1. East Sixth Street, Austin
One of the first streets surveyed in Austin, Sixth was originally known as Pecan Street. During the day, shops, restaurants and historic buildings are the main attraction, but by night, the street becomes festive with live music, shows and special events. On Friday and Saturday nights, the blocks are closed to automobile traffic for an all-out street party. Stop by for a beer or a show, or just enjoy watching the eclectic nightlife of Austin. After the bars close at 2am, this can be a dangerous place to hang out alone.
2. South Congress Avenue
Cross the river from downtown and enter the wonderful South Congress Avenue District. Browse through its many shops and check out eateries that tantilize the tastebuds and the pocketbooks. Check out Uncommon Objects, a wonderful import and knick knack shop, or The Armadillo Market, which carries everything Texas. For the famished shopper, there are more than enough options: Tex-Mex at Guerro's, Fran's Hamburgers, or the eclectic Magnolia Cafe are all favorites with the locals. Enjoy a cup of coffee or light lunch at Texas French Bread after you browse the retro resale shops along the avenue.
3. Barton Springs Pool
As one of Austin's finest attractions, Barton Springs Pool is the perfect outing for those hot Texas days—or even the cool ones. Maintaining a comfortable 68 degrees Farenheit year 'round, you will enjoy a 100-percent natural swimming experience with no chlorine. The grassy hillsides and moss-covered rocks are perfect for sunbathing. Diving boards, concession stands and restroom facilities are also available. When the kids get tired of the water, enjoy the playscape to complete the afternoon. Lifeguards are on duty. You are encouraged to call ahead; the pool occasionally closes. Admission: USD2.50 for adults on weekdays, USD2.75 weekends, USD.75 for kids 12-17, USD.50 for kids 11 and under.
4. Texas State Capitol
The slogan states that "everything is bigger in Texas," and if you look at our Capitol, the phrase rings true. Standing a stately 309 feet and modeled after the nation's Capitol in Washington D.C., this is the nation's tallest. Designed by architect Elijah E. Myers and constructed of red granite, the Capitol took more than seven years to complete. It was finished in 1888, at a total cost of more than three million dollars, an extravagant price even by today's standards. The perfectly landscaped grounds reflect the languid pace of life under the Texas sun, inviting you for a quiet stroll or a lazy day under a tree. Tours: Daily except Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's Day. Allow 30-45 minutes for the tour.
5. Texas Governor’s Mansion
This is one of the oldest governor's mansions in the country that is still being used on a continuous basis. Builder Abner Cook created a simple square home with four rooms downstairs and four rooms upstairs. A conservatory was added in 1914 along with a new kitchen area. The home showcases original artwork and furniture from yesteryear, as well as modern pieces added during the 1980s restoration. Guests are invited to enjoy viewing the first floor and lush grounds surrounding the home. Free tours are given every 20 minutes from 10am to 11:40am Monday through Thursday. Tours are limited to 25 people; please arrive early to assure your spot.
Top Weekend Getaways And Day Trip Excursions:
1. Volente Beach
Located 30 minutes from downtown and offering boat rentals, cruises, and parasailing. Enjoy the on-site restaurant or park your boat after a long ride. The new Water Park plays host to numerous water slides and swimming areas. A one-day pass for adults runs $12 while a two-day pass will save you, costing only $20. For children one-day passes are $9 with two-day passes for $14. Kids under 2 years of age are admitted for free. Sundowner Grill offers a variety of Tex-Mex and American fare including burgers, fajitas, sandwiches, nachos, and quesadillas, along with a child's menu.
Phone: +1 512 258 5109
Open Hours: 11am-6pm Fri-Sun (Spring); 11am-7pm Mon-Sun (Summer).
2. Inner Space Cavern
After being sealed for over 10,000 years, this cave was discovered in 1963 when a group of workers were digging to build a highway overpass. Daily tours are available and last just over an hour. The cave stays a comfortable 72 degrees Farenheit year-round, and features not only beautiful rock formations but also the remains of prehistoric mastodons, saber-tooth cats and other ice age animals. After your tour, enjoy the shaded picnic area with a playscape for children. Its located 24 miles north of Austin on IH 35, exit 259.
Admission: $9 for adults, $6 for children age 4-12, free for children under 4.
Phone: +1 512 863 5545
Open Hours: 9am-6pm daily (Memorial Day through Labor Day), 10am-5pm daily (Labor Day through Memorial Day)
3. Hill Country Flyer
For an enjoyable afternoon, take a scenic journey on this Central Texas vintage steam train. Traveling deep through the Hill Country, this excursion is a must-see for any train buff. Wander through small Texas towns and view the beauty of an era gone by, all while enjoying a relaxing trip in an old-time rail car. Visit the Web site for a schedule of departure times. Prices vary based on seating.
Rates: Adult: Coach $25, Lounge $40 Senior: Coach $22, Lounge $36 Child: Coach $15, Lounge $24
Phone: +1 512 477 8468
Open Hours: 10am-5:30pm Sat-Sun.
4. University of Texas Football
Bevo, Big Bertha and burnt orangethere is nothing like Longhorn football. Football in Texas is a religion for many people, and University of Texas fans are no exception. People come from far and wide to attend the games of this award-winning team. With two Heisman Trophy winners in its history, the Longhorns' pride runs deep in the Austin community. Tailgate parties fill the parking lots before the game. If you happen to miss the final results, take a look at the UT Towerit will be lighted in team colors (burnt orange and white) after every victory.
Phone: +1 512 471 3333 (ticket office); +1 800 982 2386
Open Hours: Game times vary; ticket office open 9am-4pm Mon-Fri