AUSTIN TEXAS

TEXAS REGIONS

HILL COUNTRY

Map of Austin Area & 
Additional Austin Information

Austin, Capital of TexasFive scouts were sent out in 1839 to explore around the new Republic of Texas, looking for a site for the new capital city. A location was found on the north bank of the Colorado River, where the prairie met scenic hills. At the time the site was lived on by 4 families who called their settlement. Waterloo, soon to be renamed Austin, named after Stephen F. Austin, also known as the Father of Texas.

In addition to being the capital of Texas Austin is also the country seat of Travis County. With a population, at last count, of 757,688,

Austin is the 15th largest city in America and the 4th largest in Texas.

In 2006 Money magazine picked Austin as the #2 Best Big City to live in the United States. By 2009 Austin had slid to the #3 spot in the Money magazine "Best Place to Live" survey. MSN has called Austin the "Greenest City in America. Somehow CNN and Travel & Leisure magazine determined Austin was #2 on a list of cities determining where the "best" people lived, according to the personalities and attributes of a town's citizens.

Austin has what is called a subtropical humid climate. That means it can get hot and muggy, with hot summers and mild winters.

There is plenty to see and do in Austin and the Austin area. If you are a fan of the longest running PBS show, Austin City Limits, you can try and get the hardest ticket to get in town and attend a taping. If that does not work out you can go on the Austin City Limits Tour. Both watching a taping and the tour are free.

Barton Springs Pool in Austin Texas Austin has 9 major parks covering almost 8 thousand acres, including 5 city golf courses, 75 playgrounds, 70 tennis courts, 15 recreation centers, 44 swimming pools and 172 athletic fields. Among the parks are Emma Long Metropolitan Park, Walter Long Lake & Park, Fiesta Gardens on Town Lake, Mayfield Park and Zilker Park where you'll find Barton Springs Pool.

In Austin's Slaughter Creek Metropolitan Park you will find Veloway, where bicyclists and in-line skaters have a winding path 3.1 miles long, 23 feet wide, all to themselves, with no walker or joggers allowed. The asphalt covered loop runs through more than 100 acres of green scenic parkland.

If you are a Stevie Ray Vaughan fan you can visit a memorial to him by strolling along on Town Lake's hike and bike trail, stopping at Auditorium Shores to visit a life-size statue of the guitar legend.

The Lone Star Riverboat paddle wheeler takes tourists on sight-seeing trips on Town Lake, cruising under bridges, past limestone cliffs and wilderness scenery on a 1.5 hour tour.

You can take the Hill Country Flyer for a laid-back train trek through scenic Hill Country northwest of Austin. The best time of year to ride the Hill Country Flyer is spring, if you want to view wildflowers. Plus in spring the temperature is ideal, with the open windows of the 1920s train coaches. In the heat of summer you can fork over some extra money and ride in the 1950s era air-conditioned lounge car. After a 2 hour Hippie Hollow Nude Beach on Lake Travis in Austin ride you reach the Hill Country town of Burnett where you can get a cheeseburger, and more, at the Tea-Licious Restaurant

If going to a clothing optional beach is something you would like to experience, Austin has that covered, or uncovered, too, at Hippie Hollow on Lake Travis. Hippie Hollow is a 109 acre, secluded sunbathing swimming beach, that people come to take their clothes off from all over the world.

The Austin Zoo and Animal Sanctuary specializes in rehabilitating rescued animals. The zoo has more than 300 animals from more than 100 different species. Open daily from 10am til 6pm.



AUSTIN BAT COLONY

The Austin Bat Colony at the Congress Street Bridge

During the summer more than a million Mexican free-tailed bats fly out nightly from beneath downtown Austin's Congress Avenue Bridge over the Colorado River, looking for food in the form of flying insects, helping control the bug population of Austin. Visitors from around the world come to witness the sight of see an undulating mass of beeping bats fly from their bridge "cave" into the deep blue Texas evening sky.

AUSTIN MUSEUMS

The Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library and Museum is on the campus of the University of Texas. At LBJ's insistence, admission to his Presidential Library is free. You can walk through LBJ's Oval Office, listen to an animatronic LBJ spin some of his homespun humor and wisdom and view exhibits that tell the story of LBJ's life and Presidency.

