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Photo by Chethan KVS on Unsplash

It may feel like your Uber driver is a chauffeur — and certainly, they are — but a service new to Austin is delivering on the luxury experience on long-range rides. Blacklane connects "key metropolitan areas," which now includes a route between Austin and San Antonio.

Austinites are likely familiar with the hour-and-a-quarter drive — about 80 miles — between the two cities, which can also be accessed via bus (Greyhound, Megabus) and train (Amtrak). With Blacklane, travelers between the two cities receive "door-to-door" transportation, eliminating error in making transfers or finding stations. Although the ride is not cheap ($265 one way with a maximum of three riders), fares are fixed and all-inclusive, meaning a rider doesn't have to worry about tolls or tipping.

In addition to inter-city travel, Blacklane offers airport transfers, on-demand local rides, and hourly bookings. And although a personal ride is, of course, usually less eco-friendly than public transit, the company claims an industry first in offsetting all carbon emissions from its trips, rendering the service carbon-neutral. Blacklane targets driver pain points, too, hoping to reduce "empty leg journeys" and create more opportunities for stable earnings.

Blacklane is now active in 50 countries. The Austin addition comes in a round of 90 new routes in 11 countries.

“We have seen immense growth and demand for Blacklane in the United States. While we’re available in major cities throughout the country, we’re thrilled to expand our offerings to new cities and better serve our travelers,” said head of market management in the Americas Kyle Fackler. “We’re working closely with our chauffeurs to ensure we meet all of our traveler’s needs and requests with the best-in-class service that we are known for.”

Book a ride or find more information at blacklane.com.

Photo courtesy of RVshare

Stake out these top 6 Central Texas campgrounds for your next spring road trip

No Sleeping Bag Required

March through May are prime road trip months, which means it’s time to take advantage of the warm spring weather in Texas with a fun camping adventure.

If you need a snazzy mode of transport to complete your experience — or just don't fancy going without a bed, private bathroom, and kitchen — RVshare has you covered with an endless (over 100,000!) list of luxe RVs in a wide range of styles, amenities, and sizes to take on your trip.

And with their handy delivery service, they’ll drive your perfect RV selection to your destination and set the whole thing up.

Let RVshare do the hard work to allow you more time to enjoy one of these splendid Central Texas camp spots:

Dios Rios Hill Country RV Park in Mason
Fulfill all your water activity dreams at “the finest RV park in Central Texas.” Dios Rios is located at the junction of the James and Llano Rivers, making it the perfect place for kayaking, tubing, paddle-boarding, and fishing.

Traveling with your dog? Not a problem — the park is very pet friendly and has spacious RV sites for you and your four-legged friend to enjoy. With hundreds of four and five-star reviews, Dios Rios RV Park truly is a Texas classic.

Oak Forest RV Resort in Austin
This tucked-away resort is just a 10-minute escape east from downtown Austin. Oak Forest boasts 78 premium RV sites out of a total 289 around the resort.

They also offer plenty of amenities to guests, such as free WiFi and cable TV with over 70 channels, a fitness center, playground, resort-style swimming pool and hot tub, dog parks, and a propane station. Find some relaxation at this hidden gem of a resort.

Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park in Canyon Lake
If putting the kids first is your main goal for a spring vacation, this Canyon Lake park is the place to be. Yogi Bear’s Hill Country Park has several RV site options: You can stay closer to the action or find a more secluded home base among the trees.

One of the best ways to maximize your family fun is with the events calendar, which gives everyone a chance to find their favorite daily activity.

Lazy L&L Campground in New Braunfels
This laidback campground, which was recently ranked one of the best Texas campsites for weekend getaways, is a scenic paradise with a beautiful river frontage across 25 acres. Their RV sites are located on a mile of shaded riverfront land, making your temporary backyard an aquatic oasis for fishing, tubing, rafting, or kayaking.

All of L&L’s RV sites include a picnic table, fire ring, and a barbecue grill, so you won’t be cramped while trying to eat a home-cooked meal.

Al’s Hideaway in Pipe Creek
Al’s Hideaway is a family-built, owned, and operated 20-acre campground located 15 minutes away from fellow Hill Country towns Bandera and Boerne, outside of San Antonio. A majority of the land has been left in its natural state, making this a haven for all Texas wildlife.

Their RV spaces are “thoughtfully laid out” to allow guests the maximum amount of space and privacy. Word is that the activities in the area are endless, with opportunities for visiting wineries, breweries, distilleries, caves, museums, and more.

By the River Campground in Kerrville
65 acres of peace and quiet are right at your fingertips with this Kerrville campground along the Guadalupe River. Hike one of their trails, birdwatch, or simply bask in the presence of the calming river water while escaping from your busy work life.

