Austin, Texas! The capital city of Texas is encapsulated in it's motto: "Keep Austin Weird." This city is unique compared to other cities in the great state of Texas. With a vibrant night life, and many sites to see, you won't find yourself bored during your time here.
Texas State Capitol
The capitol building is open to the public, and you are free to walk around. I believe there are some tours, but it's fun to be able to wander the long hallways and staircases at your own pace. Note that the legislature is in session in odd years from January through early summer depending on if there are special sessions. During this time the number of people and hustle & bustle of the capitol increases twenty-fold. It's more exciting because public officials can be seen out and about, you can watch a session in the Senate or House, and you can even drop by your representative's office if you're a Texan. On the flip side, it means more people to contend with, longer security lines, etc. Make sure you walk through the rotunda. Try talking out loud and notice the bizarre acoustics. Also ascend the stairs to each level of the dome for a neat view down below and so that you can see the official portraits of each governor. When a new portrait is commissioned, each painting is shifted one spot!
Other must sees:
The Senate Chamber: Notice the sloping floor. This was done for acoustics but was not tilted enough to be effective.
The House Chamber
The Library: Check out the size of some of the bills!
The Basement: The capitol expansion project over doubled the square footage of the capitol complex as it descends multiple floors beneath the ground in a network of tunnels and offices that sprawls underneath the capitol grounds. The building you see in pictures is truly just the tip of the iceberg
Inverse Rotunda: This can be seen in the foreground of the picture above.
LBJ Presidential Library
We've yet to visit a presidential library that we didn't enjoy and learn from. This doesn't rank as our favorite, but the architecture inside is great and the information is well laid out.
Check out the presidential limo too. Pretty cool!
South Congress Ave.
If you'd rather walk around and see what peeks your interest, we'd suggest walking down S. Congress Ave. Menus are posted outside the doors of the many diverse restaurants along this street. Closer to the capitol is a lot of bars, but as you get farther away there's a more diverse set of shops and things to see.
And don't forget to snap a pic in front of the "I Love You So Much" sign!
The Driskell Hotel
We love old hotels and architecture and were able to wander around the common areas of this one a bit. Our experience is that as long as you dress nicely and don't get in the way,, hotel staff are totally cool with you informally touring their hotel. You're probably indiscernible from a hotel guest at that point too.
6th street is home to bars, clubs, etc. and is peak Austin Grunge. Nothing here to particularly peak our interest but worth a walk down the street one evening.
There's a lot to do in Austin. Here's a few things we haven't gotten to check out but that we might hit up on future visits:
Graffiti Park: Unfortunately, the site at Castle Hill is currently closed. There are plans for the park and it's artwork to relocate to a new location in East Austin.
University of Texas: If you are into such schools, it might be interesting to walk around campus.
Governor's Mansion: You have to register for this ahead of time so that background checks can be conducted.
The Oasis, on Lake Travis: This restaurant is very popular and bit outside of Austin. Plan for a long wait or try to make reservations.
Bat Watching: This is done at the S. Congress Ave. bridge