Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Great (Groupon) Escape!

I'm not ashamed to admit that we live on a budget. I've mentioned before that we are Dave Ramsey followers and I live with my very own Dave "Ramsey" Mendenhall. We have a yearly travel budget and the majority of the time, that budget is spent on family outings. We have a lot of family that lives out of town, so travel for weddings, Thanksgiving, visiting grandparents, visiting adds up.

The crazy thing is, we've only been on ONE vacation that's just the two of us since our honeymoon! Last year, for Dave's 30th birthday, I took him on a surprise trip to Lake Tahoe. It was amazing, and beyond gorgeous, and it won't happen again for a while!

Don't get me wrong, we had a BLAST in Savannah, and I'm looking forward to a great (and very low budget) trip to NYC in the fall, but there really wasn't a lot left over for the two of us. I had a 2 night hotel stay, for the Hyatt here in downtown Austin, that I won at an event last year, so we decided to enjoy a weekend "staycation" in our city! With our free 2 night stay we decided it would be our challenge to plan our entire weekend using Groupons (or Living Social, coupons, etc). The last 2 months we have been scouting out great restaurants, attractions, etc on these coupon sites. It's been a bit of a game and we were excited for our weekend "getaway" to finally be here.

We both got off early on Friday, we didn't go home, and we started our "staycation" in style! We met at the hotel, changed into our swimsuits and hit the pool for a couple of hours. We had dinner reservations at 7:30pm at Shoreline Grill on Lady Bird Lake. We had a wonderful, over-indulgent meal and then headed over to Esther's Follies. Esther's is a satire, vaudeville-type comedy show that is hilarious!

Saturday, we woke up and rented a kayak to hang out on Lady Bird Lake. Our hotel was downtown on LBL, so we walked the entire weekend and loved seeing our city in a different way. Back to the kayaks...we got SO lucky that it was a bit overcast or we would have been so hot! It was a great workout and really fun to enjoy this part of our city. I can't believe we hadn't done it before this weekend.

Side note: The kayak/canoe rental was packed. I love that Austin is such an active city!

After kayaking, we had a great lunch at Austin Java (seriously, I had a black and blue burger that was to.die.for. Peppercorn and Gorgonzola goodness) and then we cleaned up and went on a Riverboat cruise on the lake. Not gonna lie, it was hot. It was 3:00 in the afternoon. We had fun. I would definitely do it again, but I would do the sunset cruise or go in the fall. Or do the sunset cruise in the fall. :) But, It was awesome to hear things about Austin that I didn't know.

This might be my favorite picture of the weekend. After our boat cruise, we went for dinner and drinks at Ten Oak. I decided on the pulled pork nachos and Dave decided on the rosemary grilled chicken. Can you see Dave's tiiiiiny chicken behind my ENORMOUS plate of nachos? HA! It was literally a breast of chicken on a plate. No sides, nothing. If you only knew...Dave eats SO much and I never finish my plate. We laughed really hard. He ended up pounding my nachos after he ate his chicken in about 2.5 seconds.

We went for a "night cap" at Cedar Door on our way back to our hotel. They have amazing mexican martinis and the night was still young. We snapped this picture as we were headed back to our hotel. The quality of our photos for the weekend isn't amazing considering we took all of them ourselves. Ha!

Sunday, we got up, had a wonderful breakfast at Jo's to use the last of our Groupons and it was beyond wonderful! I had a blueberry pancake that was out of this world and Dave had a 3 egg omelet with enough meat and cheese in it to feed Cox's army!

After our big-boy-breakfast we walked it off on the trail of the lake. We had high hopes of going for a run but my pancake and Dave's omelet kept us to a decent 4 MPH pace. One fun thing about Austin right now...last year, local artist hand painted giant guitars and they were placed throughout the city. They were awesome! After a couple of months, they auctioned the guitars off and people/businesses bought them. All of the money went to charity. This year, they are doing cows. Again, the cows have been hand painted and are featured throughout downtown, along the trail of the lake, etc. These are a few we ran across this weekend. They are awesome! And they have hysterical names like "Cow-Pital" (with the capital building painted on it) or "Moo-lah" for the cash-cow that was outside a downtown bank. This is my favorite below...all of the Austin sites.

We had a ton of fun! We stayed 2 nights on Lady Bird Lake, ate out 4 meals (and dessert), had a few drinks, rented kayaks, went to Esther's Follies, and did a riverboat cruise....and the total damage...$160! We are pretty big fans of Groupon right now!!


Lauren said...

Wow! I can't believe you did all of that for such little cash! Sounds like a fabulous weekend, and a perfect staycation!

KatiePerk said...

I completely love this idea!! We might need to try it. Those pork nachos made my stomach growl!!

Mel said...

What a great way to have a staycation. Looks like fun - and on a budget!

Brittany said...

GO YOU!!!! I'm so excited to hear about your savings.

All Things Yummy said...

Such a cool idea to use groupon and living social for your staycation. We foolow Dave Ramsey as well. Love his get out of debt plan.

Emily said...

You know what Dave says, "If you will live like no one else, later you can live like no one else." We are big fans at our house. We can be found asking each other, "WWDD?"

I could eat my way through Austin. Looks like such a fun weekend!

Jessica said...

what a fun idea!!! I'd love to do this, but I haven't bought a groupon in forever....the deals just haven't been appealing to me. Maybe I need to give them a second glance!!

Houston does the "cows on parade", it's always fun to randomly see them around town.

And....I was going to comment on your post about trying to get pregnant a few weeks ago, but I just couldn't...I haven't opened up about it yet, We have been trying for a year. While I know it is in HIS hands, it still would be nice to peak into the future!!

Liz said...

Wow and WOW! I was for SURE thinking you were going to say it was like $500... which would still have been pretty good for two days "away." Y'all rule!!

Sarah @Newlywed and Decorating said...

I LOVE this idea! So fun and creative! And impressively sensible about money! Those will be great memories in your hometown!

Katrina said...

That is soo fun!! Simon and I have been to Esther's Follies a few times...was Leslie standing out front? Do you know who I am talking about ;)
So glad you guys had a much needed break

Vanessa said...

As someone who is about to start paying on her school loans, trying to move, and plan a wedding: speaking about a budget is my kind of talk! I love that you found all those great deals on groupon! I've signed up for the site but I haven't bought anything yet. They do not have it in my city, just in surrounding bigger cities. Glad you enjoyed your staycation!!! <3

Sara said...

OMG! That is so awesome! You guys did SO much! I was definitely not expecting all of that. You can rent kayaks in the middle of your city? Unbelievable. St. Louis sucks. Just kidding. When can I come visit?

I'm still just so impressed. How cool to have a vacation in your own city. Ryan and I really need to do that sometime. Love love love this idea. Totally stealing it.

Meg {henninglove} said...

i love your blog! new follower:-) i love that dress you are wearing in the first photo the maxi dress i own it too and it is fabulous!

Katie Norwood said...

This is adorable. I looooooove Staycations. I've tried to do a few, but none were nearly as cool as this. Impressive. I'm new to Groupon and Living Social, but I think you just made a believer out of me. That's outrageous!

Alex said...

I loooooove love love Austin so much. Those pulled pork nachos look magical!!