By the River offers golf cart, kayak, and stand-up paddle board rentals for all your exploration needs.

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Founded in 2013, RVshare is the largest peer-to-peer RV rental marketplace and can help you secure everything from a travel trailer to a luxury motorhome, all backed with extraordinary customer service from the RVshare team. Renters get payment and fraud protection, plus 24/7 emergency roadside service and even free delivery where available. Pets are welcome in specified vehicles. To rent an RV for your next glamping trip, click here.

Photo courtesy of Austin RV Expo

TRVA Austin RV Shows presents Austin RV Expo

The Austin RV Expo will feature approximately 250,000 square feet of RVs and RV accessories. Attendees will have the opportunity to explore nearly every shape, size, type and brand of RV while comparing what each manufacturer and dealer have to offer. Guests will learn all about the RV lifestyle in one of the educational seminars and enjoy live music and a cold beverage as they browse the vast inventory available under one roof.

Seven of the Austin area’s most reputable dealers will showcase their biggest selection and best deals of the year on fifth wheels, toy haulers, travel trailers, teardrop trailers, truck campers and motorhomes. Participating dealers include Camper Clinic RV Super Center, Crestview RV Buda, Crestview RV Georgetown, ExploreUSA RV Supercenter, Princess Craft RV, Ron Hoover RV of Georgetown, and RV Land.

There will be live music from The Saddle Sores, Janie Balderas, Mixer Rogers, and more.

Southwest Businessweek

Southwest Airlines rolls out spring sale with fares starting at $49

Airline News

Just in time for spring travel, Southwest Airlines has launched its seasonal fare sale through with fares as low as $49 one-way.

The sale begins January 12, on travel that takes place across the continental U.S. from January 31 through May 17.

Flights to and from San Juan, Puerto Rico are on sale from January 31-March 8, Monday-Thursday.

Flights to and from Hawaii are on sale from January 31-March 15, Monday-Thursday.

Flights to international destinations are on sale from January-March 8, Tuesday-Friday.

Some examples of one-way, low-fare getaways from Austin include:

  • Nashville (from $76)
  • New Orleans (from $49)
  • St. Louis (from $71)
  • Tulsa (from $60)

Advanced purchase and blackout date requirements apply; seats, days, and markets are limited.

A 21-day advance purchase is required.

There are also the following blackout dates:

  • February 16-February 20 for all flights
  • March 9-April 10 for International travel and San Juan, Puerto Rico
  • March 16-April 10 for travel from the U.S. to/from Hawaii

Seats and days are limited. Fares may vary by destination, flight, and day of the week and won't be available on some flights that operate during busy travel times and holiday periods.

Advertised fares may be available on other days of the week, but no guarantees.

Fares are nonrefundable but may be applied toward future travel on Southwest Airlines, as long as reservations are canceled at least 10 minutes prior to the scheduled departure. Failure to cancel prior to departure will result in forfeiture of remaining funds on the reservation. Any change in itinerary may result in an increase in fare.

Photo courtesy of Gameway

Texas airport powers up new premium gaming lounge for travelers

game on

Travelers now have a new option to while away those flight delays and passenger pickup waits at one Texas airport.

Houston's William P. Hobby Airport is now one the first airports in the country to offer what's dubbed as the "ultimate gaming experience for travelers." The airport has launched a premium video game lounge, called Gameway, inside the international terminal.

Travelers can chill in the lounge and plug into 15 top-of-the-line, luxury gaming stations: six Xbox stations, five Playstation stations, four PC stations, all with the newest games on each platform. Aficionados will surely appreciate the Razer's Iskur Gaming Chairs and Kraken Headsets, along with dedicated high speed internet at each PC station.

The Gameway lounge pays homage to gaming characters, with wall accents that hark to motherboard circuits crucial for any real gamer: plenty of sweet and savory snacks are available for purchase to fuel up on those fantasy, battle, or sporting endeavors. As for the gaming console stations, players can expect high definition screens, comfortable seating, and plenty of space for belongings.

Gameyway Lounge Hobby Airport

Photo courtesy of Gameway

Hi-def screens and comy chairs make the battle easier.

This gaming addition comes just in time for the holiday rush, when travelers can expect long lines, delays, and are already planning for extended time for trips.

Texas travelers may be familiar with Gameway; the company opened its first two locations at Dallas Fort-Worth Airport, and has received a wave of acclaim. Gameway was awarded Best Traveler Amenity in 2019 at the ACI-NA Awards and in 2020, voted “Most Innovative Customer Experience” at the Airport Experience Traveler Awards, per press materials.

Two new locations followed in 2021: LAX Terminal 6 and Charlotte Douglas International Airport. The first of Gameway's Ultra lounge brand opened in September at Delta's Terminal 3 in LAX.

