7 Things to Do in Austin, Texas

Austin is the capital of Texas and a center for alternative culture. It is also known as the “Live Music Capitol of the World” due to the large number of venues. The city is served by Austin Bergstrom International Airport (IATA: AUS) which makes it easy to find cheap flights to Austin. Although the airport is not hub for any airline, some large American airlines use the airport as a focus city. You can also fly into San Antonio Airport (which is sometimes cheaper) and then drive 40 minutes or so to Austin.

Here are some of the things to do in Austin:

Visit the Austin Museum of Art

This museum is definitely reflecting the unconventional spirit of the city. The galleries present continually changing exhibitions and education programs that showcase an array of twentieth-century and contemporary art. The museum is housed in two buildings: one located in Downtown and the other within Laguna Gloria, a recently restored 1916 Italianate-style villa. The calendar and the special events are found on the official website http://www.amoa.org/site/PageServer .

Spend a day at the Zilker Botanical Garden

The Botanical garden is ideally located close to downtown Austin. The 33 acre space is endowed by nature with aquatic features and beautiful trees. Some of the gardens you can visit include: the Taniguchi Japanese garden, floral display garden, butterfly trail and garden, as well as the Hartman Prehistoric Garden.

Visiting the botanical garden is free. It is open for the public between 7am to 7pm from March – early November; or from 7am – 5:30pm November through March.

Watch a play at the Zilker Hillside Theater

The theater is located in Zilker Metropolitan Park, across the Barton Springs Pool. The theater open in 1959 with the Summer Musical and now is a place dedicated to the celebration and preservation of that unique American art form and the Broadway musical. Events take place here between March and November.

Take a ride in the Austin Steam Train

There are two routes you can choose: a 66 mile round-trip from Cedar Park to Burnet through the Texas Hill Country or the scenic route (Hill Country Flyer) of the Hill Country Flyer from Cedar Park to Bertram and return (Bertram Flyer). Tickets for the Hill Country Flyer start at $28 for adults and $18 for children; while for the Bertram Flyer they start at $17 and $12, respectively.

Special events are held in December at various stops. For example, at Burnet at 4:30 p.m. passengers can attend the Main Street Bethlehem. Or you can choose to ride the North Pole Flyer – a 2 1/2 hour round-trip – and Santa will be on board to greet the passengers and give children souvenirs. Tickets start at $25 for adults and children.

Relax at the Barton Springs Pool

This is one of Austin’s most unique attractions. Barton Springs Pool is located in the heart of the city, within Zilker Park and is a beautiful spring-fed pool. The water temperature is on average 68 degrees year round. The entrance fee is $3 (for adults) for a day. The pool is open from 5 am until 10 pm.

Attend the Chinese New Year Festival in Chinatown

Each year in January / February, Austin’s Chinatown celebrates the New Year. Adults and children alike are invited to attend the festivities for free, two days in a row. You can see dragon and lion dances, traditional Chinese Dances, martial arts performances and many other interesting things. And of course, you can shop and enjoy the Chinese food because all stores and restaurants are open during the festival.

Enjoy everything the Austin Chocolate Festival

The 5th Annual Chocolate Festival will be held in 2011. One goal of the festival is to raise money and awareness for Breast Cancer. The vendors compete against each other in several categories, offer samples to festival guests, and sell their products. In short, enjoy chocolate products and contribute to a cause by attending or visiting the festival. And locals can also volunteer.

>> Read about more things to do in Austin.
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Photos by: dziner, dj @ oxherder arts, jessica mullen, roger_mommaerts, jmtimages, John of Austin

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