7 Free Things to Do in Austin This Fall

The end of summer 2017 is upon us. For most of the country, this signals the end of the summer fun. But not so much in Austin, where there are still tons of totally fun (and mostly free) places to explore and activities to enjoy all year long. Here are a few of our favorites:

Now that the autumn air has taken some of the sting out of the summer heat, it’s the perfect time to get out and explore nature. Austin has some incredible places to do just that! From Walnut Creek to River Place Nature Trail to McKinney Falls State Park, the greater Austin area is home to some seriously gorgeous trails. But if you’re looking for convenience, you might want to start with the Barton Creek Greenbelt Trail. Located just a few minutes from the heart of Austin and offering easy to vigorous hikes, Barton Creek Greenbelt is the perfect quick getaway for nature lovers of every experience level.

Austin is home to a truly first-rate craft beer scene, so brewery tours and tastings should be up there on your list of things to do when looking for inexpensive fun in ATX. Among the notables are Austin Beerworks, Hops & Grain, Jester King and Independence Brewing Co. But there are tons more! Check with brewery websites for tour times and pricing (Tours at Hops & Grain and Jester King are FREE!). If you have a few bucks to spend and don’t want to worry about driving—it is a brewery tour after all—then you can also book yourself a ticket on the Austin Brew Bus which offers a variety of all-inclusive multiple-brewery tour packages.

Every Wednesday night at 9:30, Austin’s New Movement Theater hosts a free comedy show by Good Fight—a hilarious improv group that has quickly become a huge name in Austin comedy circles. It’s a fast-paced and ridiculously fun show that’s always full of surprises. And it’s also BYOB, so you don’t have to worry about the usual comedy club two drink minimum. If you’re looking for an inexpensive laugh on a weeknight, this is definitely the place to be.

The city of Austin and the Art in Public Places program recently launched TEMPO, a public art program that allows artists to use public spaces throughout the city to explore a range of themes via (often largescale) temporary art instillations. Our favorite from last year: David Goujon’s “Las Piñatas,” which featured a small herd of enormous piñata donkeys gently grazing in Edward Rendon Sr. Park.

Every Friday, the local art collective SprATX hosts Free Art Friday, which invites local artists to create an original work of art and then hide it in an undisclosed location somewhere in the city. Locals can then search for the artwork by following clues on Instagram under the hashtag #atxfreeartfriday. It’s a great way to get out and explore the city—and maybe go home with your very own one-of-a-kind masterpiece.

Every Sunday and Wednesday, the Kung Fu Saloon in downtown Austin offers free play on all of its retro arcade games. With all your favorites including Street Fighter II, Donkey Kong, Ms. Pac-Man, NBA Jam, Super Contra and so many more, you’ll feel like you’ve died and gone to, well, the late 80’s-early 90s. Video games not your thing? They also offer free play on foosball, skee-ball and a huge selection of classic board games!

No we’re not talking about visiting a certain sandwich chain that shall remain unnamed, we’re talking about the ripe, fragrant and juicy freshness of Austin’s award winning Cedar Park Farmers Market. Located in the parking lot at Lakeline Mall in North Austin, the Cedar Park Farmer’s market features a smorgasbord of over 70 vendors who specialize in fresh local produce, locally raised meats, locally crafted cheeses, fresh baked goods, and all sorts of tantalizing specialty foods. Open every Saturday from 9am – 1pm, the market also features hand-made jewelry, live local music, chef demonstrations and plenty of activities for the kids.

If none of the above activities suits your fancy, just remember: you’re in the live music capital of the world. From major festivals to local rock clubs and open mic nights, Austin offers an endless supply of year-round music for your listening pleasure.

Best Places to Eat in San Francisco This Summer

Cool Off This Summer at 5 of San Francisco’s Hottest Restaurants

San Francisco is the perfect place to unwind this summer. With its mild temperatures and vibrant local culture, the Bay Area will make you feel right at home. Spend your days hitting the beach, scoping out one of the city’s legendary museums or plan a trip to Golden Gate Park. No matter where you go, San Francisco will take your breath away. Stop off at one of these delicious Bay Area restaurants and experience the rich, eccentric flavors of one of the greatest cities in America.

Chinatown has never looked so good! Mister Jiu’s is determined to change the way San Francisco thinks about Chinese food. Owner and Executive Chef Brandon Jew has completely remade the city’s notorious Four Seas building into a bustling ultramodern restaurant. The menu features unique flavor combinations including some of China’s best-kept culinary secrets. Everything is local, organic and made fresh in house. Dinner is served banquet style with 3 courses per person. From pork and squid wontons to smoked hodo tofu, everything at Mister Jiu’s will stun and surprise you.

