Discussion on defining district borders for Austin is in progress. If you know the city pretty well, please share your opinion on the talk page.
- Austin is a huge city with several district articles containing sightseeing, restaurant, nightlife and accommodation listings — have a look at each of them.
The state capitol in Austin, Texas
Austin is a city of over 912,000 in the Hill Country of central Texas. It is the state capital and home to a major university as well as an influential center for politics, technology, music, film and (increasingly) a food scene. Austin's embrace of alternative cultures is commonly emblazoned about town on T-Shirts and bumper stickers that read: "Keep Austin Weird." Austin is also marketed as the "Live Music Capital of the World" due to the large number of venues and "Silicon Hills" reflecting the many technology companies.
- Downtown The central business district and home to some of the tallest residential towers in the state, it also contains many of the cities most popular live music venues, bars and restaurants.
- UT and the Drag The campus of the University of Texas and the dense student housing of West Campus offer museums, art and inexpensive eats.
- North Central Historic and affluent residential neighborhoods filled with Arts and Crafts-styled bungalows and small cafes.
- East Austin Diverse neighborhoods where people of color mix with artists to create a vibrant, energetic mix of cultures.
- Northwest Austin Home to much of Austin's tech businesses and high end shopping.
- South Austin Strolling down South Congress is something every visitor to Austin must do. As you get farther south, neighborhoods become more working class.
Being the capital of Texas has resulted in a rich history for Austin. Established in 1839 by the then recently-formed Republic of Texas, Austin is located on the Colorado River and the edge of the Texas Hill Country. The city was named for Texas founder Stephen F. Austin after Texas President Mirabeau B. Lamar selected the site due to the area's abundant natural resources, beauty and central location in the state. Because of its unprotected geographical location, Austin's early years consisted of many raids from Mexican troops and Native Americans unhappy with Texas.
The town was laid out and constructed using temporary buildings in less than one year, as planner Edwin Waller was committed to having the town ready by November 1839 when the Texas Congress convened. Congress and the 856 people who inhabited Austin were certainly impressed, as they elected Waller the first mayor of Austin January 1840.
Darker days arrived for Austin in 1842, as newly elected Texas President Sam Houston, fearing attacks on the Capital, moved the government to Houston, and later Washington-on-the-Brazos, where it remained until 1845. But all was not lost for Austin, as the 1845 constitutional convention approved the annexing of Texas to the United States, and established Austin as the state capital, which it has remained to this day.
The Civil War dominated Austin from 1861 to 1865, with almost 20 percent of the population joining the Confederacy. While Austin, like much of the Confederacy, faced shortages of goods and workers, Union forces did not directly threaten the city.
After the Civil War, Austin's population grew steadily, including a boom to almost 35,000 people by 1920. However, Austin had previously been the fourth largest city in Texas, and saw itself slip to 10th because of the oil boom and surging industrial development. The 1930s brought the Great Depression, but Austin was hit less than many cities thanks to its base in government and education - the University of Texas at Austin doubled its enrollment during this time. Later, in 1956, UT would become the first major southern University to admit black students as undergraduates.
Austin's population continued to grow almost 40 percent per decade, with 472,000 residents in 1990 and 656,000 residents in 2000. Austin's growth came in many forms - government, education, and high technology. In the 1990s, more than 400 high technology companies, including IBM, Texas Instruments, Dell and Motorola, all called Austin home.
Austin has continued to grow, and in the 2000s found itself as the live music capital of Texas. The young demographic of college students and recent graduates helped fuel this growth and Austin now hosts a variety of large music festivals, most notably South by Southwest.
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Check Austin's 7 day forecast at NOAA
Austin weather is generally nice most of the year; activities are generally not limited by season. However, as Austin lies within Central Texas, be prepared to deal with the long, hot summers if you are visiting between May and September. It is not uncommon for daily high temperatures to be between 90 and 100 degrees during this time — in fact, a day in the 80s is rare, and several days may even reach triple digits (90 days in 2011). If you are here when the weather is like this, dress accordingly, drink plenty of water, and do not plan on staying outside for long (nearly all indoor places are air-conditioned) — unless you're taking the opportunity to take a dip in Barton Springs Pool or any of the other swimming holes in the area. This is especially true if the heat index is around 105 or higher, which is considered to be dangerous. Also keep in mind that the interior of cars will get dangerously hot, especially if the windows are up and it's parked in the sun — don't leave pets or children in there, no matter how brief. How hot the summer gets usually depends on the amount of precipitation the area has been getting. If there is no drought and the spring has been particularly wet, temperatures will remain relatively tolerable and rarely break triple digits. If it has been dry, as it was from 2007-2009, summers can be very uncomfortable and triple-digit temps will be very common.
Central Texas winters are short to non-existent. There are many pleasant or even warm days during the winter months (the first 90 degree day of 2012 was in February), and snowfall is rare. However, hard freezes happen occasionally, and light freezes may occur frequently (especially in the more rural areas), and when this mixes with precipitation, ice storms and other wintry weather happen. If the storm is severe enough, the city may shut down for a day or so, traffic may be snarled, and the local auto body shops may receive a spike in business. The Austin area usually experiences such events once or twice each year or so, from late December to mid-February. Generally, though, winter weather just varies a lot, with alternating cold and warm fronts that can make for large temperature swings within just a week's time.
Spring and fall are the best times to visit. Springs tend to be stormy (see "Stay safe" for related warning), and falls may bring light freezes during the night. For the most part, though, springs and falls are very pleasant times to experience Austin.
Austin is an interesting city with a diverse population when it comes to age, race, industry and more. Austin has historically seen double-digit population increases each decade, as people flock to the city hailed for having the best quality of life in Texas.
Austin's main industries - government, education and technology, are likely why the median age in Austin is 31.1 years, more than 6 years younger than the national median age of 37.2. Austin's growing population has also resulted in increased ethnic diversity in the city, with the most recent census (2010) showing the racial breakdown of 48.7 percent Caucasian/white, 35 percent Hispanic/Latino, eight percent African-American/Black, six percent Asian, and three percent other.
People in Austin value their quality of life, access to outdoor activities, access to live music and entertainment, education and government access. With the University of Texas at Austin being the largest University in the state of Texas as well as one of the largest universities in the country, many students choose to stay in Austin after graduation, thanks to the quality of life they grow accustomed to during their collegiate years. Technology-related majors and degrees have increased in number as students plan to stay in Austin after obtaining their degree.
People in Austin tend to be more politically liberal, and Travis County (home to Austin) has consistently gone Democratic in the last several political elections.
Pick up an Austin Chronicle newspaper first thing. These are freely available all over town, including the information desk across from baggage claim at the airport. It will be your guide to everything that's going on in Austin from festivals (Spam Festival, Chili Festival, etc.) to music, theater and food; it's all in there. New issues are published every Thursday.
- Austin American-Statesman  — the major daily paper.
- Austin Chronicle  — the alternative weekly; reflects the true vibe of Austin. Their "Best of" lists are a great resource and can be accessed online.
- The Daily Texan  — the student newspaper of the University of Texas at Austin.
- The Onion  — the well-known satirical paper/website recently opened print edition office in Austin.
- TRIBEZA  — a free monthly publication, TRIBEZA is the leading lifestyle magazine in Austin that is locally-owned and printed. TRIBEZA tends to focus on higher end establishments but also tries to stay down to Earth and be accessible to all.
- Austin Monthly  — aims to highlight more in depth the people, places and events that make Austin unique. Can be purchased on any newsstand in town (including Bergstrom International Airport).
- Edible Austin  — a free quarterly publication that celebrates the local food culture in Austin. The main focus is on sustainable food practices and the farmers, retailers and chefs in Austin and surrounding areas that strive to contribute to a sustainable food culture in the region.
- L Style/G Style  — a free bi-monthly lifestyle magazine for social and cultural influencers in the gay/lesbian community.
Austin's independent vibe and personality have inspired authors in all genres to take pen to paper. The city is home to many small independent bookstores where visitors can find works by these notable authors with Austin roots and connections:
The pen name for William Sydney Porter. O. Henry was best known for his short stories that featured witty tales filled with wordplay and surprising endings. His wide-ranging work produced many compilations of short stories, but his most famous stories include Ransom of Red Chief, Gift of the Magi, and The Caballero's Way, which introduced the famous Cisco Kid character.
Author, newspaper columnist, humorist and political commentator who expressed the views of many Austinites and Texans alike. Her witty writings were often directed at political figures - both liberal and conservative.
A prolific author, writing more than 40 books throughout his career. While the majority of his books were fiction, they featured intense multi-generational familial sagas that weaved in detailed geographic information and historical facts. Many people are familiar with the story from his first book, South Pacific, which was later adapted into the Rogers & Hammerstein musical and film by the same name.
Served as President of the Texas State Historical Society and launched the project that would later become the Handbook of Texas. He was on the faculty of the University of Texas and is known for his historical research and writings.
Best known for his books that shared the traditions and life on the open ranges of rural Texas. He was outspoken against the business as usual state politics of Texas, as well as religious prejudices, assaults on personal liberties and the negative affect the mechanical age had on the vibrant Texan spirit. Aside from his writing, he also played a key role in preventing the extinction of the Texas Longhorn cattle breed.
An irreverent humor writer who has written newspaper columns and several books. His writing often tells tales of his time as an undergraduate student and law student. He is considered one of the founders of the "fratire" literary genre - humorous writing often written by and for young fraternity-type men.
While many may hear Franklin's name mentioned when deciding where to eat while in Austin, visitors can also pick up his cookbook. Franklin Barbecue: A Meat-Smoking Manifesto shares the secrets to making barbecue that is regularly considered to be among the best in the world. While the book may not make readers a bonafide pitmaster, it can certainly help recreate a tasty reminder of an Austin visit.
