FIPS 55-3 Code
US National Archive Codes
Coordinates Latitude: 30.267153 Longitude: -97.7430608
Demographics & Economic Data
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Austin, Travis County and Williamson County have been the site of human habitation since at least 9200 BC. The area's earliest known inhabitants lived during the late Pleistocene (Ice Age) and are linked to the Clovis culture around 9200 BC (over 11,200 years ago), based on evidence found throughout the area and documented at the much-studied Gault Site, midway between Georgetown and Fort Hood.When settlers arrived from Europe, the Tonkawa tribe inhabited the area. The Comanches and Lipan Apaches were also known to travel through the area. Spanish colonists, including the Espinosa-Olivares-Aguirre expedition, traveled through the area for centuries, though few permanent settlements were created for some time. In 1730, three missions from East Texas were combined and reestablished as one mission on the south side of the Colorado River, in what is now Zilker Park, in Austin. The mission was in this area for only about seven months, and then was moved to San Antonio de Béxar and split into three missions.Early in the 19th century, Spanish forts were established in what are now Bastrop and San Marcos. Following Mexico's independence, new settlements were established in Central Texas, but growth in the region was stagnant because of conflicts with the regional Native Americans.In 1835–1836, Texans fought and won independence from Mexico. Texas thus became an independent country with its own president, congress, and monetary system. After Vice President Mirabeau B. Lamar visited the area during a buffalo-hunting expedition between 1837 and 1838, he proposed that the republic's capital, then in Houston, be relocated to the area situated on the north bank of the Colorado River (near the present-day Congress Avenue Bridge). In 1839, the Texas Congress formed a commission to seek a site for a new capital to be named for Stephen F. Austin. Mirabeau B. Lamar, second president of the newly formed Republic of Texas, advised the commissioners to investigate the area named Waterloo, noting the area's hills, waterways, and pleasant surroundings. Waterloo was selected, and "Austin" was chosen as the town's new name. The location was seen as a convenient crossroads for trade routes between Santa Fe and Galveston Bay, as well as routes between northern Mexico and the Red River.Edwin Waller was picked by Lamar to survey the village and draft a plan laying out the new capital. The original site was narrowed to 640 acres (260 ha) that fronted the Colorado River between two creeks, Shoal Creek and Waller Creek, which was later named in his honor. The 14-block grid plan was bisected by a broad north-south thoroughfare, Congress Avenue, running up from the river to Capital Square, where the new Texas State Capitol was to be constructed. A temporary one-story capitol was erected on the corner of Colorado and 8th Streets. On August 1, 1839, the first auction of 217 out of 306 lots total was held. The grid plan Waller designed and surveyed now forms the basis of downtown Austin.
In 1840, a series of conflicts between the Texas Rangers and the Comanches, known as the Council House Fight and the Battle of Plum Creek, pushed the Comanches westward, mostly ending conflicts in Central Texas. Settlement in the area began to expand quickly. Travis County was established in 1840, and the surrounding counties were mostly established within the next two decades.Initially, the new capital thrived. But Lamar's political enemy, Sam Houston, used two Mexican army incursions to San Antonio as an excuse to move the government. Sam Houston fought bitterly against Lamar's decision to establish the capital in such a remote wilderness. The men and women who traveled mainly from Houston to conduct government business were intensely disappointed as well. By 1840, the population had risen to 856, of whom nearly half fled from Austin when Congress recessed. The resident African American population listed in January of this same year was 176. The fear of Austin's proximity to the Indians and Mexico, which still considered Texas a part of their land, created an immense motive for Sam Houston, the first and third President of the Republic of Texas, to relocate the capital once again in 1841. Upon threats of Mexican troops in Texas, Houston raided the Land Office to transfer all official documents to Houston for safe keeping in what was later known as the Archive War, but the people of Austin would not allow this unaccompanied decision to be executed. The documents stayed, but the capital would temporarily move from Austin to Houston to Washington-on-the-Brazos. Without the governmental body, Austin's population declined to a low of only a few hundred people throughout the early 1840s. The voting by the fourth President of the Republic, Anson Jones, and Congress, who reconvened in Austin in 1845, settled the issue to keep Austin the seat of government, as well as annex the Republic of Texas into the United States.