Part old-fashioned movie house and part upscale eatery, Foreign Cinema is reinventing the way we experience food. This gorgeous interior is designed to showcase some of the world’s best cinema with its drop down projector and intimate setting. Food wise, Foreign Cinema loves its seafood. They have an endless variety of oysters from all over the U.S., fresh shellfish, lobster and caviar. But the biggest attraction by far is their homemade organic “Pop-Tarts,” featuring a crispy crust with homemade frosting and delicious peach or blackberry filling. Foreign Cinema will turn your childhood favorite into a lifelong obsession.

Just a few blocks from the tip of Golden Gate Park, Zazie has become the number-one brunch spot in the city. If you’re willing to wait it out first thing in the morning, Zazie will not leave you disappointed. From their cream cheese coffee cake to the gingerbread pancakes, everything on the menu is truly to die for. They will top your eggs with just about anything you can think of including layers of fresh avocado, wilted spinach, wild mushrooms and thick cuts of farm fresh cheese. For your convenience, Zazie is also proud to be tip free. Leave your calculator at home.

Al’s Place was designed for those lazy summer afternoons. The open-air patio creates a peaceful, cozy atmosphere. Offering a range of light, vegetable-oriented snacks, Al’s has become the go-to place for healthy eaters in San Francisco. The menu features a refreshing mix of seasonal items including stone fruit curry, chilled green bean casserole, and brine pickled French fries with a side of smoked apple sauce. Somewhere between a community garden and a hip lunch spot, Al’s is not to be missed if you love the taste of freshly picked greens.

With a tagline that reads, “The World’s Best Tacos and Burritos in the Whole World,” this hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurant has to be good. Everything on the menu is crafted with absolute authenticity. La Taqueria has even awarded the prestigious “Best Burrito” award. The dishes are the definition of affordable with dozens of individual tacos and cheese-loaded quesadillas. The Lemongrass Beef Pot Pie has been a crowd pleaser for years with its fresh blend of herbs and juicy cuts of meat. Bite into a 40-year-old legend and plan a trip to San Francisco’s signature taqueria.

San Francisco has no shortage of delicious bites and succulent drinks. If you’re lucky enough to spend your summer in the Bay Area this year, roll up your sleeves and dive into a world of flavor.

Places to Explore in Washington, D.C.

How to Make the Most of Your Time in Washington, D.C.

Our nation’s capitol is one of the best places to spend your summer. From historic landmarks to endless city parks, this city has something for everyone. Living on a budget has never been easier. So many of the city’s activities are free and open to the public. The only thing you need is a sturdy pair of walking shoes and an insatiable appetite for adventure. Get ready to explore a whole new world of possibilities in the most patriotic place on earth.

The best things in life are free. The Smithsonian National Zoo is home to over 300 different species of animals and it won’t cost you a penny to see them. The zoo features a range of diverse expositions every year including the Amazonia Exhibit. Dedicated to all things tropical, the show features some of the world’s largest fish that live in the Amazon River. You’ll see deadly piranhas, delicious cocoa trees, and the occasional poison arrow tree frog. Don’t get too close or your trip to the zoo might be your last. On your way out, swing by one of the park’s must-try food trucks. They’re known for whipping up a mean grilled cheese.

Summer is a great time to be in DC. The infamous Yard’s Park celebrates the season every year with their Free Concert Series. Shows are held every Friday night at 8:30 pm. They host all kinds of local talent including R & B legends, reggae, pop hits, and tributes to your favorite musicians and bands. The park features a stunning view of the Anacostia River, an impressive selection of neighboring restaurants, and a massive open green space that’s perfect for outdoor picnics and lounging in the sun. The trick is to get there early and grab a spot close to the stage.

It’s not every day that you get to hear the highest court in the land argue over our nation’s most pressing issues. It’s every law student’s dream come true. The Justices are in session from early October to late April. Seats are available on a first come first serve basis. Oral arguments are heard at 10 am and 11 am on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays. Watching the law play out in real time is like being a part of history. You’ll sound so smart at parties when you tell people that you saw the Supreme Court in action.

Washington DC is littered with outdoor murals, graffiti masterpieces, and some unusual street sculptures. This map from Michael Antonucci shows you every piece of outdoor art in the city. It’s dedicated to the works of unknown artists, legendary taggers, and outsider pranksters. The map features a range of different works including impressive murals commissioned by the city, alley side sketches and drawings, and creepy doll installations. Of course, everything on the map is completely free and open to the public. Most of the works are huddled together downtown. You can see dozens of works in one afternoon if you’re willing to hike up an appetite. All you need is a smartphone for getting around and taking selfies.

