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Curbed Austin pocket guide: Winter 2018

26 essential places to go if you want to know what the city’s all about

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No matter what the weather, Austin seems to remain hot all year. People have been moving to and visiting our fair city by the zillions for quite some time now. They do so for a wide variety of reasons—to launch a startup, go to school, check out the live music or film scene, attend one of our many festivals, and other reasons too numerous to list.

Many also come here for the same reason the first people (that we know of) started settling around the Barton Springs area to begin with: The abundant natural beauty and the relative ease of living those natural conditions provide. Of course, the Austin area now boasts an embarrassment of riches on many fronts. We have a forward-thinking populace, ever-evolving architecture, a sophisticated and hopping restaurant scene, Texas history and traditions, and music everywhere, all swirled together in a beautiful but potentially overwhelming mix.

That is why we have the Curbed Austin Pocket Guide, a seasonal rundown of essential places in the city that everyone should at some point seek out should they want to understand what makes Austin such a lovely, complicated, fascinating place (not to mention a whole lot of fun).

Some of the places here are familiar friends and some are recent discoveries, but they all have this in common: They are worth visiting again and again.

We publish these guide maps regularly, updating them with exciting new places and hidden gems. If you feel like something's missing or want to point us toward a new place or project, let us know in the comments or hit us up on the tipline.

  • Looking for things to do with your kids? Here are 25 family-friendly places to check out in Austin.
  • Want to explore the area around Austin? Here are 14 great small towns a short drive away.
  • Want to see Austin’s most iconic buildings? Here’s a map of iconic places that capture the essence of the city.
  • Looking for the perfect place to take an Instagram? We have a map of 15 terrific local places for that, too.
Read More

1. The Contemporary Austin - Laguna Gloria

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3809 W 35th St
Austin, TX 78703
(512) 458-8191
Visit Website

Located in a lakeside villa built in 1916 and donated in 1945 by Texas legend Clara Driscoll to be used “as a Museum to bring pleasure in the appreciation of art to the people of Texas,” the Laguna Gloria site of Contemporary Austin (which includes downtown’s Jones Center as well) does just that, with its building and setting, indoor exhibitions, its fantastic Betty and Edward Marcus Sculpture Park, and the adjacent Mayfield Park, with its free-range peacocks, among other attractions.

2. ‘The Color Inside’ Skyspace by James Turrell

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2201 Speedway
Austin, TX 78712

If you have time, a full tour of all the art brought to the University of Texas by its amazing Landmarks program is advised, as is popping into Ellsworth Kelly’s Austin, recently completed on the grounds of the Blanton Museum. If you’re pressed for time and in need of a break, though, head to Turrell’s permanent installation (a Landmarks project)—an enclosed structure with an oculus for experiencing how the view of the sky transforms as colors on the walls change. The ideal times to visit are at sunrise and sunset, but the place is quiet, contemplative, and compelling any time of the day.

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Oculus with daughter hand. #jamesturrell #winterintexas #skyspace

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3. ‘Yippee Ki Yay!,’ Pease District Park

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1100 Kingsbury St
Austin, TX 78705
(512) 974-6700
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Pease Park, which runs alongs Shoal Creek just west of Lamar Boulevard, starting not far from downtown, is a big, beloved, and long-lived public park in Austin, great for a run or a stroll. If you do one of those things, be sure to make it to Yippee Ki Yay!, a public art installation for Austin, by Patrick Dougherty, whose internationally acclaimed Stickwork project has now placed more than 275 distinct pieces in public spaces around the world, from Australia to France. The artist worked with local volunteers to create the whimsical, organic structures from saplings from local invasive species, and the result is charming.

4. Harry Ransom Center (HRC)

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University of Texas at Austin
Austin, TX
(512) 471-8944
Visit Website

Known recently for its aggressive pursuit of writers' archives, the Harry Ransom Center possesses a stunning amount of written work, from an original Gutenberg Bible to David Foster Wallace's heavily annotated self-help collection. (Its latest high-profile acquisition? Oh, just the Mad Men production archives.) Less well-known but equally impressive is its spectacular, wide-ranging collection and preservation of items and documents from the worlds of film, history, theater, and art. Renowned San Antonio-Austin architectural firm Lake|Flato remodeled the 1972 building in the mid-2000s, providing a bigger, more welcoming venue for its museum exhibits. The downstairs museum is open regular hours, but call ahead if you want to see some of the many wonders they keep in upstairs archives.