In 1860, 38% of Travis County residents were slaves. In 1861, with the outbreak of the American Civil War, voters in Austin and other Central Texas communities voted against secession. However, as the war progressed and fears of attack by Union forces increased, Austin contributed hundreds of men to the Confederate forces. The African American population of Austin swelled dramatically after the enforcement of the Emancipation Proclamation in Texas by Union General Gordon Granger at Galveston, in an event commemorated as Juneteenth. Black communities such as Wheatville, Pleasant Hill, and Clarksville were established, with Clarksville being the oldest surviving freedomtown ‒ the original post-Civil War settlements founded by former African-American slaves ‒ west of the Mississippi River. In 1870, blacks made up 36.5% of Austin's population.
The postwar period saw dramatic population and economic growth. The opening of the Houston and Texas Central Railway (H&TC) in 1871 turned Austin into the major trading center for the region, with the ability to transport both cotton and cattle. The Missouri, Kansas & Texas (MKT) line followed close behind. Austin was also the terminus of the southernmost leg of the Chisholm Trail, and "drovers" pushed cattle north to the railroad. Cotton was one of the few crops produced locally for export, and a cotton gin engine was located downtown near the trains for "ginning" cotton of its seeds and turning the product into bales for shipment. However, as other new railroads were built through the region in the 1870s, Austin began to lose its primacy in trade to the surrounding communities. In addition, the areas east of Austin took over cattle and cotton production from Austin, especially in towns like Hutto and Taylor that sit over the blackland prairie, with its deep, rich soils for producing cotton and hay.In September 1881, Austin public schools held their first classes. The same year, Tillotson Collegiate and Normal Institute (now part of Huston–Tillotson University) opened its doors. The University of Texas held its first classes in 1883, although classes had been held in the original wooden state capitol for four years before.During the 1880s, Austin gained new prominence as the state capitol building was completed in 1888 and claimed as the seventh largest building in the world. In the late 19th century, Austin expanded its city limits to more than three times its former area, and the first granite dam was built on the Colorado River to power a new street car line and the new "moon towers". Unfortunately, the first dam washed away in a flood on April 7, 1900.In the 1920s and 1930s, Austin launched a series of civic development and beautification projects that created much of the city's infrastructure and many of its parks. In addition, the state legislature established the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) that, along with the city of Austin, created the system of dams along the Colorado River to form the Highland Lakes. These projects were enabled in large part because the Public Works Administration provided Austin with greater funding for municipal construction projects than other Texas cities.During the early twentieth century, a three-way system of social segregation emerged in Austin, with Anglos, African Americans and Mexicans being separated by custom or law in most aspects of life, including housing, health care, and education. Many of the municipal improvement programs initiated during this period—such as the construction of new roads, schools, and hospitals—were deliberately designed to institutionalize this system of segregation. Deed restrictions also played an important role in residential segregation. After 1935 most housing deeds prohibited African Americans (and sometimes other nonwhite groups) from using land. Combined with the system of segregated public services, racial segregation increased in Austin during the first half of the twentieth century, with African Americans and Mexicans experiencing high levels of discrimination and social marginalization.In 1940, the destroyed granite dam on the Colorado River was finally replaced by a hollow concrete dam that formed Lake McDonald (now called Lake Austin) and which has withstood all floods since. In addition, the much larger Mansfield Dam was built by the LCRA upstream of Austin to form Lake Travis, a flood-control reservoir. In the early 20th century, the Texas Oil Boom took hold, creating tremendous economic opportunities in Southeast Texas and North Texas. The growth generated by this boom largely passed by Austin at first, with the city slipping from fourth largest to 10th largest in Texas between 1880 and 1920.After the mid-20th century, Austin became established as one of Texas' major metropolitan centers. In 1970, the U.S. Census Bureau reported Austin's population as 14.5% Hispanic, 11.9% black, and 73.4% non-Hispanic white. In the late 20th century, Austin emerged as an important high tech center for semiconductors and software. The University of Texas at Austin emerged as a major university.The 1970s saw Austin's emergence in the national music scene, with local artists such as Willie Nelson, Asleep at the Wheel, and Stevie Ray Vaughan and iconic music venues such as the Armadillo World Headquarters. Over time, the long-running television program Austin City Limits, its namesake Austin City Limits Festival, and the South by Southwest music festival solidified the city's place in the music industry.
