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.
This hidden treasure is an offbeat and charming museum of arbitrary collections, including train tokens from all over the world. Sometimes special local events are hosted here as well. The museum is maintained by Jen Hirt and Scott Webel, who run the tours. Be sure to check out the Ephemerata Gardens, and know that the couple keeps cats around the venue.
Located inside Austin’s Central Fire Station No. 1, this hidden gem is an interesting museum about the history of the Austin fire department. Learn about how the department used to be run by volunteers and see historic artifacts chronicling how firefighting has evolved over the years, including exhibits with old uniforms and a Hook and Ladder No. 1 lantern. Although this small museum doesn't feature flashy interactive displays, this is a fun place to bring the kids if they're interested in learning more about fire fighting and want to see part of a working fire station along with the historic exhibits.
This nationally recognized gallery presents a multitude of events in visual art, dance, theater, music, film and literature. Ongoing exhibitions include works by female Texan artists and nationally-renowned artists. The gallery has been featured in Art in America and on National Public Radio. It was also the first organization in Texas to receive a grant in visual art from the National Endowment for the Arts. They also have a gift shop that sells interesting knick-knacks such as colorful accessories.
The Zilker Zephyr is a mini-train that takes visitors around the scenic and beautiful Lady Bird Lake and Barton Creek area of Austin. Suitable for people of all ages, this train is equally popular among kids and full-grown adults too! After all, who wouldn't like to get onto a green toy train and admire the wonders of the Zilker Metropolitan Park at a leisurely pace, along with some fun tunnels along the way? The ride lasts for approximately half an hour; call ahead for details.
This unique art gallery focuses on visionary folk artists of the American South. Featured artists have included self-taught painter Purvis Young, mud painter Jimmy Lee Sudduth and Sultan Rogers who creates cartoon figurines. Many of the eclectic artists shown at Yard Dog Art Gallery tend to work in isolation, creating from a place of intense drive and passion. If you are not in the market for a large painting, a variety of handmade gifts are also offered. Secure online ordering is also available.
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.
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.
Nestled in between the Public Library/Austin History Center and the County Courthouse, you will find this lovely green space. Founded in 1909, this park with hills and steps, leads to a Greek pergola. Picnic tables float along the hills, as local bands grace the stage and fill the downtown air with music. Bands such as The Swells, The Onlys, Maximum Coherence During Flying, Experimental Aircraft, Kitty, Seven Percent Solution, Subset and many others have been known to play free shows here on beautiful weekend afternoons and evenings.
Make this one of the first stops on your tour of Austin. Pick up brochures and maps to help you navigate the city, and learn about some of the more interesting local landmarks, attractions, restaurants, entertainment and lodging that might not be in the standard tour books. If your interests lie in local history, stop by the Heritage Marketing Department, located inside the building. A tour guide is on hand to give you the inside scoop.
Built in 1878, Frederick Ernst Ruffini designed this fabulous two-story limestone opera house; Millett Opera House is the last surviving structure by this architect in the city of Austin. This grand building hosted more than just opera in its day. Boxing matches, vaudeville, political rallies and medicine shows filled out the playbill for this establishment. The lavish interior is even grander than the outside. This wonderful example of Victorian architecture is available for private functions.
The magnificent building built from Texas limestone is the city's community hall. The Austin City hall is host to a number of community events and programs. Bringing people from across the city together to celebrate and partake of the city's rich culture is one of the aims of the hall. The surrounding nature dispenses a pristine charm to the location. For further information, log on to their website.