Related article: Austin, Texas, USA — Overview for travelers
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Overview — Top 10 Sightseeing & Attractions
Old Pecan Street / 6th Street
Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library and Museum
Texas State Museum
Zilker Park & Barton Springs
Bat Colony at Congress Avenue Bridge
The seat of government for the Lone Star State, Austin is home to the State Capitol of Texas, built 1882-88 of “Sunset Red” granite and measuring 302 feet high—14 feet higher than the nation’s capitol in Washington, D.C.
Location: northern end of Congress Ave.
The Texas Governor’s Mansion has served as the official residence of Texas governors and their families since 1856. It is the fourth oldest governor’s residence continuously occupied in the United States and the oldest governor’s mansion west of the Mississippi River.
The southeast bedroom became the Sam Houston Bedroom in 1982. This bedroom is the mansion’s second official state bedroom. Highlights of the room are the Sam Houston Bed and Sam Houston memorabilia. The Sam Houston bed was bought during the Houston administration (1859-61).
Location: 1010 Colorado, Austin, Texas
Old Pecan Street / 6th Street Entertainment District
Old Pecan Street stretches 7 blocks between I-35 and Congress Ave. In former times all east-west connections in the city were named after trees. What nowadays is East Sixth Street was once Old Pecan Street, “the” main street in Austin.
You’ll find restaurants, clubs, and shops in the Victorian and native-stone buildings – today it’s Austin’s famous entertainment district.
Web: 6th Street Austin TX (6street.com)
Historic Hotel Driskill
The Driskill Hotel — built in 1886, the nationally recognized, award-winning hotel began as the “frontier palace” of cattle baron Jesse Driskill. A fixture in downtown Austin, the grand hotel features stunning marble floors, a stained glass-domed ceiling and exquisite woodwork.
The guest registry includes presidents, entertainers, debutantes and even a ghost or two. The nationally recognized Driskill Grill is the domain of Executive Chef David Bull, proclaimed as one the best chefs in the country.
Location: 604 Brazos Street, Austin (Corner 6th St.& Brazos St.)
Web: Iconic Downtown Austin Hotels on 6th Street | The Driskill (driskillhotel.com)
Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library
A scale replica of the Oval Office and presidential limousine used during Lyndon Baines Johnson’s tenure as commander-in-chief are among the exhibits at the LBJ Presidential Library and Museum. It is the only presidential library that does not charge admission. The library houses 40 million pages of historical documents relating to the 36th president of the United States.
A real and rare opportunity to get to know Johnson’s programs better. In addition to exhibits from the Vietnam War, the gifts of other heads of state can also be seen.
Location: 2313 Red River Street, Austin, a block west of IH-35 on the Campus of the University of Texas
Web: LBJ Presidential Library- LBJ Library
Texas State Museum
The Lone Star Spirit – The Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum celebrates the history of the Lone Star State with exhibits on the history of Texas’ lands and peoples. Guests can experience the essence of Texas first-hand with a “4-D” production at The Texas Spirit Theatre, or enjoy larger than life films at the IMAX theatre.
Corner of Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. & N. Congress Ave.
The museum was founded by Governor Bob Bullock and was opened in April 2001.
Web: The Bullock Texas State History Museum (thestoryoftexas.com)
Native Americans of the region preferred to make important decisions under those trees – the so-called Council Oaks.
The Austin “treaty oak” is the last representative of the council oaks in Austin and stands here now for more than 500 years. It got a special popularity and attention when it was poisened in the year 1989. als er 1989 vergiftet wurde.
Two Thirds of the tree were removed in order des Baums sind daraufhin entfernt worden, um den übrigen Teil zu bewahren.
503 Baylor St. between West 5th und 6th Streets
Web: Treaty Oak (Austin, Texas) – Wikipedia
780 ft above sea level rises Mount Bonnell, the highest point in Austin.
From Downtown take Loop-1 and turn into W 35th Street. Then take Mount Bonnell Rd.
Mount Bonnell is located west of Austin and you will enjoy a great view over Lake Austin, the Colorado River, and the city.
Mount Bonnell was named after George W. Bonnell who was a journalist and soldier in the 19th century. He published in 1840 the first Austin Texas Sentinel.
Zilker Park / Barton Springs
The 400 acres (161 ha) Zilker Park is located in the heart of the city.
Town Lake and the popular Barton Springs Pool can be found here as well as the Botanical Garden.
Location: 2220 Barton Springs Road
Cooling Off At Barton Springs — Considered the soul of the city, Barton Springs Pool is a three-acre landmark created by nature. Fed from underground springs, the swimming hole offers refreshing 68-degree, year-round water temperature. 2101 Barton Springs Road (located in Zilker Park)
Austin, the recreation city
In 2004, Austin received the National Recreation & Park Association’s Gold Medal award for having the best parks and recreation system in the nation: 16,700 acres of parkland, 206 parks, 12 nature preserves, 74 miles of hike and bike trails, 117 mi of lakeshore (within city limits only), 72 athletic fields, 6 public city-owned golf courses, 108 city-owned tennis courts and 47 city-owned public pools. Visitors and Austinites alike enjoy “disc-golf” at 5 Austin parks. Austin offers a new state-of-the-art skate park at Mabel Davis park with a concrete skate bowl, pedestrian obstacles and grass-covered amphitheatre-type seating for spectators.