In a land considered a conservative stronghold, Austin often finds itself at odds with the rest of the state. Recent times have found most major cities in Texas leaning liberal, but the suburbs and rural areas have still seen significant enough voter turnout to keep the state a conservative territory.
This situation is particularly interesting in Austin since the traditionally conservative state government is located in Austin. Liberal downtown Austinites and more conservative suburbanites combine to create a political climate that allows 3rd party and other independent candidates to garner support.
The last time Austin went Republican in a major election was in 2000 with the election of former Texas Governor George W. Bush. By 2004, a major political shift in Austin gave Democratic Presidential candidate John Kerry a 14 percent margin of victory over Bush, who nevertheless won Texas again.
One of the strongest political movements in Austin has been the emphasis on environmental movements. Given Austin's plethora of outdoor activities, it's no surprise that residents want to protect their environment. In 2012, Austin distinguished itself by banning the sale and use of plastic bags, a measure that several other Texas cities were not able to pass or enforce. In addition to the ambient environmental concerns, Austin's increasing population has created neighborhood environmental and conservationist movements that revolve around creating Austin's "sense of place", preserving Austin's quality of life, and preventing redevelopment of residential neighborhoods.
Austin is divided into six state legislative districts. Three of these districts are consistently Democratic, and the other three are swing districts that are currently held by two Democrats and one Republican. Redistricting in 2003 resulted in downtown Austin not having an exclusive congressional seat of its own. However, the City maintained six seats. Travis County, home to Austin, was the only county in Texas that rejected the Texas Constitutional Amendment effectively outlawing gay marriage. The state amendment was made moot 2015 with the US Supreme Court's marriage equality ruling.
Austin Bergstrom International Airport (IATA: AUS), . 6 miles (10km) southeast of the city center, it is served by most major carriers, with non-stop service to 49 destinations. This airport is unique from other large airports in the sense that most of the stores and restaurants inside are locally owned businesses plus there are also live music acts that play inside the airport as well which is a good way to spend time if your flight is ever delayed. There are a selection of buses (including the MetroAirport which is $1.75 USD (exact change) - the route goes through Downtown and ends on the UT campus) , taxis, shuttles and car rentals to get you into town and back. Chauffeured sedans or limos are also available to pick you up or drop you off at the airport but normally require advance reservations. Taxi fare to downtown Austin is approximately $30. You can also schedule a flat rate ride (around $25 to downtown) on the ridesharing app Wingz .
The following airlines serve Austin-Bergstrom International Airport:
Austin Amtrak station, 250 North Lamar Blvd., . Served by the Texas Eagle Line with service from Chicago to San Antonio.
Austin is on one major freeway and several regional highways, and its outskirts are served by several tollways. From San Antonio, head north on IH-35, about one and a half hours. From Dallas, head south on IH-35, about three hours. From Houston, head west on US-290 (or I-10 W to Hwy 71 W if you want to reach South Austin), about three hours.
- Shofur, . Runs express luxury buses from Austin to Houston, San Antonio, Waco and Dallas with free wifi and power outlets for all passengers.
- Greyhound Bus Line, (station is on IH-35 near Highland Mall), +1 800-231-2222, . Serves Austin daily. Schedules may change. Passengers can catch the number 7 bus to downtown from there.
- Vonlane, (stop is at the Hyatt Regency Austin, located on 208 Barton Springs Rd), . Runs first class buses from Austin to both Houston and Dallas equipped with various amenities such as leather seats, electircal outlets, ample leg room, free Wi-Fi, and satellite TV.
- Megabus, (stop is located on the west side of Whitis Ave between W 20th St and W 21st St), 1-877-462-6342, . Runs daily buses from Austin to both Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio. Fares from $1 and up.
- Autobus Americanos, . Mexican trans-border bus line with services to various points in Mexico. Bus stop is located at 1140 Airport Blvd in Austin.
- Turimex Internacional, . Mexican trans-border bus line with services to various points in Mexico. Bus stop is located at 5012 E. 7th Street in Austin.
- Omnibus Mexicanos, . Mexican trans-border bus line with services to various points in Mexico. Bus stop is located at 3301 N Interstate 35 in Austin.
- Metropolitan Shuttle - Austin Charter buses, 11141 Georgia Ave., Ste. 218, Wheaton, MD 20902, +1 866 556 3545. Austin Charter buses & Rental Services
Most of the areas of Austin of interest to a visitor are pedestrian friendly. The downtown area is especially compact and walkable, with many attractions within a 1-2 mile walk from downtown hotels. In the summer, temperatures that stay in the 90s during the day may make a long walk less appealing. Just break up your wanderings with stops for a cool drink!
The University of Texas area, just north of downtown, is also very pedestrian friendly, and in fact can be a difficult place to get around by car (very hard to find a parking spot).
Austin is hilly to the west but generally mildly sloping toward the river in the center of town. There are bike lanes on some major streets in addition to some trails. Biking is a great way to get around year round and the weather is usually agreeable from mid-October to mid-April. May to mid-October temperatures may reach the high 90's and humidity may be a problem.
- Yellow Bike Project, ☎ +1 512 457-9880, . edit Operates two community bike shops where individuals can go and repair their own bikes free of charge. Coordinators are present to answer any questions and guide you, but not to fix your bike for you. At the Main Shop on 51st street there are 10+ work stands and tools sets available for use. The Satellite Shop is better for minor repairs and only has as a few work stands. If you are looking for a cheap bike while in town and are willing to do a little maintenance work, visit The Yellow Bike Project and pick out a bike that needs a little love in exchange for a small donation. If you are interested getting away from touristy attractions on your visit, the Yellow Bike shop is a great place to drop in and volunteer a few hours. Their hours change monthly but are up-to-date on their website. If you are lucky you might see one of the name-sake Yellow Bikes around town. If you see a Yellow Bike, feel free to ride it to your destination and leave it for the next person. Yellow Bikes are not to be locked up and you ride at your own risk. The Austin Yellow Bike Project has been operating for ten years and has released over 600 yellow bikes.
- Austin B-cycle, . edit Low cost bike sharing with 42 stations located Downtown and on West Campus, South Congress, and East Austin. Includes options for 24-hour pass, weekend pass, and others. Currently, 24-hour passes cost $12 (July 2017).
- Bicycle Sports Shop - Bike Rentals, ☎ +1 512 477-3472, . edit The Bicycle Sports Shop is located Downtown and offers a large selection of bike rentals in the city.
Capital Metro is Austin's public bus network with a system of inexpensive neighborhood, express and downtown routes. As of 2017, all local routes (including the airport) are $1.25 per trip or $2.50 for a 24-hr pass. MetroRail and MetroExpress, which serve the surburbs, are $3.50 per ride or $7.00 for 24 hours. You can also download the Cap Metro app for your phone to pull up route info, buy tickets by credit card, and see real-time bus arrival info. If you're not using the app, plan to have exact change to buy your ticket when you board the bus.
Some routes run every 15 minutes on weekdays while others are much more infrequent, so check Google Maps or the Cap Metro app to see what your options are beforehand in case you need to work around the bus schedule. If you want to get around primarily by bus, plan to stay pretty central to have the best options. In general the bus routes going north and south are better than east and west, not sure why.
Metrorail is a commuter rail service that goes from Downtown Austin to the Northwestern suburbs of Leander and Cedar Park. Since the service is geared towards commuters, service tends to be spotty at best outside of off peak hours and really isn't useful for for most visitors.
Driving is not too difficult if you're used to living in a large city. Traffic is bad from 7-9AM and 3:30-7PM weekdays, though IH-35 through town can be jammed at other times as well.
There are two major north-south Expressways: I-35 (nonstandarly called "IH-35") and Loop 1 (also called the MoPac Expressway for former owner of the railroad which runs along it, Missouri-Pacific - or "Slo-Pac" for anyone who has experienced it at rush hour). There is only one true major east-west freeway in Austin located south of the city center, known as Ben White or US 290 West/Texas highway 71. The freeway section of 290 West/Ben White currently runs from Austin-Bergstrom International Airport to just east of Oak Hill. Freeway extensions are currently being constructed east on 71 past the airport, and the beginning stages of construction are taking place west towards and past Oak Hill. Hwy 183 runs from the southeast corner of the city near the airport to the northwest suburbs, bridging Mopac and I-35 in North Austin.
Oak Hill is the point at which TX 71 and US 290 split apart and go in separate directions, and in case this isn't confusing enough, some people make the distinction between 290 West and 290 East because at I-35, 290 East actually heads up the interstate, and then continues on to the east in North Austin. There is a second freeway that runs from the Northwest side of the city down to the Southeast side of the city past the airport. This freeway is called US 183, and in North Austin it may also be referred to as Research Boulevard. Most of it is freeway now, however there are still several major intersections which are currently being constructed and turned into freeway.
I-35 has no loop that circumnavigates the city, so watch out for aggressive, confused drivers. Also, keep your eyes open for the upper deck/lower deck split between Airport Boulevard and Martin Luther King Jr Boulevard; it's confusing, and accidents occur there frequently. Drivers going through Austin without stopping, or those who wish to avoid the chaos of the lower deck, should use the right two lanes as the deck split approaches, in contrast to other cities where through traffic uses the left lane. On the northbound side, traffic entering I-35 at Martin Luther King Jr Boulevard goes directly to the upper deck.
Out-of-towners be warned: on-ramps on I-35, especially the lower deck, are very short.
Austin has a mostly completed network of toll roads, see Central Texas Turnpike System and Central Texas Regional Mobile Authority. These include SH 130, an Austin bypass east of town; SH 45, an east-west artery in North Austin; the North MoPac extension; the US 183A bypass of Cedar Park and Leander; and SH 45SE in far south Austin. TxTag accounts are available for commuters. There has been significant opposition and accommodations have been made in some areas. Both US 183A and MoPac are rather deceptive — if you keep going north on either 183 or MoPac, the freeway seamlessly transitions into a toll road and the signing is rather poor. To avoid the toll, you must keep a sharp eye out and get off the main lanes. Even worse, all tolls on 183A are "TxTag Only" meaning that you cannot pay cash. This trend will likely extend to all Austin tollways in the near future.