Harry Ransom Center
Larry D. Moore/Wikimedia Commons

5. ‘Hi, How Are You?” mural

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2100 Guadalupe St
Austin, TX 78705

The now iconic mural started as a drawing by former Austinite and 1990s indie rock poster child/cautionary tale Daniel Johnston that helped make him a worldwide cult-famous musician and artist when when Kurt Cobain wore a T-shirt with the image on it to the 1992 MTV Music Awards. (It’s from the cover of Johnston’s album Hi, How Are You, though title is Jeremiah the Innocent, and Johnston recently confused matters by stating that he thought of it as The Innocent Frog.) In 1993, Sound Exchange record store (also iconic, though defunct) commissioned Johnston to paint the image on a wall outside the store. After several defacements and restorations, as well as negotiations with subsequent business owners of the building and countless reproductions on everything from coffee mugs to onesies, it has become a mainstay of the Austin tourism franchise, though it means something quite different to Austin old-timers.

6. Ellsworth Kelly’s ‘Austin’ at Blanton Museum of Art

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200 E Martin Luther King Jr Blvd
Austin, TX 78701
(512) 471-7324
Visit Website

We highly recommend checking out the Blanton Museum displays of its massive collection and touring shows, of course, but right now we’re buzzing on this 2,715-square-foot, freestanding work by internationally renowned modernist Ellsworth Kelly. Kelly donated the design for the building shortly before his death in 2015, and it was only recently completed. It is both the only structure he designed and his final work.

©Ellsworth Kelly Foundation. Courtesy Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin

7. Oakwood Annex Cemetery

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1601 Navasota St
Austin, TX 78702
(512) 978-2320
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It's Austin's oldest cemetery, and it's a big, rambling place that takes up two big Eastside blocks. It's full of Austin and Texas history—you will see the names of its residents on some of the surrounding streets, as well as in accounts of the Battle of the Alamo—big trees, and lovely monuments.

8. Deep Eddy Municipal Pool

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401 Deep Eddy Ave
Austin, TX 78703
(512) 472-8546
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The normally brief cold season in Austin means swimming is a good entertainment and exercise option almost year round. Along with Barton Springs, Deep Eddy pool is one of the city’s most beloved spots to take a dip. That’s partly because it’s the oldest public spring-fed pool in the state and partly because it’s just so darned lovely.

9. Downs-Mabson Fields

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2816 E 12th St
Austin, TX 78702
(512) 974-6700
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Downs Field is a significant place in baseball history. It was one the home field of the Austin Black Senators (a team in the professional “Negro League” of the pre-integration area. Willie Wells was the most famous of the Senators, and you’ll probably see his portrait around town, especially if you go looking for the art of painter/musician Tim Kerr. Other notable players of the time who graced the field were Satchel Paige, Smokey Joe Williams, Willie Mays, and Buck O’Neil. It was also the home ballpark of Samuel Huston College before it combined with Tillotson College in 1952, and the Huston-Tillotson University Rams continue to play there. The field recently received some upgrades, including a mosaic mural that’s a tribute to the many great players of its past.

10. Lady Bird Lake Trail

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Lady Bird Lake
Austin, TX

Ten miles of gorgeous, tree-lined path that has the river on one side and the bustling city (north and south versions) on the other, and one that features the iconic Stevie Ray Vaughan statue, wanders past Auditorium Shores, and harbors a special space for bat-viewing is pretty hard to top.

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11. Moonlight Tower

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1183 Leona St
Austin, TX 78702

Austin’s moonlight towers are popular and storied fixtures on the city’s landscape, beloved by locals and often fascinating to visitors. The towers were purchased from the city of Detroit and installed around Austin in the 1890s. The 165-foot-tall towers, featuring six bright lamps at the top (originally carbon-arc, now mercury vapor), illuminate a 1,500-foot-radius brightly and were part of Austin’s early street-lighting program—often chosen in place of the many regular street lamps that would be required to light a similarly sized area. The lights, listed in the National Register of Historic Places and featured in contemporary pop-culture moments (notably in the movie Dazed and Confused), also have a number of myths surrounding them. Austin is the only city in the United States that continues to maintain and use moonlight towers.