“Gameway is the real reason to get to the airport early,” said co-founder Jordan Walbridge in a statement. “Our mission is to upgrade the typical wait-at-the-gate experience with a new stimulating, entertaining option for travelers of all ages.”


Photo courtesy of Circuit of The Americas

Roll into the holiday spirit with a mile of magic at COTA's Peppermint Parkway

Festive Vibes

Circuit of The Americas is ready to roll with its Peppermint Parkway holiday extravaganza, bringing back the holiday favorite for its third year with all-new activations, including the chance to pick up your own Christmas tree to take home.

“We cannot wait to welcome Central Texans back to Peppermint Parkway. This is truly a special event for us and we love being able to be part of the holiday traditions our community celebrates every year,” says COTA chief experience officer Courtney Young. ”We are bringing back beloved favorites including the Grinch and the Mistletoe Kissing Booth, and offering a couple of exciting new attractions. We encourage guests to put on their coziest sweaters and head to Peppermint Parkway for a memorable holiday experience.”

Hop in
Peppermint Parkway is "a one-mile display of lights, music, and joy" that runs from November 25-December 30. More than 6 million lights will illuminate the path as guests follow the event's mascots, Pepper and Mint, down COTA's Tunnel Road to deliver their letters to Santa.

Dozens of live characters, including dancing gingerbread men and everyone’s favorite holiday grump, the Grinch, will interact with your vehicle, creating an immersive holiday experience not found anywhere else.

Tree time
New this year is Wonder Woods, the most cost-effective tree lot in Austin. Circuit of The Americas will be getting in the holiday spirit by giving away free Christmas trees to families in need, too.

Smile bright
Guests can share a kiss with loved ones in the Mistletoe Kissing Booth for an unforgettable photo opp that's perfect for your holiday card. Families can take a photo with Pepper and Mint, write a letter to Santa, and travel to the top of the COTA Candy Cane, the 251-foot-tall observation tower that offers an amazing view of the Parkway and illuminated Austin skyline.

To the Plaza we go
Before or after your drive, step out of your car and walk through Peppermint Plaza. Guests can take a spin on one of the eight-plus rides (perfect for kids and thrill-seekers alike), write a letter to Santa, meet Pepper and Mint, grab treats at the food trucks, and shop at the all-new Holiday Market and Sweet Shoppe.

Pause for the pub
Attendees can also escape to the swanky Peppermint Pub, complete with velvet couches and an awe-inspiring tree. Kids can sip on cocoa while adults have the option to join them, while adding a splash of something special.

Christmas cruisin'
Race fans can enjoy the Candy Cane Cruise, an exclusive opportunity to take your own car for a parade lap on COTA's world-famous, 3.41-mile, FIA-grade Formula 1 track, where many world champions have raced.

Ticket info
Ticket packages start at $40 per car and are on sale now onsite and at PeppermintParkway.com.

Travel to the top of the COTA Candy Cane and look out over downtown.

Peppermint Parkway

Photo courtesy of Circuit of The Americas

Travel to the top of the COTA Candy Cane and look out over downtown.

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Austin's SIMS Foundation rounds up local bands for fundraising festival and "feel good" tunes

Feels Good, Inc.

Another day, another festival in Austin, and that's what fine-tunes our mental health as locals. The Sims Foundation (stylized SIMS Foundation), a local nonprofit for better mental health in the local music industry, understands this delicate balance, offering up the inaugural, aptly named Feel Good Music Festival on May 27 and 28.

Two days of music will hit the Far Out Lounge this Memorial Day Weekend, along with a market, drinks, and food trucks Los Danzantes and Press Kitchen. All of this benefits the foundation, at least in part thanks to vendor donations, and marks Mental Health Awareness Month. This is not the nonprofit's only special effort this month, but it looks poised to be one of the cornerstone events for the season as music events start picking up, but aren't in full swing yet.

This is an affordable alternative, too, to the massive festivals and the crushing crowds of some free festivals that draw in passersby. Single days are priced at $25 in advance and $30 at the door; Two-day passes only cost $40.

It wouldn't be a Sims Foundation event without the local bands. The first day shows off world electronic band Easy Compadre!; current SXSW Artist to Watch according to NPR, Caramelo Haze; popular hard rock band Megafauna; and Latin-psych and Cumbia supergroup Money Chicha.

The new festival folds in an existing occasion on Sunday: "Bob vs Bob by Graham's Give Back." Musicians Graham Wilkinson and Graham Weber have organized two previous cover series in which artists put their own spin on songs by Bob Dylan and Bob Marley, and are returning for their third, including their own covers.

