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26 essential places to go in Austin this winter

Where to go to know the city

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Welcome to Curbed Austin’s city guide, a seasonally updated map of 26 essential things to do in Austin.

This guide spotlights cultural institutions, the outdoors, and beautiful spaces that are essential to understanding and enjoying the city, whether as a resident or a visitor. With (our version of) winter seizing the days right now, picks include indoor spaces, such as the Blanton Museum of Art, as well as a mix of outdoor places to explore well inside the city—in case the weather turns from glorious to glum, you’ll be surrounded by places to warm up and choose your next adventure.

Looking for more ways to explore the City of the Violet Crown?

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1. Mount Bonnell

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Mt Bonnell
Austin, TX 78731

For years the highest point in the city, Mount Bonnell is named after George Bonnell, a reporter who mapped and wrote about it. It played a role in the war for Texas’s independence, but after that became pretty much what it is today: a sightseeing spot. The adorably tiny peak, reached by a tricky set of steep limestone stairs, is still the place to go for rites of passage, good times, romantic moments, and other occasions that call for sweeping vistas.

2. The Contemporary Austin - Laguna Gloria/Mayfield Park

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3809 W 35th St
Austin, TX 78703
(512) 458-8191
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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 has a second site at downtown’s Jones Center) does just that, with its building and setting, indoor exhibitions, its fantastic Betty and Edward Marcus Sculpture Park, and the free-range peacocks in adjacent Mayfield Park.

3. “Dance of the Cosmos’” at Patterson Neighborhood Park

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4200 Brookview Rd
Austin, TX 78722
(512) 974-6700
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Dance of the Cosmos, an interactive installation by prolific local artist Jennifer Chenowith, was inspired by “Robert Putchik’s Theory of Emotions and a Tibetan lotus mandala,” according to the artist’s statement. She also drew on her experience with her own XYZ Atlas, a Hedonic Map of Austin</i>, an interactive public art about our collective experiences,” the statement reads. The sculpture has a footprint of 20 feet and is 8 feet tall when the flower is closed (the petals open, which is really cool, too). Originally a temporary installation, it received a permanent home at Patterson Park in May.

Dance of the Cosmos by Jennifer Chenowith
Dance of the Cosmos by Jennifer Chenowith

4. Texas Memorial Museum

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2400 Trinity St
Austin, TX 78705
(512) 471-1604
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Formed in the 1930s at the University of Texas in conjunction with the Texas American Legation, TMM was Austin’s first science museum. The temporary and permanent exhibits focus on the state’s natural history and are created from holdings of more than 5 million specimens, including include dinosaurs and fossil animals, gems and minerals, and wildlife specimens.

5. LBJ Presidential Library

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2313 Red River St
Austin, TX 78712
(512) 721-0200
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Located on eastern side of the University of Texas campus, the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library has often been decried for its monolithic scale and almost windowless travertine exterior. Nevertheless, its distinctive and late-modern design has worn well over the years. Completed in 1971, it designed by Gordon Bunshaft of Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill. Its most dramatic feature (aside from the giant, bowl-like fountain outside, also spare in design), is a Great Hall featuring four stories of archives behind glass. Sadly, the animatronic-LBJ robot that used to greet visitors from his stage-set “ranch” has had his country garb changed to a more presidential suit and now jokes around behind a podium.

6. University of Texas at Austin campus

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University of Texas at Austin
Austin, TX

The grounds of the campus that has long outgrown its “Forty Acres” nickname are full of pleasures and intrigues large and small: the history around its monolithic Main Building (aka The Tower), downtown vistas, grassy malls, and its formidable museums (The Harry Ransom Center, the Blanton Museum of Art, and the LBJ Library, for example) to the sweet, old-timey turtle pond, the legendary Cactus Cafe acoustic-music club, and the captivating architectural details everywhere you turn.

Sutton Hall UT School of Architecture
UT School of Architecture

7. Harry Ransom Center (HRC)

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

Large squarish concrete building with few windows
Harry Ransom Center
Larry D. Moore/Wikimedia Commons

8. ‘Hi, How Are You?” mural

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2100 Guadalupe St
Austin, TX 78705

The now iconic mural started as a drawing by late 1990s indie rock poster child/cautionary tale Daniel Johnston and 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.

9. ‘Austin’ by Ellsworth Kelly at the Blanton Museum of Art

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200 E Martin Luther King Jr Blvd
Austin, TX 78712
(512) 471-5482
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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.