Austin, the southernmost state capital of the contiguous 48 states, is located in Central Texas. Austin is 146 miles (230 km) northwest of Houston, 182 miles (290 km) south of Dallas and 74 miles (120 km) northeast of San Antonio.In 2010, the city occupied a total area of 305.1 square miles (790.1 km2). Approximately 7.2 square miles (18.6 km2) of this area is water.Austin is situated at the foot of the Balcones Escarpment, on the Colorado River, with three artificial lakes within the city limits: Lady Bird Lake (formerly known as Town Lake), Lake Austin (both created by dams along the Colorado River), and Lake Walter E. Long that is partly used for cooling water for the Decker Power Plant. Mansfield Dam and the foot of Lake Travis are located within the city's limits. Lady Bird Lake, Lake Austin, and Lake Travis are each on the Colorado River.
The elevation of Austin varies from 425 feet (130 m) to approximately 1,000 feet (305 m) above sea level. Due to the fact that it straddles the Balcones Fault, much of the eastern part of the city is flat, with heavy clay and loam soils, whereas the western part and western suburbs consist of rolling hills on the edge of the Texas Hill Country. Because the hills to the west are primarily limestone rock with a thin covering of topsoil, portions of the city are frequently subjected to flash floods from the runoff caused by thunderstorms. To help control this runoff and to generate hydroelectric power, the Lower Colorado River Authority operates a series of dams that form the Texas Highland Lakes. The lakes also provide venues for boating, swimming, and other forms of recreation within several parks on the lake shores.Austin is located at the intersection of four major ecological regions, and is consequently a temperate-to-hot green oasis with a highly variable climate having some characteristics of the desert, the tropics, and a wetter climate. The area is very diverse ecologically and biologically, and is home to a variety of animals and plants. Notably, the area is home to many types of wildflowers that blossom throughout the year but especially in the spring. This includes the popular bluebonnets, some planted by "Lady Bird" Johnson, wife of former President Lyndon B. Johnson.The soils of Austin range from shallow, gravelly clay loams over limestone in the western outskirts to deep, fine sandy loams, silty clay loams, silty clays or clays in the city's eastern part. Some of the clays have pronounced shrink-swell properties and are difficult to work under most moisture conditions. Many of Austin's soils, especially the clay-rich types, are slightly to moderately alkaline and have free calcium carbonate.
Austin's skyline historically was modest, dominated by the Texas State Capitol and the University of Texas Main Building. However, since the 2000s, many new high-rise towers have been constructed. Austin is currently undergoing a skyscraper boom, which includes recent construction on new office, hotel and residential buildings. Downtown's buildings are somewhat spread out, partly due to a set of zoning restrictions that preserve the view of the Texas State Capitol from various locations around Austin, known as the Capitol View Corridors.At night, parts of Austin are lit by "artificial moonlight" from moonlight towers built to illuminate the central part of the city. The 165-foot (50 m) moonlight towers were built in the late 19th century and are now recognized as historic landmarks. Only 15 of the 31 original innovative towers remain standing in Austin, and none remain in any of the other cities where they were installed. The towers are featured in the 1993 film Dazed and Confused.
The central business district of Austin is home to the tallest condo towers in the state, with The Independent (58 stories and 690 feet (210 metres) tall) and The Austonian (topping out at 56 floors and 685 feet (209 metres) tall). The Independent became the tallest all-residential building in the U.S. west of Chicago when topped out in 2018.In 2005, then-Mayor Will Wynn set out a goal of having 25,000 people living Downtown by 2015. Although Downtown's growth did not meet this goal, Downtown's residential population did surge from an estimated 5,000 in 2005 to 12,000 in 2015. The skyline has drastically changed in recent years, and the residential real estate market has remained relatively strong. As of December 2016, there are 31 high-rise projects either under construction, approved or planned to be completed in Austin's downtown core between 2017 and 2020. Sixteen of those are set to rise above 400 feet (120 metres) tall, including four above 600', and eight above 500'. An additional 15 towers are slated to stand between 300' and 399' tall.
