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Austin maps & Attractions - Things to do in Austin


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Austin Attractions - Things to do

1. State Capitol
Congress Avenue between 11th Street and 14th Street
What is it? Austin's impressive pink granite capitol building is rivalled only by that of the US Capitol in Washington, DC. Encircled by its original wrought-iron fence topped with gold Lone Stars and standing proudly in a hectare (three acres) of ground, the domed building was constructed in 1882 out of granite quarried from Granite Mountain 75 miles (121km) away. Visitors can take guided tours of this interestingly designed building, or attend legislative sessions, which are open to the public. Hours of Operation: Monday to Friday 7am to 10pm, weekends 9am to 8pm. Tours leave Monday to Friday 8.30am to 4.30pm; Saturday and Sunday 9.30am to 4.30pm (every 15 minutes) Phone:(512) 463 0063 (Tour Guide Office) or (512) 305 8400 (Visitors Center)
2. Zilker Park
2100 Barton Springs Road
What is it? The 140-hectare (347-acre) Zilker Park, donated to the city by the German immigrant who gave it its name, is Austin's most popular public recreational area, dominated by its ancient spring-fed natural swimming pool, known as Barton Springs, which Native Americans believed to have healing properties. The pool is about the size of a football field with water at a constant warm temperature all year round. Zilker Park has other attractions, too, including a botanical garden which features dinosaur tracks, a nature preserve, the Umlauf Sculpture garden and museum, and eight miles (13km) of biking and walking trails. There are sports facilities aplenty and amusements for children like the Zilker Zephyr miniature train and paddleboat rides. Hours of Operation: 7am to dusk Phone:(512) 478 8286
3. Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center
4801 La Crosse Avenue
What is it? Texas hill country is renowned for its glorious spring blooms, and former First Lady, Lady Bird Johnson, founded this centre dedicated to the study and preservation of native plants in 1982. There are 72 hectares (178 acres) of wildflowers in display gardens, which includes a garden designed to attract butterflies. There are also some interesting indoor displays featuring some novelties, and the centre offers free lectures and guided walks at weekends. Hours of Operation: Tuesday to Saturday 9am to 5.30pm; Sundays 12pm to 5.30pm; daily in spring (13 March to 30 April) Phone:(512) 292 4100
4. Governor's Mansion
Colorado Street
What is it? The opulent plantation-style mansion that is home to the Texas State governor is one of the oldest buildings in the city, dating from 1856. Although it is still very much lived in when the governor is in town, the mansion is open to the public for limited hours each day and many historical artefacts are on display, including portraits of Davy Crockett and Sam Houston, and a collection of mementoes from each administration. Guided tours are offered every 20 minutes during which interesting anecdotes are related about previous governors. Hours of Operation: Generally open Monday to Thursday 10am to 12pm. Last tour starts at 11.40am and advance reservations are required Phone:(512) 463 5516
5. Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art
University of Texas
What is it? A major stop on national art circuit tours, the Blanton Museum of Art at the University of Texas in Austin is ranked among the top 10 university art museums in the country. Highlights here are the Suida-Manning Collection of European paintings that features 250 works by the Continental masters and the collection of 20th-century American Art assembled by novelist James A. Michener. There is also a large collection of Latin American Art consisting of more than 500 key works. Hours of Operation: Tuesday to Saturday 10am to 5pm (until 8pm on Thursdays), Sunday 1pm to 5pm. Closed on major public holidays Phone:(512) 471 7324
6. Congress Avenue Bridge
What is it? One of the more unusual tourist attractions in Austin, or in fact anywhere, is the nightly flight of millions of Mexican free-tailed bats when they emerge from their roosts under the Congress Avenue Bridge. The bat colony takes up residence under the bridge in mid-March each year and returns to Mexico in early November. During their sojourn in Austin visitors are amazed by their mass evening emergence from their roost, which generally takes place at dusk. The Congress Avenue Bridge is 10 blocks south of the State Capitol building, spanning Town Lake. A Bat Observation Center is located on the southeast side. During bat season hundreds of people gather on and around the bridge each evening to witness the spectacle. Hours of Operation: Phone:(512) 416 5700 (Bat Hot Line)
7. Guadalupe Mountains National Park
What is it? The rugged wilderness of the Guadalupe Mountains in west Texas was originally a barrier reef under the waters of an ancient sea. Today fir trees and pockets of lush vegetation cling to this mountain range rising from the desert. Formerly the home of the Apache nation the National Park is now occupied by hundreds of plant and bird species, 60 species of mammals and 55 varieties of reptiles and amphibians. Visitors can traverse more than 80 miles (129km) of trails on foot or horseback, or take the 4WD route provided. There are several historic sites in the park including Frijole Ranch History Museum and the ruins of a stagecoach station. McKittrick Canyon in the northeast corner of the park is regarded as the most beautiful spot in Texas, where oaks and maples make a colourful display in fall. Hours of Operation: The park is open year round. The Headquarters Visitors Center opens 8am to 4.30pm Phone:Headquarters Visitors Center (915) 828 3251

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