With at least two months of extremely summer high temperatures ahead, Austinites in search of respite may find it in the form of a hotel pool day pass.
Although pricier than a day at Barton Springs or Deep Eddy pools, day passes often come with perks, such as free parking and the option to drink poolside. Here are 13 local hotels where you can cool down:
11 a.m.-5 p.m. Mon.-Sun., $20 Mon.-Thurs and $40 Fri.-Sun., reservations required
The South Congress mainstay offers passes for three-hour blocks at its iconic kidney-shaped pool. There's a pool bar, and kids under 5 can join in for free. There are also adult night swim passes available for a discounted price.
10 a.m.-2 p.m. and 3 p.m.-7 p.m. Mon.-Thurs., $25, reservations required
This chic South Austin hotel, just down the street from Barton Springs, offers four-hour pool passes on weekdays, with access to the full hotel menu, shade for summer reading and buckets of beer.
Colton House Hotel
9 a.m.-5 p.m. Mon.-Sun., $20, reservations required
This brand new boutique hotel on South Congress offers daytime pool passes, parking and towel service included. Kids under 2 are free. There's also a coffee and cocktail bar, Simona's.
East Austin Hotel
12-4 p.m. and 4-8 p.m. Wed.-Sat., 12-4 p.m. Sun., $40, reservations required
Nestled along East Sixth Street, this hotel offers a hidden escape, with complimentary parking and poolside food and drink service for four-hour reservation holders. Kids under 5 are free.
6 a.m.-10 p.m. Mon.-Thurs., $150-$600, reservations required
Austinites can reserve a cabana at this luxury downtown hotel's rooftop pool and enjoy unique perks, like an automated sunscreen kiosk, complimentary Evian facial spritzes and chilled towels. Cabanas come outfitted with a 50-inch television and provide great skyline views.
10 a.m.-5 p.m. Wed.-Thurs and Sun., $25, reservations required
This historic boutique hotel in West Campus offers daytime pool passes, with access to the hotel restaurant, Goodall's.
12-9 p.m. Mon.-Thurs., $40 for day pass, $100 for daybed, $200 for cabana, reservations required
This downtown pool features the Edge Pool, four floors above Congress Avenue and marked with a Texas state outline. Locals can reserve cabanas or book a spa treatment, which comes with free pool access Monday through Thursday.
Kimpton Hotel Van Zandt
11 a.m.-sundown Mon.-Sun., $38 for day pass, $100-$500 for cabanas, reservations required
High above Rainey Street, this hotel pool offers choice views of Lady Bird Lake, complimentary sunscreen and rentable cabanas that can fit groups of up to 12 people.
10 a.m.-10 p.m. Mon.-Thurs., $40, reservations required
This instantly recognizable hotel offers half- and full-day passes to its heated salt water infinity pool, which overlooks the Congress Avenue bridge and Lady Bird Lake. Complimentary parking and access to the hotel's Veracruz walk-up window included.
Omni Austin Hotel Downtown
9 a.m.-10 p.m. Mon.-Sun., $35, reservations required
This downtown hotel's rooftop pool is another hidden gem, with complimentary parking and food and drink service available.
South Congress Hotel
10 a.m.-5 p.m. Mon.-Thurs., $30, reservations required
Surrounded by lush gardens and overlooking South Congress Avenue, this rooftop pool pass comes with free parking and access to the hotel restaurant, Cafe No Sé.
11 a.m.-6 p.m. Mon.-Thurs. $30, reservations required
This hotel wet deck, high above downtown, offers pool access, rental cabanas, tanning shelves and a pair of outdoor showers to rinse off at the end of the day.
The Westin Austin
1-9 p.m. Mon.-Sun, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Fri.-Sat., 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sun., $40 for two reserved lounge chairs, $70 for daybed, $200-$300 for cabana, reservations required
This downtown hotel pool pass comes with reserved poolside lounge chairs and access to Azul, the tallest hotel rooftop bar in the city.
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Homeowners in Windcrest, Texas don't take Christmas lightly. Decking out their home in thousands of lights, one Windcrest couple even won ABC’s Texas episode of “Great Christmas Light Fight” that aired Sunday.
Known as "Christmas sweethearts," John and Brenda Wilson were awarded $50,000 after going up against fellow Texans, including a family in Amarillo and two families in Corpus Christi, in the ninth season premiere of the lights show.
(Great Christmas Light Fight)
Their holiday display featured a hand-built sled, a train called the Peppermint Expressway with actual peppermint smoke coming out of it and Santa's reindeer "in training." Designer and judge Taniya Nayak noted the linework of the lights displayed on the roof and the positioning of the red and lime green color palette.