10. Bullock Texas State History Museum

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1800 Congress Ave
Austin, TX 78701
(512) 936-8746
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Named after the legendary and begrudgingly admired Democratic dealmaker and Texas Lt. Gov. Bob Bullock, this museum gained a reputation with its acquisition of recovered artifacts from a shipwrecked 17th-century French boat that was one of the state’s most important archeological’s discoveries. Now the family-friendly has loads of historic artifacts and displays, art exhibits, events, and an IMAX theater.

11. Texas Capitol

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1100 Congress Ave
Austin, TX 78701
(512) 463-4630
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The goings-on in and around the state Capitol are wellsprings of drama and amusement, but the grounds are lovely, it’s one of the prettiest capitol buildings in the country, and it has a rotunda with fun acoustics. It’s full of interesting architectural details, obscure and well-known histories, and frequent displays and events, inside and outside its offices and chambers. It’s a surprisingly fun and interesting place to visit for young and old, locals and visitors—pretty much everyone, in other words.

The exterior of the Texas State Capitol Building. The facade is pink granite. In the distance is a building with a dome structure on top. Shutterstock

12. George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center

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1165 Angelina St
Austin, TX
(512) 974-4926
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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. 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 summer classics series.

14. “Rhapsody” and “Sankofa” murals

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1021 E 11th St
Austin, TX 78702

The Charles E. Urdy Plaza on East 11th and Waller streets is both easy to miss and notable. Located just east of I-35, once the official dividing line of segregated Austin, the space was developed as part of a project to recognize and memorialize African American institutions along the street. The freestanding mural in the space has a tile mosaic, Rhapsody by John Yancey, on its side facing 11th Street; it’s a colorful, historically based ode to the area’s musical past. On the back is another, more abstract mural: Sankofa by Reji Thomas. Her mixed-media piece is also a commentary on history and packed with meaning, and visitors are provided a handy bench for thinking about it all or just enjoying its forms.

15. McGarrah Jessee building

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121 W 6th St
Austin, TX 78701
(512) 225-2000
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The American National Bank Building downtown was built in 1954 and graced with a large mural by pioneering modernist Seymour Fogel. The latter was nearly lost during the years after the bank became the state-owned Starr Building, but was gloriously restored, along with the rest of the building, by McKinney York Architects for McGarrah Jessee, an advertising firm that purchased the building. The company occupies its building in robust midcentury spirit, making it extra gratifying to pop in for a quick look, even if you don’t happen to work there.

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. Republic Square

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422 Guadalupe St
Austin, TX 78701
(512) 381-1147
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In the 1900s, Republic Square was a community gathering and commerce spot for surrounding, mostly Latino neighborhoods of the day. By the 1970s, it had become a dusty parking lot. The city and the Austin Parks Foundation recently revived the space, and it’s now a lovely, green place to play, relax, and take in the city that surrounds it. Holly Young-Kincannon’s Blackbird sculpture, which draws inspiration from the Oaxacan pottery of Mexico and makes a nod to Austin’s grackles, is a highlight.

Cityscape with green park in foreground All photos courtesy of the Downtown Austin Alliance

18. Alamo Drafthouse Cinema

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320 E 6th St
Austin, TX 78701
(512) 861-7020
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It’s not just a homegrown movie theater with food (though it was one of the first, and certainly the first to have a robust menu and to devise elaborate meals to complement many of its special screenings). Its nonpareil programming, first presented to a town of cinephiles, was fundamental to its success and continues to attract national attention. It invented the fanboy-arthouse-food-beer-special-interactive-event-casual-celebrity-pop-up filmgoing experience in Austin, where it still does it better than anyone else.

19. Mexic-Arte Museum

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419 Congress Ave
Austin, TX 78701
(512) 480-9373
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Austin’s museum dedicated to traditional and contemporary Mexican, Latinx, and Latin American art and culture, Mexic-Arte has been presenting some of the most impressive exhibitions and creative events in the city since 1984. Its downtown location makes it a great place for contemplative exploration amid the city’s bustle.

20. Austin Central Library

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

21. 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.

22. ‘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. It rises 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.

23. Tejano Walking Trail

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211 Comal St
Austin, TX 78702

This point is a whole set of sights of its own—a self-guided tour through the historically Latinx East Cesar Chavez and Holly neighborhoods that takes visitors to significant places that cover an expansive stretch of post-Civil War American history.

24. Broken Spoke

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3201 S Lamar Blvd
Austin, TX 78704
(512) 442-6189
Visit Website

The longtime Austin country music and two-stepping (and chicken fried steak) institution should need no intro, but just in case: It’s a bona fide, internationally famous country dance hall and honky tonk where stars including Willie Nelson, George Strait, and Dolly Parton have performed and you can still get your two-step on to live music on a regular basis.

