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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.
This creek winds through Central and South Austin, featuring beautiful hiking and bike trails as well as many choice swimming holes. The natural surroundings have been left to flourish as only the Texas countryside can. One of the more popular areas is at the far north end of the park—the Scottish Woods Trails, a rocky path leading to a gorgeous private swimming hole at the base of a small waterfall. Barton Creek Greenbelt runs west and north from Zilker Park for nearly eight miles. Contact the Austin Parks and Recreation Department for a map of the greenbelt and access areas.
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.
These 22 amazing acres overlook 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. See their website for further information.
A reservoir of the undulating Colorado River, Lady Bird Lake lies nestled in startling contrast with the cosmopolitan buildings that fringe it. Originally known as 'Town Lake', this reservoir was created in 1960, with the construction of the Longhorn Dam. For a decade, this lake was left in a derelict state, until it was transformed into a beautiful recreation zone in the 1970s. In 2007, the lake was given the name Lady Bird Lake, honoring the memory of the former First Lady, Lady Bird Johnson. Its glassy waters a wonderland for recreation, the lake is skirted by lush, emerald droves, winding trails, the sprawling Zilker Park and the rejuvenating Barton Springs. The lake enables an array of exhilarating activities like kayaking, canoeing, rowing, paddleboarding and recreational fishing. Lady Bird Lake has been host to a string of sporting events, while its bank is popular for musical performances.
The former home and studio of German sculptress Elisabet Ney is open to the public for exploration. This home was one of the first buildings erected in the Hyde Park neighborhood, which was developed as a suburb in 1892 by Monroe Martin Shippe. Visitors flock to this museum to view nearly 50 busts and statues of Texas heroes, as well as Europeans she sculpted as a young artist. Her tools and several personal items are also on display. Admission is free.
Mayfield Park Cottage and Gardens is open to the public but is a favorite among the City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department facilities rental division. The historic 1870s cottage is perfect for a small group. The cottage holds 65 people, while the grounds hold up to 200. Enjoy the landscaped gardens, lily ponds, peacocks and palms in this picturesque environment. Pack up the family or reserve it for your event and enjoy this 23-acre estate in central Austin.
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 the 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.
Austin's Pennybacker Bridge, which carries the Capital of Texas Highway across the Colorado River, is considered to be part of one of the most scenic urban drives in the state. Named for its designer, Percy Pennybacker, the bridge opened to traffic in 1982. The bridge, which cost USD10 million to build and complete, is also known as the "360 Bridge" and is crossed by roughly 48,000 vehicles daily.
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Research Center was established by Lady Bird Johnson, First Lady of the United States from 1963-1969. This fabulous garden bearing her name brims with native Texas plants in courtyards, terraces, arbors and meadows. Along with a fantastic children's center, visitors can explore a visitors gallery, observation tower, café, gift store and nature trails. Enjoy award-winning architecture and fabulous scenery in this wonderful garden spot. Tours by appointment.