view from, atop Mt. Bonnell
In 1839 five mounted scouts ranged over a broad area of wilderness seeking a site for new
capital city for the Republic of Texas. Location on north bank of Colorado river was
chosen, where rich blacklands meet scenic hills. Site occupied at the time by a
four-family settlement called Waterloo. name honors Stephen F. Austin, the Father of
Texas. About first of Sept. 1839, archives and furniture a of Texas government were
transported from Houston to Austin by 50 ox-drawn wagons.
Institutes of higher learning include Austin Community College,
Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Concordia Lutheran College, Episcopal
Theological Seminary of the Southwest, Huston-Tillotson College, St. Edwards
University, and the states largest, University of Texas at Austin
Widely known for its diverse music community and live music scene,
Austin has it all - blues, country/western, reggae, jazz, swing and rock. performed in
various clubs around city and at night spots along Sixth Street (see below). In March
Austin plays host to the annual South X Southwest music conference. A week-long event with
many venues featured in different areas of central Austin, SXSW has become one of the
nations most famous and influential showcases for both new bands and star attractions.
The city is home to nation's largest urban bat colony found under
the Congress Ave. Bridge during the eminent summer. A kiosk on the north shore of Town
Lake's hike-and-bike trail near the Four Seasons Hotel and another on the south shore
inform visitors when and where to watch for the nocturnal mammals.
Here is a good list of
things to do in Austin, TX
For details about other events and attractions, visit the Travel
Information Center in the State Capitol (which all visitors should see), or the Austin
Convention and Visitors Bureau at 201 East 2nd Street (512/478-0098). Also,
visitors to Austin may receive help at the information booth in Robert Mueller Municipal
Airport. Just ask for a travel packet.
Austin Childrens Museum -
Children (and adults, too!) can touch, play and climb to their hearts content.
Museum activities relate to three themes: how different people live, the human body, and
everyday science and technology. Summer hours, Tues. - Fri. 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.; Sat., Sun.
noon - 5 p.m.; fall/winter, Wed. - Fri. 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.; Sat., Sun. noon - 5 p.m. 501 W.
5th St. Admission.
Nature and Science Center -
Exhibits of science, natural history and botany. A living nature museum with
resident injured and/or orphaned native wildlife, a Birds of Prey aviary, and the
Eco-Detective Trail, and more. The Austin Nature Center has an entrance to the
Zilker Nature Preserve which has about 3 miles of hiking trails. They even have a
satellite site at the Barton Springs bathhouse (now renamed the Beverly S. Sheffield
Education Center) called SPLASH! Into the Edwards Aquifer. This permanent exhibit is
a hands-on look at Central Texas' most precious natural resource. OpenTue. - Sat. 10
a.m. - 5 p.m.; Sun. 12 - 5 p.m. 301 Nature Center Drive. (512) 327-8181
Elisabet Ney Museum -
National Historic Site and studio of famous German sculptress who immigrated to Texas in
the 1870s. Her works stand in European palaces, the Texas and National Capitols, and
the Smithsonian National Museum of American Art. Largest collection of her work is at her
studio here; open Tues. - Fri. 11 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. 304 East 44th St.
Built in 1840 by Comte Alphonse de Saligny, French charge daffaires to the Republic
of Texas; a gem of Creole architecture, the home includes a superb collection of period
pieces and many original furnishings. Open Tues. - Sun. 1 - 5 p.m. 802 San Marcos St.
George Washington Carver Museum -
Changing exhibits of black history and culture of Austin and Travis County; photos,
artifacts, folk craft and art. Open Tues. - Wed. 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.; Thurs. noon - 8 p.m.;
Fri. - Sat. noon - 5 p.m. 1165 Angelina St. by Carver Library.
Governors Mansion -
Dignified white-columned mansion built in 1856. The governor and his family occupy a
private second floor apartment. Elegant rooms and furnishings may be seen on public tours
Mon. - Fri. , every 20 minutes, 10 to 11:40 a.m. Groups and official functions control
schedule. 1010 Colorado St.
Long a treasured
swimming hole for Austinites, the pool is one of Texas most beautiful, featuring
50-foot waterfalls which spill from a grotto into a deep, jade-green pool below. (Note:
water quality is carefully monitored and swimming is not allowed when bacteria counts are
too high.) Other activities include picnicking, nature study, and beautiful trails to the
edge of the Pedernales River.
Guided nature tours by reservation. No pets, glass containers, fires or cooking allowed.
Take Texas 71 west approximately 16 miles to F.M. 3238, south 13 miles. For additional information call (512)264-2740. Admission.
Harry Ransom Center -
The second floor is home to a diverse and distinctive collection of fine European art from
antiquities to the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Of particular interest is a rare
collection of casts made in the nineteenth century from original Greek and Roman statues.
