Austin is a world-class city, filled with things to see and do, whether you are a former resident or a new visitor. Known for its vibrant music scene, Austin combines a rich western tradition, southern hospitality and an original twist. With countless museums and historic exhibits, quirky shops and restaurants, it can take a lifetime to see all that Austin has to offer. Here are some of Austin’s must-see attractions.
Texas State Capitol in Austin
History buffs will love exploring the Capitol and browsing its historic exhibits, including a collection of artefacts from the Battle of Saratoga in the Chamber of the Chamber. Much of the original architecture can still be seen, giving visitors an idea of Austin’s place in Texas history. Nearby attractions include the Texas Governor’s mansion and the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum, allowing visitors to plan a full day of historic tours around a free walking tour of the Capitol and the park.
Sculpture garden and museum of Umlauf
The Umlauf Museum combines modern sculpture with historic Texas art and offers art lovers a look back at the history of Texas. All Texas art styles, from classic portraits to depression-era paintings, can be seen, and the sculpture garden showcases the work of Texas’s own Charles Umlauf, as well as many of the student’s pieces. Umlauf. Conferences and workshops are also available; reservations are generally required.
Zilker Botanical Garden
A quiet retreat from the bustling city outside, the Zilker Botanical Garden offers a traditional rose garden, a herb garden and a cactus garden, as well as unusual gardens that make it a unique attraction in Austin. One of the resort’s most popular gardens is the Isamu Taniguchi Japanese Garden with a Japanese tea house, traditional bridge, rock walls and reflective pools filled with koi carp. Kids will love the Hartman prehistoric garden, which imitates the Cretaceous to the best of its ability and even presents a life-size sculpture of an Ornithomimus, a dinosaur that once lived in the Austin area.
Austin Nature and Science Center
Just down the road from Zilker Botanical Garden, the Austin Nature and Science Center offers more dinosaurs in their Dino pit, allowing visitors to search for dinosaur fossils in a replica of a real paleontological excavation site. Other exhibits include a collection of native Texas animals and a naturalist workshop that helps visitors explore the native botanical life of Austin.
Lady Bird Lake
Tourists and natives of Austin take a break at dusk and watch free-tailed Mexican bats flee under the bridge on Congress Avenue. Austin is home to over 1.5 million of these bats, so the screen is impressive. The lake serves kayakers and canoeists, and music lovers won’t want to miss a visit to the Stevie Ray Vaughan monument on the shore of the lake. Open-air concerts and music festivals are held here throughout the year or in nearby locations.
Austin Steam Trains
No discussion of Austin’s attractions would be complete without mentioning the Austin Steam Train Association and its Texas Hill Country weekend tours just outside of Austin. Vintage passenger cars offer a unique view of the countryside and a glimpse of history, including a visit to the Bertram rail depot in 1912. Reservations are recommended.