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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.
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 visitor's gallery, observation tower, cafe, gift store and nature trails. Enjoy award-winning architecture and fabulous scenery in this wonderful garden spot.
As one of Austin's finest attractions, Barton Springs Pool is the perfect outing for those hot Texas days — or even the cool ones. Maintaining a comfortable 68 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius) year round, you will enjoy a 100-percent natural swimming experience with no chlorine. The grassy hillsides and moss-covered rocks are perfect for sunbathing. Diving boards, concession stands and restroom facilities are also available. When the kids get tired of the water, enjoy the play structure to complete the afternoon. Lifeguards are on duty. You are encouraged to call ahead, as the pool occasionally closes.
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.
A 35-foot (10.7 meters) bronze Lone Star sculpture greets visitors at the entrance of this epic museum. This place narrates the story of Texas, sharing its rich cultural heritage and traditions. The three floors of the impressive building present interactive exhibits, special effects shows and more. On the first floor, you will find a permanent exhibit called Encounters on the Land, which highlights the first meetings between Native Americans and European explorers. The second and third floors have exhibits that showcase the evolution of Texas from the time of its inception. The museum boasts a total of 17 media installations and over 700 artifacts, not to mention Austin's only IMAX Theater.
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.
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.
Less than a century ago this bridge served as the gateway to Austin. Originally this was a wooden pedestrian bridge, on which travelers used to pay a toll of a nickel to cross the Colorado River — and an extra nickel for their horse! In 1902, the bridge was washed away in a flood and replaced with a new bridge designed to handle automobile traffic. Since that time, the bridge has maintained its status as a substantial through way for the people of Austin. One of the most amazing sights in Austin takes place every dusk from March to early November, when 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats emerge from their roosts under the bridge.
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.