Austin is located within the middle of a unique, narrow transitional zone between the dry deserts of the American Southwest and the lush, green, more humid regions of the American Southeast. Its climate, topography, and vegetation share characteristics of both. Officially, Austin has a humid subtropical climate under the Köppen climate classification. This climate is typified by very long and hot summers; short, mild winters; and pleasantly warm spring and fall seasons in-between. Austin averages 34.32 inches (872 mm) of annual rainfall and it is distributed mostly evenly throughout the year, though spring and fall are the wettest seasons. Sunshine is common during all seasons, with 2,650 hours, or 60.3% of the possible total, of bright sunshine per year. Austin falls in USDA hardiness zones 8b (15 °F to 20 °F) and 9a (20 °F to 25 °F).Summers in Austin are very hot, with average July and August highs frequently reaching the high-90s (34–36 °C) or above. Highs reach 90 °F (32 °C) on 116 days per year, of which 18 days reach 100 °F (38 °C). The average daytime high is 70 °F (21 °C) or warmer every day between March 6 and November 20, rising to 80 °F (27 °C) or warmer between April 14 and October 24, and reaching 90 °F (32 °C) or warmer between May 30 and September 18. The highest ever recorded temperature was 112 °F (44 °C) occurring on September 5, 2000, and August 28, 2011. An uncommon characteristic of Austin's climate is its highly variable humidity, which fluctuates frequently depending on the shifting patterns of air flow and wind direction. It is common for a lengthy series of warm, dry, low-humidity days to be occasionally interrupted by very warm and humid days, and vice versa. Humidity rises with winds from the east or southeast, when the air drifts inland from the Gulf of Mexico, but decreases significantly with winds from the west or southwest, bringing air flowing from Chihuahuan Desert areas of West Texas or northern Mexico.Winters in Austin are mild with cool nights, although occasional short-lived bursts of cold weather known as "Blue Northers" can occur. January is the coolest month with an average daytime high of 61 °F (16 °C). The overnight low reaches or exceeds freezing 19 times per year, and sinks below 45 °F (7 °C) during 88 evenings per year, including most nights between mid-December and mid-February. Lows in the upper 30s also occur commonly during the winter. Conversely, winter months are also capable of occasionally producing warm days. On average, eight days in January reach or exceed 70 °F (21 °C) and one day reaches 80 °F (27 °C). The lowest ever recorded temperature in the city was −2 °F (−19 °C) on January 31, 1949. Roughly every two years Austin experiences an ice storm that freezes roads over and cripples travel in the city for 24 to 48 hours. When Austin received 0.04 inches (1 mm) of ice on January 24, 2014, there were 278 vehicular collisions. Similarly, snowfall is rare in Austin. A snow event of 0.9 inches (2 cm) on February 4, 2011, caused more than 300 car crashes and a 13-inch (33 cm) snowstorm brought the city to a near standstill in 1985. The most recent major snow event occurred on December 7, 2017, when 1.3 inches was recorded at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.Typical of Central Texas, severe weather in Austin is a threat that can strike during any season. However, it is most common during the spring. According to most classifications, Austin lies within the extreme southern periphery of Tornado Alley, although many sources place Austin outside of Tornado Alley altogether. Consequently, tornadoes strike Austin less frequently than areas farther to the north. However, severe weather and/or supercell thunderstorms can occur multiple times per year, bringing damaging winds, lightning, heavy rain, and occasional flash flooding to the city. The deadliest storm to ever strike city limits was the twin tornadoes storm of May 4, 1922, while the deadliest tornado outbreak to ever strike the metro area was the Central Texas tornado outbreak of May 27, 1997.
From October 2010 through September 2011, both major reporting stations in Austin, Camp Mabry and Bergstrom Int'l, had the least rainfall of a water year on record, receiving less than a third of normal precipitation. This was a result of La Niña conditions in the eastern Pacific Ocean where water was significantly cooler than normal. David Brown, a regional official with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, has explained that "these kinds of droughts will have effects that are even more extreme in the future, given a warming and drying regional climate."
2018 flooding and water crisis
In Fall 2018, Austin and surrounding areas received heavy rainfall and flash flooding following Hurricane Sergio. The Lower Colorado River Authority opened four floodgates of the Mansfield Dam after Lake Travis was recorded at 146% full at 704.3 feet. From October 22–28, 2018, the City of Austin issued a mandatory citywide boil-water advisory after the Highland Lakes, home to the city's main water supply, became overwhelmed by unprecedented amounts of silt, dirt, and debris that washed in from the Llano River. Austin Water, the city's water utility, has the capacity to process up to 300 million gallons of water per day, but the elevated level of turbidity reduced output to only 105 million gallons per day; Austin residents consumed an average of 120 million gallons of water per day, so the infrastructure was not able to keep up with demand.