12. George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center

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1165 Angelina St
Austin, TX
(512) 974-4926
Visit Website

The Carver Library was Austin's first, and the museum next door is an important expansion of that foundational legacy. It’s also a place that encompasses history and for contemporary art and a community gathering spot that hosts events and festivals throughout the year. Be sure you see the outdoor sculptures, particularly the moving Juneteenth monument that was unveiled on the 150th anniversary of that important day.

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13. Texas Music Museum

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1009 E 11th St
Austin, TX 78702
(512) 472-8891
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The Texas Music Museum collects and preserves artifacts, documents and reference material surrounding the diverse traditions of Texas music, and utilizes these collections in the presentation of exhibits, educational programs, and performances.

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14. Paramount Theatre

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Paramount Theatre
Austin, TX 78701

Opened in 1915, the historic Congress Avenue theater has long been a place for Austinites to see top-notch live performances of all kinds, as well as to marvel at its lovely, lovingly restored historic interior. It’s also a great place to see films, especially in the summertime, when the amply air-conditioned theater screens a series of classics.

15. The Contemporary Austin - Jones Center

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700 Congress Ave
Austin, TX 78701
(512) 453-5312
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The Jones Center is the downtown site of the Contemporary Austin, which also has a location at Laguna Gloria, a converted villa on Lake Austin. Long an exhibit space for contemporary art in a variety of media from around the world, the Contemporary has also received some significant renovations over the years that are artful in their own right. the most recent included expansion of and enhancements to its gallery spaces and the addition of The Moody Rooftop, which brought improvements to is event space up top. 

16. The Driskill

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604 Brazos St
Austin, TX 78701
(512) 439-1234
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The Driskill Hotel was built for a cattle baron in 1886, and its vintage grandiosity is still largely intact. For many decades, it was the finest and best hotel in the city, the place where politicians, socialites, and other fancy or powerful people gathered. That includes its bar, which is lauded for its bar-ness as well as its historic atmosphere. (Tip: The lobby bathrooms are reliably a civilized, quiet place to go for a few moments of regrouping and reflection.)

17. Austin Central Library, Austin Public Library

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710 W Cesar Chavez St
Austin, TX 78701
(512) 974-7400
Visit Website

Austin’s new Central Library, which opened downtown in October, features a six-story, sunlight-filled atrium, surrounded by collections, event space, reading porches overlooking the lake and Shoal Creek, and a cookbook-themed coffee shop. The Lake|Flato-designed structure connects beautifully with its surroundings from both indoor and outdoor spaces and offers some stunning views, as well as proof that sustainable design can be gorgeous. If you want to enjoy the Wander app, which allows users to choose their own adventures for exploring downtown, that starts at the library as well.

Courtesy of Austin Public Library

18. Brush Square museums

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409 E 5th St
Austin, TX 78701
(512) 974-6700
Visit Website

The small downtown civic space called Brush Square is also the location of three historic museums, all must-sees for Austin aficionados. The Joseph and Susanna Dickinson Hannig Museum is located in the former home of Dickinson, the only Anglo survivor of the Battle of the Alamo. The O. Henry Museum looks at the life of William Sidney Porter, who changed his pen name after a stint in prison and became one of the country’s most well-known short-story writers (and the namesake of a biannual “Pun-Off” that has become quite popular). The Austin Fire Museum is quite cute and operates out of a still-functional firehouse (Austin’s busiest), built in 1938.

19. Umlauf Sculpture Garden & Museum

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605 Azie Morton Rd
Austin, TX 78704
(512) 445-5582
Visit Website

In 1991, four forgotten acres tucked in the woods near Barton Springs were turned into an art garden after 20th-century American sculptor Charles Umlauf donated dozens of stone and bronze works to the city. The garden has evolved since then, with xeriscaping, winding

20. ‘Tau Ceti’ by Josef Kristofoletti

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100 Brazos St
Austin, TX 78701

Austin’s tallest public artwork, Tau Ceti by Josef Kristofoletti, was inspired by a star in the constellation Cetus that is spectrally similar to Earth’s sun. It was just completed in November, but the highly Instagrammable city street corner has already become a star in its own right. Rising 103 feet, or 10 floors, above the street at the corner of Brazos and East Second streets, bringing radiant color to a formerly drab parking-garage corner.

