Scene report: ‘Summer skip day’ at W Austin

When the W Austin sent out a press release earlier this week urging Austinites to take a “summer skip day” in honor of the 30th anniversary of “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” it sounded great. But who, I wondered, would actually be able to take a day off to hang out poolside at the hotel.

As it turned out, plenty of people. When I arrived at the hotel on Friday afternoon, I was surprised to see at least 300 people in attendance, including a man in skimpy gold shorts serving hot dogs, servers in “Save Ferris” T-shirts and dancers with their own (loose) interpretation of the movie’s “Twist and Shout” scene.

I particularly appreciated the pop-up shops, which included standouts such as Cassandra Collections (I’m pegging her as the next Kendra Scott), Archipelago Designs and Kit & Ace.

Couldn’t make it today? I’m told many of the hotel’s poolside events have the same staycation vibe. Check here for what’s coming up soon.

Hotel to Austin: Skip work today, party like Ferris Bueller instead

Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?

Any fan of the John Hughes classic “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” which was originally released on June 11, 1986, has secretly fantasized about shirking all responsibilities for a day and joyriding around town in a borrowed Ferrari.

Because it’s Friday and, well, this is Austin, one area hotel is encouraging locals to make like Ferris by taking today off work and hanging by the pool for a “Ferris Bueller”-themed party instead.

W Austin Hotel-Mark Knight for W Austin
The W Hotel is hosting a “Ferris Bueller”-themed party today. credit: Mark Knight

“In thinking about how to kick off our summer season now that the rain has stopped, we kept coming back to the idea that Austin is a city that seems to be working harder than ever, and we knew we wanted to throw a party that would allow our guests to play as hard as they work,” said Drew McQuade, W Austin GM, in a statement. “For us, the idea of ‘playing hooky on a school day’ screamed Ferris Bueller, and with the anniversary of the film approaching, we felt the stars had aligned.”

Related: What Ferris Bueller would have done if his day off had been in Austin

The W Austin’s “summer skip day” is today from noon to 7 p.m. and is open to the public. It will include themed cocktails, Chicago Cubs-inspired treats and “Ferris Bueller”-themed performances as well as pop-up shops, dancers, a photo booth and DJ music.

Related: Four ways to ‘save Ferris’ in Chicago, where the movie was filmed

Obit John Hughes
Actor Matthew Broderick appears in a scene from the film “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” in 1986. credit: Paramount Pictures

The hotel also hosts parties on the pool deck every Sunday afternoon through the summer for hotel guests and locals alike featuring DJs and drink specials.

Even if you can’t take a skip day today, maybe this is a good reminder to plan out a  staycation that will allow you to fully embrace the summer, ideally somewhere by a pool, drink in hand. After all, in the famous words of Ferris Bueller himself, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

An ode to doughnuts, and 6 can’t-miss places to try them in the U.S.

I have always been a doughnut person. Growing up in Austin, every Sunday my dad and I would pack into our Volvo station wagon and make the trek to a local doughnut shop, loading up on sprinkle-covered and cream-filled concoctions to be savored while reading the Sunday funnies.

I love doughnuts so much that when my husband proposed, he did so in a Krispy Kreme box. I said yes, but not before a quick taste test to make sure they were fresh. With this (dough) ring, I thee wed, indeed.

As a travel writer, I get to visit some of the best cities in the world, and when I take a trip, I never miss the chance to try out a new doughnut shop. I even have a running “doughnut bucket list” that I’m working my way through.

The shops on my list range from classic to historically significant to trendy, although there are still some doughnut-important cities I have yet to sample. (Portland, I’m looking at you.)

In honor of National Doughnut Day, here’s a sample of the doughnut shops across the country that have become favorites of mine. I’ve still got plenty more to see, and I’d love to know about your favorites as well. In the words of fellow doughnut aficionado Homer Simpson, “Mmm, donuts.”

Hugs & Donuts, Houston

The doughnuts at Hugs & Donuts in Houston come with a free hug. credit: Kristin Finan

A relative newcomer to the Houston doughnut scene (the store opened a little over a year ago in the bustling Heights neighborhood), Hugs & Donuts instantly impressed me with its wide variety of flavors (Fruity Pebble doughnut, anyone?) and attention to quality. Oh, and if you actually do need a hug, just ring the bell. Hugs are always free.

Stan’s Donuts & Fresh Coffee, Chicago

When the smell of powdered-sugar perfection wafts across the street as you exit the L in Chicago, there can only be one culprit: Stan’s Donuts & Fresh Coffee. If you’re vegan, Stan’s will hook you up with several fresh varieties daily. If you’re not vegan, you’ll choose from dozens of options that include a blueberry bismark, a Dreamsicle bar and a Biscoff pocket (my favorite).

Voodoo Doughnut, Portland, Eugene, Denver and Austin

A selection from Voodoo Doughnut’s Austin branch. credit: Kristin Finan

Voodoo Doughnut is a delightfully quirky, and dreadfully popular, doughnut spot hailing from Oregon but also now in Denver and Austin. Yes, you’re likely to find a line when you go. Yes, it’s worth it anyway, particularly if you’re able to snag a bacon maple bar or the Marshall Mathers, which comes smothered in vanilla frosting and mini M&Ms.

The Original Dunkin’ Donuts, Quincy, Ma.

The Original Dunkin’ Donuts is located in Quincy, Ma. credit: Kristin Finan

Dunkin’ Donuts is one of the most widespread and long-lasting doughnut chains in the United States, so it only seems right to pay tribute to the place where it all started. The Original Dunkin’ Donuts in Quincy, Ma., features fascinating old photos on the wall and an overall retro vibe. The doughnuts are the same as any other DD location, and that’s just fine with me.

Donut Plant, New York City

I’m still waiting for doughnuts to become the new cupcake, but in the meantime I’ll be perfectly content having my crème brûlée, tres leches and blackout cake in doughnut form at Donut Plant in New York City. Even the richest variety will only set you back about $2, which, for dessert in New York, is a steal.

Randy’s Donuts, Los Angeles

You know that giant concrete doughnut you frequently see featured in movies and TV shows set in Los Angeles (it even has a prominent spot role in Justin Timberlake’s new music video for “Can’t Stop the Feeling”)? That doughnut belongs to Randy’s Donuts, a Los Angeles staple conveniently located near LAX. Stick with the basics here. An old-fashioned ring and a cup of coffee are the perfect way to start the day.