The Bright Lights of Austin, Texas
With the quirkiness of a college town, the amazing food of the capital of Texas, and some of the best live music you'll hear anywhere, Austin is a visitor's paradise. This charming city may be home to the governor's mansion and the state congress, but Austin doesn't take itself too seriously. Its motto, after all, is "Keep Austin weird," a phrase that sums up its eclectic tastes.
You'll find just about everything in Austin. With plenty of artists, musicians, entrepreneurs, and young people, Austin is a bold and spicy mix of ideas and attitudes. And with over 200 live music venues, you'll find bands of all stripes playing on just about every evening of the year. Austin is known as the Live Music Capital of the World, a title it takes to heart. This is the home city of Willie Nelson, after all, as well as the site of the Stevie Ray Vaughn Memorial.
Austin's music scene is focused around a cluster of districts encircling the downtown area. When you head into the city, pick a district and limit your nightly explorations to that area - you can always try a different district the following night. Don't miss the famous venues of Sixth Street or the Red River District. The Warehouse and Downtown Districts have a special edge, while the University of Texas District sports a youthful flair. Other districts include East Austin, South Austin, and the Market District.
Museums and History
History buffs will find plenty to enjoy about Austin. After your must-see visit to the state capitol, take a tour of the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum for a look at the state's colorful past. At the LBJ Library and Museum, you can see records from this famous president's political career, both in Texas and on the national level.
Austin is as family and kid-friendly as a city can get. The young people in your group will love the Austin Children's Museum with its hands-on exhibits and games. They can cool off on the water slides at the Schlitterbahn Waterpark, see the animals at the Austin Zoo, or head to the Aquarena Centerfor a marine life show. And be sure not to miss the fun goings-on at Wonderworld Park.
Texas is famous its unique cuisine, and Austin provides its own special additions to the mix. You'll find outstanding BBQ, flavorful Tex-Mex and international food, organic restaurants, and plenty of local treats.
This gateway to Texas Hill Country is surrounded by picturesque lakes and rolling hillsides. With plenty of sunshine and over 200 city parks, it's easy to get out and about in Austin. You'll find miles of hiking and biking trails, excellent golf courses, and much more. Each year Austin hosts the annual AT&T Marathon, which brings over 5,000 world-class runners into the city. Even if your fitness level isn't marathon-ready, you can have plenty of fun rambling down the Barton Creek Greenbelt with its 7.8 miles of hiking, walking, and biking trails. Several endangered wildlife and plant species call the Greenbelt home.
Be sure to pay a visit to Lady Bird Lake in downtown Austin, where you can stroll along the 10 mile trail that encircles the waters. At Barton Springs Pool, swimmers can enjoy 68-degree, spring-fed waters year round. And you won't want to miss the trails and view points at 360-acre Zilker Park.
No visit to Austin is complete without a trip to see the city's famous bats. Every evening, 1.5 million bats take flight from under the Ann Richards Congress Avenue Bridge. Spectators line up daily to watch this impressive sight, as a cloud of winged creatures sails out into the sky in search of mosquitoes and other insects. At dawn, the bats return to their sleeping spot, where they rest peacefully until the following evening.