Austin Sights

The logical place to begin an exploration of the city is downtown, where the pink-granite Texas State Capitol, built in 1888, is the most visible manmade attraction. The Colorado River, which slices through Austin, was once an unpredictable waterway but has since been tamed into a series of lakes, including two within the city limits. Twenty-two-mile-long Lake Austin, in the western part of the

city, flows into Lady Bird Lake, a narrow stretch of water that meanders for 5 miles through the center of downtown. There are also 10 miles of riverside hiking and biking trails.

The sprawling University of Texas, one of the largest universities in the United States, flanks the capitol's north end. Among other things, it is home to several world class museums. Just to the northwest of the university is a fun and funky student-centered commercial street called Guadalupe ("The Drag").

Almost every street in downtown, from Cesar Chavez to 15th, is hopping with bars, music venues, and restaurants. The best shopping is either in the Second Street District or on South Congress Ave.

From March to October, check out the Ann Richards Congress Avenue Bridge, under which the world’s largest urban colony of Mexican free-tailed bats hangs out (literally). The bats make their exodus a half an hour after sunset to feed on insects.

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Central Austin, Downtown, and Capitol Area 14

West Austin and Zilker Park 9

University of Texas 7

Greater Austin 5

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South Congress District 2

East Austin 2

South Austin 2

Sixth Street District 1

North Austin 1

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Arts/ Performance Venue 1

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Cemetery 1

Educational Institution 3

Garden/ Arboretum 3

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Hotel–Sight 1

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Mountain–Sight 1

Museum/ Gallery 17

Nature Preserve/ Wildlife Refuge 3

Park (National/ State/ Provincial) 1

Park/ Playground 3

Public Art (Mural/ Sculpture/ Statue) 2

Restaurant–Sight 1

Sports Venue 1

Sports–Sight 4

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Austin Sights

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Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum

  • Museum/Gallery

The 38th Lieutenant Governor of Texas, Bob Bullock—a potent political force in his day—lobbied hard to establish a museum of state...

Inner Space Cavern

  • Sports–Sight

This Mesozoic-era karst cavern 24 miles north of Austin was discovered in 1963 and opened to the public three years later. Visitors enter...

Republic of Texas Museum

  • Museum/Gallery

This organization, which also oversees the Alamo in San Antonio, maintains a collection of artifacts from the Republic of Texas era (1836–46...

The Thinkery

  • Museum/Gallery

In 2013, the former Austin Children's Museum moved into a new building and evolved into The Thinkery, where kids (and kids at heart)...

Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve

  • Nature Preserve/Wildlife Refuge

Stunning contrasting views of the Hill Country and the Austin skyline make it worth the trip to this area near the 360 Bridge. You can...

Zilker Park

  • Park/Playground

The former site of temporary Franciscan missions in 1730 and a former Native American gathering place is now Austin's everyday backyard...

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