21. Forever Bicycles at Waller Delta/Waller Creek Boathouse

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74 Trinity St
Austin, TX

In June 2017, two works by internationally renowned artist and activist Ai WeiWei were installed on Austin's landscape. One is Iron Tree, which joins sculptures at The Contemporary—Laguna Gloria. The other is Forever Bicycles, a grand optical illusion that currently sits at the meeting point of the ever-evolving Waller Creek trail and the river. They are both in town for roughly a year and a half.

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22. Peter Pan Mini-Golf

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1207 Barton Springs Rd
Austin, TX 78704
(512) 472-1033
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It’s one of the few goofy, storied Austin landmarks left, and it’s very cool. Not to mention wayyyy old-school and over the top, even for minigolf courses of its era. Just look for the giant Peter Pan looming over Barton Springs Road at South Lamar.

23. Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center

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600 River St
Austin, TX

The MACC fosters an appreciation of Mexican-American, Latino, and indigenous cultures through exhibits, community collaborations, summer camp programs and youth and adult education. In addition to its ongoing, rotating visual art exhibit, the center and its unusual, symbolic design (by CasaBella + Del Campo) is worth a visit.

24. Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas

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1120 S Lamar Blvd
Austin, TX 78704
(512) 861-7040
Visit Website

Originally located in a tiny downtown theater, the Alamo Drafthouse invented the arthouse-fanboy-regular-movie-special-screenings-and-events-plus-food-and-drink mix, not to mention the business model for franchising what it does. And it still does it better than anyone else.

25. St. Edward's University

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3001 S Congress Ave
Austin, TX 78704
(512) 448-8400
Visit Website

Not only does South Austin’s hilltop campus have one of the best views of Austin; the campus itself is lovely and dotted with significant buildings both historic and contemporary. Be sure to check out the landmarked Main Building, as well as the Student Residences and Dining Hall, designed by 2016 Pritzker Prize winner Alejandro Aravena and built in 1948, and Doyle Hall, redesigned with an addition by Specht Harpman and completed in 2009.

St. Edward’s University
Lonestar Mike/Wikimedia Commons

26. Cathedral of Junk

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4422-4424 Lareina Dr
Austin, TX 78745
(512) 299-7413
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An ever-evolving structure made of durable castoffs (wheels, toys, electronics, etc.), the Cathedral of Junk is one man’s vision, and he has been realizing that vision in his South Austin yard since 1989. It’s a nifty labyrinth at this point, and it’s old-school Austin Weird™.

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Finally made it to the Cathedral of Junk.

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1. The Contemporary Austin - Laguna Gloria

3809 W 35th St, Austin, TX 78703

Located in a lakeside villa built in 1916 and donated in 1945 by Texas legend Clara Driscoll to be used “as a Museum to bring pleasure in the appreciation of art to the people of Texas,” the Laguna Gloria site of Contemporary Austin (which includes downtown’s Jones Center as well) does just that, with its building and setting, indoor exhibitions, its fantastic Betty and Edward Marcus Sculpture Park, and the adjacent Mayfield Park, with its free-range peacocks, among other attractions.

3809 W 35th St
Austin, TX 78703

2. ‘The Color Inside’ Skyspace by James Turrell

2201 Speedway, Austin, TX 78712

If you have time, a full tour of all the art brought to the University of Texas by its amazing Landmarks program is advised, as is popping into Ellsworth Kelly’s Austin, recently completed on the grounds of the Blanton Museum. If you’re pressed for time and in need of a break, though, head to Turrell’s permanent installation (a Landmarks project)—an enclosed structure with an oculus for experiencing how the view of the sky transforms as colors on the walls change. The ideal times to visit are at sunrise and sunset, but the place is quiet, contemplative, and compelling any time of the day.

