Though Austin's temperate weather may not show it, the holiday season is right around the corner. Black Friday may have been awash in 2020 but now, it's time to prepare for the city's comeback traffic.
Google Maps' wealth of information narrows down the best and worst times to do your holiday duties.
This year, some of the top-searched attractions include the Museum of Weird, the Bullock Texas State History Museum, the Blanton Museum of Art, the Thinkery and the Austin Aquarium, so expect lines over the holidays. Depending on where you're coming from, you might hit high traffic at the most-crowded intersection of Burnet Road and S. Lamar Blvd.
If you're ordering takeout for the holidays (we won't tell), try ordering anything other than Chinese food on Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve for the fastest service. On Jan. 1, Chinese food is greenlit since Mexican is the most popular option of the New Year.
As we roll into such a busy time of year, stay one step ahead of the traffic with these insights.
Whichever bakery is your favorite in the city, stay away from it on Sunday afternoons. Google Maps found that bakeries are at their busiest at 3 p.m. on Sundays, though you might want to steer clear on Saturdays too for good measure. Head to the bakery around 2 p.m. on Fridays for the shortest wait.
Surprisingly, the busiest time of the week for bars isn't on Friday or Saturday nights. Instead, bars are at their most busy at midnight on Sundays and the least busy time clocks in at 7 p.m. on Saturdays. You can get to bars early, avoid having to fight for a drink and stay until dawn, or leave as the crowd trickles in.
Department stores and outlets
The dreaded holiday shopping season is nigh, so start shopping early for the best bet on avoiding crowds. The best and worst shopping times fall on Saturdays: most crowds flock to shop in the mid-afternoon around 2 p.m. but will have died down by 6 p.m.
Your best bet is to avoid grocery stores like the plague on days leading up to Thanksgiving and Christmas, but if you must, avoid Sunday afternoons. The best time to get your grub is Saturday evenings, specifically around 5 p.m.
Hair and nail salons
While a day at the spa sounds nice, an evening at the spa will prove more tranquil. Getting your hair and nails done after 11 a.m. on Saturday will result in the longest wait. Wait until 5 p.m. and the salon will have emptied out.
A Friday night at the movies is a classic way to spend your weekend but according to Google, 8 p.m. at the start of the weekend is the busiest time to go. Movie theaters are at their emptiest at 3 p.m. on Saturday—if you can stand seeing a movie in the daytime.
For those of us with family and friends outside the great state of Texas, the holiday season is the busiest time of year for our USPS friends. A very narrow window separates the post offices' busiest from least busy: Saturdays at 10 a.m. and 11 a.m., respectively. Opt for later if you can!
Restaurants tend to be busiest at—you guessed it—dinnertime, so if you want to avoid the rush, sneak in just a few minutes early. Restaurants hit their busiest time at 7 p.m. on Fridays, meaning arriving at 5 p.m. makes all the difference.
Take that, traffic!
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Nicklaus Pereksta says he loves photographing enthusiastic people, and it’s why his latest gig offering pictures to people out on Lady Bird Lake’s hike and bike trail is going smoothly. He sets up his gear on the Pfluger pedestrian bridge and puts out a sign: Photos, $10.
“Overwhelmingly, this has been a really positive experience,” Pereksta said. “I get excited when I wake up in the morning and I can't wait to go to work.”
Bikers and joggers are excited about it too. On the pedestrian bridge leading to downtown Thursday morning, a man on an e-bike rode up and posed, wanting more photos.
“I posted the last pictures on Instagram and people loved it. They asked, ‘where is this guy?’” the biker told Pereksta. Bashfully, Pereksta, who also photographs landscapes and at weddings and other events, said he was happy to hear that.
Pereksta started these photos about a month ago, after the strenuous runs required in his valet job started causing pain in his legs. And though he has a passion for photography, he wasn’t so sure when he started working independently if it would work out.
