Music. Walks. Sightseeing. And bats. There are so many places to visit in Austin it’s hard to know where to start. So let’s dive straight in and start with the bats…
SoCo (congress avenue) bridge bats
The main reason to visit the bridge is – not to visit the bridge! Unless you’re into that kind of thing. Functionally Congress Avenue Bridge just connects the downtown and east Austin areas to the other side of the river.
But the bridge is also home to around 1 1/2 million bats. And every night (typically Mar through November) the bats swarm out from under the bridge around dusk. Why? To eat around 30,000lbs of insects. Every night. That’s a lot of bats. And a lot of pesky pests being cleared up. It might sound odd as a place to visit but you just can’t go to Austin without seeing it at least once.
Plus, it’s free. You can watch from on the bridge or down next to the river. You can also take a boat ride if you want to actually get out on the water. That’ll set you back roughly $15 depending on the operator and service.
Texas state capitol Complex
If you want to get stuck into your Texas history then you need to head up to the Texas State Capitol complex. One of the most iconic places to visit in Austin, the complex can be found on Congress Avenue between 11th and 15th streets. Free guided tours operate everyday (more limited at the weekend) or you can choose to wander round by yourself. Make sure to also visit the Visitors Centre located on the south east of the grounds. Here you’ll find even more background and exhibits from times past. And a half hour film narrated by Texas’ favourite son, Matthew McConnaughey!
If you’ve brought your lunch with you, you’ll find a well-maintained park with a number of benches around the front of the complex. Perfect to watch the squirrels and grab a bite to eat.
Didnt get quite enough history? Keep heading north up Congress Avenue and you’ll come across the Bullock Texas State History Museum which will help to fill the gap!
LadY bird lake
Lady Bird lake is a reservoir running off a chain of reservoirs from the Colorado River. The lake was post-humously named after former First Lady, “Lady Bird” Johnson. During the 70s, she played a critical role in cleaning up the area in and around the lake, encouraging the planting of new trees and shrubs and improving recreational paths and trails around the circumference of the Lake. If you find yourself up early or you like to go for a run, the paths round this area make a scenic – and safe – place to get out around the city.
The driskill hotel
One of the most famous hotels in Austin – and supposedly haunted 👻 – the Driskill Hotel can be found on 6th street in Downtown. Inside you’ll find marble floors and unique architecture with a throwback to decadent times of the past. If you’re on a budget the rooms may be a little expensive. But definitely another one of the places to visit in Austin even if you don’t stay there!
Pecan street festival
Also on 6th Street, if you happen to be in the city in May or Sept make sure to stop by. One of the longest running and biggest street festivals in the US, you’ll find hundreds of stalls supplying hand-made arts and crafts to food & drink. You’ll also get to see live music and street performances. The event supports local businesses and city conservation efforts so it’s well worth a visit.
Zilker botanical garden
Head south of the river from downtown and west up Barton Springs Road to head to the Zilker Botanical Garden. A great place to wander round if you’re by yourself, the kids will also love it here. 31 acres of garden filled with plants, greenery and fish – and it’ll only set you back a few dollars to get in.
Where are your favourite places to visit in Austin?