Web: Zilker Park: Most-Loved Park in Austin, Texas (austinparks.org)
Bat Colony at Congress Avenue Bridge
Each day in downtown Austin, hundreds of drivers, cyclists and pedestrians cross the Congress Avenue Bridge over Town Lake.
Underneath them, from April through October, an estimated 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats quietly roost, poised for their daily sunset exodus into the Austin nighttime sky. Altogether, the nocturnal wonders make up the largest urban bat colony in North America and are one of Austin’s most popular attractions. Each year in late February, approximately 100 million Mexican free-tailed bats (Tadarida brasiliensis) migrate from Mexico to Central Texas. The mammals, mostly female, congregate in various roosting spots during the summer months to give birth and raise their pups.
The bats shadow the Austin sky as they emerge from under the bridge at dusk each night in search of food. The most dramatic exoduses occur in August when the weather is hot and dry, and the free-tailed pups set out with their mothers for the first time in search of food.
The bats are among the world’s most fascinating mammals. During their migration, they fly up to two miles high in the stratosphere’s wind currents. Here they can reach speeds of up to 60 miles per hour, allowing the group to migrate from Mexico to Austin in only one night. The bats consume an estimated 10,000 to 30,000 pounds of insects nightly (2-7 million pounds of bugs per year), making them extremely valuable as a source of pest control for the area.
Austin’s batty phenomenon began in 1980 when engineers reconstructed the downtown Congress Avenue Bridge. In the process, they made the crevices on the bridge’s underside larger, unknowingly creating a perfect bat roost. Although bats had lived there for years, it came as a surprise when they suddenly began moving in by the thousands. As the city came to appreciate its bats, the population under the Congress Avenue Bridge grew to be the largest urban bat colony in North America.
Austin offers several great spots for bat viewing. The nearby Austin American-Statesman bat observation area features educational kiosks, manned by interpreters from Austin-based Bat Conservation International (BCI), positioned throughout the viewing area, Thursday through Sunday during the summer.
Bat-watchers can also float Town Lake on nightly cruises offered by Capital Cruises and Lone Star Riverboat. Local restaurants and hotels on the banks of Town Lake also provide prime vantage points.
Food & Wine Austin
The Wall Street Journal taps Austin as a “new dining destination,” citing Ranch 616 (haute cowboy cuisine) and Whole Foods Market as reasons foodies need to get here — and fast. Austin claims three chefs on Food & Wine’s “Top 10 Young Chefs” list. Each April, Austin celebrates its culinary tributes with the Texas Hill Country Wine & Food Festival. More than 30 events are held throughout the city and at surrounding Hill Country wineries.
Web: Austin Food + Wine Festival (austinfoodandwinefestival.com)
Main Attraction: Barbecue
Nothing sparks a more heated battle in Texas than who has the best barbecue. Champion barbecue is primarily discovered off the beaten path. Mouth-watering brisket, ribs and sausage are always top contenders. Stubbs, Ironworks and County Line in Austin and The Salt Lick in nearby Driftwood make a good run for “the best.”
It’s hot; it’s spicy; and it’s on almost every Austin menu. From small, family-run tacquerias to larger Austin-based chain restaurants, you’ll find some of the best enchiladas, migas, chile rellenos, burritos and salsas north of the border in Austin. The Cedar Door’s Mexican martinis, which have been ranked among the best beverages in the country, and Chuy’s margaritas come highly recommended.
Ladies, don your hats and gloves. The historic Driskill Hotel offers Royal Victorian Tea in the grand lobby during the winter holiday season, and again during Spring. Nationally acclaimed Executive Chef David Bull oversees the menu. In a time-honored tradition, tea is served in fine china with champagne, finger sandwiches, petit fours and scones. A harpist provides musical accompaniment. 604 Brazos, Austin.
Market of Distinction
Austin is home to the headquarters of Whole Foods, the world’s largest retailer of natural and organic foods. Whole Foods’ 184 stores stretch across North America and the United Kingdom. Downtown Austin is home to the company’s 80,000-squarefoot flagship store featuring produce, seafood, free-range meats, foods-to-go and health products. The set list includes: Whole Body department; Whole Home, featuring organic cottons and linens; sit-down dining and take-out selections; food sampling; an outdoor rooftop plaza complete with playscape and live music. 601 North Lamar, Ste 100, Austin.
And Another Market — Another foodie paradise is Central Market, a European-style market with an outstanding reputation for fresh meats, produce and assortment of chef-prepared meals. The central store on North Lamar features outstanding cooking classes, and both stores offer restaurants and free live music. 4001 North Lamar and 4477 South Lamar, Austin.
Web: Central Market