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.
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 sprawling estate in central Austin.
This venue, south of the river, is a throwback to the 1950s. Roots rock and country reign supreme in this bar, where one can often find men in leather jackets and classic Cadillacs out front. With live music nightly, tributes to Elvis, and celebrations of Hank William's birthday, this place is great for dancing, drinking and kicking back on the high stools. Happy hours feature some of Austin's favorite songwriters. The venue has broadened its range of live music to include occasional indie rock.
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.
This fantastic neighborhood was built when downtown Austin was mostly residential. A relaxing stroll through the Bremond Block is a wonderful way to see the lavish homes that were once common in the Austin area. The Phillips-Bremond-Houston House (706 Guadalupe, built in 1854) is one of the oldest homes on the block. Wanting to keep his family close to him, Eugene Bremond purchased the surrounding area and built homes for many of his children and relatives. Eleven of these stately, historic homes still stand today. Highlights of this walking tour include the North Cottage, the Henry Hirshfeld House, the North-Evans Chateau, McLaughlin House and the Pierre Bremond House. Some houses on the block are open to the public; others are used as businesses. While tourists are encouraged to enjoy the Bremond Block, please respect the grounds of private owners.
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.
As one of Austin's most important streets, Congress Avenue's entire district is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The buildings that frame the street are full of distinctive beauty. The oldest documented building is the Robinson-Rosner Building at 504 Congress (1856). Starting at the Capitol, the street continues south, passing fabulous little shops and eateries. Stop in at Hickory Street for a quick lunch, check out The State Theater or Paramount Theater to see what fantastic production is going on in the evening, or wander into Star bucks for coffee and treats.
Built in 1933, this was the first public library building in the city. Showcasing artworks of that time with ornamental ironwork balconies and loggia frescoes, this building is now home to one of the state's best local history collections. It is the official holding place for records of Travis County and the city of Austin. Visitors enjoy temporary exhibits, which rotate frequently.
A booming university town that also imbibes tenets of culture, politics, and technology into its colorful landscape, Austin is Texas' multifaceted capital. In the 19th Century, Austin was largely impacted by the effects of the Civil War, and was left reeling with a significant plummet in population and goods between 1861 and 1865. Post the war, Texas underwent a renewal, and as the proud home of the University of Texas, remained largely unaffected by the ravages of the Great Depression. Since then, Austin maintained an economic and cultural high that was further supported by the growth of technological industries and a blossoming live music scene. Today, the city is world famous for its music scene, containing not only the most live music venues per capita in the country, but also several prominent film and technology festivals that bring visitors across the globe to this quirky college capital town.