Two facts should tell you all you need to know about holidays in Austin, Texas: the locally adopted motto is 'Keep Austin Weird' and there's a huge colony of bats living under a bridge downtown. Both are clues to the quirky character of the Texan state capital - a modern city where there's a steely resolve to maintain an independent spirit, and where animals that aren't really meant to be there are left to do their own thing.
Austin's unique vibe is best expressed in its buzzing music scene. It's known as the 'Live Music Capital of the World®' and every night the Sixth Street and the Red River districts rock to the sound of countless live acts performing everything from indie to country. There's a couple of mega music festivals held annually in the city too, with SXSW (South By Southwest) in March, and Austin City Limits Music Festival staged over two weekends in October.
With over 300 days of sun a year, it's good to get out and about on holidays in Austin Texas - and one of the best places to do that is in the green oasis of 352-acre Zilker Park. There's hike-and-bike trails winding around much-loved Lady Bird Lake; swimming in Barton Springs Pool; plenty of picnic spots; and lovely botanical gardens to wander in. There's even playgrounds and a miniature train for the kids, plus open-air plays and concerts at Hillside Theatre.
Elsewhere, you won't want to miss the elegant Texas Capitol building, which is taller than Washington's, or the University of Texas campus with its rich history and interesting museums. A wander along trendy South Congress Avenue is also a must, or you might want to take a trip into Hill Country outside the city. In fact we're convinced you won't find Austin so much 'weird' as totally enchanting.
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There are more than 250 live music venues for you to choose between on a night out in Austin. There's some very famous ones like The Continental Club, which draws big names, and The Broken Spoke, which is a country and western honky-tonk. But there's also Elephant Room for blues, Elysium for alternative, and countless other clubs catering for every other type of music in between.
Watching the bats emerge from their roost under the Congress Avenue Bridge is a nightly ritual. This is America's largest urban colony and come dusk, up to a million of the winged creatures swoop out from their hiding place in a dark cloud before flying off in search of food. It's quite a spectacle, and can last upwards of half an hour.
Three lakes on the Colorado River provide the perfect way to cool off from the city heat in summer. Lake Travis is the largest and makes for perfect days spent swimming, boating, fishing, and even scuba diving. Lake Austin is good for sailing, cruising, fishing and watersports; and on Lady Bird Lake in the heart of Austin kayaks, canoes and paddleboards rule the waves.
Breakfast tacos are a way of life here, and you can get them all over the city filled with anything from scrambled egg and bacon, to chorizo and refried beans. Also popular is Tex-Mex food and traditional Texas barbeque, with food trucks now a regular fixture on the streets - serving up gourmet doughnuts, fried chicken, crepes, stuffed Indian naan bread and even Korean tacos.
All around Austin is beautiful hill country - a land of rivers, lakes, springs, caverns and an amazing blanket of wildflowers in the spring. So get out and enjoy the view.
THINGS TO DO:
Small-Group Tour of Austin and Texas Hill Country
See Austin’s top attractions from the comfort of a luxury Mercedes van on a narrated 1.5 hour tour. You’ll pass landmarks like Lady Bird Lake, the Texas Capitol, the Driskill Hotel and Mayfield Park, as well as enjoying sweeping views of rolling hills and lakes in Texas Hill Country. Prices from £14 per person.
Segue gracefully by Segway through the streets of Austin on a guided tour. Choose from an exploration of Downtown, a journey through the history of the city or perhaps leave at dusk for a tour through haunted Austin, ending at the famous Bat Bridge. Prices from £22 per person.
Barton Springs Pool
One of the city’s best attractions on a sunny day, Barton Springs is a spring-fed pool nestled in the heart of town at Zilker Park. The pool is three times longer than a football field and remains at a constant temperature of 20°c (68 degrees Fahrenheit) throughout the year so come and test the water!
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