The technique for cast mold reproductions is no longer allowed to be used. Also, a
Guttenburg Bible printed in 1455, exhibits of photography, theater arts, and
twentieth-century American artists. Open. Mon. - Sat. 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.; Sun. 1 - 5 p.m. On
University of Texas campus, 21st and Guadalupe.
Hill Country Flyer -
Steam excursion train runs through Hill Country from Cedar Park City Hall near U.S. 183
and R.M. 1431 to Brunet. Train pulled by Engine No. 786, a 75 year-old steam locomotive
once displayed in downtown Austin. Ride is two hours through scenic hill countryside.
Following short layover in Burnet, its two hours back. Departures are Sat. and Sun.
at 10 a.m. For information call: 512/477-8468. Fare.
Jourdan-Bachman Pioneer Farm -
Outdoor museum recalls story of rural life in central Texas. Help pick cotton and see it
spun into yarn, or gather round the fire and sing old time favorites on a pump organ.
Costumed interpreters share the past as they do the work for you of early Texas. Open Sun.
1 - 5 p.m. year round; Sept. - May, Mon. - Wed. 9:30 a.m. - 1 p.m.; Jun. - Aug. Mon. -
Thurs. 9:30 a.m. - 3 p.m. 11418 Sprinkle Cut-off Rd. From North I-35, take Exit 243 east
to Dessau Rd; turn left 1/2 mile on Sprinkle Cut-off and right to farm. 512/837-1215.
Laguna Gloria Art Museum -
Home of Texas Fine Arts Association in Italianate villa on shore of Lake Austin at site
first chosen by Stephen F. Austin for his home. Changing exhibitions of 20th Century
American art; classes, films and lectures. Open Tues. - Sat. 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. (Thurs. 9
p.m.); Sun. 1 - 5 p.m. 3809 West 35th. Admission.
Lake Cruises -
Capital Cruises: Excursions on Town Lake and Lake Austin for family outings, sunset
cruises, bat-watching excursions, or private get-aways. Catering available. Also, pontoon,
paddle boat, canoe and kayak rental. Open Mar. - Oct., Mon. - Fri. 3 p.m. - dusk; Sat. -
Sun. 9 a.m. - dusk; (Nov. - Feb. as weather permits by reservation). Reservations
recommended. Departs from Hyatt regency dock on town Lake, 208 Barton Springs road. Cruise
and rental fees. Call 512/480-9264.
Lone Star -
Paddle wheeler offers sight-seeing excursions on Town Lake from Mar. - Nov. (charter
cruises year round). Departs from dock between Hyatt Regency Hotel and South First Street
Bridge on Town lake; 1.5 hour cruise under city bridges, past mouth of Barton Creed and
past Zilker Park, wilderness scenery of limestone cliffs, huge bald cypress
and native Pecan trees, water fowl and great blue herons. Tour fee. Call 512/327-1388 for
Austin, Town Lake,
Travis, Walter B. Long.
Lyndon B. Johnson Library and Museum -
Archives and museum relating to LBJ and the office of
presidency in general; colorful highlights of political campaigns. Exhibits include gifts
from foreign heads of state, a moon rock, replica of Oval Office and changing exhibits.
Open daily 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. 2313 Red River St.
Mckinney Falls State Park -
At confluence of Onion and Williamson Creeks with quiet pools, occasional rapids and
waterfalls. Excellent visitor center, hiking and interpretive trails, campsites,
playground, ruins of homestead of Thomas F. McKinney, one of Stephen F. Austins
original 300 colonists. Situated about 13 miles southeast of downtown: From U.S. 183
South, take Scenic Loop Rd. west to park entrance. Admission.
Manor Downs -
Quarter Horse pari-mutual racing is usually held during spring and fall just minutes from
Austin. Take U.S. 290 east to Manor and Manor Downs Road. For racing information,
Moonlight Towers -
Austins beloved street lighting system began in 1895 when the first of the original
31 towers was mounted. From a height of 165 feet, a cluster of six carbon arc lamps (now
mercury vapor) casts a glow over a radius of 3,000 feet. Only 17 towers remain, and Austin
is the U.S.s only city with a tower system still intact. For locations, contact the
Austin Visitor Center.
Mt. Bonnell -
At western edge of city over looking Lake Austin, Mt. Bonnell features dramatic views of
the city and Hill Country. Mt. Bonnell Rd. reached via West 35th and Old Bull Creek Rd.
Museo del Barrio de Austin -
Chicano and Latino art. Open Mon. - Fri. 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. 1402 East 1st St.
Wildflower Research Center -
Established in 1982 on land originally donated by Lady Bird Johnson, the Center has been
created to stimulate research and education about preservation, propagation and use of
wildflowers throughout the nation. Especially colorful during spring. Visitors receive
information on plants native to their region or home state. Open Tues. - Sun.. 9 a.m. - 6
p.m. In southwest Austin; from I-35 take Slaughter Lane Exit 277 west to Loop 1; south 8
miles; left to 4801 La Cross Ave. For information call 512/292-4200.
