Austin is the capital of the State of Texas, the city grew along the Colorado River and today is the core of the Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos metropolitan area. Austinites (people who live in Austin) pride themselves on being independent thinkers, traditional yet liberal and with a great sense of character. The city has gained a few nicknames and slogans over the years which give a clue as to Austin’s charm. The city has been called the “clean air city” as there is a strict ban on smoking in public areas, the “violet crown” for the beautiful colors which cover the surrounding hills at sundown during the winter and Austin’s slogans are “Keep Austin Weird” and “The Live Music Capitol of the World.” In Austin you can find beautiful urban parks, cultural venues, a dynamic nightlife and historic landmarks.
Bullock Texas State History Museum
Discover the story of Texas through artifacts, special effects films, cultural displays, historic exhibits and the museum’s IMAX theatre. Visitors have said that it is like walking into a storybook as you enter the open atrium which is the museum’s main hall. There are recreated scenes, multimedia presentations and exhibits spread over three floors chronicling the Texan land, identity and people. The museum is open from Monday to Saturday from 9am to 6pm and on Sundays from noon to 6pm. Find the museum at 1800 N Congress Avenue.
Texas State Capitol
This distinctive building is on the National Register of Historic Places and is a designated National Historic Landmark. The 19th century structure is built on elevated land overlooking the Colorado River, just to the north of the state capitol is the University of Texas. The capitol was built in the Renaissance style in 1888 taking its inspiration from 15th century Italian architecture. The Austin state capitol has more gross square footage than any other state capitol in part due to the 1993 addition of the Underground Capitol Extension. The capitol is surrounded by well kept landscaped gardens and parkland. It is possible to take a self-guided tour of the capitol during business hours or to join a tour from the Capitol South Foyer. The 45 minute guided tours are conducted Monday to Friday from 8:30am to 430pm, on Saturday from 9:30am to 3:30pm and on Sunday from noon to 3:30pm. The tours are free and need to be booked in advance online or by phone.
Zilker Metropolitan Park
This is a 351 acre park with recreational facilities, wide open spaces and areas that have been left to grow naturally. Some of the more popular features are the Zilker Holiday Tree a huge Christmas tree lit up during December, the Zilker Zephyr miniature train, canoeing on Town Lake, bike trails and Barton Spring Pool where you can swim in natural spring water. There are also a nine hole disc golf course, sand volley ball courts, the Zilker Botanical Gardens, the Taniguchi Oriental Garden, the Austin Nature and Science Center and the Umlauf Sculpture garden and Museum. The park is not easy to miss at 2100 Barton Springs Road.
Find this fine dining establishment at 2408 W Anderson Lane where they serve American style cuisine, grilled meats and seafood. On the menu are gluten free and vegetarian options and the romantic restaurant is open for lunch and dinner seven days a week. Among the favorite dishes here are spinach and artichoke dip, Asian chicken and noodle salad, New Orleans red bean soup, barbecue pork ribs and roasted prime rib. The food is consistently of high quality and served by friendly efficient staff in contemporary yet classic surroundings.
This is the top Austin restaurant on Trip Advisor and also makes the Urbanspoon.com’s list of best Austin restaurants. It is located at 4200 N Lamar Boulevard and serves Japanese cuisine including a wide selection of sushi. The menu is innovative and gives a new twist to classic Japanese dishes. The restaurant is open for dinner seven nights a week and for lunch on Saturdays and Sundays. This is an offshoot of another renowned restaurant, Uchi, the executive chef is Paul Qui, winner of season 9 of Top Chef and the owner and chef is the acclaimed chef Tyson Cole.
The Salt Lick Bar-B-Que $$
This is the Urbanspoon.com’s overall best Austin restaurant which serves classic barbecue dishes in comfortable and casual surroundings. There is live music in the restaurant which is open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner and on the weekends they remain open late at night. Find the Salt Lick at 18300 FM 1826 in Southwest Austin. Popular dishes on the menu are peach cobbler, one double cut beef rib, brisket plate, pork rib, turkey, sausage and sandwiches as big as Texas. Vegetarians can enjoy the vegetable plate. The restaurant is in a rural setting and the atmosphere is homely and inviting.
Hut’s Hamburgers $
Head for 807 W 6th Street in Downtown Austin for great burgers and southern American soul food. The place has been around since 1939 and is a traditional style diner with booths, memorabilia on the walls and a familiar atmosphere. Imagine the burger joint in Happy Days and you have some idea of this place’s ambiance. Apart from burgers they serve a selection of salads, fries, onion rings, chili, sandwiches and desserts. Don’t forget to wash it all down with an old fashioned milkshake or malt.