Rental car offices may try to add on a "toll road package". Be sure you understand exactly which roads require tolls before signing on for this. The fee is exorbitant, a pure cash cow for the agency.
car2go & ZipCar are car shares active in Austin and are both great for quick trips around town. Become a member then go online or use their mobile app to find an available car parked nearby. Just hop in the car and drive to your destination and then leave it there for the next user. An hourly rate covers all gas and insurance.
Parts of the city are subject to flooding at times during the year; however, it is not too common as Austin does not usually get an excessive amount of rain. The year 2007 saw several flood episodes with the worst effects in Marble Falls, northwest of the city. See City of Austin Flood History  for historic flooding.
For those of you unfamiliar with proper treatment of flooded areas, NEVER drive through flooded low water crossings. You will lose your car and possibly your life. As little as a few inches of running water can and does wash a car away and each year there are some deaths due to this. "Turn Around, Don't Drown."
While driving is not too bad, parking in the city center can be difficult; look for municipal parking garages as officers will ticket you in the blink of an eye (check meters, though, because many are free in the evenings, on weekends, and on major holidays). Worse yet, vehicles illegally parked in private parking areas are very quickly towed, so make sure that you don't park in spots marked no parking.
Parking is free in the Texas State History Museum garage near UT after hours and on weekends. As of 2005 under SB 1533, state employees may park in state garages during non-business hours for free.
Lyft and Uber recently returned to Austin (2017) and can be used for rides 24-hours a day.
Austin Tx Ride Share Visitor Guide They provide rideshare. Usually a free ride code is attached to each company. If you need delivery, they have local options to use.
- RideFinder.io Not a ridesharing app, but allows you to compare fare estimates across different platforms so you can choose the best option for your trip.
If you need a cab you'll need to call, because outside of the rare downtown cab stand, taxis can't be hailed on the street.
- Yellow Cab ☎ +1 512 452-9999. website includes fare estimator and online booking.
- Austin Cab Company ☎ +1 512 478-2222.
- Marriton Limousine ☎ +1 512 329-7007, Toll free: 1-800-940-7007, For airport transfers or those who just demand a bit more luxury you can rent a chauffeured sedan, limousine or minibus.
Chauffeured, private charter transportation
There are many options for private charter vehicles in Austin: Luxury sedans, SUVs, private motor coaches, mini buses, party buses and limousines, etc. The Austin-Bergstrom International Airport Site maintains a list of licensed and permitted transportation options.
- Bachelor Party Austin., Private limos and party buses available for rent. Also offers packages, such as BBQ tours to Lockhart, local brewery tours, golf outings and similar trips. Great for bachelor parties and other large group outings.
The University of Texas Tower
Visitors are initially drawn to Austin for hip culture, live music, great food and late nights. But there are plenty of attractions to fill up the hot Texas days waiting for the nightlife to pop off. Visitors can see great historic Texas landmarks, wander neighborhoods committed to the city slogan of ‘’Keep Austin Weird’’, visit great museums filled with art and history and picnic in lush parks.
Many of the landmarks and historic places in Austin aren’t statues or cross streets. The city's history takes place in bars, diners and dance halls. The State Capitol building in Downtown is a traditional landmark and noteworthy part of the city's skyline. The current pink granite building is a source of pride for residents who won’t hesitate to inform visitors that it’s taller than the United States Capitol building.
- A must see in the 2nd Street District are the bats that fly out from the ‘’’Congress Street Bridge’’’. March through November the ‘’Mexican free-tailed bats’’ are the most active around dusk, leaving in a great swarm from beneath the bridge. Visitors can catch them either from the banks of the Colorado River or on a boat tour.
Downtown is the heart of the city, where it's non-stop activity day and night. Cultural attractions fill visitors' days, and nightlife, shows and concerts keep them busy all night. The main district contains within its borders smaller neighborhoods for shopping, nightlife, eateries and galleries.
South Austin across the Colorado River is historically the more diverse section of the city. South Congress Avenue was in decline during the second half of the 20th century, but local independent businesses revitalized the area. The avenue is now packed with restaurants and cafes, great retailers and boutique hotels.
West Austin is the historic area of the city. The ‘’’Balcones Uplift’’’ creates gorgeous panoramic views of the city. It is the go-to district for fine dining.
East Austin is quickly filling with recent Austin transplants. Great tex-mex, hip new restaurants, casual bars and upscale mixology joints mix in with artists’ studios, galleries and reclaimed warehouses and strip malls.
Many of the city’s museums are on the campus of the University of Texas at Austin, between Downtown and Central Austin. The beautiful campus is great for strolling between art and science museums and taking in the many outdoor public art pieces. The music and theater departments are also well-regarded and have performances going on throughout the year. Congress Avenue cuts through the center of the city and is also the go-to spot for eclectic art galleries, museums and Texas pride.
- Mexic-Arte Museum' Mexic-Arte Museum moved into its current home at 419 Congress Avenue in 1988. This ideal location placed the museum in the heart of Austin’s vibrant downtown – Central Texas’ epicenter of commerce, culture, arts and tourism. As one of the precious few Mexican art museums in the United States, Mexic-Arte Museum strives to improve the quality of life in Texas through innovative exhibitions and educational programming. A total of 75,000 visitors, ranging from enthusiastic children to art connoisseurs, tour the museum each year.
- Barton Creek Greenbelt is home to the best hiking and nature just minutes from downtown. You have to know how to find the trailheads, though, so do some research before heading out: Austin Greenbelt Guide.
- Roy G. Guerrero Colorado River Metropolitan Park is over 360 acres, with a disc golf course, baseball and softball fields and a trail leading to the Colorado river.
- Zilker Park is on the south bank of the Colorado River and west side of the city and contains endless trails, picnic spots, botanical gardens and Barton Springs. Home of ACL.
- The University of Texas at Austin,  is a beautiful stroll. While there you might want to visit the Blanton Museum of Art , the Harry Ransom Center , Texas Memorial Museum of Science and History , or view the public art around campus . The famous UT tower has reopened and is worth a look for the breathtaking views and history lesson. It is a tour though so you need to make reservations . The theater and music departments are both well regarded and have performances throughout the school year. If you visit during football season, you can see the 2005 National Champion Texas Longhorn football team play at Darrell K. Royal - Texas Memorial Stadium.
- LBJ Presidential Library,  always seems to have something interesting on display. They change their exhibits fairly frequently.
- The Texas State Capitol,  is a must-see for new visitors to Austin. A large source of pride for the city and the state, the State Capitol is a beautiful building wrapped in Texas pink granite. Independent-minded Texans take pride in the fact that the State Capitol is actually 14 feet taller than the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. Unlike many other state capitols in America, Texas' is as welcoming as the state's people, and is completely open to the public seven days a week. It's interesting to stroll through the halls, look at the paintings and sculptures, and peek into the legislative chambers. And it's free!
- Austin Bats. Yes, that's right, bats. Austin's Congress Avenue bridge is home to about 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats. This is the largest urban bat colony in the world and one of the largest Mexican free-tailed bat colonies in North America. The bats are generally active at dusk every evening between March and November. In years when there has been a drought, the bats leave early (when there is still light), and can be a quite impressive sight. In years when there has been plenty of rain, they leave so late it is difficult to see much. Best place to see them is near the Austin American Statesman's parking lot, or you can pay for boat tours to see them from underneath the bridge.
Austin is a huge city, so all individual listings should be moved to the appropriate district articles, and this section should contain a brief overview. Please help to move listings if you are familiar with this city.
Austin is a city of doers. Residents get out to enjoy every single one of the 300 days of sunshine each year. From running and cycling on the miles of gorgeous city trails, to yoga in the parks, a weekend game of disc golf or a leisurely afternoon of tubing, Austin gets outside. Festivals, walking tours and outdoor equipment rental all welcome visitors to an authentic Austin experience alongside locals.
- Swim. There's nothing like a dip in a spring fed pool to refresh and invigorate, the most famous of which is Barton Springs pool in South Austin. Other spring fed options are Big Stacy Pool also located south or Deep Eddy downtown. Just west of Austin, popular swimming spots include Hamilton Pool, Emma Long Park and the clothing optional Hippie Hollow. edit
- Float. Downtown and South Austin offer multiple shops that rent stand-up paddle boards, kayaks and canoes. Head west for jet ski rentals on Lake Austin and Lake Travis. A more passive float may be enjoyed on summer inner tube rentals in nearby San Marcos or New Braunfels. edit
- Rock Climbing. The cliffs overlooking Barton Creek in South Austin are a popular rock climbing spot. There are several businesses that will provide the needed equipment and training. edit
- Bike. Mountain biking is popular in Austin and every district has its trails. Downtown is home to the busy 9th street BMX track, while South Austin is home to the 3.1 mile veloway used exclusively by bikes and rollerbladers (motorized and foot traffic is banned). edit
Sixth street during SXSW Austin
Austin is famous for its monster festivals that get the whole city out partying in the streets. All of the neighborhoods have smaller festivals and block parties year round, but occasionally the whole city shuts down to accommodate visitors from around the country and world. When traveling to Austin for festivals, booking hotels and making restaurant reservations early in advance is essential.
- South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival. MARCH. Beginning before and overlapping the SXSW Music Festival. SXSW Film is a significant industry conference, but also hosts many film showings.