Neill-Cochran House -
Domicile of National Society of Colonial Dames of America in Texas. Greek Revival
architecture circa 1853 furnished with nineteenth century reproductions of eighteenth
century French antiques. Open Wed. - Sun. 2 - 5 p.m. Closed holidays and Aug. 2310 San
Gabriel St. Admission.
O. Henry Home -
Residency of William Sydney Porter, short story writer who signed his works O.
Henry. Porter lived in Austin 1885-95. Desk, writing materials and other furnishings
of the period. Open Wed. - Sun. noon - 5 p.m. 409 East 5th St.
Old Bakery and Emporium - Built as bakery by Swedish
immigrant Charles Lundberg in 1876; now a craft shop selling handicrafts and baked goods
by senior citizens. Open Mon. - Fri. 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.; Summer and Dec., Sat. 10 a.m. - 3
p.m. 1006 Congress.
Parks - Nine major park areas of more than 7,753 acres,
including five municipal golf courses, 75 playgrounds, 44 swimming pools, 70 tennis court
areas, and four tennis centers. 15 community recreation centers and 172 athletic fields.
Among the many beautiful and enjoyable parks in Austin are:
Walter E. Long Lake and Metropolitan Park include all lands around
1,300 acre lake; fishing, sailing. About 5 miles east of downtown, Blue Buff Rd. off
Webberville Rd.; admission.
Fiesta Gardens on Town
Lake; displays of exotic flora and lagoon.
Emma Long Metropolitan Park, beside Lake Austin about 17 miles
northwest via R.M. 2222. Offers rugged mountain bike trails, swimming, fishing and
Zilker Park in southwest Austin includes popular Barton Springs swimming pool
(open late Mar. - Oct. 31; fee), Zilker Hillside Theater and Austin Area Garden Center.
Free Zilker Hillside Theater presents shows under the stars, early June - Aug. Austin Area
Garden Center is a free, beautiful showcase of flowers, shrubs and trees. One of the crown
jewels in the Center is the Japanese Garden. Also a pioneer log cabin furnished in the
frontier style. Tours of dinosaur tracks found at Zilker Botanical Gardens offered
every Sat., May - Thanksgiving weekend. Hours May - June 11 a.m. - 1 p.m.; otherwise, 9
-11 a.m. For information call 512/477-8672.
Slaughter Leftwich Winery - Native stone facility, built in
tradition of early Texas architecture, transforms grapes grown at vineyard near Lubbock
onto award winning wines. Tours of winery Thurs. - Sun. 1-5 p.m. (Sept. - June on weekends
only, 1 - 5 p.m.); wine tasting room open daily 1 -5 p.m. Has panoramic view of Lake
Travis and the Hill Country. From Austin, R.M. 2222 west to R.M. 620, south past Mansfield
Dam 1 mile to Eck Lane.
State Capitol Complex
acres of immaculate, landscaped grounds, stately shade trees and flowering gardens. The
capitol itself, a massive, classic statehouse of famous Texas pink granite, dominates the
park. The handsome building underwent a major renovation during 1993 - 1994 when it was
restored to original splendor. Included in the renovation is a new underground Capitol
extension. Daily tours include both facilities. Striking state office buildings surround
Capitol Complex Visitors Center is housed in the renovated General
Land Office building constructed around 1857. Exhibits include a pictorial history of the
Capitols renovation and a 22-minute informational video. Gift shop offers many fun
and memorable souvenirs of Texas.
Information about points of interest in the Capitol, city and entire
state is available at the Travel Information Center operated by the Texas Department of
Transportation, also in the Old General Land Office. Open Tues. - Fri. 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.;
Sat. 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. 112 East 11th St.
State Cemetery - The Arlington of Texas where
monuments mark resting places of nearly 2,000 patriots, statesman, and heroes of Texas,
including tombs of Stephen F. Austin and General Albert Sydney Johnson. Cemetary includes
the shortest State Highway in Texas. (See walking tours below) East 7th and Comal Sts.
Texas State Library - Documents and books dealing with all
phases of Texas history. Open Mon. - Sat. 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Closed holidays. Just east of
Theater - Austin is blessed with stage productions year round
at local playhouses. The restored Paramount Theater on Congress Ave. features stage
productions, musicals, and classic films throughout the year. Other stages include Zachary
Scott Theater, St. Edward Univ.s Mary Moody Northern Theater,
Univ. Of Texas Performing Arts Center, and Hyde Park Theater. Second Youth Family Theater is non-profit organization founded in 1991 in an effort to create original high quality theatre accessible to all ages.
information, visit Austin Visitor Center (above) or check with each theater. For
information, call the Circle of Theaters Hotline at 512/454-9700.
