What springs to mind when you hear the words, ‘Austin, Texas’? Big things, right? Well you’re not too far off the mark. Austin is certainly big on fantastic food, big on recreational activities and big on history. In fact, the architecturally stunning Texas Capitol building stands taller than the US Capitol in Washington DC.
Austin – whose unofficial motto is ‘Keeping it weird’ – is hands down, one of the hippest and quirkiest cities in the United States. From some of the best Tex-Mex and Texan BBQs on offer, to its rich history and natural beauty, there are many reasons why you should spend time in the Texas capital.
Here are five to start with:
1. Architecture Take a free-guided tour of the magnificent Capitol Building. A beautiful example of 19th century architecture, there are development restrictions in place that prohibit obstructing views of the Capitol dome. Tours take approximately 30 minutes and operate 7 days a week. Bookings are not required. Click here for more tour details.
2. Food, glorious food Vegetarians, coeliacs, gelato lovers, meat-lovers, gather! There is something for everyone and good food is easy to come by. Some of the best food in the city is served up from a food truck - that’s just how they do it in Austin. And they do it well. In fact, the number one ranking Texan BBQ in Austin (on Tripadvisor) is La Barbecue – a food truck located on a quiet suburban corner block. Blink, and you could almost miss it. The mouth-watering brisket sandwich and pulled pork sandwich are absolutely delicious and reasonably priced at $10. If organic produce is more your style, take yourself to Lamar Whole Foods Market, which is conveniently located down the road from Lick Honest Ice-Cream.
3. One for the historians There are 13 presidential libraries in the United States, one being the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library, located on the grounds of the University of Texas. The LBJ library houses 45 million pages of historical documents, 650,000 photos and 5,000 hours of recordings from President Johnson's political career. Housed in a ten-story building with a great hall featuring a glass-encased archive of LBJ documentation, the collection also includes personal objects owned by the President and the First Lady, Lady Bird Johnson
4. Talk a walk After indulging in some of Austin’s finest food, you may want to walk it off. One option is to follow the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail, a 10-mile urban path that stretches along Lady Bird Lake. Alternatively, for a shorter walk, take a stroll along the pleasant Boardwalk at Lady Bird Lake, which is part of the Ann and Roy Butler Trail. A little over a mile long - the boardwalk - which is actually made of concrete, is 14 feet wide with most of the walk 5 feet above water.
5. Visit Zilker Park Zilker Park is considered Austin’s most-loved park and is 351-acres, featuring natural springs, botanical gardens, a theatre, a nature and science centre as well as a sculpture garden. Barton Springs Pool is fed from underground springs and is a constant 20 degrees Celsius in winter and summer, making it popular year-round.