He felt uncertain about the demand for it and was also worried about having lots of expensive equipment out in the open.
“Then like the first day was nothing but high praise and people are like, this is so awesome. This is great. I've never seen anything like this before. I was like, Wow, this was really good, like positive turnout. So I got encouraged.”
Now, he wants to expand and is thinking of contacting the Mueller Farmers Market about how to become a vendor. Still, he'll carry a connection to photographing on the bridge since the word bridge is related to his last name.
“It's a name my great, great, great grandfather came up with when he was marrying somebody. It's actually quite a romantic name. It means a joining of two bridges," Pereksta said. "So, I thought it was ironic that I'm set up on a bridge. I'm kind of representing my last name right now.”
Austonia talked to Pereksta about life in Austin, where he’s lived for eight years after living in Boston doing band photography.
What was your first experience with Austin?
I came here to visit some friends and they took me to Barbarella. So we went to Barbarella and I was like, ‘wow, this place is great.’ And then the restaurants and the food and going to Barton Springs. I was like, ‘this is amazing.’ Because there's nothing like that in Boston. If you want to go to a natural spring, you got to go to New Hampshire. There's no pools in the city at all. So there's lots of swimming out here.
What do you like best about Austin?
You go to any little quiet bar and there's a band playing that should be like onstage for a sold out show. Yeah, they're playing to 10 people, right? Like, one of the best bands ever and they're playing for 10 people, right? And just little magic moments like that are pretty fun. You just run into little random weird things.
What do you think makes Austin different from other places?
There’s no fall.
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Camp Fimfo Waco, a brand new camping resort, is kicking off football and fall camping season in style! With top-notch amenities, premium accommodations, and 10 weekends of fall fun, there’s no better place to have a fall camping getaway, especially if you’re a Baylor football fan!
Fall promises to be a one-of-a-kind camping experience. From Sept. 16 to Nov. 24, weekends will be packed with fall-themed activities, including special Halloween weekends in October. Campers can enjoy activities like fall crafts, campground trick-or-treating, costume contests, site decorating, outdoor movie nights, and more!
Packages and Ways to Stay
Camp Fimfo Waco
Located just 5 miles from McLane Stadium, Camp Fimfo Waco is the perfect place to stay during home game weekends. Skip the stuffy hotel room and embrace the great outdoors before cheering on the Baylor Bears! Campers can purchase a Baylor Tailgating Package that includes a pre-game meal from Executive Chef Sean Kelley and transportation to and from the game! Chef Kelley will also be cooking up delicious, elevated tailgating meals near the stadium so make sure to check out The Plaid Plate food truck before the game.
Stay in style and comfort, no matter your camping preference! At Camp Fimfo Waco, there are multiple ways to stay. Red Carpet RV sites come with a concrete pad and patio, full hook-ups, cable hook-up, a charcoal grill, fire ring and fire pit. Back-in or pull-thru options are available, as well as coveted spots tucked along the Bosque River!
Don’t have an RV? Not a problem, Camp Fimfo Waco has cabins too! Book a Riverview Firewheel Cabin if you’re looking for an air-conditioned oasis for the whole family. Complete with a kitchen and private bathroom, this cabin can fit up to 10 people. Elevate your stay by adding on a golf cart or snag a private cabana by the pool for guaranteed shade. With wifi available throughout the park, you can stay connected during your stay!
Amenities and Activities
Camp Fimfo Waco
Camp Fimfo Waco features lots of amenities to fill your days with fun, whether you’re a kid or kid at heart. After challenging your friends to a game of pickleball, basketball, or mini golf, go for a dip in the resort-style, heated pool - open daily through October! Stay on the weekends through October to enjoy the interactive splash playground. With plenty of ways to burn off energy, like the jumping pillow or playground, you can be sure to end the day with a peaceful night around the campfire!
Right now, you can get the fourth night FREE when you book three nights with the promo code BONUS! Check out the Offers page for full details and more promo codes!