Austin is the capital of the state of Texas and is known as the Live Music Capital of the World. Austin has so many live music venues that on some nights there are over 100 live music performances going on throughout the city. Many people come to Austin specifically for the live music, whether it’s in the various performance venues or for the big festivals like Austin City Limits. But what else is there to do in Austin besides listening to live music?
There is so much more to experience in Austin. Below is my list of 6 great things to do:
- Texas State Capitol Building and Grounds
They say “Everything is Bigger in Texas” and when it comes to state capitol buildings they are correct. While not the tallest capitol building, that distinction belongs to neighboring state Louisiana, it is the largest in size with 360,000 square feet of floor space. It has 400 rooms and over 900 windows. The Texas State Capitol Building sits at the top of the hill at the end of Congress Avenue. It’s the position at the top of the hill that makes it look even larger, it can be seen all the way from other other side of the Congress Avenue Bridge. Do not be intimidated by the hill though, it’s very gradual, in fact you might not even realize you are walking up a hill until you get to the Capitol Building and turn around and look down the hill.
The inside of the Texas State Capitol Building is equally impressive as the outside. The rotunda includes a 218 foot high dome with a Texas start at the top. It’s quite the sight to see.
Admission to the Capitol Building is free and there are free 30 minute tours of the building offered daily every 30 to 45 minutes.
If you aren’t able to take a tour, definitely take your own tour around the building, walk around the public areas and feel free to take some photos.
The Texas State Capitol grounds encompass 22 acres and feature some beautiful statues and monuments commemorating Texas history.
Definitely make sure to set aside some time to explore the grounds and discover more about Texas history thru the various statues and monuments on the grounds.
The Texas African American History Memorial was the most impressive monument on the grounds.
It displays the history and contributions of African Americans in Texas dating back to 1500. In the middle of the memorial, there is a tall statue that commemorates the end of slavery in the state of Texas on June 19, 1865.
Another impressive monument was The Tejano Monument. This monument commemorates the history and contributions of the Tejanos in Texas history. The Tejanos are the Mexican-American Texans who mostly inhabit southern Texas. If you have visited the southern portion of the state of Texas you can definitely see the Mexican culture is still alive today.
One of the oldest monuments located on the grounds of the Texas State Capitol is The Alamo Monument.
Commemorating the Battle of the Alamo which resulted in Texas becoming part of the United States, this is a very important and beautiful monument to check out.
These are just a few of the many beautiful, historic and meaningful monuments and statues located on the Capitol grounds.
2. Lady Bird Lake
Formerly known as Town Lake, Lady Bird Lake is a 416 acre reservoir located on the Colorado River. The lake was constructed in 1960 as a cooling pond for the nearby Holly Street Power Plant.
In 2007, the lake was renamed Lady Bird Lake after former first lady Lady Bird Johnson who had passed away earlier that year.
Outdoor lovers will love Lady Bird Lake. It’s a popular spot for kayaking and paddleboarding with gorgeous views of downtown.
Along the banks of the lake is the Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail. This 10 mile trail is popular for biking, running and walking. It’s one of the oldest urban Texas trails and offers beautiful views of the lake and the Austin skyline.
3. Enjoy some Texas BBQ
Texas is known for it’s BBQ and it’s a must to get some while in Austin. What better way to refuel after working up an appetite at Lady Bird Lake.
You can’t go wrong with most BBQ restaurants in Austin.
One of the more popular in Austin is Franklin Barbecue. This famous family owned restaurant opened in 2009 and is so popular that there are lines daily. People have been known to bring lawn chairs and line up hours before Franklin Barbecue opens. They are open Tuesday thru Sunday starting at 11am and close when they sell out, so make sure to get there early!
If you aren’t up for standing in a long line or want something right downtown, Cooper’s Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que is located right downtown on Congress Avenue. The BBQ is delicious and they have a beautiful outdoor patio and live music to entertain you during your meal.
4. Driskill Hotel
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Driskill Hotel was originally built in 1886. It’s one of the most historic hotels in the state of Texas and of course that means that it has a haunted history.
There is a history of death in this hotel.
In room 525, 20 years apart two brides committed suicide in the bathtub in this room, creepy coincidence or did the first bride’s ghost have anything to do with the second bride deciding on the same fate in the same location? I’m not sure I’d feel comfortable staying in this room!
Speaking of haunted rooms, another one to look out for is room 429 where another woman committed suicide. There have been reports of people hearing a woman crying in this room.
There was also a young girl who fell to her death from the grand staircase and there have been reports of people hearing a young girl’s voice in the halls of the hotel.
Haunted history aside, the Driskill Hotel is a beautiful place to walk around in and take in the beauty of the lobby.
Amoungst the beauty are old paintings that can seem creepy adding to the haunted atmosphere.
Whether you are staying at the hotel (hopefully not in rooms 525 or 429, unless you are brave enough), just walking thru or enjoying a drink at the bar, the Driskill is a historic Austin institution that is definitely worth checking out.
5. Congress Avenue Bridge
Crossing the Congress Avenue Bridge will give you gorgeous views of the Austin Skyline.
As night falls on Austin, the Congress Avenue Bridge becomes the sight of a very unique experience.
The bridge is home to the largest urban bat colony in the world. Nightly just before sundown, from March to October, 1.5 million bats emerge from under the bridge. Definitely a one of a kind experience that you can’t encounter everywhere!
6. Murals and Art Guitars
Just walking around Downtown Austin, there are many pieces or art to see.
From murals to art guitars symbolizing the live music of Austin, Austin is definitely a place to street art lovers.
The art guitars are part of once larger Guitar Austin project that ended in 2007. Luckily there are still a few art guitars displayed downtown and also at the airport for visitors to see.
Whether you are looking for something to do during the day before a night out for live music or just looking for something other than live music, there is so much to see and do in Austin and I hope this list helps you.
If you are interested in adding another Texas city to your trip, check out the Historic Sites of San Antonio located just 80 miles south of Austin.