Photo courtesy of Sunflower Beach

It's spring break week for many Austin-area families, and though most Austinites are staying in the great state of Texas, they won’t be sitting idle at home. They’ll be off to Port Aransas, which was ranked the No. 1 top destination for spring breakers in the latest report from vacation rental specialist Key Data.

Key Data determined their rankings based on the average nightly rate, the number of nights sold, the total accommodation cost, and the length of stay by travelers from Austin who made bookings in the month of March.

The other top four spring break destinations for Austinites are all ski resorts located in Colorado: Breckenridge (No. 2), Steamboat Springs (No. 3), Keystone (No. 4), and Mt. Crested Butte (No. 5).

For the curious minds wondering how much the average spring break stay is for the Texas coastal city, Key Data’s figured it out. The cost of the average 3.65-night accommodation in Port A adds up to $525 per night, or just over $1,900 total. For those traveling out of state to Colorado, expect not to save much money. Visitors to any of the major ski resorts in the top four Colorado destinations will spent between an average of $464-$761 per night for the average nearly five-day stay.

In a press release, Key Data’s executive director of data insights Melanie Brown said the city’s spring breakers are divided into two categories this year: vacationers looking to see the mountains and embrace the snow, and those who want to catch some rays at the beach.

The top 5 destinations for Austin spring breakers is:

  • No. 1 – Port Aransas
  • No. 2 – Breckenridge, Colorado
  • No. 3 – Steamboat Springs, Colorado
  • No. 4 – Keystone, Colorado
  • No. 5 – Mt. Crested Butte, Colorado

Key Data also determined that 11 million nights for this year’s spring break week have been booked through online vacation rental marketplaces like Airbnb and Vrbo. That’s up 22 percent from last year, which accounted for 9.4 million nights.

The full report can be found at keydatadashboard.com.

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Austin plummets on list of best places to live in new national report


In a shocking turn of events, which might not surprise some, Austin has fallen from grace in U.S. News and World Report's "Best Places to Live" ranking for 2023-2024. Maybe the city took a page out of Icarus' book on flying too close to the sun in touting how great it is ...

Austin was previously the No. 1 place to live in America for three consecutive years from 2017 to 2019, and began to slip in 2020 when it failed to remain on top and came in at No. 3. It's been downhill since then, with Austin falling down to No. 5 in 2021, then tumbling out of the top 10 to No. 13 in 2022. Now, the Live Music Capital of the World has dropped even further down the list to No. 40. That hurts.

The report takes a look at several different metrics to determine their rankings, including quality of life, housing affordability, desirability, and job market strength.

To determine why Austin fell so low, you have to examine its overall rating, which was a 6.4. The city's desirability, job market strength, and quality of life were all similarly ranked at 6.5 or 6.6, and its highest rating was a 7.3 for net migration, which is the measurement of people moving in or out of the city. The high number is to be expected even with residents' waning interest in proper city living, and increased desire for living in the suburbs. And when household bills in Austin cost 25 percent more than the national average, it makes one question the true quality of life provided here.

The city's lowest rating was a 6 for it's value, aka its housing affordability and price parity. Latest reports show Austin's housing market is stabilizing, and “home prices are moderating" according to 2023 ABoR president Ashley Jackson.

On the bright side, Austin has managed to hang on to its title of the Best Place to Live in Texas for 2023, so at least we still have that going for us. San Antonio came in at No. 2 on that list, and Dallas-Fort Worth taking No. 3. Rounding out the top five is Killeen in No. 4, and El Paso at No. 5.

Here's how other Texas cities faired in 2023's Best Places to Live report:

  • No. 103 – San Antonio, down from No. 83 last year
  • No. 113 – Dallas-Fort Worth, down from No. 32 last year
  • No. 122 – Killeen, down from No. 108 last year
  • No. 128 – El Paso, down from No. 124 last year
  • No. 131 – Beaumont, down from No. 109 last year
  • No. 132 – Corpus Christi, up from No. 133 last year
  • No. 134 – Brownsville, unchanged from last year
  • No. 137 – McAllen, up from No. 138 last year
  • No. 140 – Houston, down from No. 59 last year

The full report can be found on U.S. News and World Report's website.

