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 reservoir in the Colorado River, Lake Austin is an ideal recreation spot. When the Tom Miller Dam was constructed in 1939, this reservoir was created. Though it serves a practical purpose like generation of electricity and flood control, it is also a popular attraction in the city. You will find many restaurants nearby, and the park along its banks offers fun activities such as canoeing. Lake Austin works for those who just feel like taking a walk, those who are looking to get their exercise for the day, those who feel like chatting with others, or just those who want a bit of peace.
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 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.
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 and stay late.
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.
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.
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.
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.