2201 Speedway
Austin, TX 78712

3. ‘Yippee Ki Yay!,’ Pease District Park

1100 Kingsbury St, Austin, TX 78705

Pease Park, which runs alongs Shoal Creek just west of Lamar Boulevard, starting not far from downtown, is a big, beloved, and long-lived public park in Austin, great for a run or a stroll. If you do one of those things, be sure to make it to Yippee Ki Yay!, a public art installation for Austin, by Patrick Dougherty, whose internationally acclaimed Stickwork project has now placed more than 275 distinct pieces in public spaces around the world, from Australia to France. The artist worked with local volunteers to create the whimsical, organic structures from saplings from local invasive species, and the result is charming.

1100 Kingsbury St
Austin, TX 78705

4. Harry Ransom Center (HRC)

University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX
Harry Ransom Center
Larry D. Moore/Wikimedia Commons

Known recently for its aggressive pursuit of writers' archives, the Harry Ransom Center possesses a stunning amount of written work, from an original Gutenberg Bible to David Foster Wallace's heavily annotated self-help collection. (Its latest high-profile acquisition? Oh, just the Mad Men production archives.) Less well-known but equally impressive is its spectacular, wide-ranging collection and preservation of items and documents from the worlds of film, history, theater, and art. Renowned San Antonio-Austin architectural firm Lake|Flato remodeled the 1972 building in the mid-2000s, providing a bigger, more welcoming venue for its museum exhibits. The downstairs museum is open regular hours, but call ahead if you want to see some of the many wonders they keep in upstairs archives.

University of Texas at Austin
Austin, TX

5. ‘Hi, How Are You?” mural

2100 Guadalupe St, Austin, TX 78705

The now iconic mural started as a drawing by former Austinite and 1990s indie rock poster child/cautionary tale Daniel Johnston that helped make him a worldwide cult-famous musician and artist when when Kurt Cobain wore a T-shirt with the image on it to the 1992 MTV Music Awards. (It’s from the cover of Johnston’s album Hi, How Are You, though title is Jeremiah the Innocent, and Johnston recently confused matters by stating that he thought of it as The Innocent Frog.) In 1993, Sound Exchange record store (also iconic, though defunct) commissioned Johnston to paint the image on a wall outside the store. After several defacements and restorations, as well as negotiations with subsequent business owners of the building and countless reproductions on everything from coffee mugs to onesies, it has become a mainstay of the Austin tourism franchise, though it means something quite different to Austin old-timers.

2100 Guadalupe St
Austin, TX 78705

6. Ellsworth Kelly’s ‘Austin’ at Blanton Museum of Art

200 E Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Austin, TX 78701
©Ellsworth Kelly Foundation. Courtesy Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin

We highly recommend checking out the Blanton Museum displays of its massive collection and touring shows, of course, but right now we’re buzzing on this 2,715-square-foot, freestanding work by internationally renowned modernist Ellsworth Kelly. Kelly donated the design for the building shortly before his death in 2015, and it was only recently completed. It is both the only structure he designed and his final work.

200 E Martin Luther King Jr Blvd
Austin, TX 78701

7. Oakwood Annex Cemetery

1601 Navasota St, Austin, TX 78702

It's Austin's oldest cemetery, and it's a big, rambling place that takes up two big Eastside blocks. It's full of Austin and Texas history—you will see the names of its residents on some of the surrounding streets, as well as in accounts of the Battle of the Alamo—big trees, and lovely monuments.

1601 Navasota St
Austin, TX 78702

8. Deep Eddy Municipal Pool

401 Deep Eddy Ave, Austin, TX 78703

The normally brief cold season in Austin means swimming is a good entertainment and exercise option almost year round. Along with Barton Springs, Deep Eddy pool is one of the city’s most beloved spots to take a dip. That’s partly because it’s the oldest public spring-fed pool in the state and partly because it’s just so darned lovely.

401 Deep Eddy Ave
Austin, TX 78703

9. Downs-Mabson Fields

2816 E 12th St, Austin, TX 78702

Downs Field is a significant place in baseball history. It was one the home field of the Austin Black Senators (a team in the professional “Negro League” of the pre-integration area. Willie Wells was the most famous of the Senators, and you’ll probably see his portrait around town, especially if you go looking for the art of painter/musician Tim Kerr. Other notable players of the time who graced the field were Satchel Paige, Smokey Joe Williams, Willie Mays, and Buck O’Neil. It was also the home ballpark of Samuel Huston College before it combined with Tillotson College in 1952, and the Huston-Tillotson University Rams continue to play there. The field recently received some upgrades, including a mosaic mural that’s a tribute to the many great players of its past.

