Texas’ progressive, laid-back capital city enjoys a thriving food scene, nightly live music, acres of leafy outside space, and 300 days of sun a year. Here are eight reasons why you should pay a visit to Austin, Texas.
A vast, verdant 361 acre playground in the heart of the city. Here you can rent bikes, canoes and paddleboards, play disc golf and sand volleyball, explore botanical and sculpture gardens, and ride the Zilker Zephyr train that runs through the park. In October, Zilker Park hosts the renowned annual Austin City Limits music festival, a huge six day event running over two consecutive weekends. The festival features over 100 artists on eight stages.
One of the jewels in Zilker Park’s leafy oasis is this expansive three acre outdoor swimming pool. The cool waters are fed by three underground springs and maintain a constant average of 68 degrees. A draw for year round swimmers, the pool stays cool even in stifling summer temperatures, and is hugely popular with locals and visitors. Keep your eyes peeled for the tiny and endangered Barton Springs salamander, which makes its home in the shallows.
If you’re a Texas barbecue fan, you’ll be in hog heaven amidst Austin’s legendary food scene. From sit down eateries to iconic food trucks, the city boasts multiple meat-charring locales. Notable luminaries include Franklin Barbecue, where diners regularly queue around the block to tuck into renowned oak smoked brisket, pulled pork and homemade sausages. Kerlin BBQ is another Austin legend. This unassuming white food truck lures hordes of meat lovers lusting after Angus brisket, pork ribs and meat and cheese kolaches. Do like the locals, and bring a folding chair for a relaxing wait in line.
An impressive red granite centrepiece, Texas’ State Capitol towers over the city from its vantage point on Congress Avenue. At a nudge over 302 feet, this majestic landmark stands several feet taller than the U.S. Capitol in Washington. Join a free 30 minute guided tour of its halls, and explore ornate 19th century architecture, including the beautiful 280 feet high rotunda. The building sits serenely in 22 acres of immaculate landscaped grounds, filled with imposing historic monuments.
For a breath of fresh air and great views of the city, head to Covert Park. Here you’ll find Mount Bonnell, a 775 foot limestone outcrop and the city’s highest peak. A brief 200 feet ascent brings you to a viewing terrace where you’ll be rewarded with fabulous views of downtown, Lake Austin and the famed 360 Bridge. It’s a great spot to see the sunset (or sunrise if you’re an early bird). There’s a pavilion and tables, so bring a picnic, relax and enjoy the vista.