- South by Southwest (SXSW) Music Festival. MARCH. One of the biggest music festival in the United States, with more than 1,400 performers playing dozens of venues around Austin for four days. The wrist bands are loved by college students here, but be warned that you'll be turned away at the door at many of the venues even with one. You can still get into some of the larger venues without a wristband if you'd simply like to sample a band or two and check out the atmosphere; you can usually pick one "official" venue where you think you'll like all the bands, and then go early and pay the cover. Hardcore music fans usually make a week long calendar and plan to arrive at different venues for different acts.
- Texas Relays MARCH. What began as a large high school and college track and field competition at the University of Texas has grown into a premiere social event. In addition to the sporting events, several African-American networking and developmental workshops are held each year along with an Urban Music festival and special events around town.
- Eeyore's Birthday Party. APRIL. A day-long festival that typically occurs on the last Saturday of April in Austin's Pease District Park. It includes live music, food and drink vending which benefit local non-profit organizations, attendees in colorful costumes, and very large drum circles.
- Chaos in Tejas. MAY. Four day punk festival occurring annually since 2005.
- Republic of Texas Biker Rally JUNE. What did you say? ... I can't hear you over the 200,000 earsplitting motorcycles all over town ... what? ... 54 sq. blocks downtown closed for a biker's street party ... motorcycle parade ... wild parties in east Austin ... what?
- Out of Bounds Comedy Festival SEPTEMBER. A comedy festival that takes place on Labor Day weekend that also showcases some of the best in improv, sketch, and stand-up comedy from all over the country and across the globe.
- Austin Pride SEPTEMBER. Austin's single largest LGBT event includes a festival at Fiesta Gardens and a parade that goes through the Warehouse District.
- Austin City Limits Festival. OCTOBER. An annual three day outdoor music festival. It brings together more than 130 bands on eight stages, including rock, country, folk, indie, Americana, hip-hop, reggae, and bluegrass, and attracts a crowd of about 65,000 music-lovers each day. A great mix of big names as well as local acts, but be prepared to deal with the heat.
- Austin Film Festival. OCTOBER. Conference and film showings.
- Fun Fun Fun Fest. NOVEMBER. An annual music and comedy festival featuring stages that focus specifically on hip-hop/electronica, indie rock, punk/metal, and comedy.
- Viva La Vida Festival and Parade. OCTOBER, Mexic-Arte Museum’s Viva La Vida Fest is Austin’s largest and longest-running Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) festival. The festival features a Grand Procession, the Education Pavilion with hands-on art activities and artist demos, and a celebration with traditional foods, local artist and retail booths, a low-rider exhibition, live music and performances throughout the day. This year's festival will honor Frida Kahlo in conjunction with the autumn exhibit Diego & Frida: A Smile in the Middle of the Way
- Segway Tours Austin Segway Tours enable you to tour downtown Austin on the Segway. Tours are offered 6 times daily and range from $39 for a 1 hour downtown tour, to $69 for the haunted ghost and bat Segway Tour. Tours depart daily. .
- Austin Tours, 555 E. 5th Street, #2811, ☎ 512-215-4603 ([email protected]), . Operating daily. Offers scenic carriage and van tours as well as ground transportation to several area landmarks including Arboretum, Round Rock, and UT. Priced from $16.95. edit
- TexasWineTours.com, ☎ 512-329-7007 ([email protected]). http://www.Texas-Wine-Tours.com. Offers half and full day tours of the nearby Texas Wine country. Rent a chauffeured sedan, limo or minibus, generally departing between 10AM and noon daily. $50-$1500. edit
- Austin Ghost Tours, ☎ 512-853-9826, . Offers several guided walking tours of downtown haunts ~$15. edit
- Independence Brewery Tour, 3913 Todd Lane #607, ☎ 512-707-0099 ([email protected]), . 1-3PM, first Saturday of the month. One of a growing number of local microbreweries. If you're in town on a tour day they are worth the time to see (and sample). edit
- Double Decker Tours, 602 E 4th St, Austin, TX 78701, ☎ 866-GO-AUSTIN ([email protected]), . 9:15 AM - 5:15 PM, Thursday - Sunday. Austin's only hop on/hop off sightseeing and historic double decker tour. Tour stops include LBJ Presidential Library and Museum, Bullock Texas State History Museum, South Congress (SOCO) area, and Barton Spring Area $35. edit
Austin is a great city for theater, especially if you like new works.
- Ballet Austin is classically innovative. Through excellence and faithful stewardship, they create, nurture and share the joy of dance.
- Rude Mechanicals or Rude Mechs. Original pieces are always engaging. Their production values are over the top (10 foot tesla coils on stage), and always make you interested to be watching theater. They've done Lipstick Traces and Get Your War On. They tour, so look for them.
- Pro Arts Collective do everything: theatre, dance, hip-hop, musicals, festivals and more.
- Teatro Vivo are dedicated to producing quality bilingual theatre. Reflects the heart and soul of the Latino reality.
- Salvage Vanguard. Original musical pieces in conjunction with the Golden Arm Trio's Graham Reynolds are not to be missed.
- Different Stages, . One of Austin's oldest rep. companies.
- Refraction Arts, . They dabble in multiple mediums. Always interesting.
- the dirigo group, . These critical darlings do original and established work.
- Bedlam Faction, . The typical Bedlam fare is nervy, physical productions of lesser known early-modern playwrights. They occasionally do new, local works.
- Naughty Austin, . Started out dedicated to gay-themed scripts, but they've been branching out lately.
- Loaded Gun Theory, . Original pieces.
- Yellow Tape Construction Co, . New work in theatre, dance, music, and many different combinations of the three.
- The State and Paramount Theaters feature a wide variety of plays and acts, from Broadway touring shows to Chinese acrobats to plays and unique dance companies. Note that the State Theater is closed for most of the 2006-2007 season due to flooding. Performances not canceled will take place in the Paramount Theater. 
- Go to Esther's Follies for an entertaining Saturday Night Live-like comedy skits (Th-Sa). Located in the 6th street entertainment district it's a great way to start an evening. Reservations recommended. 
- The Off Center, . Managed by Rude Mechs and home to some of Austin's best theatre, music and dance: Deborah Hay Dance Company, Physical Plant Theatre, Salvage Vanguard Theatre, The Golden Hornet Project.
- The Hideout, . Managed by The Austin Improv Collective. You can always find improv comedy there.
- The ColdTowne Theater, . Plenty of comedy, ranging from stand-up to sketch and improv.
- Zach Theater, . Dave Steakley is artistic director. If you are looking for solid musical theatre, this is your venue. They also have a lock on Christmas plays.
- The Vortex, . Bonnie Cullum is artistic director. Original musicals and operas and plays. Some of the most delightfully weird stuff you'll see.
- Sam Bass Community Theater, .
- Arts on Real, .
- The Gas Light Theater, .
- The Mary Moody Northen Theatre, . Sitting atop a hill with gorgeous views of downtown, this professional Equity house at St. Edward's University allows college students and seasoned actors to work together creating exceptional theatre at a great value. 512-448-8484
Austin is the "Live Music Capital of the World". If you're into the bar and club scene, head to Sixth Street during the later hours for a wide selection of venues, many of which also feature live music. A note of interest regarding Austin clubs and bars: a new smoking ban prohibits smoking in any public building, including these establishments.
- The Cactus Café, 2247 Guadalupe (at 24th St.), ☎ +1 512-475-6515 ([email protected]), . M-Th 11AM-Midnight, F 11AM-2AM, Sa 8PM-2AM (hours may vary during school breaks). A great place to hear many local artists. Much of the music that is played there seems to be singer-songwriter. It's musically akin to Austin City Limits and unlike Austin City Limits you can probably actually get in to the Cactus Café. edit
- Austin City Limits, ([email protected]), . The venerable PBS show is filmed in the Moody Theater. Check out upcoming tapings to enter the drawing for free tickets, usually open a week in advance. edit
- Stubb's BBQ, 801 Red River, ☎ +1 512-482-8422, . This BBQ restaurant has some of the best selection of live music in Austin, thanks to Charles Attal, one of the owners, who is recognized nationally for his music booking business. Crowded on Sundays! edit
- Antone's, 305 E. 5th St., ☎ +1 512-800-4628, . An Austin original that has survived despite many hardships. Considered by USA Today to be one of the best Blues clubs in the nation, Antone's continues to be a launching pad for dozens of new artists each year. (In January, 2013, Antone's announced that it would be moving to a new location after the SXSW Music Festival in March.) edit
- The Saxon Pub, 1320 South Lamar, ☎ +1 512-448-2552, . M-Sa 11AM-2AM, Su Noon-2AM. An awesome live music venue. The Saxon hosts live music throughout the week and even has a "no cover" happy hour until 7PM. Look for the giant knight and neon guitar. edit
- Emo's East, 2015 E. Riverside Dr., . Standing on the site of the old Back Room, this venue has a larger capacity than the old Emo's (which, as of December 2011, is closed), better sound quality, and the draw of bigger acts. Be very careful in this neighborhood at night. edit
- Hole in the Wall, 3600 Guadalupe (UT Campus ARea.). Unique UT campus area club. Great Live Music. Usually no cover. Unique mix of students and z's, craftsman and construction workers, gays, and professionals. edit
- Elysium, 705 Red River (Take I-35 to exit number 234B, 8TH), ☎ 512-478-2979, . Voted Best Dance Club 2003-2008 in the Austin Chronicle Readers' Poll edit
- Austin Film Festival. See information under Festival heading.
- SXSW Film Festival. See information under Festival heading.
- The Alamo Drafthouse, Four locations . A movie theater with full restaurant service. Downtown always has an eclectic array of cult and foreign films and a good beer and food menu and recently began serving liquor. They also have a dizzying number of specialty shows and film festivals. Their other locations show more first run movies with the same excellent food and beer menu.
- Arbor 7 Cinema, 9828 Great Hills Trail in the Arboretum area, . Even though it is owned and operated by mainstream Regal Cinemas, the Arbor 7 shows art and foreign films.
