I keep it in the little front pocket.

Headphones // I love to listen to music or watch Netflix when traveling, so headphones are a must! My dad let me try these noise cancelling headphones a while back, and they've been on my wishlist ever since. For now, I just use some earbuds I bought at Target, and they do the job just fine!

A Good Book // A good book is a must-have for me! I always bring whatever book I'm currently reading with me, so I can open it in the car or on the plane. I just bought Grace Over Perfection (I'm a little late to the trend... whoops) and I'm so excited to read it! I've been saving it for this trip so I haven't started it yet, but I'll let y'all know how it is.

Snacks // It's never a good idea to travel without some food to have just in case you need it! Kind bars are my go-to snack because they're healthy, delicious, and are extremely convenient for taking on the go!

Chapstick // My lips get chapped so often, especially when I travel! I always keep a thing or two of lip balm on me just in case my lips get dry and cracked while traveling.

Wallet // I always bring my wallet and purse in my carry-on, because you never know when you might need it!

Swell Bottle // My Swell water bottle is my favorite water bottle ever. I always bring it with me when I travel because it keeps my water cold and I don't have to worry about buying water when we stop at a gas station. I also bring it with me whenever I fly on an airplane, because you can fill it up after you go through security and have plenty of water to drink on the plane.

I also always bring my camera bag with me. In it, I keep my camera, my lens, a battery charger, an extra SD card, and a lens cloth. I also added my Polaroid camera in it this time so I could take some Polaroids while in Austin.

I know my carry on essentials aren't anything out of the ordinary. but I hope you still found this post helpful! Make sure you go check out Cayleigh's post - she's super sweet and I know you'll love her blog!

What are your carry-on essentials? Let me know by leaving a comment below!

10 Summer Essentials Every Girl Must Own

I think summer is my favorite season when it comes to fashion. There's just something about summer clothes that I adore - whether it's the effortless look of a cute coverup thrown on over a swimsuit, an off-the-shoulder top paired with white jeans and lace-up sandals, or simply a casual outfit consisting of a t-shirt, shorts, and sunglasses, I'm all for summer fashion! Today I'm sharing ten of my must-have summer fashion essentials - I seriously don't know how I'd get through the summer without these staples in my wardrobe.

T-Shirts // Do I even have to explain this one?? I wear t-shirts almost every day during the summer. If I'm just running errands or relaxing at home, I see no reason to get even remotely dressed up, so I usually just throw on a t-shirt. My favorites are from Jadelynn Brooke and Lauren James - they have so many cute options!

Comfy Shoes // Last fall, I scored these Steve Madden sandals that look exactly like Birkenstocks, except I bought them for only $5! Best. Purchase. Ever. I wear them every day, and they are so comfortable. The quality isn't as great as authentic Birkenstocks, but you get what you pay for, so I'm not complaining! I know a lot of girls love Chacos, too. I personally don't own a pair, but they look really comfy!

Lilly Dress // Lilly Pulitzer just screams "summer," so it makes sense that their dresses are a staple in my summer wardrobe. I haven't bought one recently (but I have my eye on this romper!); however I own quite a few from previous years that definitely get their use during warmer months.

Denim Shorts // A good pair of denim shorts is everything. You can dress them down with a t-shirt, wear them with a cute top for a more put-together look, throw them on over your swimsuit... the possibilities are endless! I bought this pair from Kohl's last summer, and I wear them two or three times a week - it's a problem.

Nice Sandals // A good quality pair of sandals is so versatile in any girl's summer wardrobe. My favorites are my Jack Rogers, these sandals from Chinese Laundry, and my Steve Madden lace-up sandals (similar here).

Athletic Shorts // Because what else would you wear with the aforementioned oversized t-shirts and comfy shoes? Whether your athletic shorts are from Nike, Lululemon, Under Armour, or anywhere else, it goes without saying that they are a must-have for summer!

White Jeans // While it may seem like a bad idea to wear jeans in the summer heat, I promise you, white jeans are a summer staple for sure. They're perfect for cooler summer nights, such as if you're going to a nice dinner and don't feel like wearing a dress. They look so classy and sophisticated and can be worn so many different ways.

A Good Swimsuit // You can't go through summer without the perfect swimsuit - it's just not an option. I like Target's selection because they're not ridiculously overpriced like most swimsuits. Right now, I have my eye on this embroidered one and this striped one, and I bought this tie dye one a couple months ago.

Cute Tops // On days when you want to look a little more presentable, cute tops are a necessity! Off the shoulder tops, peplum tops, embroidered tops, and ruffle tops are all huge trends this season. Two of my favorite summer tops that I own are this lemon printed one, featured here, and this gingham one, featured here.

Sunglasses // I bought my first pair of sunglasses at the beginning of the year, and I don't know how I've survived without them before this! I only have one pair, since I wear prescription sunglasses and they are quite pricey, but I wear them on a daily basis and absolutely love them.

What are your summer must-haves? Let me know by leaving a comment below!

Life Lately Vol. 24

Happy Friday! I leave on Sunday to go to Austin for the week, so I'm spending today and tomorrow packing and preparing blog posts & YouTube videos that have to go up next week. I'm so excited to go to Austin - my mom and I have been planning this trip for a while now and I know it's going to be so fun! I can't wait for y'all to see pictures!

While I'm excited for Austin, I've enjoyed spending the last few weeks at home. Staycations are actually so much fun - keep reading to see everything I've been doing lately!

Planning For Austin // As I mentioned earlier, my mom and I have been doing a lot of planning for Austin lately! We have everything nailed down for the most part, but we're still looking for a couple things to add to our itinerary, so if you have any recommendations, leave a comment below!

Pool Days // It's been so hot in Texas lately, so of course I've been spending as much time swimming as possible. I love just floating around in my donut float - it's so relaxing!

San Antonio // I wrote a whole post about my weekend in San Antonio, but it was so much fun so I thought I'd mention it again! My family drove down to San Antonio for the 4th of July weekend, and we stayed at the most beautiful resort. Click here to read the entire blog post and see everything we did.

Six Flags // A couple weeks ago, my dad and I went to Six Flags for the day. I hadn't been in a couple years, and I loved riding roller coasters and walking around with my dad. We also got ice cream - I had cake batter and it was soooo good.

Shopping // I'm sure this is no surprise, but my favorite thing to do in the summer is go shopping. I love walking around and popping into my favorite stores. I do this so often that the ladies at my local Francesca's know my name by now, haha. I recently posted a summer haul on my YouTube channel, so if you want to see what I've purchased recently, just click here!

Donuts // At the beginning of summer, I picked up a donut pan at Sur La Table so I could try to make donuts. I used this recipe for chocolate donuts the other day, and they turned really well! I will definitely be making more donuts in the future.

Nordstrom Anniversary Sale // Since every single blogger wrote posts on the huge sale that's currently circling the Internet, I didn't feel the need to write a post of my own, but I thought I'd quickly share a few of my favorite items. I don't have a Nordstrom credit card, so I'm waiting until the sale opens up to the public, and I'm crossing my fingers that this top, this scarf, & these boots don't sell out.

What have you been up to lately? Let me know by leaving a comment below!