Old red wood honky tonk Alamy Stock Photo

25. St. Edward's University

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3001 S Congress Ave
Austin, TX 78704
(512) 448-8400
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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 Doyle Hall, redesigned with an addition by Specht Harpman and completed in 2009.

Large gothic-style complex on hilltop—stone with red roofs
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™.

1. Mount Bonnell

Mt Bonnell, Austin, TX 78731

For years the highest point in the city, Mount Bonnell is named after George Bonnell, a reporter who mapped and wrote about it. It played a role in the war for Texas’s independence, but after that became pretty much what it is today: a sightseeing spot. The adorably tiny peak, reached by a tricky set of steep limestone stairs, is still the place to go for rites of passage, good times, romantic moments, and other occasions that call for sweeping vistas.

Mt Bonnell
Austin, TX 78731

2. The Contemporary Austin - Laguna Gloria/Mayfield Park

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 has a second site at downtown’s Jones Center) does just that, with its building and setting, indoor exhibitions, its fantastic Betty and Edward Marcus Sculpture Park, and the free-range peacocks in adjacent Mayfield Park.

3809 W 35th St
Austin, TX 78703

3. “Dance of the Cosmos’” at Patterson Neighborhood Park

4200 Brookview Rd, Austin, TX 78722
Dance of the Cosmos by Jennifer Chenowith
Dance of the Cosmos by Jennifer Chenowith

Dance of the Cosmos, an interactive installation by prolific local artist Jennifer Chenowith, was inspired by “Robert Putchik’s Theory of Emotions and a Tibetan lotus mandala,” according to the artist’s statement. She also drew on her experience with her own XYZ Atlas, a Hedonic Map of Austin</i>, an interactive public art about our collective experiences,” the statement reads. The sculpture has a footprint of 20 feet and is 8 feet tall when the flower is closed (the petals open, which is really cool, too). Originally a temporary installation, it received a permanent home at Patterson Park in May.

4200 Brookview Rd
Austin, TX 78722

4. Texas Memorial Museum

2400 Trinity St, Austin, TX 78705

Formed in the 1930s at the University of Texas in conjunction with the Texas American Legation, TMM was Austin’s first science museum. The temporary and permanent exhibits focus on the state’s natural history and are created from holdings of more than 5 million specimens, including include dinosaurs and fossil animals, gems and minerals, and wildlife specimens.

2400 Trinity St
Austin, TX 78705

5. LBJ Presidential Library

2313 Red River St, Austin, TX 78712

Located on eastern side of the University of Texas campus, the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library has often been decried for its monolithic scale and almost windowless travertine exterior. Nevertheless, its distinctive and late-modern design has worn well over the years. Completed in 1971, it designed by Gordon Bunshaft of Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill. Its most dramatic feature (aside from the giant, bowl-like fountain outside, also spare in design), is a Great Hall featuring four stories of archives behind glass. Sadly, the animatronic-LBJ robot that used to greet visitors from his stage-set “ranch” has had his country garb changed to a more presidential suit and now jokes around behind a podium.

2313 Red River St
Austin, TX 78712

6. University of Texas at Austin campus

University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX
Sutton Hall UT School of Architecture
UT School of Architecture

The grounds of the campus that has long outgrown its “Forty Acres” nickname are full of pleasures and intrigues large and small: the history around its monolithic Main Building (aka The Tower), downtown vistas, grassy malls, and its formidable museums (The Harry Ransom Center, the Blanton Museum of Art, and the LBJ Library, for example) to the sweet, old-timey turtle pond, the legendary Cactus Cafe acoustic-music club, and the captivating architectural details everywhere you turn.

University of Texas at Austin
Austin, TX

7. Harry Ransom Center (HRC)

University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX
Large squarish concrete building with few windows
Harry Ransom Center
Larry D. Moore/Wikimedia Commons

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. 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

8. ‘Hi, How Are You?” mural

2100 Guadalupe St, Austin, TX 78705

The now iconic mural started as a drawing by late 1990s indie rock poster child/cautionary tale Daniel Johnston and 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

9. ‘Austin’ by Ellsworth Kelly at the Blanton Museum of Art

200 E Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Austin, TX 78712

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 78712

10. Bullock Texas State History Museum

1800 Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78701

Named after the legendary and begrudgingly admired Democratic dealmaker and Texas Lt. Gov. Bob Bullock, this museum gained a reputation with its acquisition of recovered artifacts from a shipwrecked 17th-century French boat that was one of the state’s most important archeological’s discoveries. Now the family-friendly has loads of historic artifacts and displays, art exhibits, events, and an IMAX theater.

