One part vaudeville and one part stinging political/social satire, this place has been amusing and delighting its guests, as well as the pedestrians who pass by its front-stage windows and observe its goings-on, since the late 1970s. A troupe of multi-talented performers write, act, sing and dance their way across a broad and constantly updated comedic map that pokes fun at our elected officials, celebrity icons, and regular citizens. It is not all for laughs, though; a magical act comes on a couple of times per show to startle and captivate your senses. This is a true downtown institution.
A famous slogan states that everything is bigger in Texas, and if one views its capitol building, the age-old phrase rings true. Standing a stately 309 feet (94 meters) and modeled after the United States Capitol in Washington D.C., the Texas State Capitol owns the distinction of being the nation's tallest capitol building. Designed by architect Elijah E. Myers and constructed using lustrous red granite, the capitol took more than seven years to complete. It was finished in the year 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 central Texan sun, inviting passers-by for a quiet stroll or a lazy day under a tree.
Patrons will enjoy a huge variety of activities at Zilker Park. You can check out the hike and bike trails, picnic facilities, Zilker Botanical Garden, canoe rentals, soccer fields, sand volleyball courts, riverboat rides on Town Lake, concerts, festivals and even a miniature train. The wide-open stretches of grass in this park are just minutes from the downtown area. There is plenty of room and various diversions for the kids, so you can get a suntan, take long walks by the river or just curl up with a book down by the river.
Set along the eastern banks of the restful Colorado River, Mount Bonnell's verdant headlands dominate Austin's western topography from an elevation of approximately 775 feet (236 meters) above sea level. Also known as Covert Park, the location is a stunning progression of luxuriant grasslands, scenic waterfronts, peaceful picnic spots and breathtaking vista points. Inducted into the National Register of Historic Places in the year 2015, the forelands are home to Mount Bonnell's Indian Trail, one of the cornerstones of the American War of Independence. Legend has it that the final 99 steps to the mount's top hold enchanting qualities; if a couple climbs the mount once, they fall in love; twice, they become engaged; and three times, they are destined to be married.
As part of the Pedernales River and Hamilton Creek, this old-fashioned swimming hole is perfect for the nature lover in all of us. A shaded walk through the canyon opens to the limestone outcroppings that create a 50-foot waterfall landing in the pool. A picnic on the banks of the pool, a swim in the cool water or a quick hike through the canyon will wash away city-accumulated stress. The trail to the pool is fairly short (1/4 of a mile) but does include a series of rock steps. Good hiking shoes are recommended. Visitors with physical disabilities should call ahead to pre-arrange assistance. Parking is limited, and the pool is very popular so go early.
One of the most visited presidential libraries in the nation, Lyndon Baines Johnson Library & Museum is supplied with information regarding one of the most controversial times in United States history. Peeking inside the life of the 36th President, Lyndon Baines Johnson, the LBJ tapes provide listeners the opportunity to learn about former president John F. Kennedy's assassination and the Vietnam War. Along with the famous tapes, visitors can see a to-scale replica of the Oval Office, political memorabilia and more than 39 million pages of historical notes. Plan on a full day at this library and museum, but if you are a real history buff, you will barely scratch the surface of what this fantastic archive has to offer.
The Roosevelt Room is a 1920s style cocktail bar and entertainment venue where you can treat yourself to delicious handcrafted concoctions like the Westside Story which is a blend of vodka, cucumber, mint, lemon, orgeat and peychaud or the White Tuxedo prepared with gin, dry sherry, grapefruit bitters and salted olive oil. You can also opt for their signature cocktail De Rigueur. Packed to the brim with a young, hippy crowd, The Roosevelt Room is the ideal place to go to, if you want to have a lively evening out, meet new people or listen to eclectic live music as you sip tantalizing cocktails. The wonderful atmosphere at this place is sure to lift the spirits of anyone who walks in.
Republic Square in Downtown Austin is one of the city's original parks when the city was founded in the early 19th Century. There are plenty of cultural and social events held here throughout the year, including concerts, free movies and even yoga. The weekly farmers' market is also a popular attraction of this easily accessible park in Austin.
This is an intimate outdoor venue with a pleasant courtyard feel. Live jazz music is played nightly to a sophisticated crowd. The martinis are a definite must, and there is also an excellent cigar selection to choose from inside. This is a great place to sit under the oak trees and enjoy the breeze while watching some of Austin's best dancers dance up front. Better yet, why not join in?
As one of the galleries of the Texas Fine Arts Association, The Contemporary's Jones Center focuses on nurturing fine art in Central Texas. This gallery brings together artists, curators, art writers, collectors and the general public to appreciate exquisite Texan artwork. TFAA is dedicated to contributing to the growth of art and art education in the state; it offers exhibitions of modern artists, seminars and panel discussions in order to achieve this goal. It can accommodate educational visits of school students and teachers. It also offers art classes for children and adults on topics such as mosaics, photography, collage, watercolor and glass painting, metal art, jewelry design, pottery and digital art.
The Townsend is a lively bar and music venue in downtown Austin. Located in the historic Thompson Building, the bar makes use of the vast remodeled space to provide a setup for a classy lounge and cocktail bar. Come in during any of their live music concerts which feature well-known artists as well as up and coming indie groups. The combination of zippy cocktails, delicious sharing plates of cheese, pate or cured meats, and quality music seems to be the perfect recipe for an entertaining evening out with friends.
The Hideout Theatre & Coffeehouse is a perfect mix of Austin quirk and Texas charm. With two tiny stages and an accompanying coffee shop, Hideout offers patrons a fun-filled evening of improvisational comedy, rich baked goods, aromatic coffee, and wine by the glass. This Congress Avenue locale sits in the heart of Austin and offers hour-long elimination-style improv comedy troupe performances and poetry slam events. Try their sugared cinnamon roll with a scoop of Amy's vanilla ice cream and a glass of Chardonnay. If you need some help in the humor department, Hideout offers weekly improv classes at moderate prices. Disabled access in coffeehouse and downstairs theater only. Check their website for weekly show times.