Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Virtual Vacation: Austin, Texas

Last week we took a look at some of what San Antonio, Texas has to offer so this week I thought we would head northeast about an hour and a half away and check out Austin. 

The 4th largest city in Texas, and the state capitol, Austin is known for great food and music venues and its general weirdness. The city’s motto actually is “Keep Austin Weird”, which is meant to encourage people to support local artists and local businesses. The area has many parks and lakes which are popular for hiking, biking, swimming and boating. The main campus for the University of Texas is also located here. Now let’s take a closer look on what else this city has to offer.

One of the most beautiful buildings in all of Texas is the Texas Capitol building, which houses the offices and chambers of the Texas Legislature and the Governor of Texas, and is full of history and art related to the state of Texas. Tours run every 20 to 30 minutes and are free, with self guided tours also available. Check out this virtual tour, here

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildlife Center located at the University of Texas at Austin is great place to explore the native flora and fauna of Texas. The center offers family programs that allow children to get hands-on gardening experience. Click here for a virtual tour of the center. Check it out:

Also located at the University is the Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art. There are more than 19,000 works of art in the collection with art from across the ages from Ancient Greek pottery to abstract expressionism. The museum is currently offering a #MuseumFromHome virtual experience during its temporary closing. 

Circuit of the Americas is a 3.41 mile racetrack that hosts the Formula One United States Grand Prix, as well as several other racing championships throughout the year. Their website offers a great virtual tour of the facility and gives you a feeling of being right there in the action. 

If you are looking to kick up your heels and learn the traditional two-step, Western swing and the Cotton-Eyed Joe check out the Broken Spoke. It’s a little dive bar that has been offering live music and dancing for over 50 years. Classes take place from Wednesday to Saturday. For a tour and some more history of the Broken Spoke, click here

Zilker Metropolitan Park is a 351 acre park, located in south Austin, it is considered Austin’s most loved park. Within the park is Zilker Botanical Garden, offering visitors a peaceful respite in the middle of a busy city. There are several themed gardens all connected by pathways. The gardens are temporarily closed but they offer several virtual tours online

Another popular spot located in Zilker Park is Barton Springs Pool  The pool is three acres in size and is fed from underground springs with an average temperature of 69 degrees. The pool is open every day, but Thursday, year round. A fun fact about the park, actor Robert Redford famously learned to swim here as a child. 

Adjacent to Zilker Park is UMLAUF Sculpture Garden & Museum  showcasing a permanent collection of bronze figurative sculptures by American sculptor Charles Umlauf. There are also rotating sculptures in the museum and garden. The museum is closed again due to COVID-19 but they are offering live content on their social media pages. For more information click here

If you are looking for to blend in with the locals, check out Allens Boots, its a one stop shop for all things Texan. The big red boot sign is a city landmark. The store has over 4,000 boots on display plus cowboy hats, clothing and accessories. Check out this short clip about the store.

Thinkery offers children up to age 11 hands-on activities that combine science, technology, engineering, and arts and math. The museum also has a large outdoor playground with water elements. The museum is currently closed but is offering online activities, story time video and STEAM learning resources that can be enjoyed from home. 

A popular evening activity during the summer months is a visit to the Congress Avenue Bridge, home to a large colony of Mexican free-tailed bats who roost there in the summer months. The colony emerges each evening around sunset, to find dinner in the form of bugs and insects, and seeing them come out all at once is a sight to behold. 

Also popular during the summer months is tubing in the rivers near Austin, many local outfitters offer door to door service. If you are planning to go with a family, consider going during the week when the rivers are more family friendly versus on the weekend when things can get wild when the party crowd arrives.

For more water activities, there are several popular lakes in the area for swimming, boating, and fishing. Check out Lake AustinLake Travis and Lady Bird Lake

We hope you enjoyed your virtual visit to Austin!

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