You can do just about anything at Farragut Park during the summer. The entire area comes alive with picnic goers, Ping-Pong tournaments, outdoor screenings, and much more. The park even features an outdoor office area complete with free Wi-Fi, desks, chairs, and games to help your coworkers think on their feet. Space can only be reserved for 90 minutes at a time. Tell your boss that you should schedule your next Monday morning meeting at the park. Farragut is also hosting a series of summer Tech Trends, in which the city’s biggest tech companies hold public demos, learning labs, and networking events for the entire city to enjoy.

Yes, DC is the only place in the world that has an espionage museum. Open since 2002, the building is focused on reshaping history through the eyes of our nation’s greatest spies. Some of our country’s greatest heroes remain relatively unknown, sacrificing everything that they had in the name of freedom. You can learn about the spies that prevented World War III during the Cold War with Russia, the outsiders that brought down the Roman Empire, and the international agents that continue to keep our nation safe to this day. Exhibits feature all of the best spy tools including decoding machines, hidden cameras, and hollow coins. Remember that this isn’t a scene from your favorite Tom Cruise movie; this is real life.

You can turn your time in Washington, D.C. into an unforgettable adventure. Shop our selection of upscale corporate rentals in Washington, D.C. and spend a few months getting to know this world-class city. It has something for everyone.

9 Free Things to Do Around Portland

Visiting Portland or Even Better, Living in Portland? Consider Yourself Lucky!

Portland is truly one of the best places to be in the country. In 2015, it was voted the most livable city in the U.S. by Monocle’s Quality-of-Life survey—the only U.S. city to make the list. Portland has a ton to offer, yet it remains one of the cheapest major cities on the West Coast. In fact, GoBankingRates.com rated Portland the best city in the country for saving money. PDX is also incredibly bike-friendly, has a great deal of natural beauty, and, perhaps most importantly, is a mecca for beer lovers, featuring around 85 breweries in the metro area. But wait, it gets even better. Many of the best things to do in Portland are free!

Leave the cash at home, and check out some of these places when you’re in town:

While Portland has many beautiful parks, Washington Park is generally thought of as the best. The park offers over 150 acres of gorgeous wooded hillsides, paved and unpaved paths, picnic tables, the popular Chiming Fountain, parks for kids, and more. There is also a zoo and Japanese garden but these attractions charge admission. Bring some food and have yourself a picnic, then explore some of the beautiful hiking trails.

Washington Park also features the International Rose Test Garden, rated as top attraction in Portland on TripAdvisor. The well-maintained garden contains many different kinds of roses, and of course the smells are divine. On clear days the garden offers fantastic views of the city and Mt. Hood. The best part? It’s free!

Matt Groening, creator of The Simpsons, is from Portland (yes, the city just got even cooler), and some of the show’s main characters—Flanders (Ned Flanders), Lovejoy (Reverend Lovejoy), and Quimby (Mayor Quimby)—among others, are named for streets in Portland. Find the streets between NW 2nd Street and NW 24the Street and between Burnside and Vaughn.

Portland Saturday Market is open on both Saturdays and Sundays from March through December. Here, you can find tons of vendors selling their original arts and crafts, which are unavailable anywhere else. There is also freshly cooked international food and free live music every market day. You can even enjoy the market on rainy days with the help of the Burnside Bridge and a glass-roofed structure!

Don’t leave Portland without checking out this iconic bookstore. Powell’s City of Books is the largest independent bookstore in the country; it is housed in a 5-story building that occupies an entire block. Need help navigating around the store? They offer free maps at the front desk, and rooms are color-coded. Powell’s sells both new and used books and even compete head-to-head with Amazon sales online. The coffee shop at Powell’s is also a great place to relax or catch up with a friend.

Forest Park is known for being the largest urban forest located within a city in the U.S. It contains over 5,000 acres filled with beautiful trees, rivers, waterfalls, and bridges. There are also 40 miles of hiking, biking, and equestrian trails. The park is located in the eastern part of the Northwest Hills, only 10 minutes from downtown Portland.

Go biking, blading, jogging, or just relax at Tom McCall Waterfront Park. This is also the site of many of Portland’s biggest festivals including the Blues Festival, Oregon Brewers Festival, and many of the events associated with the Rose Festival.

Portland Farmer’s Market is popular year-round! From March to October, it’s open on Saturdays from 8:30am to 2:00pm, and from November to February, it’s open on Saturdays from 9:00am to 2:00pm. Visitors can browse over 140 stalls selling a range of produce and artisanal food. The market also offers chef demonstrations, kids’ cooking classes, music performances, and more.

For a fun night involving art, music, and wine, check out First Thursdays in Portland. On the first Thursday of every month from 6:00pm to 9:00pm, several downtown art galleries open their doors and visitors can walk from gallery to gallery to view the art exhibits. The event also features live music, appetizers, and wine tastings. Common participants include the Lawrence Gallery, Gottlieb Gallery, and Attic Gallery. Every month the galleries and events change, so be sure to look up the information online first.