- IMAX® Theatre, at Bob Bullock Texas State Historical Museum, . Huge screen, 400 seats, with 2-D and 3-D capability.
- Austin Film Society. Various theaters. . A membership organization bringing the best of cinema to Austinites. Many screenings open to the public. Check the website for current programs and community film annoucements.
- Austin Jewish Film Festival, takes place annually in January, presenting a cinematic examination of Jewish life and culture. .
- Cine Las Americas International Film Festival, takes place in April, presenting the best in Latino and Indigenous cinema. The Festival presents approximately 100 films with screenings in theaters throughout Austin. .
- Austin Gay and Lesbian International Film Festival, takes place annually in September. aGLIFF is the oldest and largest gay & lesbian film festival in the Southwest and one of the Top 5 Film Festivals of its kind in the nation. .
- Austin Bicycle Film Festival, takes place annually in September. The Bicycle Film Festival is a celebration of bicycles through film, art and music. .
Enjoying the Outdoors
Austin has a reputation for being one of the fittest cities in the country. Year round warm weather encourages people to get outside and get active. Lake Travis is just 40 minutes to the west of the city and offers jet skis, motorboats, ziplines and other adrenaline fueled activities. Lake Austin on the way to Lake Travis has boat tours and jet skis as well.
- Zilker Park . Undoubtedly Austin's favorite park. Amazing location on the banks of Town Lake with several miles of hiking and biking trails.
- Barton Springs Pool  is one of Austin's most unique (and a refreshing 68 degrees year-round!) attractions: a beautiful spring-fed pool over 3 times longer than a football field, nestled in the heart of the city at Zilker Park. $3 entrance fee for the whole day. If you are short of cash or have a dog, head downstream just on the other side of the fence and find more clear beautiful water.
- Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center  showcases flowers and plant life of the area. The center is a bit southwest of downtown and worth the drive, especially during spring.
- Lady Bird Lake Boat Rental Rent a canoe or kayak and enjoy the natural world in the heart of the city.
- Austin Rowing Dock , 2418 Stratford Drive (512) 459-0999. From $10 to $25/hr.
- Zilker Park boat rentals , (512) 478-3852. In the park. $10/hr, $40 per day.
- Tubing the San Marcos River 170 Bobcat Dr. San Marcos, (512) 396-5466, 25 miles south of town on I-35. There is no more quintessentially Central Texan thing than enjoying a summer afternoon lazily floating down the river. The Lion's club of San Marcos rents tubes at around $4/person or canoes at $10/each. They take you to the river and pick you up.
- McKinney Falls State Park . A 744 acre state park located in southeast Austin is rich in local history.
- Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail. A big loop around Lady Bird Lake, beautiful scenery while getting a good workout. Recent beautification has cleaned up parts, and is making it nicer for all. Runs alongside Zilker park. A good place for biking, running, walking, or taking the dog out for a nice run. Relatively easy hike.
- Other parks in and around Austin. There are numerous parks all over the city and in the surrounding suburbs that are very popular with the residents of Austin. A significant number of these parks are pet friendly. AustinExplorer is a popular website to learn more about local parks and trails  and .
- Mt. Bonnell, 3800 Mt. Bonnell Dr. (west of Mopac on 2222, left on Mt. Bonnell Rd.) The third-highest point in Austin city limits at 780 feet. Several trails make for pleasant short hikes and points to experience incredible views of Town Lake and the city. The area has a history of romance and is sometimes called Antoinette's Leap, after a woman who supposedly leapt to her death to escape Indians who killed her lover.
- Lake Travis Zipline Adventures  14529 Pocahontas Trail Leander, TX Northwest of Austin on Lake Travis is the world's 9th longest zipline where you can check out Austin's scenery from a bird's eye view.
- University of Texas Longhorns, . Austin is a university town and Texas sports are taken very seriously. Home of the 2005-06 National Football Champions. UT also has strong basketball and baseball teams, in particular.
- Professional Sports. Among the professional sports teams in Austin are the Austin Aztex of the United Soccer League, and the Austin Toros of the National Basketball Development League. The Round Rock Express, affiliated with the Texas Rangers, are located in nearby Round Rock, Texas and play Triple-A baseball in the Pacific Coast League. The Texas Stars hockey team is an American Hockey League team playing at the Cedar Park Center and are affiliated with the Dallas Stars (NHL).
- Motorsports: The Circuit of The Americas (COTA) , located in southeast Austin not far from the airport, is home to two major international motorsports events each year, and also starting in 2014 will become the host of the summer X Games in action sports. The complex also includes an outdoor music venue, the Austin360 Amphitheater. The major racing events at COTA are:
- Grand Prix of the Americas . Grand Prix motorcycle racing in the Moto3, Moto2, and (top-level) MotoGP classes, held over a weekend in April.
- United States Grand Prix . Formula One auto racing, held over a weekend in early November.
The Austin Steam Train Association, , runs several tours aboard the Hill Country Flyer steam train into and around Texas Hill Country. The train makes short half hour jaunts as well as a 30 mile (50km) circuit on weekends March through December. The Steam Train Association does actually own a live steam train, but it has been out of commission since about 2000. The train still runs though, just using a borrowed diesel engine. It is still nice, but not as attractive as it used to be.
The University of Texas at Austin is one of the best universities in the world, public or private. The flagship institution of the University of Texas System, it is also one of the largest universities in the world, both in terms of endowment, and in terms of student population. UT has been the largest university in the United States, but has intentionally limited enrollment and now ranks in the top five nationally. The red-tiled roofs of the "Forty Acres," as it is known, shelter many cultural and entertainment institutions. The campus is beautiful and vibrant, and visitors are welcome.
Austin is a college town as well as a government and high-tech center. It draws its population from all over, and many students decide to stay. This gives Austin a high level of general education and a diverse cultural scene.
- Austin Community College 
- Concordia University at Austin 
- Huston-Tillotson College 
- St. Edwards University 
- University of Texas 
In addition to being the state capital of Texas, Austin also has a large concentration of technology companies based in the area with Dell, Google, Microsoft, Samsung, Electronic Arts, National Instruments, Apple, Xerox, Silicon Labs, Facebook, eBay, Powerhouse Animation Studios, Imagecraft Exhibits and Freescale Semiconductor all having a significant presence in the area. The proliferation of technology companies in the area has led to the region's nickname, "Silicon Hills". Austin is also emerging as a hub for pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies and the city was ranked by the Milken Institute as the No.12 biotech and life science center in the United States. In addition to national and global corporations, Austin features a strong network of independent, unique, locally owned firms and organizations.
The city’s motto of “Keep Austin Weird” permeates a lot of the shopping to be found. Shopping districts are packed with cool boutiques and locally owned retail locations. There are places both within the city and a short drive from downtown for a commercial mall experience, with national chain stores and more high end designers.
East Austin is now the go-to spot for all the city’s cool kids. Just a short mile from Downtown, it’s considered the diverse and eclectic side of town. Established neighborhood stores with stylish designers are frequently filled with locals as well as visitors to the city. Along with new galleries, cocktail bars and eateries, some of the coolest new retail locations have set up on the east side of the city. Plenty of food trucks and bar patios are available to round out visitors’ shopping itineraries. The district is particularly bustling in the evenings, and once a month galleries are open late for gallery walks and events so shoppers can purchase one-of-a-kind Austin art on their way to dinner and drinks.
South Congress is great for window shopping, the avenue is filled with independent retailers, antique shops and eclectic boutiques. On the first Thursday of the month the stores stay open until 10pm for evening shoppers. The district is a great place to start for first time visitors to experience classic Austin. Locals fill the avenue during nights and weekends, browsing the vintage shops before heading out to dinner or catching a show at one of the music venues. Parking can be difficult in the district, so visitors should wear comfortable shoes. South Congress still offers a lot to travelers who don’t have extra room in their suitcase for shopping. Museums dedicated to Texan culture, unique gallery spaces and totally one-of-a-kind architecture are all packed onto the avenue.
2nd Street’s claim to fame is “Where Texas Warmth Meets Austin Cool”. Sports, cosmetics, home accessories and high end designers are all making their way to the up-and-coming 2nd Street shopping district. As with most of Austin, the focus is on local makers so products are uniquely Texan. The district has no end of live music events and street festivals that focus on community, so visitors get to step into local culture while shopping. This district has an urban feel that’s saturated with Austin’s laid back vibe.
The ‘‘‘University of Texas at Austin’’’ is a big part of Austin culture, and visitors who want to sport their ‘‘‘Longhorn’’’ pride can swing by the campus to pick up apparel and accessories in the school’s infamous burnt-orange. [[
Austin/UT and the Drag|The Drag]] borders the campus and a visit to the hip district is a nice way to wrap up a visit to the school's museums and public art. The area is packed with college students and amongst the expected coffee shops and inexpensive restaurants there are funky shops and a weekend art market.
- Barton Creek Mall southwest of town  which hosts Macy's, Nordstroms, J.C. Penny, LEGO, and Sears.
- Lakeline Mall northwest of town  which hosts Macy's, Dillards, J.C. Penny, and Sears.
- Hill Country Galleria located in the town of Bee Cave just west of Austin and hosts Macy's, Dillard's, H&M, and Barnes & Noble. .
- Round Rock Premium Outlets opened in August, 2006 and features upscale outlet shopping in an outdoor courtyard style center. Just north of RM 1431 at I-35 in North Round Rock. 125 stores. IKEA Home furnishings is nearby. .
- Prime Outlets San Marcos and adjacent Tanger Factory Outlets combine for over 200 stores and is worth the trip south from Austin.
- The Domain and The Shops at Arbor Walk at Braker and MoPac. The Domain hosts Neiman Marcus, Dillards, Tiffany's, H&M, Zara, Louis Vuitton, and Macy's.