"Right off the bat when the lights turned on, I couldn't believe how beautiful these peppermint lights were... it's just such a fun, happy, yummy, delicious vibe to it," Nayak said when she announced the Wilsons were the winners. "It really made a smile go from one ear to the other on my face."
Judge Nayak said she also enjoyed that their display had different stories behind each section.
(Great Christmas Light Fight)
John, or "Mr. Christmas" as Brenda called him, said he has been putting on a Christmas lights display for over 20 years—and it's only got better since he met his Mrs. Clause 12 years ago. The two said they met online and were 98% compatible.
"Brenda and I grew up back in the 50s when things were very simple, so we wanted to create something from when we were growing up," John said on the show.
And their efforts paid off: along with their monetary prize, the couple earned a light-bulb-shaped trophy.
KSAT reports the home got the attention of the show's casting directors last year, who encouraged them to apply to be on the show. The show was then shot last year, but the couple didn't learn they won until this year.
While being on the show is their intro to stardom, locals are familiar with the Wilsons' yearly display in the light-centric Windcrest. Each year their home is part of the Windcrest Light Up, a decades-old tradition where residents go all-out with their holiday light displays. They've won at least three grand prizes in the Windcrest contest and several other category first-place prizes.
The Windcrest Light Up kicks off Dec. 4.
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The countdown to the holidays has begun—do you know where your presents are? If you didn’t get your shopping done over the Black Friday weekend, never fear, there are plenty of department store alternatives to check out right here in Austin.
Shopping local is the gift that keeps on giving, so here are some local artisans to keep in mind.
Willinglee Gift Boxes—1412 E. 37th St.
For the recipient who has it all, give them the unexpected with a carefully curated gift box for any occasion. From the “Autumn Indulgence” package that includes beer caramel candies and a massage candle to the “Cozy Cottage” package that includes upcycled tea towels and a California poppy grow kit, you’ll find new local goodies to get them hooked on.
Moonthyme—2015 Manor Rd.
For your local homebody, get them some upscale home goods to enhance their cozy abode. Moonthyme, whose slogan is “thoughtful provisions to inspire,” deals out ceramic spice jars, handwoven decorative baskets, luxurious bath products and everything in between to keep your home looking comfy even in the cold weather.
Yarrow and Sage ATX—701 E 53rd St.
For the one who is counting the seconds until the next spooky season, Yarrow and Sage ATX has all the crystals, potions and bulk incense galore. The store sells all the astrological curios an enthusiast could dream of from pendulums, pipes and tarot cards to really lean into the witchy vibe.
TOYS & GAMES
Austin Nature Works—2389 Stratford Dr.
Who’s to say that toys can’t be pretty? Not only are the toys from Austin Nature Works an aesthetic choice for young learners, but they’re also sustainably made and will plant a tree for every purchase made.
Tanuki Games—6929 Airport Blvd.
For all your tabletop needs, Tanuki Games is taking family game night to the next level with hard-to-find games from all over the world. Try out Dune: House Secrets, which coincides with the new film, Machi Koro 2, a Japanese Monopoly-esque game, or the elusive Game of Cat & Mouth.
Toy Joy—403 W 2nd St. and 4631 Airport Blvd.
So popular among Austinites, local toy retailer Toy Joy even has a location inside the Austin Bergstrom-International Airport. From mainstream toys that you’ve seen on TV to potato clock kits, models of the “This is Fine” meme, to DIY models, you might even find some whimsical gifts for the adults in your life.
Faraday's Kitchen Store—12918 Shops Pkwy
In a land where food is king, get the chef in your life the tools to make magic happen in the kitchen. Located in the Galleria, Faraday’s Kitchen Store carries cookware for indoor, outdoor, baking and electronics. Plus, if you want to send a well-intentioned hint, Faraday also offers cooking classes.
Give the gift of good eating this holiday season with Farmhouse Delivery, a local company that brings the goodies of your local farmer's market right to your door. From meats, produce, baked goods or ready-prepared meal kits, you can most likely get it local and delivered to wherever you need.
For your favorite tea lover, why not challenge their palate this holiday season with a custom-made tea-filled gift box. Local female-founded tea curator Sips By will send out a box of four news teas every month to your herbal-obsessed loved ones.
Black Pearl Books—4803 Burnet Road
Sweeping the nation with its T-Pain and Normani mini-film for Black-owned Friday, Black Pearl Books is founded on a principle of keeping local dollars in the community and welcoming all in its store. It’s not all books either—grab a Lizzo coloring book, merch, puzzles and cookbooks as well in-store.
BookWoman—5501 N. Lamar Blvd.
The female-run book store set up shop 45 years ago and has been running ever since with stocked shelves by women and a passion for uplifting marginalized voices. Check out BookWoman’s staff picks because it is never too late to inspire a love of reading.