Lake -Where the city straddles the
Colorado River, 2 dams mark the upstream and downstream ends of Town Lake, the focus of
outdoor activity in downtown Austin. Town Lake Metropolitan Park stretches
along the banks of the Colorado River from Tom Miller Dam on the west to Colorado River
Park on the east. This giant park contains 10.1 miles of jogging and bicycle trails . For
the athlete, Town Lake Park boasts 17 ball fields for baseball, football, soccer and
rugby, and volleyball. The area on the south side of Town Lake from Lamar Boulevard east
to South First Street is known as Auditorium
Shores, and many concerts and large events are held there. Butler Shores refers
to that stretch of Town Lake from the Lamar bridge over the Colorado River to the east
bank of Barton Creek. East of IH 35 favorite spots for large Town Lake gatherings are Fiesta
Gardens and Festival Beach, which stretches from IH 35 east to Canadian Street.
All along Town Lake, people flock to the hike-and bike trails to walk, jog, bicycle, or
otherwise enjoy the beauty of the Colorado River.
Sculpture Garden - One of the worlds few exhibits devoted to a single
sculptor; museum displays some 150 works by Charles Umlauf, nationally acclaimed sculptor.
Indoor exhibits in modern museum; others scattered along walks throughout the tree shaded
garden. Open Thurs. - Sun. 1 - 4:30 p.m. 605 Robert E. Lee Rd. (near Zilker Park).
University of Texas - From its original 40 acres near the
State Capitol, the school has grown to become one of the nations largest
institutions and is recognized for its football program and micro-electronic research.
Today, it has a main campus of 357 acres and some 120 buildings.
Information Center in Sid Richardson Hall, adjacent to the LBJ
Library and museum, provides information and maps for campus attractions. Open weekdays 8
a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Veloway - This popular park in south Austin has a 3.1 mile
surface that is great for biking and in-line skating. Located next to the National
Wildflower Research Center (see above). for information, call 512/480-9821.
- Congress Avenue Tour: Stroll down the avenue with informed guides and hear interesting
tales of what went on behind the limestone and brick facades. The 1 1/2 hour tour also
includes Sixth Street, the popular entertainment district. tours available Mar. 1 - Nov.
30; leave from south steps of the State Capitol promptly at 9 a.m. Thurs. - Sat.; Sun. 2
p.m. Comfortable walking shoes recommended.
Bremond Block Tour: The Bremond Block Historic District is a rare
collection of homes in the midst of downtown where an entire block of houses belonging to
members of a single family have survived. tour includes a walk by the Governors
Mansion. Tours available Mar. 1 - Nov. 30; the 1 1/2 hour tour leaves from the south steps
of the State Capitol (weather permitting) on Sat. & Sun. promptly at 11 a.m.
Comfortable walking shoes recommended.
The Driskill Hotel, built in 1886 by cattle baron Col. Jesse L.
Driskill, offers a tour through the beautiful corridors and spaces. learn about myths,
legends and facts about Driskill and his family while walking through the historic
building. At Sixth and Brazos Sts.
Hyde Park Tour: Self-guided tour; Victorian and bungalow style homes
along tree shaded streets in historic neighborhood. Elisabet Ney built her studio here.
(See above.) Hyde Park is just north of downtown and the Univ. of Texas, roughly between
38 1/2 St. and 45th St.
State Cemetery: Self-guided tour. Begins in the middle of Road Spur
165, the shortest state highway in Texas. Seven blocks east of I-35 at East Seventh and
A step by step booklet is available from the Austin Convention and
visitors Bureau for these self-guided tours. See address above. tours free. 512/478-0098.
West Cave Preserve - 30 acre natural area home to many rare
and endangered plants; also a sanctuary for golden-cheeked warbler and other birds. Two
ecosystems: Upper half grassland savannah with wild flower meadows and stands of ashe
juniper and live oak; lower half created millions of years ago by the collapse of the roof
of an immense limestone cave now flourishing as a natural terrain canopied by giant
cypress trees. Weather permitting, tours are Sat. & Sun. 10 a.m., noon, 2 & 4 p.m.
Tours limited to first 30 visitors; no reservations. About 45 minutes west of Austin. Take
Texas 71 one mile past Bee Cave; left on F.M. 3238 17 miles. First gate on right after
crossing Pedernales River. 210/825-3442.
Wild Basin Preserve - Scenic Hill Country wilderness
west of city. The 220 acre preserve is home to two endangered bird
species: the Golden-cheeked-warbler and black-capped vireo. Four
miles of hiking trails and a special trail for the mobility challenged.
Open daily sunrise to sunset. On Loop 360, 1.25 miles north of Bee
Cave Rd. (R.M. 2244). For special guided tours, call 512/327-7622.