2816 E 12th St
Austin, TX 78702

10. Lady Bird Lake Trail

Lady Bird Lake, Austin, TX

Ten miles of gorgeous, tree-lined path that has the river on one side and the bustling city (north and south versions) on the other, and one that features the iconic Stevie Ray Vaughan statue, wanders past Auditorium Shores, and harbors a special space for bat-viewing is pretty hard to top.

Lady Bird Lake
Austin, TX

11. Moonlight Tower

1183 Leona St, Austin, TX 78702

Austin’s moonlight towers are popular and storied fixtures on the city’s landscape, beloved by locals and often fascinating to visitors. The towers were purchased from the city of Detroit and installed around Austin in the 1890s. The 165-foot-tall towers, featuring six bright lamps at the top (originally carbon-arc, now mercury vapor), illuminate a 1,500-foot-radius brightly and were part of Austin’s early street-lighting program—often chosen in place of the many regular street lamps that would be required to light a similarly sized area. The lights, listed in the National Register of Historic Places and featured in contemporary pop-culture moments (notably in the movie Dazed and Confused), also have a number of myths surrounding them. Austin is the only city in the United States that continues to maintain and use moonlight towers.

1183 Leona St
Austin, TX 78702

12. George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center

1165 Angelina St, Austin, TX

The Carver Library was Austin's first, and the museum next door is an important expansion of that foundational legacy. It’s also a place that encompasses history and for contemporary art and a community gathering spot that hosts events and festivals throughout the year. Be sure you see the outdoor sculptures, particularly the moving Juneteenth monument that was unveiled on the 150th anniversary of that important day.

1165 Angelina St
Austin, TX

13. Texas Music Museum

1009 E 11th St, Austin, TX 78702

The Texas Music Museum collects and preserves artifacts, documents and reference material surrounding the diverse traditions of Texas music, and utilizes these collections in the presentation of exhibits, educational programs, and performances.

1009 E 11th St
Austin, TX 78702

14. Paramount Theatre

Paramount Theatre, Austin, TX 78701

Opened in 1915, the historic Congress Avenue theater has long been a place for Austinites to see top-notch live performances of all kinds, as well as to marvel at its lovely, lovingly restored historic interior. It’s also a great place to see films, especially in the summertime, when the amply air-conditioned theater screens a series of classics.

Paramount Theatre
Austin, TX 78701

15. The Contemporary Austin - Jones Center

700 Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78701

The Jones Center is the downtown site of the Contemporary Austin, which also has a location at Laguna Gloria, a converted villa on Lake Austin. Long an exhibit space for contemporary art in a variety of media from around the world, the Contemporary has also received some significant renovations over the years that are artful in their own right. the most recent included expansion of and enhancements to its gallery spaces and the addition of The Moody Rooftop, which brought improvements to is event space up top. 

700 Congress Ave
Austin, TX 78701

Related Maps

16. The Driskill

604 Brazos St, Austin, TX 78701

The Driskill Hotel was built for a cattle baron in 1886, and its vintage grandiosity is still largely intact. For many decades, it was the finest and best hotel in the city, the place where politicians, socialites, and other fancy or powerful people gathered. That includes its bar, which is lauded for its bar-ness as well as its historic atmosphere. (Tip: The lobby bathrooms are reliably a civilized, quiet place to go for a few moments of regrouping and reflection.)

604 Brazos St
Austin, TX 78701

17. Austin Central Library, Austin Public Library

710 W Cesar Chavez St, Austin, TX 78701
Courtesy of Austin Public Library

Austin’s new Central Library, which opened downtown in October, features a six-story, sunlight-filled atrium, surrounded by collections, event space, reading porches overlooking the lake and Shoal Creek, and a cookbook-themed coffee shop. The Lake|Flato-designed structure connects beautifully with its surroundings from both indoor and outdoor spaces and offers some stunning views, as well as proof that sustainable design can be gorgeous. If you want to enjoy the Wander app, which allows users to choose their own adventures for exploring downtown, that starts at the library as well.