Something new is brewing at the home of Shiner Beer

Day tripping

If you love day tripping, this one’s for you! The Spoetzl Brewery in Shiner is the perfect way to spend a day because now, not only is the iconic brand offering brewery tours, but they have a barbecue restaurant and brand-new distillery onsite!

Located about an hour and a half from both Austin and San Antonio, Spoetzl Brewery is a prime example of Texas pride. In 1909, the brewery was started by the residents of Shiner, Texas. It is the oldest brewery in Texas and though it’s no longer owned by the townsfolk, it is as much a part of Shiner as any other thing that lives there (including just over 2000 residents).

When you take a tour of the facility, you’ll learn all kinds of fun facts about the brand — facts like what makes Shiner the ideal place for a brewery, how the company stayed in business during prohibition, and what a Shiner Beer Break is.

But before you take a tour, you can grab a bite at the K. Spoetzl BBQ Co. This new addition to the property serves up traditional barbecue. We’re talking brisket, pulled pork, and sausage that can be ordered solo or on a sandwich. Of course, they offer all the "fixins" as well. Daily offerings include potato salad, green beans, and creamed corn.

Pork ribs are only available three days a week, but it’s the loaded baked potato that’s really a treat. You can stuff that tater full of brisket or pork on Wednesdays and Sundays only!

And that’s not all: After over 114 years of crafting unique and innovative brews, the brand is adding distilling to their repertoire. Opening on Memorial Day weekend, the K. Spoetzl Distilling Company will start offering a line of Shiner Craft Spirits. These bottled spirits can only be purchased onsite and include vodka, gin, and Moonshine, aka “ShinerShine.” Barrel-aged spirits are still to come.

Before, during, or after your tour, you can sip on draft cocktails in the tasting room made with Shiner Vodka. Specialty cocktails include Spoetzloma (their spin on a paloma), Half Moon Mule, Bea’s 19th Hole (a spiked iced tea), and a Kosmospolitan (a cosmo riff with a name inspired by brewery founder Kosmos Spoetzl). A fan of the traditional Shiner offerings? Don’t you worry. All your favorite brews are on tap, too!

Tour prices at the Spoetzl Brewery start at $25 per guest and include some Shiner/Spoetzl specialty branded items and complimentary pours of Shiner beer. The fun is free!

Spoetzl Brewery

Photo by Dani Dudek

Welcome to Spoetzl Brewery in Shiner, Texas

New poll reveals Austinites' opposition to new Zilker Park Vision Plan


A new poll has revealed hundreds of Austinites' stark opposition to the City's Zilker Park Vision Plan, which proposed $150 million in construction to develop new bike trails, pedestrian bridges, parking garages, and other amenities in the city's most prominent park.

Rewild Zilker Park asked over 630 residents across every Council District for their opinions regarding the 50-year development plan, with a majority of those responses opposing most aspects.

Major findings include 76 percent of participants have a "favorable view" of the beloved park as it stands, and 82 percent believe it should remain "a natural area with recreation." Only six percent of responses said Zilker should have more accommodations "for concerts, theater productions and large events."

On the topic of developing an amphitheater on the Great Lawn, 83 percent of polltakers oppose the idea, and believe the area should be left as is. Similarly, a vast majority of responders oppose the Vision Plan's proposed parking garage construction.

Regarding the overall cost of the 50-year plan, 71 percent of the responses believe the $150 million price tag is "too much for one park."

"When it comes to making decisions about the future of Zilker Park, Austin residents believe those decisions should be mainly controlled by the City of Austin and PARD – not commercial interests such as ACL Festival, the Trail of Lights and others who conduct business in the park," the poll summary stated.

The full results from Rewild Zilker Park's poll can be found on their website.