Austin is home of the original and the world headquarters of Whole Foods. Their flagship store is located downtown at W. 6th St. and Lamar, in the same building as their brand-new corporate headquarters. They have several other stores around town as well. The flagship store is a destination in and of itself.
Austin is also home to the original Central Market, near Lamar and 38th St., and a second location at Lamar and Westgate, down south. Both have live music in their dining areas on weekends.
Both Whole Foods and Central Market have a large selection of fresh fruits and vegetables, wines, beer, cheese, free-range meats, and seafood. The Whole Foods flagship store downtown and the 38th St. Central Market locations have a varied selection of gelato. The "mothership" Whole Foods (as locals call it) is the largest in its chain, boasting six mini-restaurants with dishes prepared to order (seafood, vegetarian, BBQ, Italian, Asian, and pizza). Spirits live music at night, a ice rink on top (during the winter months) and much, much more.
Trader Joes  211 Walter Seaholm Dr Ste 100,Open Daily 8AM-9PM has a store located in Downtown Austin that is very convienient for those who are staying downtown and has a large selection of vegetarian and vegan products.
Wheatsville Food Co-op  3101 Guadalupe, Austin TX 78705, Open Daily 9AM-11PM. Wheatsville is now a thriving cooperative grocery and has been around for over 30 years. Their focus on food issues guaranteed an excellent selection of ethically produced products including organics, vegetarian, vegan, free range meats and eggs, fair trade, household items, bulk foods and a full service deli. The store is a much smaller than the large supermarkets and provides a much more personal grocery experience. "King of the Hill" made fun of the earnestness of the place with by having Hank eat "faux fu" (a more ethical form of tofu) from the place.
Austin also features a large variety of ethnic grocery stores, including Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese, and, of course, Mexican.
- MT Supermarket, North Lamar Blvd. and Braker Lane. 68,000 square foot Vietnamese and Chinese grocery supermarket, part of the 180,000 square foot Chinatown Center.
- Hong Kong, 8557 Research Blvd. Chinese groceries.
- Asahi Imports, 6105 Burnet Road. Japanese grocery store.
- Fiesta Mart, 3909 N. Interstate 35. Mexican groceries, strong selection of other international fare.
- Barton Creek Farmers Market*, 2901 S Capital of Texas Hwy. Austin's largest and most acclaimed farmers market located in the Barton Creek Mall parking lot, meets 9:00-1:00 PM every Saturday
- H-E-B, one of the largest private (not publicly traded) corporations in America, has many supermarkets around town. They have great selection. Most markets have specialty, organic, and ethnic foods. Many are open 24 hours. Their newest large-scale supermarkets include everything from furniture to electronics to books to eggs.
- Randalls, the second largest supermarket chain in town after H-E-B, owned by Safeway has a few locations open 24 hours.
- Waterloo Records, Sixth & Lamar, . Known around town for having artists play/sign records in-store, and during SXSW, they typically have cheap/free shows in the parking lot. They also sell tickets for shows around the Austin area; check the folder at the front desk (directly in front of the computer - you should be facing the back wall and the glass windows/flyers should be to your back) to see which tickets are available. Wide selection of music, everything from Blues to Electronica to Country. Has a wall dedicated to local musicians, great if you need a real country fix, not that sugary syrup they play on the radio.
- Encore Records, Sixth and I-35, . Caters to a more rock/metal oriented clientele. The store sells band/movie shirts, new and used CD's, vinyl, and usually has a bunch of information on upcoming shows located at the front of the store.
- End of an Ear, . Experimental music, jazz, other "left of the dial" music. Regular in-store performances, usually on weekends.
- Bookpeople, Sixth & Lamar, . Across the street from Waterloo Records, this locally owned bookstore has two stories of books with lots of quiet corners to sit down for a read. Largest independent bookstore in Texas. Great selection of books on Texas history and architecture.
- BookWoman, 5501 N. Lamar, . Independent feminist bookstore also specializing in LGBTQ texts.
- Half-Price Books, . Five locations around town. This Texas-based chain's stores offer exceptional value for your dollar, and have an extremely diverse selection. A peek in these stores will show you what Austinites are really reading. Despite the name, the chain also carries used CD's, vinyl, movies, and games for an equally affordable rate.
- Terratoys, 2438 W. Anderson Lane (newly re-located), . Wide variety of toys and excellent selection of children's books.
- Hogwild, 100-A East North Loop. Vintage toys.
- Toy Joy, 403 W 2nd St, . Awesome selection of novelty, themed, and era-reminiscent toys, candy, and stationery.
There are several antique stores on South Congress.
- Blue Velvet, 217 W. North Loop.
- Buffalo Exchange, 2904 Guadalupe.
- Flashback, 1805 South 1st St.
- Blackmail. 1202 S. Congress. All black clothing and various accessories.
- Parts & Labor. 1604 S. Congress. Lots of unique items (clothes, earrings, purses, etc.) made by local artists.
- Lucy in Disguise. 1506 South Congress. Eclectic clothing and costumery for children and adults.
- Secret Oktober. 1905 South 1st St., Suite B. Goth, punk, and alternative clothing new/resale shop. Doubles as a local venue ticket sales outlet.
Austin is a huge city, so all individual listings should be moved to the appropriate district articles, and this section should contain a brief overview. Please help to move listings if you are familiar with this city.
Any visitor to Austin could easily fill their days just visiting restaurants. Along with infamous staples, there are new eateries and food trucks popping up all the time. All districts have local favorites and must-try spots, and something a little different to offer travelers.
Throughout all districts in the city, food trucks are some of the best places to get bold, unpretentious grub. Bar patios, parks and places with ample window shopping are great locations to find and sample food trucks. There are over 2,000 trucks out and about in Austin at any given time and they can frequently be found clustering together in hip “trailer parks”. Several blogs and social media accounts track the appearance of these trailer parks so they’re easy to find.
Java fanatics will feel right at home in Austin amongst the hundreds of coffee shops throughout the city. On South Congress independent cafes are packed all day, many of them selling not only homemade pastries but also breakfast tacos and burritos. Naturally, live music comes with every cup and local singer/songwriters are always part of the daily coffee shop scene.
A unique aspect of Austin culture is dining in grocery stores. Far from national chains, the grocery meccas in the city have large dining areas with indoor and outdoor seating. There’s usually live music to go along with shopping and dining. Food offerings are healthy and diverse, and typically inexpensive.
No trip to Austin would be complete without sampling as much barbecue you can stand. There are plenty of great joints throughout the city, but for barbeque memories to last a lifetime a short trip outside the city is worth the car ride. The barbecue capital of Texas is just 30 miles to the south of Austin — the small town of Lockhart has multiple landmark restaurants. To the southwest, Driftwood has world famous barbecue just 25 miles from the city and attracts Austin residents on the weekends who frequently make a day of the trip.
Downtown Austin has filled out in recent years with great restaurants. The focus is mainly on places to grab an after-work drink and dinner. Bistros, and American grills with a supper club atmosphere are plentiful throughout the district. East Austin has a mix of Tex-Mex and farm-to-table and other trendy spots. Most spots have outdoor seating, great patios and plenty of people watching. West Austin has a lot of upscale and fine dining options, many with beautiful sunset views of the city. There’s still plenty of pizza and burger joints in the district for the more casually inclined. The Drag next to the University of Texas at Austin is the place to go for quick, casual and affordable.
South Congress has the long-standing Austin landmarks that appear on almost every top ten restaurant list. Visitors don’t need to have a plan in this district, but can easily wander and find plenty of places to eat in the mile-long drag.
Austin is a huge city, so all individual listings should be moved to the appropriate district articles, and this section should contain a brief overview. Please help to move listings if you are familiar with this city.
The city’s slogan isn’t ‘‘‘Live Music Capital of the World’’’ for nothing. There’s no shortage of places to burn the midnight oil catching the best local artists and touring musicians. Live music isn’t confined to just bars and clubs, however. Austin is coffee crazy and many cafes throughout the city brew up organic beans while hosting emerging and established musicians.
Downtown stays pretty happening during the weekends but during the week the local crowd packs the district. Downtown is also home to one of the main shopping districts in the city, so its upscale watering holes are a great place to celebrate and recuperate after a successful day of retail therapy. The Warehouse District on the southern edge of Downtown is home to the city’s LGBT scene, but the hip repurposed warehouses also draw a diverse crowd to their bars, cafes and galleries.
The best spot for local and laid back, Rainey Street is tucked away on the banks of the Colorado River. Charming bungalows have been converted into easygoing bars and restaurants. Beer gardens filled with babies and dogs make this district feel more like hanging in a friend’s backyard than a wild night on the town. It makes for a great place for day drinking and to kill a couple hours relaxing between cultural attractions.
For travelers that go hard or go home, Red River district is a three-block radius of the best nightclubs, concerts and party bars in the city. With so many historic and infamous venues, visitors would do well to check concert calendars and grab tickets before their trip. Right next to the Warehouse District in Downtown. travelers can ease into their evening with cocktails or beers before heading out to hit the clubs.
More subdued nightlife enthusiasts shouldn’t discard the Red River district though. 6th Street runs through the Market District into Red River and is filled with boutique bars, upscale dining and watering holes. The street is frequently packed with locals and tourists alike who are bar hopping, killing time before a show or catching a set.
For travelers who like to be on the cutting edge of hip new scenes, East Austin is a must-visit. Boutique eateries and bars are sprouting up throughout the historic and established neighborhood. Mixology spots and dive bars operate side by side, with townies and hipsters meeting across pool tables. Food trucks, honky tonk, and of course live music and dancing can be all be found in this fast growing district.
To experience old school Austin before it became the hangout for all the country’s cool kids, head to South Congress. Long established boutiques and cafes stay busy during the day, with bars and restaurants coming alive after dark. Travelers can snag a local microbrew on draft and overhear locals tell stories that all begin “I remember when…”.
