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Austin Marriott Downtown

Written and photographed by: Laurette Veres

A picture perfect sunset lights up the streets of Austin.

For years I’ve heard about the bat bridge in Austin but have never seen the bats. I scratched out some time in my schedule headed to Austin with hopes of finally seeing Mexican Free-Tailed Bats take off at sunset from the Congress Avenue Bridge.

A little on-line research finds the bat population has swelled since a 1980 renovation of the bridge created an ideal bat cave. The best times of the year are late March through early fall; 7:30-9:45pm. Bat watchers are vigilant, often skipping dinner as they wait for bats to fly into the evening sky.

The Austin landscape (and skyline) has changed, especially near the river. Once upon a time, not long ago, there were expansive views of Town Lake and the Capital Building; these are blocked by shiny new high and mid-rises. In what was formerly a parking lot and Mexican food restaurant, you’ll now find the Austin Marriott Downtown. This is our home base as we enjoy Austin by day and wait for bats by night.

This new, bustling hotel has everything for a perfect Austin escape. The beautifully appointed restaurant, Corinne, features modern, American fare with a focus on local ingredients. You’ll love the familiarity of the menu and appreciate the upscale flair added to each dish. Their specialty is the Rotisserie Lemon Chicken, replete with shoestring fries, and poached egg mayo. We also enjoyed the Wagyu Burger and Ora King Salmon. The inviting wrap around patio we dined on features happy hour at the outdoor bar Monday-Friday from 3:00-6:00pm. Here you might notice people cruising around downtown on scooters.

Scooters are everywhere in Austin. Find one you want to ride, download the app, tap your credit card and go. This is a great way to see the city, drive by the capital, head to the bat bridge, shop and more.

Around the corner from the Austin Marriott is the famed Rainey Street. This little block of Austin is lined with old houses that have been turned into bungalow bars. Popular and fairly-well hidden, it is great for walks during the day and bar hopping by night. Day or night, you’ll find relaxed bar-goers strolling the area. The rustic-chic Craft Pride features 51 Texas-only beer taps, plus experts to tell you all about them. Swing in the sunshine in a hammock on Lucille’s patio. Revelers can hop from one bar to the next and safely return to the Marriott.

As you are scooting around Austin, pop by the Austin Marriott’s sister property, the JW Marriott. Here you’ll find the Spa by JW. I couldn’t resist the Ultimate Aromatherapy Massage. The real stand out is the Circadia Oxygen RX Facial. One of the only spas in Austin to offer this treatment, this facial has immediate, dramatic results by using a machine that sprays moisturizes onto the skin with a stream of pressurized oxygen. This is nourishing and beneficial for all skin types.

Now back to the bats. We were in Austin two nights in July and joined the crowds right before sunset on the bridge. Everyone watched the bridge with anticipation from the bridge, from the shore around the bridge and from party boats on the river. We waited for the surreal dark cloud to ascend into the sky. We waited and waited and made friends with a couple visiting from Sweden. They’d come farther than we had. Was it the wind? Was it the looming hint of rain? We still are not certain, but on both of our evenings in July, the bats did not come out.


Adults and kids love to ride scooters in the streets of Austin.


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