1800 Congress Ave
Austin, TX 78701

11. Texas Capitol

1100 Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78701
The exterior of the Texas State Capitol Building. The facade is pink granite. In the distance is a building with a dome structure on top. Shutterstock

The goings-on in and around the state Capitol are wellsprings of drama and amusement, but the grounds are lovely, it’s one of the prettiest capitol buildings in the country, and it has a rotunda with fun acoustics. It’s full of interesting architectural details, obscure and well-known histories, and frequent displays and events, inside and outside its offices and chambers. It’s a surprisingly fun and interesting place to visit for young and old, locals and visitors—pretty much everyone, in other words.

1100 Congress Ave
Austin, TX 78701

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. 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 summer classics series.

Paramount Theatre
Austin, TX 78701

14. “Rhapsody” and “Sankofa” murals

1021 E 11th St, Austin, TX 78702

The Charles E. Urdy Plaza on East 11th and Waller streets is both easy to miss and notable. Located just east of I-35, once the official dividing line of segregated Austin, the space was developed as part of a project to recognize and memorialize African American institutions along the street. The freestanding mural in the space has a tile mosaic, Rhapsody by John Yancey, on its side facing 11th Street; it’s a colorful, historically based ode to the area’s musical past. On the back is another, more abstract mural: Sankofa by Reji Thomas. Her mixed-media piece is also a commentary on history and packed with meaning, and visitors are provided a handy bench for thinking about it all or just enjoying its forms.

1021 E 11th St
Austin, TX 78702

15. McGarrah Jessee building

121 W 6th St, Austin, TX 78701

The American National Bank Building downtown was built in 1954 and graced with a large mural by pioneering modernist Seymour Fogel. The latter was nearly lost during the years after the bank became the state-owned Starr Building, but was gloriously restored, along with the rest of the building, by McKinney York Architects for McGarrah Jessee, an advertising firm that purchased the building. The company occupies its building in robust midcentury spirit, making it extra gratifying to pop in for a quick look, even if you don’t happen to work there.

121 W 6th St
Austin, TX 78701

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. Republic Square

422 Guadalupe St, Austin, TX 78701
Cityscape with green park in foreground All photos courtesy of the Downtown Austin Alliance

In the 1900s, Republic Square was a community gathering and commerce spot for surrounding, mostly Latino neighborhoods of the day. By the 1970s, it had become a dusty parking lot. The city and the Austin Parks Foundation recently revived the space, and it’s now a lovely, green place to play, relax, and take in the city that surrounds it. Holly Young-Kincannon’s Blackbird sculpture, which draws inspiration from the Oaxacan pottery of Mexico and makes a nod to Austin’s grackles, is a highlight.

422 Guadalupe St
Austin, TX 78701

18. Alamo Drafthouse Cinema

320 E 6th St, Austin, TX 78701

It’s not just a homegrown movie theater with food (though it was one of the first, and certainly the first to have a robust menu and to devise elaborate meals to complement many of its special screenings). Its nonpareil programming, first presented to a town of cinephiles, was fundamental to its success and continues to attract national attention. It invented the fanboy-arthouse-food-beer-special-interactive-event-casual-celebrity-pop-up filmgoing experience in Austin, where it still does it better than anyone else.

320 E 6th St
Austin, TX 78701

19. Mexic-Arte Museum

419 Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78701

Austin’s museum dedicated to traditional and contemporary Mexican, Latinx, and Latin American art and culture, Mexic-Arte has been presenting some of the most impressive exhibitions and creative events in the city since 1984. Its downtown location makes it a great place for contemplative exploration amid the city’s bustle.

419 Congress Ave
Austin, TX 78701

20. Austin Central Library

710 W Cesar Chavez St, Austin, TX 78701

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.

710 W Cesar Chavez St
Austin, TX 78701

21. 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

22. ‘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. It rises 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

23. Tejano Walking Trail

211 Comal St, Austin, TX 78702

This point is a whole set of sights of its own—a self-guided tour through the historically Latinx East Cesar Chavez and Holly neighborhoods that takes visitors to significant places that cover an expansive stretch of post-Civil War American history.

211 Comal St
Austin, TX 78702

24. Broken Spoke

3201 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78704
Old red wood honky tonk Alamy Stock Photo

The longtime Austin country music and two-stepping (and chicken fried steak) institution should need no intro, but just in case: It’s a bona fide, internationally famous country dance hall and honky tonk where stars including Willie Nelson, George Strait, and Dolly Parton have performed and you can still get your two-step on to live music on a regular basis.

3201 S Lamar Blvd
Austin, TX 78704

25. St. Edward's University

3001 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704
Large gothic-style complex on hilltop—stone with red roofs
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 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