Austin is coffee mad. The coffeehouse culture is strong and growing here in Austin, and you can hear poetry and live music at quite a few of these places, as well as getting light eats. Coffeehouses are where the liberal heart of Austin beats for all to see. Free wireless Internet connections are very common (and available at many other businesses as well).
- Genuine Joe, 2001 W Anderson Ln, ☎ +1 512-220-1576, . M-F 7AM-11PM, Sa-Su 8AM-11PM. edit
- Green Muse Cafe, 519 W Oltorf St, ☎ +1 512-912-7789. Try the Middle East plate, even if you're not a vegetarian, you'll enjoy the hummus with the warm, toasted pita bread squares. There is free wi-fi too if you'd rather surf the net somewhere else other than your couch. Perfect for writing on a Saturday morning. M-F 7AM - 12AM & S-SU 9AM - 12AM. edit
- Texspresso Cafe, 2700 W Anderson Ln, ☎ +1 512-467-9898. edit
- Little City, 916 Congress Avenue, ☎ +1 512-476-2489, . M-F 8AM-Midnight, Sa 9AM-Midnight, Su 9AM-10PM. edit
- Teo, 1206 W 38th St, ☎ +1 512-451-9555, . M-Th 7AM-10PM, F 7AM-Midnight, Sa 8AM-Midnight, Su 9AM-10PM. edit
- Mozart's Coffee Roasters, 3826 Lake Austin Blvd, ☎ +1 512-477-2900 ([email protected], fax: +1 512-477-1971), . M-Th 7AM-Midnight, F 7AM-1AM, Sa 8AM-1AM, Su 8AM-Midnight. edit
- Cafe Caffeine, 909 W Mary St, ☎ +1 512-447-9473, . edit
- Lava Java, 2901 Medical Arts St, ☎ +1 512-495-9228. M-Th 7:30AM-Midnight, F 7:30AM-10PM, Sa-Su 9AM-10PM. edit
- Anderson's Coffee Company, 1601 W 38th St, ☎ +1 512-453-1533, . edit
- Trianon the Coffee Place, 3201 Bee Cave Rd, ☎ +1 512-328-4033. edit
- Progress Coffee, 500 San Marcos St, ☎ +1 512-493-0963 ([email protected], fax: +1 512-493-0964), . M-W 7AM-8PM, Th-F 7AM-9PM, Sa 8AM-9PM, Su 8AM-8PM. Best Iced Toddy in town! edit
- Pacha, 4618 Burnet Rd, ☎ +1 512-420-8758. M-F 7AM-7PM, Sa-Su 8AM-7PM. edit
Austin's main strip is on 6th Street downtown. Just this one street has something for everyone: West 6th (approx. west of San Antonio St) is people with a little money to throw around - think Dallas. Dirty 6th (approx. Brazos St to I-35) is a melting pot of college kids, out of towners, and other people who aren't looking for a lowkey night - basically Austin's Bourbon St. East 6th (starts east of I-35) is mildly grungey hipster bars. Rainey Street is a collection of midscale houses-turned-bars. The newest addition to the scene is the area around E. Cesar Chavez, where rapid gentrification is producing $15 cocktail joints.
Most grocery stores (especially HEB and Central Market) and a surprising number of convenience stores carry a generous variety of Texas beer. There are several microbreweries operating in Texas, and you can expect to find their beer at outlets with moderate to wide selections:
- Thirsty Planet  Located in the Hill Country near Jester King Brewery.
- Austin Beerworks  Located in North Austin near the intersection of MoPac and 183. Home of the Pearl Snap beer and the 99 Pack.
- Independence Brewing Co.  relatively new, and in Austin.
- Spoetzl  has several brews, including the Texas staple, Shiner Bock.
- Rahr & Sons  out of Fort Worth
- Real Ale Brewing Company  is based in Blanco, about an hour west of Austin.
- Saint Arnold Brewing Company  from Houston is fairly established and has a near-cult following.
- Live Oak Brewing  is another Austin microbrewery. You can find their beers on tap all over town.
- (512) Brewing Company  is one the Austin microbreweries, located just south of downtown in the SoCo neighborhood. Their beers are on tap in almost every bar in Austin.
- Jester King Craft Brewery  is a newly emerging traditional farmhouse brewery located a short drive west of town on a pastoral farm in the Hill Country. They offer tastings and tours every Saturday afternoon.
There are also a number of small brewpubs serving their own house-brewed beers to the local cognoscienti. These include:
- NXNW, 10010 Capital of Texas: Standard menu options here include an Amber, Pale Ale, Hefeweizen, a light Pilsner and a hearty Black Ale. They also rotate out a number of magnificent seasonals, including some amazing house-brewed lambics. Once a month, head brewer Ty Phelps rolls out a special cask-conditioned brew that typically disappears within an hour.
- Draught House, 4112 Medical Parkway: amazingly quick turnover of their fast-rotating seasonals. Drink it today because it won't be on tomorrow.
- Uncle Billy's, 1530 Barton Springs Rd. Tendency towards lighter beers, but their Haystack Hefeweizen is predictably good and some of their hoppy seasonals have been excellent.
- Black Star Co-op Pub and Brewery, 7020 Easy Wind Dr #100. The world's first member-owned brewpub. Great house beers and 20 rotating taps of mostly Texas beers. The kitchen features locally sourced and sustainably produced food billed as "Texas Pub Fare".
- Pinthouse Pizza Brewpub, 4729 Burnet Rd. Award-winning beer and hand-crafted pizza in a warm and casual setting. Pinthouse Pizza focuses on quality and sustainability. Where possible, they’ve worked to source locally and organic to support both the ecology and their friends and neighbors.
Gay and Lesbian
Most gay and lesbian bars and night clubs are located downtown with the highest concentration in the Warehouse district.
- Chain Drive, 504 Willow St, ☎ +1 512-480-9017. edit
- Cheer Up Charlies, 900 Red River St, . edit
- Highland Lounge, 404 Colorado Street, ☎ 512-476-7799, . . edit
- Oilcan Harry's, 211 W 4th Street, ☎ 512-320-8823, . edit
- Austin Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, . edit
Austin is a huge city, so all individual listings should be moved to the appropriate district articles, and this section should contain a brief overview. Please help to move listings if you are familiar with this city.
Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind when traveling to Austin is that the city attracts huge crowds for festivals and events. Accommodations fill up quickly during special events, so early reservations will guarantee you won’t be stranded hotel-less in the middle of a festival.
There are plenty of low cost hotels throughout Austin. However, during big events, costs go up across the board. When traveling on a budget, scheduling a trip during the off season and in-between festivals is the best way to save some money. Plenty of budget hotels are clustered around Interstate 35 and are conveniently located for a quick commute to all of Austin’s districts. Downtown also has a number of cheap places to stay for those who aren’t planning on having a vehicle during their stay.
Road trippers and rustics may be interested in the number of RV parks and campsites in the area around Austin. ‘’’McKinney Falls State Park’’’ has plenty of campsites and is right off Interstate 35 and a quick commute to South Congress. ‘’’Lake Travis’’’ is further out from the city but has more picturesque campsites and may be a good option for those just passing through Austin.
- Country Inn & Suites Austin-North, 7400 IH35 North, Austin North, ☎ (512) 380-0008 (fax: (512) 380-0046), . Charming country style décor, convenient to Austin Airport, University of Texas for Business or Leisure Travel edit
- McKinney Falls State Park, 5808 McKinney Falls Parkway, ☎ 512/243-1643, . The McKinney Falls State Park offers camping just outside the city. Reservations can be made online. edit
- Motel 6 Austin Central-North, 8010 I-35 North, ☎ (512)837-9890, . edit
- Motel 6 Austin Central-South/University of TX, 5330 North Interregional Highway, ☎ (512)467-9111, . edit
- Studio 6 Austin Midtown, 6603 North I-35, ☎ (512)458-5453, . edit
- Suburban Extended Stay Hotel South, 2501 Interstate Highway 35, ☎ (512)712-9920, . checkin: 3PM; checkout: 11AM. This hotel offers free high-speed Internet access in all rooms. edit
- Sleep Inn & Suites Austin Northeast, 8410 Highway 290 East, ☎ (512) 524-5400, . Located only minutes from downtown. Its a smoke-free, pet-friendly hotel located on east of IH 35, and on the north side of State Highway 290. edit
Austin has over a dozen ‘’’bed & breakfasts’’’ for travelers who prefer personalized and charming places to stay. Mostly priced in the mid-range, a majority of the B&B’s are located in Downtown and the West End part of the city. They focus on locally sourced homemade cuisine, the walkability of their locations and the opportunity to connect with locals and fellow guests.
Finding a mid-range hotel in Austin doesn’t automatically mean having to stay at a national chain. The city is filled with vintage, rehabbed and boutique hotels. Downtown, West End and South Congress have a number of options. But those who prefer the predictability of a corporate stay, Interstate 35 is lined with ‘’’Best Westerns’’’, ‘’’Holiday Inns’’’ and ‘’’Hyatts’’’; all within a quick drive of cultural attractions and Downtown.
