Some of Austin’s best views are downtown, with buildings like the Frost Tower and the Texas State Capitol Building. Be sure to stop by the Moody Theater, now home to ACL Live, which is guarded by a statue of the country music legend Willie Nelson. Another historic site is the Paramount Theater, built on Congress Avenue in 1915 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976. For a night out, head around the corner to the Sixth Street District, lined with pubs, bars, and live music venues.
Cross the famous South Congress Bridge to one of Austin’s artsiest districts. South Congress is home to boutiques, thrift shops, music venues, and swanky hotels galore. Stop for coffee at the South Congress Hotel, or stay the night at Hotel Saint Cecilia, known for its neon “SOUL” sign shining over the pool. Keep wandering the SoCo area for famous Austin murals such as “I Love You Very Much” and the colorful Mr. Rogers.
Austin is definitely a city for the outdoor lover, divided north and south by Lady Bird Lake. Enjoy the downtown views from the water on a rented kayak or stand-up paddleboard. Nearby is Zilker Park—350 acres of publicly owned green space with a hike and bike trail, sand volleyball courts, playgrounds, a miniature train, and Austin’s favorite swimming hole, Barton Springs Pool. After your outdoor adventure, head to the Hope Outdoor Gallery for some of the city’s best street art, or grab dinner at Whole Foods, which started in the heart of Austin—its headquarters are still there as well.
Some of the biggest architectural draws in Austin are on campus at the University of Texas. Affectionately known as the “Forty Acres,” the university’s campus houses seven museums and 17 libraries with over nine million volumes, making it the seventh largest academic library in the U.S. Be sure to visit the Main Building in the middle of campus, which is illuminated orange for special occasions. Or take a guided tour of the Darrell K Royal Stadium, home of the Texas Longhorns. One of Austin’s favorite neighborhood restaurants, Texas French Bread, is just a short stroll away.
The Mueller development in East Austin is one of the city’s newest neighborhoods, created after the closure of the 1999 Robert Mueller Municipal Airport. Wander around the lake and trails, or visit one of the many shops, restaurants, bakeries, and pubs. Be sure to check out our full list of things to see and do in Mueller.
Further west, hike the beautiful Mount Bonnell to snap a sunrise picture and survey the city from one of its highest vantage points. Make a day of it with a scenic drive down RM 2222, which leads to Loop 360 and the Pennybacker Bridge. Completed in 1982, the arched weathering steel bridge and surrounding hill country create some of the most stunning vistas in the city. As you continue to wind down Loop 360, also known as the Capital of Texas Highway, keep an eye out for glimpses of the city skyline.