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.
The amazing Zilker Botanical Garden overlooks the Zilker Park fields bordering Barton Springs Road. The garden is actually comprised of several different gardens, including the Cactus and Succulent, Xeriscape, Herb and Fragrance, Rose, Azalea, Butterfly and Taniguchi Gardens. Taniguchi is a beautiful Japanese landscape with a waterfall, running stream, lily ponds and wooden bridges. The lush, peaceful grounds are commonly perused by artists and writers searching for inspiration, and by others just looking for solitude amid the city.
This auditorium has a 300-seat capacity and fills a gap in the local arts scene for a smaller, elegant venue for music, dance and theater performances. State-of-the-art lighting and sound systems, a mezzanine and a raised stage mean that every seat in the house is a good one. It's part of the Barton Creek Arts Center, an entire complex dedicated to the arts, environment and education. Located on a hillside overlooking picturesque tree canopies and streams, it's about ten minutes from downtown. The theater is the brainchild of One World, a local non-profit arts organization.
Charles Umlauf (1911-1994), one of the more famous Austin artists, was a prolific sculptor. This museum displays many of his works in a fantastic garden spot located close to Zilker Park and just minutes from downtown. His sculptures range from realism to abstraction and include families, religious figures, animals and mythological characters.
With a collection of more than 17,000 works of art, this is one of the most visited museums in the city and also the largest University art-space in the country. It is located in the University of Texas campus and houses a large variety of Latin American art, American art and European work. With an atrium that extends 70 feet (21.3 meters) above the stone floors, this museum offers a unique, natural space. Temporary exhibits are constantly changing, with fresh work being showcased regularly. This research-based museum also offers lectures by artists, museum curators and art historians from across the country.
Chateau Bellevue is one of the few options you have when you want a beautiful, country wedding in downtown Austin. Established in 1929, this charming, old mansion makes for a wonderful backdrop for special and private occasions. Within the chateau, there are different event spaces - the lovely courtyard, if you're in for an open-air occasion, the Evans dining room, for a quiet, intimate event and the gorgeous ballroom for a large-scale glamorous one. Whether you're planning a wedding reception or a rehearsal dinner, the team at Chateau Bellevue makes sure it's a memorable one.
Austin sure knows how to do movie theaters — between this place, the Alamo Drafthouse and others, if you can't find a suitable theater in this city then you simply don't like going to the movies. Violet Crown allows you to purchase your actual seats in advance, so you can show up just before showtime assured of sitting where you like. Before the show, order up some food and cocktails for your flick while you relax in the lounge awaiting their arrival. Intimate-sized theater rooms add a real communal feeling to the viewing experience. Check their website for showtimes.
Short story writer William Sydney Porter, whose pen name was O. Henry, lived in this home for three years while he spent time in Austin. It was constructed in 1891 and is filled with rare books, O. Henry's writing desk, original furniture, photographs, personal belongings and the chairs that brought The Gift of the Magi to life. Enjoy a guided tour and learn about the history of this home and its famous occupant. The house has been moved twice since from its original location at 308 East Fourth Street. It now features a gift shop with books, videotapes and more. The museum offers writing clubs for Austin children and sponsors many local events such as the Victorian Christmas celebration and the "O. Henry Pun-Off." Admission is free, but donations are welcome.
Take a tour with Lone Star Riverboat down the Colorado River (known as Town Lake in the Austin city limits) on a paddle wheel boat. This Southern style of transportation is a perfect way to take in the city's skyline. Trips are 90 minutes long and do not require reservations. Call ahead to determine the seasonal schedule. During the summer moonlight cruises are offered, as well as close-up cruises of the bats underneath Congress bridge. Prices vary by excursion, so check their website for further information.
For cruising around on Town Lake, the best way to go is on a Capital Cruise. Have dinner with friends or just your date, while watching the beauty of Austin's downtown from the peaceful water. Sightseeing tours are available along with canoes and kayaks; or you can take out paddle boats for an outdoor activity with the family. So whether it is a romantic evening for two or a day on the lake with kids, this service can meet your needs. Furthermore, the Hyatt caters for these cruises and serves wonders like shrimp pasta, beef or chicken fajitas, to name a few. They will work with your company or group to customize a menu if you desire.