Things to Do in Austin
Blueberry in the Red State
One of the first things you’ll notice about Austin are large bumper stickers on cars and on various avenues which read- “Keep Austin Weird”. The enthusiasm with which this city embraces alternative cultures is contagious, and this is one of the few cities where ‘honky-tonks’ co-exist in perfect harmony with plush condo complexes. Austin is also known as ‘The Live Music Capital of the World’ for its large number of venues and two extremely acclaimed music festivals. On a more serious note, Austin is an important center for politics and technology, the latter evident in the many tech companies that occupy ‘The Silicon Hills’. If you’re planning a trip to the capital city of the state of Texas, then make sure to first check out our list of the best things to do in Austin!
Texas State Capitol
This imposing red granite-building is one of Austin’s most distinctive landmarks. It was built in the year 1888 to house the offices of ‘The Texas Legislature’ and the Governor’s Office. The building which was designed by the renowned architect – Elijah E Meyers, is a National Historic Landmark. At 302.64 ft, it is taller than Washington’s ‘Capitol building’, as well as the sixth tallest state capitol in America. Make sure to visit the central rotunda, which has portraits of all former governors and presidents of the Republic of Texas. The rotunda’s domed ceiling also makes it a ‘Whispering Gallery’. The Capitol’s grounds are dotted with noteworthy statues and monuments, including ‘The Heroes of the Alamo’, ‘Volunteer Firemen’, ‘Confederate Soldiers’ and ‘Terry’s Texas Rangers’. A visit to this site is one of the best things to do in Austin for history buffs.
Bat Colony under Congress Ave Bridge
This bridge is not unique because of its design, architecture or historical significance - instead, to truly understand what draws hundreds of visitors to this site every year, you need to take a peek underneath it. The bridge's underside is home to a large colony of 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats, making it 'The Largest Urban Bat Colony' in the world. Austin's bats play an important role in maintaining the city's ecological balance by consuming nearly 20,000 lbs. of insects and agricultural pests every night. The colony is almost entirely made up of female and young bats, and the bat columns that emerge from under the bridge can rise up to 10,000 ft. in height. For a closer look at Austin's nocturnal friends, do schedule a visit to 'The Statesman Bat Observation Center' on summer nights, or take a bat-watching cruise on 'Town Lake' which will take you under Austin’s most famous bridges!
Spread across 350 acres, The Zilker Park is located at the convergence point of the Colorado River and Barton Creek. It is named after Andrew Jackson Zilker- who donated this land to the city in the year 1917. The park is well-known for its hiking and biking trails that wind around the 'Lady Bird Lake'. It also serves as the venue for 'The Austin City Limits Music Festival' and 'The Zilker Park Kite Festival'. The park is also home to 'The Zilker Botanical Gardens', 'The Austin Nature and Science Center' that has several ecological exhibits, and 'The Umlauf Sculpture Garden' that displays sculptural pieces by Charles Umlauf and other local artists. 'The Zilker Hillside Theater' is another popular attraction and hosts several regular performances of local companies, including the local favorite - 'Shakespeare in the Park'. Cool down with a dip in 'The Barton Springs Pool' or indulge in some water sports in Barton Creek. If you happen to visit the park in the winter months, you'll find the 155 ft. 'Zilker Holiday Tree' decorated with thousands of twinkling lights, and accompanied by the display of a beautiful trail of lights. If your feet start to tire, hop onto 'The Zilker Zephyr'- a 12 inch gauge miniature railway that offers visitors entertaining park tours.
Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum
The museum's mission is, quite simply, to tell the story of Texas from the time when the state was still a part of Mexico, and it does so quite impressively with its three floors of interactive exhibits. The museum is named after Bob Bullock - the former Texas Lieutenant Governor who was a staunch advocate of its creation. The museum’s second floor has 'The Spirit Theater' where you can view the feature presentation called -'Star of Destiny'. Don't miss the recovered hull of 'The La Belle' - the ill-fated ship that had once set out to establish a French-colony at the mouth of the Mississippi River which was a Spanish stronghold at that time. A visit to this museum is one of the coolest things to do in Austin, if you like your history flashy and interactive!
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