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The Frost Bank Tower | © Brandon Watts / Flickr
The Frost Bank Tower | © Brandon Watts / Flickr

13 Stunning Nighttime Photos You'll Wish You'd Taken in Austin

Picture of Hannah Phillips
Updated: 19 June 2017

Austin was recently named the No. 1 Best Place to Live in the U.S. And while barbecue, breakfast tacos, the tech boom, and endless music festivals may have something to do with it, these stunning shots prove that nightlife is high on the list.

Capitol Building

Austin is the state capital of Texas, and its capitol building lives up to the saying that “everything is bigger in Texas”—standing seven feet (2.13 meters) higher than the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C.


Installed on the roof of The Contemporary’s Jones Center on December 17, 2016, artist Jim Hodges’s With Liberty and Justice for All (A Work in Progress) is illuminated by night and impossible to miss from street level on Congress.

Lamberts Downtown Barbecue

Housed in a historic general store built in 1873, Lamberts Downtown Barbecue has an old-fashioned feel and serves “fancy barbecue.” Head upstairs for live music, liquor, and more.

Frost Bank Tower

The Frost Bank Tower is the third tallest building in the Austin skyline and one of its most iconic landmarks. It stands 515 feet (157 meters) tall, has 33 floors, and houses the second of four locations of Houndstooth Coffee—the best in the state.

The Driskill Hotel

Built in 1886, The Driskill is the oldest operating hotel in Austin, and one of the most beautiful buildings downtown. A member of Historic Hotels of America, the hotel is also said to be haunted—perhaps even by the original owner, Colonel Jesse Driskill.

Lady Bird Lake

Austin is well known for its plethora of outdoor activities, and some of the best views of the skyline are snapped from rented kayaks and standup paddle boards on Lady Bird Lake.

The University of Texas at Austin

Established in 1881, the University of Texas at Austin consistently ranks among the best universities in the nation, with 18 research disciplines recently securing spots in the top 10 worldwide. In addition to the iconic UT Tower, the beautiful campus comprises seven museums and 17 libraries.

South Congress

The South Congress area has transformed in the last decade, thanks in large part to hotelier Liz Lambert, whose Bunkhouse Group owns Hotel San Jose, Hotel Saint Cecilia, Jo’s Coffee, and the newly renovated Austin Motel. Guests can lounge in the heated lap pool at Saint Cecilia while sipping cocktails beneath the famous neon sign.

Hotel Saint Cecilia | © Nick Simonite

The iconic pool at Hotel Saint Cecilia | © Nick Simonite

Trail of Lights

The Trail of Lights in Zilker Park has celebrated over 50 years as a deeply cherished local event. The annual holiday tradition showcases over 40 displays and two million lights, and crowds come by the thousands to spin under the famous Zilker tree.

Mount Bonnell

Considered one of the highest vantage points in Austin, Mount Bonnell rises 775 feet (236.2 meters) from the Colorado River (Lake Austin). Also called Covert Park, the site is one of Austin’s oldest tourist attractions, inspiring visitors with its panoramic views since the 1850s.

Pennybacker Bridge

The two steel arches of this bridge connect the northern and southern sections of the Capital of Texas Highway (Loop 360) over Lake Austin. The drive is one of the most scenic urban drives in Texas, just 10 minutes from downtown and barely bordering the beautiful Hill Country.


The famous SXSW Music Festival started in 1987, growing in size and scale every year since. Now, the festival showcases not just music but film and interactive media over two weekends in March.

Austin City Limits

Inspired by the PBS series that put Austin on the map as the “Live Music Capital of the World,” the outdoor festival started in 2002 with just five stages and 67 bands over two days. Today, the festival invites over 130 artists, spanning eight stages and two weekends in October.