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48 Hours in Austin, Texas - Day 2

Two Days in Austin: A Guide for First-Timers - Day 2

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Day 2: Hippie Church for Breakfast

Besides the tasty food, the most appealing aspect of Maria's Taco Xpress is Maria herself. The bubbly, outgoing taco diva has been known to hug total strangers. Her friendly vibe is infectious, and Sunday brunches are particularly festive as she hosts an event known by locals as Hippie Church. Gospel groups perform weekly on the outdoor patio, but don't expect a reverent atmosphere -- there is dancing, drinking and the occasional random display of affection.

Day 2: Mid-Day Health Kick With Kayaking and Veggie Food

Rent a kayak at the Rowing Dock on Lady Bird Lake to work off some of that heavy food you've been eating. The lake was renamed in honor of Lady Bird Johnson a few years ago, but most locals still call it by its former name, Town Lake. The water is calm along this dammed-up stretch of the Colorado River, so no skill is required to paddle around and enjoy the scenery. Birds and turtles abound, and you'll also get a nice view of the downtown skyline from the water.

To continue the mid-day health kick, head to Casa de Luz for delicious vegetarian food. The menu selections include whatever they decide to make today. Freshness is the priority here, not options. They frequently offer dishes such as miso soup, pinto bean tamales and mixed greens with walnut basil sauce.

Day 2: Sunset Bat Watching and Comfort Food at Threadgill's

The South Congress Street bridge is home to 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats. The bat family apparently likes to be close, very close. By day, they squeeze into spaces in the expansion joints on the underside of the bridge. From March to September, they emerge around sundown, creating what appears to be a black river in the sky as they head east in search of bugs to eat. The exodus is nearly impossible to photograph, however; just sit back on a picnic blanket beneath the bridge and enjoy the spectacle.

To bring the mid-day health kick to an abrupt end, head to Threadgill's World Headquarters for some down-home food drenched in butter. The pot roast, mashed potatoes, chicken and dumplings, fresh rolls and buttermilk pie will meet your comfort-food quota for the foreseeable future.

When you're through eating, just waddle on outside for one more musical treat to round out your visit. Threadgill's outdoor stage plays host to local favorites such as Brennen Leigh and the Durden family, as well as a few touring acts.

Return to Day 1 for information on Barton Springs and Sandy's Burgers.



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