Although less than 80 miles apart, the two Texan cities of Austin (the state's capital) and San Antonio (the most visited city in Texas) are very different and each offers visitors a unique vacation experience. San Antonio is steeped in the history of the west, with the King William historic area, the Spanish influenced architecture of its early 18th century missions to Davy Crockett and the world famous Alamo. It also has a reputation for its kid-friendly activities, most notably its major theme parks, Sea World -- the world's largest marine life park, and Six Flags Fiesta Texas.
Austin promotes itself as the live music capital of the world, and for good reason. Whether you are into a little bit of country, a little bit rock and roll, blues, jazz or even Latin beat, you're sure to find it with a distinctive Western swing in Austin. Live music plays on stages at the airport, in the parks, on the lakes, from the Warehouse District and at landmarks along South Congress Avenue. The Austin Chronicle (www.austinchronicle.com) features daily music listings around town so you can schedule your night time activities. A search for this Sunday evening pulled up close to 80 venues and well over 100 bands playing! They say that everything is bigger in TexasÂ?and they may well be right!
The Austin City Limits Music Festival (www.aclfestival.com) takes place from September 14 to 17, 2006 and with 130 bands playing on eight stages across three days, its one event that music lovers should not miss. Headline acts include Massive Attack, John Mayer, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Willie Nelson and Van Morrison. The Austin Convention and Visitors' Bureau (www.austintexas.org) has hotel and ticket packages starting from $388 + $14 ticket delivery charge for two people which includes three nights' accommodations at Austin Suites North (10 miles from Zilker Park, the location of the event) and most importantly two three day Festival passes. Since regular three day event passes seem to be sold out on the Festival's website, this seems like a great deal and it may be the only way you'll get to this outstanding music event. Although many Austin hotels are booked for this weekend, there are still rooms available, so book early.
Barton Creek Resort and Spa (tel. 800/336-6158; www.bartoncreek.com) in Austin is offering an Internet special with up to 25 percent off its standard summer rates. The midweek rates (Sunday to Thursday) starts from $90 per person, based on double occupancy and the weekend rate is from $96 per person. They are currently offering 30 percent off their "Hill Country Hiatus" package which is now priced from $185 per person, per room, per night based on double occupancy. It includes luxurious accommodation, daily breakfast and your choice of either one round of golf per night of stay on Crenshaw Cliffside or Palmer Lakeside courses or a 50-minute spa service per night of stay which may include the Austintacious Two-Step Massage, a 50-minute Heated Stone massage, a 50-minute Golfer's Relief massage an Intensive Aromatis facial, European or Gentleman's Facial with a Vitamin C Enhancement or His or Hers 50-minute Sport pedicure. Both these deals are available July 27, 30, 31, August 1 to 3 and 6 to 10, 2006.
There are over 180 hotels in the San Antonio area, but to experience the city's historic flavor, consider staying in one of the more intimate bed and breakfast properties, many located in and around the historic King William district. A Yellow Rose Bed and Breakfast is a gorgeous Victorian property located right in the thick of things, priced from $89 per room per night. The landmark Bullis House Inn is located in the Government Hill Historic District and is priced from $65, while the Inn on the River starts from $99 per room per night. You can book all these properties through the San Antonio Convention and Visitors' Bureau website (www.sanantoniocvb.com).
Rancho Cortez (tel. 866/797-9339; www.ranchocortez.com), located just outside San Antonio in Bandera (the "cowboy capital of the world"), Texas has the following summer time specials valid until August 31, 2006. Get a $25 gas rebate for every two night stay. Also book a four night package and pay only $110 per night per adult or $75 per child. That price includes accommodation in a modern cabin with western décor and a private porch, horse back riding, three Texas-size meals per day, BBQ, hayrides, western style entertainment, Texas rodeo, use of the swimming pool, Jacuzzi and gym, campfires with marshmallows and a multitude of activities for the kids.
If your trip to Texas is all about playing golf at one or more of the state's dozens of world class courses, then Texas Golf Planners (tel. 888/303-8375; www.texasgolfplanners.com) can "T" you up with a great golfing package in San Antonio or Austin. Their packages include two, three or four nights' accommodations (plus rates for accompanying non-golfers), breakfast daily, one round of golf at a selected course per night, preferred advanced tee times, a shared golf cart and practice range balls. A two night package at the Woodfield Suites Downtown is priced from $305 per person and only $60 for a non-player or $310 at the Amerisuites RiverWalk (and $65 for a non-player). Golf courses included in the above packages are The Bandit, Canyon Springs, The Golf Club of Texas, The Buckhorn, Pecan Valley, Silverhorn, Tapatio Springs and Woodlake Golf Club. Or stay and play at the Westin La Cantera Resort from $455 per person per day, based on double occupancy from now until September 3, 2006 or from November 20, 2006 to February 28, 2007. In Austin, a two night package at the Wellesley Inn and Suites is priced from $260 per person ($67 for a non-golfer). The same package at the Homewood Suites Arboretum is priced at $320 ($99 for a non-golfer). Courses include Avery Ranch, Blackhawk, Circle C, Falconhead, Forest Creek, Riverside and Teravista.
Current airfares to San Antonio and Austin through Travelocity (www.travelocity.com) include:
- Los Angeles to Austin on Continental and American Airlines: $163 (departures from August 17 to December 10, 2006)
- New York to San Antonio on Northwest or American Airlines: $223 (departures from August 22 to December 10, 2006)
- Chicago to San Antonio on United or American Airlines: $223 (seven days advance purchase, for travel from now until November 15, 2006)
- Miami to San Antonio on Continental and American Airlines: $243 (departures from August 17 to October 1, 2006)
- Boston to Austin on Northwest or American Airlines: $263 (seven days advance purchase required)
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