Walk this historic and highly entertaining street and you're sure to find something up your alley. Sixth Street found in Austin's downtown mecca, has everything from live music and bars to restaurants and shopping. Esther's Follies is a popular music and comedy club, but there are plenty of other spots for dining and then hitting the music or bar scene in a place that does it unlike any other.
This is your best break from the Texas heat. Head down to Barton Springs, a lovely spring-fed yet man-mad recreational pool that is located in the channel of Barton Creek. Pack a cooler of lunch and drinks and enjoy an afternoon in the natural, relaxing setting that Barton Springs and the sunshine provide!
One of the most rewarding things about travel is the ability to experience life like the locals there do. Food carts are a way to try some of the freshest and simply the best food the city has to offer, which the locals love! They're also your ticket to trying a multitude of ethnic foods, such as the Vietnamese pho, a type of noodle and beef or pork soup, or tacos and crepes. If you're sure this is something you'll be wanting to try, have a look at austinfoodcarts.com before you head downtown, as this site does an excellent job of tracking the food carts so you'll know where they'll be.
The name "Lake Austin" actually refers to the water reservoir that exists near the city thanks to the Colorado River. The area includes great walking areas, residential housing, but also some excellent restaurants at which you can enjoy a fantastic meal on the lake, then watch the sun set while its colors dance off of the water. The Oasis is a gigantic restaurant and shopping complex where you can pick whichever spot on the lake suits your tastes the best.
Austin's downtown area is made even lovelier a sight by the University's campus. Cities like Austin and Madison are beautifully unique in their designs, as they were constructed around the fact that they were capitals and college towns to begin, so everything was built around this central area. Taking a walk around the campus in the city center is a great way to appreciate the architecture and the sights of Austin.
This lake is a great way to do Austin the outdoorsy way, with the Austin Hike and Bike trail running along the shoreline. The view from Lady Bird Lake looking toward downtown Austin is spectacular and definitely worth the trip just to snap a picture or twenty. Many businesses offer recreational water activities on the shoreline, such as rowing shells, dragon boats, kayaks, and canoes. There are a number of music venues that host events and shows year round, too. If you stick around until evening, head over to the Congress Avenue Bridge which is the home of North America's largest urban colony of Mexican Free-tailed Bats, and perhaps you'll spot them in flight.
This museum has the complete account of everything you've ever wanted to know about Texas. It has three themed exhibits to keep things organized, called Land, Identity, and Opportunity. There's a 4D theater as well as an Imax for visual learners, or simply those who wish to see "Texas" the movie. Many leave the museum raving about its informative exhibits but also the superb and organized layout of the museum itself.
You'll find these gardens on the south bank of the Colorado River, boasting numerous unique and independently maintained gardens. The botanical garden is one of the more popular reasons people visit Zilker Park. It boasts a butterfly trail and garden, as well as a Japanese koi pond and a Japanese garden lily pond. Perhaps one of the most interesting gardens is the Hartman Prehistoric Garden, with life-size sculptures of certain species.
This is the festival you don't want to miss if you're in the area when SXSW comes to town! Every year in mid-March, Austin hosts the largest festival of its kind, South by Southwest, a combination of live music shows, interactive media (video games, graphics, animation, etc.) and film. There are usually over 2,000 official performers playing in 100 different venues, and these numbers continue to grow along with the popularity of this festival every year!
Texas' capitol building is actually taller than the United States' capitol building in Washington, D.C. It is also the sixth tallest state capitol in the country. That being said, it is certainly living up to the saying that "everything's bigger in Texas," standing at a whopping 308 feet. The building was designed in 1881, constructed until 1888, and is now a National Historic Landmark and is also included in the National Register of Historic places. Walk around the 22 acres of gardens and monuments, or take a tour and check out the portraits of every person who has served as either president of the Republic of Texas or as governor.