Austin Creative Reuse—2005 Wheless Ln.
If you’re looking to foster the creative spirit this holiday season, head to Austin Creative Reuse, where you can find lightly-used bulk craft and school supplies for a fraction of the new price. You might have to do some digging but imagine the look of a handmade craft basket under the tree!
For that special someone who always brings a pop of color to the room, consider gifting them a new handmade accessory to don. Lys Santamaria’s unique beaded designs are made with love and honor the world around us with beaded earrings inspired by Winter Storm Uri, magic eyes and statement accessories.
Austin is revitalized in WatercolorATX’s dreamy portraits of scenes familiar to Hill Country dwellers. You can have a custom watercolor done of your favorite place, person or pet, or choose from already-painted originals or prints.
CLOTHING & JEWELRY
The Verde Store—506 Congress Ave. and 10414 McKalla Place
Team spirit lasts all year long, even when fútbol season is over, so grab the Austin FC die-hard you know some quality merch. Inside the Verde Store you’ll find the signature shade of Verde and options for all types of fans.
Vinca—1800 E. 4th St.
These quirky little accessories aren’t for the faint of heart but they are guaranteed to catch some eyes. Doling out chainsaw earrings, stabbed heart brooches, alien tractor beams and sea critter jewelry, Vinca’s accessories will make for an… unforgettable gift.
Viva La Silk
Hand-dyed, sewn and styled in Austin, Viva La Silk’s silk accessories are made with versatility and sustainability in mind. The scarves, robes, tops, pants, veils and more are made from 100% reclaimed silk, so the “wearable art” pieces are affordable and comfy.
There are hundreds of local businesses to support—even if it isn't on this list, you can probably get it local.
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Austin-Bergstrom International Airport saw 284,198 passengers checked through TSA security over the Thanksgiving holiday, marking the busiest Thanksgiving travel season on record.
The airport saw around 40,000 more passengers than its peak holiday week in 2019 and nearly triple the traffic of 2020 as the airport continues to bounce back much more quickly than was originally projected.
Those numbers weren't quite reflected nationwide—air travel on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving more than doubled when compared to the same 2020, with 2.3 million people passing through TSA checkpoints on that day. That's higher than any other pandemic day but about 88% of the levels from that day in 2019.
But the record numbers, which ABIA public information officer Bryce Dubee said are usually reserved for Formula 1's U.S. Grand Prix and both weekends of ACL fest, indicate that travel in Austin may have done more than just recover from the pandemic.
Dubee said the airport's crew was already gearing up for several 30,000+ passenger days by Friday, Nov. 19. Then the first Sunday of the holiday alone saw 32,175 passengers, the second-busiest day on record after this year's USGP race weekend.
Travel from Friday through Wednesday saw 188,168 passengers during the holiday week, already passing the threshold for the busiest Thanksgiving travel season on record.
Since last Friday, 188,168 passengers have chosen to #FlyAUStin, making this our busiest Thanksgiving travel season on record.
As we pause today to give thanks, we're grateful for all those who fly with us, as well as our incredible staff and partners who make this all possible. pic.twitter.com/kqgtV7Ypp1
— Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) (@AUStinAirport) November 25, 2021
And as travelers returned home with full bellies and weeklong visits behind them, the airport saw 96,030 passengers from Thanksgiving through Sunday. The final Sunday saw just over 30,000 passengers—which still broke 2019 records and obliterated 2020's numbers—but notably, the Sunday before Thanksgiving was the busiest travel day of the period, something that hasn't been seen in years past.
ABIA recommended that travelers arrive three hours early for their flights and find other ways to make the screening process easier as record numbers piled into the airport. But after a record-breaking F1 weekend and other high-traffic days serving as "stress tests" this October, Dubee said the team was prepared for the unprecedented weekend as travelers went to see their family, some for the first time since an 18-month travel ban was lifted.
And the airport is prepping for even more foot traffic in the future with its 2040 master plan. Even as travel dwindled and fewer passengers than ever crossed through TSA checkpoints in peak pandemic times, the airport saw significant expansion: American Airlines added 10 flights to the airport in March, Southwest Airlines announced in September that it would add nine flights in March 2022, and Allegiant, Delta and Hawaiian all tacked on new flights in 2020-21.
While this Thanksgiving week, which normally just scrapes the top ten busiest travel times of the year, saw an unusual year, Dubee said it's too soon to see whether this represents a long-term trend. And especially as the omicron COVID variant sends the world into a frenzy, the winter holidays may not see the fervor of Thanksgiving travel—the holiday season rarely makes a dent on ABIA's high-traffic fall events.
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