Whether you’re a nature lover, an art lover, a food lover, a book lover—or just a lover of not spending money—Portland has something for you. Now get out there and enjoy all that this beautiful city has to offer!

How to celebrate Valentine’s Day in the middle of a move…

Keeping Your Valentine’s Day Intact While Moving

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner and, unfortunately, you’re in the middle of a move. Whether you’re moving down the street or across the country, we all know how stressful and time-consuming moving can be. When you’re in a rush, holidays like Valentine’s Day can feel like more of a nuisance than a reason to celebrate. But you don’t have to scrap your romantic plans all together just because you have some added responsibilities on your plate. Use these tips to have a lovely Valentine’s Day together as a couple, even if you’re driving across the country or held up in an empty house.

If you’re accustomed to holding your partner to high expectations when special holidays come around, be prepared to be disappointed. Get a head start by scaling back your expectations. Moving is often one of the most stressful chores in life. If your relationship can survive a move, you’re already in good shape. Try to relax and be spontaneous this Valentine’s Day. If you end up eating ramen on the floor, remember that life could be worse.

Regardless of where you end up on Valentine’s Day, it’s probably smart to let someone else do the cooking. Chances are that all of your cooking gear is already packed up. If you’ve just arrived at your new house, explore the neighborhood by finding a local restaurant. Getting take-out is also an easy way to celebrate if you’re trapped in an empty house. If you’re on the road, schedule some time to stop at a nice restaurant that’s close to the highway. Remember to call ahead to make sure that you can get a table on one of the busiest nights of the year.

If all of your stuff is packed up, try to find something that you can use to stay comfortable in your new house. Leave a few pillows, an air mattress, or a sleeping bag lying around to forge a place to sleep. You can use a folding table or a few boxes to string together a makeshift table and chairs. Living on the floor can actually be pretty cozy.

Moving can turn your life into a nonstop frenzy. You might think that you have to drive 18 hours straight or unpack everything right away, but sometimes we force ourselves to trudge forward when it’s not entirely necessary. Try to relax on Valentine’s Day, even if it’s just for a few hours. If you’re driving long distances, cut yourself a break and pull over for the night at a hotel. If you’re rushing to unpack, find some time to procrastinate. You’ll be glad you did. All of those boxes will still be there in the morning.

Celebrating the holidays during a move is all about perspective. If you’re expecting the worst, you probably won’t enjoy yourself this year. Try to focus on the positive. Enjoying Valentine’s Day is about being together. Love is really the only thing that matters.

Relocating to Virginia for the Fall and Winter

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So you’ve just landed a new positions in Virginia for the fall and winter. Even if Virginia Beach is turning cold this time of the year, there are still plenty of great adventures waiting to be had. Virginia is full of American history, natural parks and forests, and bustling cities. Find out what to do and where to go in Virginia as you begin a new chapter of your life in the Mother of all States.ClimateExpect moderate to chilly days and colder nights with highs in the mid-40s and lows in the high 20s. Virginia’s weather fluctuates fairly drastically depending on how far south or east you’ll be. The Atlantic Ocean tends to send some cold air through the coastal areas during the fall and winter months. You’ll see a smattering of rainfall and some decent snowfall in the more mountainous regions.
Major CitiesVirginia Beach is the biggest city in the state with its small town charm that attracts millions of tourists every year. In the off-season, you’ll find fewer crowds and a more peaceful atmosphere near the water. Check out Adventure Park, just 3 minutes from the Virginia Beach boardwalk. Hike the trails, zipline from one platform to another, or crawl through the many tunnels and bridges hanging from the trees. It’s one giant outdoor jungle gym.

Richmond is Virginia’s other major stomping ground. You’ll find dozens of historical landmarks such as the American Civil War Museum and a host of shopping centers and hip restaurants. Fill up on local cuisine with everything from sweet smoked BBQ to some seriously fresh seafood.

The great city of Norfolk is another tourist hub, featuring stunning views of the bay and endless activities for people of all ages. The Norfolk Botanical Garden sits right on the water. In the winter months, the city turns the park into a winter wonderland, stringing lights from every branch on every tree.
seasonal eventsFall and winter bears no shortage of local events throughout the state of Virginia. In Richmond, you’ll find 300 Years of Virginia Art and Design at the Virginia Historical Society. In Staunton City, you can blow your own glass pumpkin at the Sunspots Studios. Take a ferry to Chincoteague Island and see the annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony by the sea. Thousands gather on the remote beaches to ring in the holiday season.

You’ll love your stay in Virginia regardless of which city you end up in. It’s a warm community that’s full of surprises.

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