|Austin is a place where business
professionals, artists, musicians, filmmakers and students all bring their
passions to life. Even with its population growing rapidly, this city
continues to welcome new residents with open arms. Over the past few
years, several national magazines have touted Austin as a top place to
live. With the new, cutting edge high-tech companies growing at an
alarming rate, it may seem surprising that Austin has retained the
laid-back style it has become famous for.
To experience "The Live Music Capital" of the world, Sixth
Street is a good place to start. Often closed to vehicle traffic on the
weekends, this street is lined with dance clubs, live music venues,
eateries and street musicians, plus several tattoo and piercing shops.
Visitors can have their tarot cards read by a gypsy on a street corner, or
buy handmade jewelry from artists and hippies. Grab a slice of pizza at
Roppolo's when the munchies take over and you're short on cash; or, if a
Cajun meal is what you're after, Jazz serves up Louisiana cooking and
great mixed drinks. Music fills the air every night of the week, and
visitors can hear everything from country to hip-hop, blues to noisepop.
If you venture north on Red River Street, you'll find some of Austin's
best live music venues. Emo's, Stubb's, and Red Eyed Fly?a venue that just
opened its doors in 1999?all reside here. Liberty Lunch, Austin's
legendary live music venue, shut its doors in July of 1999, but will find
a new home on Red River, right next to Stubb's'the sign is already
Capitol Complex Visitor Center
Built in 1856 and 1857, the Capitol Complex Visitor Center is the oldest
remaining state office building in Texas. In 1997 it underwent an enormous
restoration and extension. Inside the Capitol Building, there is an
exhibit chronicling the restoration, where visitors can view a 20-minute
film narrated by Walter Cronkite, titled Lone Star Legacy: A History of
The Capitol Building
The Capitol is a Renaissance Revival-style building made of Texas pink
granite and native limestone, overlooking Congress Avenue. The guided
tours are free and provide interesting information and stories for
visitors. Make sure to stand in the center of the Rotunda, look up, take
notice of the Texas star, and enjoy the beautiful architecture.
As you are heading South on Congress Avenue, stop by the Austin Museum of
Art and check out their collection of 20th-century artwork. Or, if you are
in the mood to shop for unique gifts, visit Tesoros Trading Company, where
you'll find a large selection of Mexican and Latin American jewelry, folk
art, amulets and collectibles. Many locals buy their "Day of the
Dead" supplies here, as well as Peruvian good luck charms and Latin
American Christmas ornaments.
As you travel further south on Congress and cross Lake Austin, you'll
encounter a whole new environment. Starting with Guero's Taco Bar, you
will notice that South Austin has a different kind of energy'relaxed and
funky. Here, you'll find antique shops, retro resale shops, vintage
clothing and folk art. Stop by Terra Toys to check out their collection of
tin soldiers and chemistry sets, then head over to Texas French Bread for
a soup and sandwich.
This 400-acre park is home to natural spring-fed Barton Springs Pool, a
miniature train that circles the park for children to ride, a giant
playscape, picnic grounds, rugby and soccer fields, a disc golf course and
canoe and kayak rentals. At Christmastime, one of the city's moonlight
towers serves as the trunk for the Zilker Park Christmas Tree. Thousands
of colored lights are strung to form the shape, and each year locals and
visitors twirl around underneath the enormous structure.
Enjoy a number of musical, dance and theater events at the Zilker
Hillside Theatre, where the Austin Shakespeare Festival is held each year.
Or, visit the Zilker Botanical Gardens, where visitors spend the better
part of a day enjoying the cactus, succulents, roses, butterflies and
special gardens offered?for free.
Originally an African-American community half a mile outside of the city
limits, Clarksville remains a melting pot of art and culture. Houses have
increased greatly in price due to the location of the neighborhood and all
it has to offer. West Lynn Café, a popular vegetarian restaurant, resides
here, as well as Jeffrey's for fine dining.
The strip of business along Guadalupe Street, bordering the University of
Texas, is lovingly called "The Drag." Many of Austin's coolest
shops are here?Sound Exchange (CD's, records and tapes), Blue Velvet
(vintage clothing), Garb-A-Go-Go (colorful clothes and wigs), Urban
Outfitters (hip clothing, accessories, gifts and housewares), and Legs
Diamond (hard-to-find eclectic shoes). Stop by the outdoor Renaissance
Market, where you will find jewelry, clothing and gifts made by Austin
artisans. If you're looking for live music any night of the week, head
down to the Hole in the Wall. This small dive hosts live music seven
nights a week, with free Sunday night shows. The back room is full of pool
tables and pinball games, and the crowd features many regular customers.
Take a leisurely walk or drive through this Central Austin neighborhood
and view its historic homes. You will likely see many residents working in
their yards, walking pets or riding bikes. Duval Road runs through the
neighborhood and is home to the vegetarian restaurant Mother's Café and
the popular Hyde Park Grill. This unique area, the city's first planned
suburb, has its own small grocery store, and boasts a theatre in its
name?Hyde Park Theatre. Stop by Dolce Vita Gelate and Espresso Bar for
sweet Italian ice cream or check out Quack's 43rd Street Bakery for a
cappuccino and a homemade muffin.