Best places to visit in Austin as a tourist

Austin is one of the largest cities in the United States. It is the capital city of Texas and it is the home to several multinational firms, education institutions, nature parks, cultural centers, and many other historic and iconic places. 

Surely, you have many places to visit in Austin and much to do if you are visiting the city as a tourist. Choosing the best place to visit could be a hassle for a tourist but we have compiled some of the best places that will make your visit memorable. Keep reading for more information.  

Texas State Capitol

This beautiful edifice that is patterned after the Capitol in Washington is on 22 acres of land. One of the things that distinguish the Texas Capitol is that it is ranked one of the tallest in the United States. Apart from that, at 308 feet tall, it is also taller than the Capitol in Washington.

The building is regarded and protected as one of the National Historic Landmarks. It serves as the office of the Texas State Governor, the Governor’s mansion, and also the Chambers for the State’s Legislatures.

To begin the exploration of the Capitol, you can start from the visitors’ center. This is a place where you learn about the history of Texas, Austin city, and other exhibits. As a tourist, you can visit this iconic building either as a self-guided tour or through free guided tours.

However, you have to make a reservation before you can access some places in the building as a guided tourist, especially the new Governor’s mansion. Free guided tours are open for all visitors on all days of the week, except weekends and you can tour the building freely anytime the place is open.

You do not have to worry if you are visiting the Texas Capitol with your car. Just like how the tour of the building is free, parking is also free and easy for guests, provided you will be there for two hours or less. Parking for more than 2 hours could attract the payment of $1. The Capitol Cafeteria is also a good place you can visit for a meal after the tour.

Lady Bird Lake

Your visit as a tourist to Austin is not complete until you visit this place. The Lady Bird Lake, which is part of the Colorado River, is named after the wife of President Lyndon Johnson and it is about 416 acres.  

There are several buildings along the lines of this Lake but there is no restriction on who can visit the shoreline. There is the main pedestrian path, the Ann and Roy Butler Trail along the shores of the Lake. A pedestrian bridge also crosses the Lake. The bridge connects the southern shore of the Lake to downtown Austin. The pedestrian path also connects to some other parks in the city.

The main path also leads to other places of interest close to the Colorado River. The path leads to the Congress Avenue Bridge, the Stevie Ray Vaughan Statue, Barton Springs Municipal Pool, and many others.

The use of motorized boats is prohibited on this Lake. If you are on the northern shore of the Lake, you can rent Kayak and canoe from the Texas Rowing Center. On the southern shore, you can also rent kayaks and paddleboards from the Rowing Dock. You can also get lessons on either side of the shore.

Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum

This is perhaps one of the most visited places in Austin, Texas. It was opened in 1971, a few years before the death of President Lyndon Baines Johnson, who served as the 36th president of the United States. The museum was refurbished about a decade ago and it is one of the presidential libraries under the administration of the National Archives and Records Administration.

This presidential library is located on the University of Texas campus. The museum has many historical books, documents, and exhibits related to the time of LBJ in office. Admission into this place is not free, except for children under the age of 12, student groups, active military personnel, students from the University of Texas, and staff of the institution with valid ID cards. If you are not part of these people, you should be prepared to pay an admission fee that ranges from $3 to $13. Parking is, however, free in the designated lots.

It is unlikely that you will get bored when you visit this place. There are a lot of interesting things to see. For instance, you will see some presidential photographs that portray the history of the civil rights era, holiday cards, and other things that will portray the life and career of LBJ. The LBJ Presidential Library and Museum is open daily, except on New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day. Admission is from 9 am to 5 pm and the last admission will be by 4 pm.

Bullock Texas State History Museum

If you want to learn about the history of the State of Texas, this is a place to visit. The Bullock Texas State History Museum is the official museum of the State of Texas and it is named after the 38th lieutenant governor in the state. The museum has different floors and galleries and each is dedicated to a unique purpose. This is also the place where you will see the largest IMAX screen in the State of Texas.

Some of the memorable defining events in the state are learned in an interesting way here. The museum makes use of films, audio, and other visual materials. Some of the stories are also exhibited in the museum in the form of artifacts and other displays since its inception about two decades ago.

Apart from telling the history of Texas, the Bullock Texas State History Museum also organizes several other events throughout the year. For instance, there are periodic public presentations and special activities for kids. You can also go home with some pieces of the history of the state.

The museum is open all days of the week. You can access it from 9 am to 5 pm on weekdays and Saturdays, then from noon to 5 pm on Sundays. Admission to the museum is not free, except on the first Sundays of every month. As an adult, you will pay $13 while senior citizens and students pay $11. Children between the ages of 4 to 17 are expected to pay $9. Parking in the museum also cost $10.

Zilker Metropolitan Park

This is a good location if you are visiting Austin for recreational purposes. The Zilker Metropolitan Park is a grassy space that covers about 359 acres along Lady Bird Lake. There are many recreational facilities such as a golf course, riverside walking trails, and a volleyball court. There are different sections of the park such as the Zilker Playscape and Zilker Playscape that are dedicated to kids’ activities.

There are also other recreational activities for people irrespective of their ages. For water recreation, you can rent a canoe and boats for maximum fun. Families can also make use of the Barton Springs Pool. The Botanical Garden in the park is also open daily for a small admission fee.

Apart from all these recreational facilities, the Zilker Metropolitan Park also hosts different annual and major musical events. For instance, in October, the park hosted the popular Austin City Limits Music Festival for two consecutive weekends.

Moreover, there are several gardens in the park and each one leaves an indelible memory on visitors. The Isamu Taniguchi Japanese Garden, the Hartman Prehistoric Garden, and the Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum are part of the places you should consider visiting when you are in this park. The park is open from 5 am to 10 pm daily and admission is free.

Congress Avenue Bridge

One of the things you should remember to do if you are visiting Austin is to enjoy your evening at the Congress Avenue Bridge. You can watch about 1.5 million bats that have made this area their home fly from under the bridge and feast on available insects. It is considered by many the largest urban bat colony in the world. The best time of the year to observe these mammals is from March to October. 

While the surrounding areas of the bridge are popular and the preference of many people, there are many good locations where you can enjoy this view. You can still have a good view of this if you are at Lady Bird Lake or go to the Bat Observation Center. The center strives to promote awareness and educate the public about bats. It is located at the southern end of the Congress Avenue Bridge. According to some residents, these bats are observed while you are in the waters. You can rent an evening kayak if you want the best view. 

Places to visit in Austin – Conclusion

You can have maximum fun and learn something new if you are visiting any of these places in Austin. To avoid a last-minute rush, especially in locations with a restricted time of visit, it is recommended that you visit there early.