Things to do in Austin

There is no shortage of things to see and do in Austin. The city centre is easily explored on foot and has a good concentration of attractions and museums around the magnificent Texas State Capitol building. These include the Austin History Center, City Hall, the Austin Children's Museum, Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum, the MEXIC-ARTE Museum and the O. Henry Museum.

The University of Texas contains a number of attractions, including the Blanton Museum of Art, the Texas Natural Science Center and the President Lyndon B. Johnson Library and Museum. West Austin is home to pleasant outdoor spaces and natural attractions in the famous Zilker Park, which includes Zilker Botanical Gardens and the Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum. Zilker Park is a must-see in Austin and a pleasant place for a picnic on one of the city's many sunny days.

Texas State Capitol photo

Texas State Capitol

Austin's impressive pink granite capitol building is rivalled only by that of the US Capitol in Washington, DC. Constructed in 1882, it stands proudly in sweeping grounds encircled…

Texas State Capitol

Austin's impressive pink granite capitol building is rivalled only by that of the US Capitol in Washington, DC. Constructed in 1882, it stands proudly in sweeping grounds encircled by its original wrought-iron fence topped with gold Lone Stars. Its grand design is Renaissance Revival, proving an excellent example of late 19th century public architecture. Events and exhibits are regularly hosted, while its 9 hectare (22 acres) grounds contain monuments to causes including the heroes of the Alamo, volunteer firefighters and Vietnam veterans.

Website www.tspb.state.tx.us

Zilker Park photo

Zilker Park

The 140-hectare (347-acre) Zilker Park is Austin's most popular public recreational area, dominated by its ancient spring-fed natural swimming pool known as Barton Springs, which N…

Zilker Park

The 140-hectare (347-acre) Zilker Park is Austin's most popular public recreational area, dominated by its ancient spring-fed natural swimming pool known as Barton Springs, which Native Americans believed to have healing properties. There's also a botanical garden which features dinosaur tracks, a nature preserve, the Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum, canoes and biking and walking trails; there are sports facilities aplenty and amusements for children like the Zilker Zephyr miniature train and paddleboat rides. The Zilker Hillside Theatre hosts musical concerts throughout the year, and the park also hosts the Austin Nature and Science Center where exhibits and workshops run throughout the year. The Zilker Park's annual Christmas tree-lighting ceremony is a popular event, boasting a tree that stands 155 feet (47m) holding some 3,000 lights.

Address 2100 Barton Springs Road

Website www.austintexas.gov/department/zilker-metropolitan-park

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center photo

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Texas hill country is renowned for its glorious spring blooms, with the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center dedicated to the study and preservation of its native plants. Visitors e…

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Texas hill country is renowned for its glorious spring blooms, with the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center dedicated to the study and preservation of its native plants. Visitors enjoy 72 hectares (178 acres) of wildflowers in display gardens, with free lectures, guided tours and an array of different trails and inspiring displays. There are areas for the kids to play while the center regularly hosts artwork and photography exhibitions inspired by nature, especially wildfowers. The classic Mollie Steves Zachry Texas Arboretum is the perfect opportunity for visitors to learn more about Texan trees, with a particular focus on Texas oak.

Website www.wildflower.org

Governor's Mansion photo

Governor's Mansion

The opulent plantation-style mansion home to the Texas State governor is one of the oldest buildings in the city, dating from 1856. Although it is still lived in when the governor …

Governor's Mansion

The opulent plantation-style mansion home to the Texas State governor is one of the oldest buildings in the city, dating from 1856. Although it is still lived in when the governor is in town, the mansion is open to the public for limited hours each day and many historical artefacts are on display, including portraits of Davy Crockett and Sam Houston, and a collection of mementoes from each administration. The mansion has been recently renovated, guided tours are available, which offer interesting anecdotes about previous governors.

Website www.txfgm.org

Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art photo

Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art

A major stop on national art circuit tours, the Blanton Museum of Art is found at the University of Texas in Austin. Highlights include the Suida-Manning Collection featuring 250 w…

Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art

A major stop on national art circuit tours, the Blanton Museum of Art is found at the University of Texas in Austin. Highlights include the Suida-Manning Collection featuring 250 works by the Old Masters, as well as James A. Michener's collection of 20th-century American Art. There's also a sizable assemblage of Latin American Art, alongside rotating temporary exhibitions covering anything from the avant-garde to the abstract. These changing exhibits often contain themes that focus on aspects of American history and scenery depicted in art, as well as current artist showcases.

Website www.blantonmuseum.org

Congress Avenue Bridge photo

Congress Avenue Bridge

One of the more unusual tourist attractions in Austin, millions of Mexican free-tailed bats emerge every night from roosts beneath the Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin. The largest…

Congress Avenue Bridge

One of the more unusual tourist attractions in Austin, millions of Mexican free-tailed bats emerge every night from roosts beneath the Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin. The largest urban colony in the world, the bats take up residence under the bridge in mid-March each year and return to Mexico in early November, with 1.5 million creatures living under the bridge at the height of season. Their mass emergence generally takes place at dusk and is viewed by hundreds of people gathered around the bridge or at the Statesman's Bat Observation Center on the southeast side of Town Lake.

Guadalupe Mountains National Park photo

Guadalupe Mountains National Park

Rising from the desert in western Texas, the rugged Guadalupe Mountains National Park is the ancestral home of the Apache nations. The wilderness is now occupied by hundreds of pla…

Guadalupe Mountains National Park

Rising from the desert in western Texas, the rugged Guadalupe Mountains National Park is the ancestral home of the Apache nations. The wilderness is now occupied by hundreds of plant, animal and bird species, with large amounts of mammals, reptiles and amphibians. Visitors can traverse more than 80 miles (129km) of trails on foot, horseback or 4x4. McKittrick Canyon in the northeast corner is regarded as the most beautiful spot in Texas, where oaks and maples make a colourful display in fall. There is a Junior Ranger program for kids, as well as camping for small or large groups.

Website www.nps.gov/gumo/index.htm

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