Even though musicians mostly enter "Bob vs Bob" on a solo basis, they will receive support from the festival's "house band," so to speak: Jeff Botta, Joe Beckham, Willie Webster, Trevor Nealon, and Graham Wilkinson.

The following musicians will play in "Bob vs Bob":

  • Cory Reinisch (Harvest Thieves)
  • Ali Holder
  • Courtney Santana
  • Kelley Mickwee
  • Joe Faulhaber
  • Chris Baker
  • Sarah Dossey
  • Jordan Young
  • Evan Charles
  • Jenny Reynolds
  • Kalu James
  • Scott Collins
  • Patrice Pike
  • Suzanna Choffel
  • The Reverent Few
  • Scott Strickl and Tony Kamel (Wood & Wire)
  • Graham Wilkinson
  • Graham Weber

Tickets are available now at tickettailor.com. This event at the Far Out Lounge (8504 South Congress Ave.) runs from 6 pm to midnight on May 27, and noon to 4 pm on May 28.



Caramelo Haze Austin

Photo by Ismael Quintanilla III

Caramelo Haze is one of the four featured bands playing Feel Good Music Festival.

Austin Parks and Recreation board approves Zilker Park Vision Plan despite opposition

Zilker Park Vision

The Austin Parks and Recreation Department (PARD) is clearing the way for improvements to Zilker Park. In the early hours of Tuesday morning, May 23, the PARD board voted to approve the Zilker Park Vision Plan, 7-3.

But before the board made its decision, it heard from dozens of community members. Some supported the plan, while others were against it.

The vision plan, first introduced in November 2022, includes more parking garages, pedestrian bridges and some changes to Barton Springs Road. It is designed to protect the greenspace and accommodate Austin's growing population – but some residents present at Monday night's board meeting said the plan needed heavy edits.

Other proposed improvements to the park including putting a visitors center near Barton Springs Pool, installing playscapes and designating an area for recreational activities.

Several people also spoke Monday night about a rumor that the City of Austin is planning to privatize Zilker Park. The City clarified last week that it is not selling any part of the park to a private company, and the PARD will continue to keep control of it.

Now that the Zilker Vision Plan has been approved by the PARD board, it will go to the full Austin City Council for more discussion.

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Read the full story and watch the video at KVUE.com.

How to get free access to 3 Texas libraries outside Austin

FEEDING THE READING ADDICTION

We all know that Austinites can get their free library cards at the Austin Public Library. But did you know you can get access to libraries that aren’t just in the APL system? For the libraries in Wells Branch, Round Rock, and Houston, you only need to be a Texas resident!

Having access to multiple library systems throughout Texas isn't as excessive as it might seem. First, you gain access to books that may not be as easily available from one library system to another. Second, it can be a great cost-saving measure; personally, I saved over $550 in 2022 by using public libraries instead of buying new or used books.

If you read a lot of ebooks or audiobooks, Libby is one of the best apps to find thousands of titles for free. If Libby’s waitlist is too long for a title in Austin, it might be easier to find the same title in Round Rock or Houston for a shorter wait. Additionally, you might find books in another system that aren't offered by APL. Sometimes, APL has a majority of a series online but is missing a few titles, and another library system will have what you're missing, which saves you from purchasing a random audiobook or ebook.

Here’s a quick refresher on how you can apply for an Austin Public Library card, and how you can join three additional awesome library systems outside the city. Let's all make it a goal to read a little more this year, shall we?

Austin Public Library
Austin residents, those who live in the Full Purpose jurisdiction, and students at any k-12 school (including daycare, private, charter, and home schools) in Travis County can apply online for a library card for free. After completing the online application, you can visit any library branch with your valid photo ID and proof of residence to complete the registration. Adult resident cards are valid for three years from their issuance date.

Round Rock Public Library
All Texas residents can apply for a free library card in Round Rock. For those who can visit the new library building in person, all you need is a valid Texas ID or a valid government issued ID and proof of Texas residency. Just for Round Rock residents who can’t make it to the library in-person due to a disability, illness, or inadequate transportation, the library offers a wonderful Library At Home service to deliver materials to your private residence.

Wells Branch Community Library
This is another library where all Texas residents qualify for a card for free, but you do have to apply in person with a valid ID and proof of residency. As a note, this library is a part of the Central Texas Digital Consortium, which is the same association that several other Central Texas cities use for their ebooks and audiobooks.

Houston Public Library
This library is special in that not only can you apply for their card without needing to live in Houston, but you also can apply online! You’ll get instant access to hundreds of ebooks, audiobooks, magazines, music, and more with their digital MY Link card. And if you’re ever in the Houston area, you can bring your valid Texas ID to any of their branches to get your hands on a physical card, if you're the type that loves to collect them.