- Hyatt Place Austin Arboretum, 3612 Tudor Boulevard, ☎ (512) 231-8491, . Spacious rooms with in-room microwave, refrigerator, separate work space and free high speed WiFi Internet access. Plus, free hot breakfast, fitness center and pool. edit
- Hyatt Place North Central, 7522 North IH-35, ☎ (512) 323-2121, . AmeriSuites Austin North Central is centrally located north of downtown Austin and 14 miles from the airport. Three adjacent restaurants will deliver to your suite. edit
- Clarion Inn & Suites Central Austin Hotel, 2200 IH-35 South, ☎ (512) 444-0561, . edit
- Courtyard Austin Airport, 7809 E. Ben White Blvd. Austin, TX 78741, ☎ 512-386-7464, . checkin: 3PM; checkout: 12 Noon. Airport hotel with breakfast buffet, free airport shuttle and free internet. edit
- Days Inn Austin Crossroads, 820 E.Anderson Lane, Austin, TX 78752, ☎ (512) 835-4311, . edit
- Hawthorn Suites Austin Airport, 7800 East Riverside Drive, ☎ (512) 247-6166, . Situated in good location, with Downtown Austin, 6th Street, the Austin Convention Center, the State Capitol, the University of Texas and the Frank Erwin Center all within minutes. Also offers a courtesy airport shuttle and car rental. edit
- Holiday Inn Austin Arboretum, 8901 Business Park Dr (NW), ☎ (512) 343-0888, . 194 room hotel with heated pool, fitness facility, free parking and high speed internet. $140 and up. edit
- Holiday Inn Austin Town Lake Hotel, 20 North IH-35, ☎ (512) 472-8211, . edit
- Hotel Allandale - NW Austin, 7685 Northcross Drive, ☎ (512) 452-9391, . Formerly known as Northcross Suites, this hotel is very unique boutique all-suite hotel in Northwest Austin. Enjoy a beautifully-landscaped pool area, a fitness center, complimentary continental breakfast, live music every Thursday night, and fresh-baked cookies and milk every night. edit
- Hyatt Summerfield Suites Austin Arboretum, 10001 N. Capital of Texas Highway, ☎ (512) 342 8080, . Hyatt Summerfield Suites Austin/Arboretum is located in the upscale Arboretum area of Austin Texas. edit
- Staybridge Suites Arboretum, 10201 Stonelake Blvd, ☎ (512) 349 0888 ([email protected]), . Located in Austin's upscale shopping and dining district, Staybridge Suites Arboretum is a very clean and comfortable hotel with an urban feel. Their lobby is full of local artwork and their spacious suites are great for weekend getaways, business travel and weddings. Only a quick drive from UT and downtown, it's great place to stay without breaking the bank. edit
If you like private and local experiences, there are plenty of vacation homes for rent in Austin. Those who are headed to the city for a festival or special event might consider renting a home instead of trying to book a hotel during the busy times of the year. Rental homes are also frequently in the middle of the night life and commercial districts in the city, making them much more convenient for those who are planning on getting around by pedicab more than car.
Austin has unparalleled luxury ‘’’resorts’’’ for those who need the luxury package when traveling. Several resorts are near ‘’’Lake Travis’’’, immersing guests in nature while still close to the city for nightlife, live music and culture. Those who just want to dip a toe in luxury can frequent the ‘’’spas’’’ attached to many of the Downtown and West End resorts.
- Hyatt Lost Pines Resort and Spa, 575 Hyatt Lost Pines Road, ☎ (512) 308-1234 (fax: (512) 308-4800), . A new resort near McKinney Falls and McKinney Roughs, between Austin Bergstrom International Airport and Bastrop, Texas, just southeast of Austin. The 405 acre resort features horseback riding, Django Spa, a small waterpark and river tubing. edit
- Lake Austin Spa Resort, 1705 South Quinlan Park Road, ☎ (512) 372-7300, . The resort is one of Austin's finest, featuring extensive spa facilities & luxury accommodations. It combines the amenities of a destination spa & lake resort for the ideal Texas vacation destination. edit
- Omni Austin Hotel Southpark, 4140 Governors Row, ☎ (512) 448-2222, . At I-35 and Ben White is South Austin. edit
- Renaissance Austin Hotel, 9721 Arboretum Boulevard, ☎ (512) 343-2626 (fax: (512)346-7953), . Marriott's Luxury Hotel at the Arboretum near US 183 and Texas 360. It features Hill Country views and a nine story atrium. edit
- W Hotel Austin, 200 Lavaca St, ☎ 512 542-3600, . An upscale hotel located in the center of Downtown Austin. They also have a poolside bar. edit
Austin is a generally safe city. As with most American cities, credit cards are accepted nearly universally, especially for nightlife, and 6th Street and Congress usually have ATM's in multiple areas - as do most bars and clubs - if you must have cash. Therefore, for convenience and safety, do not carry large amounts of cash. Remember to lock your car when parking and do not leave valuables visible from outside the car. The number for police, fire, and medical services is 911.
There is generally a large, visible police presence (mounted, foot, and cruiser) at night in the 6th Street area. They are quite willing to let belligerent drunks dry out overnight in the city jail. They, however, provide a safe and secure area to enjoy yourself and Austin's famous live music.
There is an area near 7th Street and the Red River district that houses a large homeless shelter known as the Arch. This area is generally safe during the day but often filled with panhandlers and homeless citizens at night. Most of them are docile and will often ask for a donation, but some can be fairly aggressive and have been known to follow people travelling alone. In addition, groups of muggers sometimes target drunks leaving the bar scene alone in that area.
Because surrounding hills concentrate the water, some streets in Austin and the surrounding area are prone to flooding during periods of heavy rain. These areas are typically marked as low water crossings but in any event, do not drive or walk across moving water. Each year several people are killed as they are swept away by flooding. You will also see many flood control structures built into the landscape. Small, dry low places with bounding berms during the dry season, these are dangerous places to be in, but keep Austin safer when the rains come. As the locals say, "Turn Around, Don't Drown".
Coyote sightings near greenbelts in Austin are increasing as the adaptable animals discover that the developed urban landscape provides many sources of food. The most serious problem with the urbanization of coyotes is that they adapt to being around people. As they lose their fear, coyotes become bolder and attacks on pets and children are known to occur in the city. Coyotes are active mainly during the nighttime, but they can be moving at any time during the day. Most sightings of coyotes occur during the hours close to sunrise and sunset. Should you encounter a coyote, animate your behavior, raise your arms, yell, hoop and holler throw rocks and sticks to let them know you are bigger than they are and would make for a bad choice for a target. To report aggressive behavior toward people or pets, call 3-1-1. Call 9-1-1 to report a coyote attack on a human.
Residents of Texas are allowed to carry concealed firearms after completing training and a thorough background check.
- Chittamani Buddhist Center , 1918 Bissel Ln, ☎ +1 512 916-4444. Offers relaxation meditations and meditation classes to increase inner peace.
- France (Honorary), 401 Congress Avenue, Suite 2200, ☎ +1 512-480-5605. edit
- Iceland (Honorary), 3300 Bee Caves Road, Suite 650, ☎ +1 512-551-3366. edit
- Ireland, 106 East 6th Street Suite 900, ☎ +1 512-322-3990, . edit
- Mexico, 410 Baylor Street, ☎ +1 512 478-2866 (fax: +1 512 478-8008), . edit
- Austin American Statesman - The city's main newspaper which is read throughout the city and in the surrounding areas of Texas.
- Austin Chronicle - Weekly paper (comes out on Thursdays) with news, event listings, and cultural calendar.
- El Mundo - The primary Spanish language newspaper in Austin.
- Austin Culturemap - An alternative, free weekly newspaper which focuses on lesser-known news as well as movies and local events ranging from current theatrical productions to concerts.
The huge size of Texas can make it hard to daytrip between the major cities. To the north, Dallas is a four hour drive, Houston is three hours to the east, and San Antonio is a more reasonable hour and a half to the south. However, Austin is surrounded by several beautiful state parks and smaller towns that are worth a stop when heading out of the city or to add a day trip to your stay.
- There are lots of great state parks, wineries, small towns, and other sights in the nearby Hill Country.
- Go tubing on the river in San Marcos or New Braunfels.
- Heading west down Route 2222, 40 minutes from Austin, is Lake Travis. The lake offers leisure and adventure activities, water sports, shopping, lodging, spas and restaurants. Visitors can stay at campgrounds, RV parks, bed & breakfasts and resorts, all with spectacular lake views. Craft breweries, vineyards, pubs, festivals and special events keep nights on the lake busy all year round.
- A quick 20 minute drive (during off-peak travel times) up Interstate 35, Round Rock is part of the Greater Austin area and a popular suburb for commuters. There are sports stadiums, a farmers markets, outlet stores, historic downtown area, restaurants, and arts center. The namesake round rock can still be found on the banks of Brushy Creek where it originally marked a low water point for crossing with livestock and wagons. Visitors can still see the wagon wheel ruts cut by stage coaches and wagons filled with stone from the nearby quarry.
- Just 40 minutes north of Austin, Georgetown is a growing small town/suburb of Austin. Every April there’s the Red Poppy Festival that includes a parade, car show, art contest, live music and dancing in the streets. The small town is packed with parks and open spaces and has charming art centers and galleries in converted historic buildings.
- Less than an hour to the west up US-135, is the ‘’’Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge’’’. The Refuge was mainly established to protect the nesting ground of native birds and is designated as an Internationally Important Area for Birds. Birders can catch sight of ‘’golden-cheeked warblers’’ with bright yellow faces and ‘’black-capped vireos’’. Hunters can use the public lands for hunting ‘’white tailed deer’’, ‘’feral hog’’, ‘’turkey’’ and ‘’dove’’ depending on the season. There are events and festivals year round, including guided nature hikes and the annual Christmas bird count.
- To the south, 40 minutes down Interstate 35 is San Marcos; a small college town packed with attractions, dining and hotels. Adrenaline junkies may want to make a stop here leaving Austin — there’s skydiving, hot air balloon and helicopter rides, and kayak trips down the San Marcos River. ‘’’Wonder World Park’’’ is built around the ’’Balcones Fault Line Cave’’ and has rides, guided tours, cave exploration and a train to the ‘’’Texas Wildlife Petting Park’’’.
- Hill Country Flyer, 512 477 8468, . A scenic 2-hour train ride through the Hill Country to Burnet, where the train stops for shopping and dining. The ride especially scenic during mid-spring when the hills are covered in bluebonnets. The train is normally pulled by an old steam engine which is currently under restoration. In the meantime, the route still runs, pulled by a 60s diesel engine.
|This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!