The Blanton Museum of Art contains art from Texas and around the world. This is the largest university art museum in America, with what is considered one of the largest, oldest and most comprehensive collections in the country.

The Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center has exceptional holdings, like the world's first photograph, a Gutenberg Bible, a 1450 edition of Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales, along with the complete working libraries of James Joyce and E. E. Cummings, plus manuscripts of Ernest Hemingway, Edgar Allen Poe, Mark Twain and Walt Whitman.

The Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum is a showcase for the proud heritage of Texas. The museum welcomes you with a humongous Texas Lone Star out front. You will leave this museum thoroughly versed in the history of Texas.

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildlife Center covers 178 acres of hilly Texas prairie. When Lady Bird Johnson was First Lady she put in motion a Make America Beautiful program that spruced up towns all across the nation. The site includes display gardens, themed gardens and a lot of landscaping showing how to use native Texas plants. There is a visitor center with exhibits.

The Austin Museum of Art is Austin's top spot for 20th century and contemporary art. Associated with the AMOA is a smaller branch known as Laguna Gloria, occupying a villa on Lake Austin with a 1916 Italianate mansion, with lush landscaping and outdoor sculptures.

The Mexic-Arte Museum covers traditional and contemporary American Latino painting and sculpture.

The George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center showcases the contributions Austin's African-American have made to the city and Texas. There is a theater, dance studio, art gallery and a children's exhibit about African-American inventors and scientists, like George Washington Carver.

AUSTIN FESTIVAL & EVENTS

The Star of Texas Fair and Rodeo usually takes places the same time of year as the South by Southwest Music Festival in mid-March. This is an old-fashioned livestock show with a rodeo, plus a carnival, Texas fair food and live music. Top acts show up to play, like Maroon 5 and Merle Haggard.

South by Southwest Music Festival brings thousands of musicians and music lovers to Austin each March for perfect weather, BBQ, beer, Tex-Mex and every kind of music imaginable.

Austin City Limits Music Festival occurs in mid-September, when Austin is hot, temperature-wise. The festival is presented by the long running PBS show of the same name. The first festival opened in 2002 and was an instant hit, despite the high temperatures. Fans quickly snap up the 70,000 tickets. There are dozens of local food vendors, shade and misters to cool you off, along with free water stations.

Art City Austin is an event that expresses Austin's innovative, creative and expressive nature. Hundreds of new and established artists gather to show their works of art. The event takes place at Austin City Hall and Lady Bird Lake in early April.

The Austin Reggae Festival is one of the biggest and most popular Reggae festivals in Texas. The festival takes place in mid-April, featuring dozens of Reggae bands from around the world

The O. Henry Pun-Off World Championship takes place in mid-May, when punsters battle to see who has the most clever wit and wordplay.

The Texas Hill Country Wine and Food Festival pairs Texas wine producers with culinary artisans to celebrate Texas food and wine. The festival takes place in late March and early April.



AUSTIN PERFORMING ARTS

The Paramount Theater is Austin's top location for performing arts events.. The University of Texas Performing Arts Center is the location of Bass Concert Hall, which brings a mix to campus of internationally acclaimed performers. The Living Center for Performing Art sits atop the south bank of the Colorado River, serving as a hub for cultural arts performances.

Austin Lyric Opera has been winning critical acclaim since 1986 for its lyrical presentations with international artists and new singers teaming up for the 3 opera season that runs from November through March.

AUSTIN'S SIXTH STREET & WAREHOUSE DISTRICT

Sixth Street, East of Congress, is party central for Austin. This is where MTV's Real World Austin troublemakers made most of their trouble. Check out the rooftop patio at the Iron Cactus Mexican Restaurant & Tequila Bar. Go to Spill for a dance club. Go to the Real Worlder's favorite body shot spots at The Chuggin' Monkey and The Dizzy Rooster. You can find less rowdy locales on Sixth Street, East of Congress, at Lovejoy's, which is a brewpub, Casino el Camino, with its sort of scary Goth decor, or the swanky Club Deville.