710 W Cesar Chavez St
Austin, TX 78701

18. Brush Square museums

409 E 5th St, Austin, TX 78701

The small downtown civic space called Brush Square is also the location of three historic museums, all must-sees for Austin aficionados. The Joseph and Susanna Dickinson Hannig Museum is located in the former home of Dickinson, the only Anglo survivor of the Battle of the Alamo. The O. Henry Museum looks at the life of William Sidney Porter, who changed his pen name after a stint in prison and became one of the country’s most well-known short-story writers (and the namesake of a biannual “Pun-Off” that has become quite popular). The Austin Fire Museum is quite cute and operates out of a still-functional firehouse (Austin’s busiest), built in 1938.

409 E 5th St
Austin, TX 78701

19. Umlauf Sculpture Garden & Museum

605 Azie Morton Rd, Austin, TX 78704

In 1991, four forgotten acres tucked in the woods near Barton Springs were turned into an art garden after 20th-century American sculptor Charles Umlauf donated dozens of stone and bronze works to the city. The garden has evolved since then, with xeriscaping, winding

605 Azie Morton Rd
Austin, TX 78704

20. ‘Tau Ceti’ by Josef Kristofoletti

100 Brazos St, Austin, TX 78701

Austin’s tallest public artwork, Tau Ceti by Josef Kristofoletti, was inspired by a star in the constellation Cetus that is spectrally similar to Earth’s sun. It was just completed in November, but the highly Instagrammable city street corner has already become a star in its own right. Rising 103 feet, or 10 floors, above the street at the corner of Brazos and East Second streets, bringing radiant color to a formerly drab parking-garage corner.

100 Brazos St
Austin, TX 78701

21. Forever Bicycles at Waller Delta/Waller Creek Boathouse

74 Trinity St, Austin, TX

In June 2017, two works by internationally renowned artist and activist Ai WeiWei were installed on Austin's landscape. One is Iron Tree, which joins sculptures at The Contemporary—Laguna Gloria. The other is Forever Bicycles, a grand optical illusion that currently sits at the meeting point of the ever-evolving Waller Creek trail and the river. They are both in town for roughly a year and a half.

74 Trinity St
Austin, TX

22. Peter Pan Mini-Golf

1207 Barton Springs Rd, Austin, TX 78704

It’s one of the few goofy, storied Austin landmarks left, and it’s very cool. Not to mention wayyyy old-school and over the top, even for minigolf courses of its era. Just look for the giant Peter Pan looming over Barton Springs Road at South Lamar.

1207 Barton Springs Rd
Austin, TX 78704

23. Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center

600 River St, Austin, TX

The MACC fosters an appreciation of Mexican-American, Latino, and indigenous cultures through exhibits, community collaborations, summer camp programs and youth and adult education. In addition to its ongoing, rotating visual art exhibit, the center and its unusual, symbolic design (by CasaBella + Del Campo) is worth a visit.

600 River St
Austin, TX

24. Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas

1120 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78704

Originally located in a tiny downtown theater, the Alamo Drafthouse invented the arthouse-fanboy-regular-movie-special-screenings-and-events-plus-food-and-drink mix, not to mention the business model for franchising what it does. And it still does it better than anyone else.

1120 S Lamar Blvd
Austin, TX 78704

25. St. Edward's University

3001 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704
St. Edward’s University
Lonestar Mike/Wikimedia Commons

Not only does South Austin’s hilltop campus have one of the best views of Austin; the campus itself is lovely and dotted with significant buildings both historic and contemporary. Be sure to check out the landmarked Main Building, as well as the Student Residences and Dining Hall, designed by 2016 Pritzker Prize winner Alejandro Aravena and built in 1948, and Doyle Hall, redesigned with an addition by Specht Harpman and completed in 2009.

3001 S Congress Ave
Austin, TX 78704

26. Cathedral of Junk

4422-4424 Lareina Dr, Austin, TX 78745

An ever-evolving structure made of durable castoffs (wheels, toys, electronics, etc.), the Cathedral of Junk is one man’s vision, and he has been realizing that vision in his South Austin yard since 1989. It’s a nifty labyrinth at this point, and it’s old-school Austin Weird™.

4422-4424 Lareina Dr
Austin, TX 78745

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