Sixth Street, West of Congress draws an older, less rowdy crowd. You will find an English style pub with a double-decker patio, called Opal Divines Freehouse, with an impressive selection of Scotch and beer. If you are looking for a Russian themed bar go to the Molotov Lounge and have some vodka. Feeling Irish? Go to Mother Egan's Irish Pub for a pint of Guinness.

In the Warehouse District you will find a much different scene than Sixth Street. You won't see so many UT coeds. But, you will see ladies sipping wine while listening to jazz. The Ginger Man has a huge selection of beer, with a big patio. Cedar Street Courtyard has a sunken courtyard with live music. If you want to dance above a shark, head to Qua Bottie Lounge. The Warehouse District has a few Gay Bars, including Oilcan Harry's and Rainbow Cattle Co., with two-steppin' on a huge dance floor, with Thursdays being Girls Night Out.

WHERE TO STAY IN AUSTIN

In the South Congress zone there is Hotel Saint Cecilia, which is a unique Victorian inn. The Austin Motel and Hotel San Jose. Downtown lodging locations include La Quinta Inn Austin Capitol, Radisson Hotel & Suites Austin-Town Lake, Hyatt Regency and the Courtyard Marriot. A bit more expensive is the downtown Driskill Hotel, built in 1886 as a cattle baron's mansion. The Intercontinental Stephen F. Austin Hotel is another lodging option with historical luxury. Another luxury downtown hotel is the Four Seasons, overlooking Lady Bird Lake. The Mansion at Judges' Hill is a boutique hotel originally built as a private home in the early 20th century.

If going on a "cheap" vacation is your modus operandi, stretching your vacation dollars as far as possible, Austin has many nice, yet "cheap" lodging motel options well under $100 a night, such as La Quinta Inn Austin South, Extended Stay Deluxe Austin, Super 8, America's Best Value Inn, Clarion Inn & Suites, Econo Lodge, Quality Inn, Baymont Inn, Days Inn, Red Roof Inn, Ramada Inn Central, Howard Johnson Inn, Ramada Limited, Hilton Garden Inn, Capital Inn, Casulo Hotel and, of course, several Motel 6's.

If you are looking for a resort experience in the Austin area, 30 minutes from downtown Austin there is Lake Austin Spa Resort. If golfing is part of what you want in a resort, Barton Creek Resort & Spa has four 18-hole golf courses.

If camping is your lodging preference McKinney Falls State Park is about 10 miles southeast of downtown Austin. Pace Bend Park is one of the most popular camping destinations in the Hill Country Region.

WHERE TO EAT IN AUSTIN

For Mexican food, in South Austin, on Congress Avenue you will find Guero's Taco Bar, located in a historic feed store, full of South-of-the-Border charm, drawing Mexican food aficionados and celebrities. Former President Bill Clinton is such a fan his favorite combo of chicken taco, beef taco, tamale and guacamole is named after him. In North Austin look for Fonda San Miguel for authentic Mexican food. For a quick lunch try Changos Taqueria. At El Patio you will find what many claim are the best chips and queso in Austin.

For Barbecue in Austin head to Stubb's Bar-B-Q for legendary hickory smoked meats. Next to the Austin Convention Center you will find Iron Works Barbecue. At Scholz Garten you will find a beer garden and dance hall in addition to good Texas-style barbecue, plus German food like bratwurst and sauerkraut.

For good ol' American cuisine downtown you will find Moonshine Patio Bar & Grill, with macaroni & cheese and beer battered asparagus. At Ranch 616 you will get American food with a Texas/Southwestern spin, plus seafood. At Gumbo's you will get Austin's best Cajun cuisine. In South Austin go to Magnolia Cafe South for some southern charm and breakfast served all day. Artz Rib House is known for its baby back ribs. On Congress Avenue you will find the South Congress Cafe. In North Austin Threadgill's Home Cooking and meatloaf are its claim to fame. More Southern cooking can be found at Hoover's Cooking. A good burger joint is Dirty Martin's, which has carhop service. Dan's Hamburgers is a classic, retro '50s style burger place.

For Japanese cuisine Uchi has been voted one of Austin's best restaurants multiple times.

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