According to the 2010 United States Census, the racial composition of Austin is 68.3% White (48.7% Non-Hispanic Whites), 35.1% Hispanic or Latino (29.1% Mexican, 0.5% Puerto Rican, 0.4% Cuban, 5.1% Other), 8.1% African American, 6.3% Asian (1.9% Indian, 1.5% Chinese, 1.0% Vietnamese, 0.7% Korean, 0.3% Filipino, 0.2% Japanese, 0.8% Other), 0.9% American Indian, 0.1% Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, and 3.4% two or more races.
At the 2000 United States Census, there were 656,562 people, 265,649 households, and 141,590 families residing in the city (roughly comparable in size to San Francisco, Leeds, UK; and Ottawa, Ontario, Canada). The population density was 2,610.4 inhabitants per square mile (1,007.9/km2). There were 276,842 housing units at an average density of 1,100.7 per square mile (425.0/km2). There were 265,648 households out of which 26.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 38.1% were married couples living together, 10.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 46.7% were non-families. 32.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 4.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.40 and the average family size was 3.14.
In the city, the population was spread out with 22.5% under the age of 18, 16.6% from 18 to 24, 37.1% from 25 to 44, 17.1% from 45 to 64, and 6.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 30 years. For every 100 females, there were 105.8 males.
The median income for a household in the city was US$42,689, and the median income for a family was $54,091. Males had a median income of $35,545 vs. $30,046 for females. The per capita income for the city was $24,163. About 9.1% of families and 14.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 16.5% of those under age 18 and 8.7% of those age 65 or over. The median house price was $185,906 in 2009, and it has increased every year since 2004. The median value of a house in which the owner occupies it was $227,800 in 2014, which is higher than the average American home value of $175,700.A 2014 University of Texas study stated that Austin was the only U.S. city with a fast growth rate between 2000 and 2010 with a net loss in African Americans. As of 2014, Austin's African American and Non-Hispanic White percentage share of the total population is declining despite the absolute number of both ethnic groups increasing. Austin's Non-Hispanic White population first dropped below 50% in 2005. The rapid growth of the Hispanic and Asian population has outpaced all other ethnic groups in the city.According to one survey completed in 2014, it is estimated that 5.3% of residents in the Austin Metropolitan area identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. The Austin metropolitan area had the third highest rate in the nation.
According to Sperling's BestPlaces, 52.4% of Austin's population are religious. The majority of Austinites identified themselves as Christians, about 25.2% of whom claimed affiliation with the Catholic Church, owing in part to Spanish colonialism in the region. The city's Catholic population is served by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Austin, headquartered at the Cathedral of Saint Mary. Nationwide, 23% of Americans identify as Catholic. Other significant Christian groups in Austin include Baptists (8.7%), followed by Methodists (4.3%), Latter-Day Saints (1.5%), Episcopalians (1.0%), Lutherans (0.8%), Presbyterians (0.6%), Pentecostals (0.3%), and other Christians such as the Disciples of Christ and Eastern Orthodox Church (7.1%). The second largest religion Austinities identify with is Islam (1.7%); 0.8% of Americans nationwide claim affiliation with the Islamic faith. The dominant branch of Islam is Sunni Islam. Established in 1977, the largest mosque in Austin is the Islamic Center of Greater Austin. The community is affiliated with the Islamic Society of North America. The same study says that eastern faiths including Buddhism, Sikhism, and Hinduism make up 0.9% of the city's religious population. Judaism forms less than 0.1% of the religious demographic in Austin, although Orthodox, Reform, and Conservative congregations exist. In addition to those denominations, Austin is also home to an active secular humanist community, hosting nationwide television shows and charity work.
The Greater Austin metropolitan statistical area had a gross domestic product (GDP) of $86 billion in 2010. Austin is considered to be a major center for high tech. Thousands of graduates each year from the engineering and computer science programs at the University of Texas at Austin provide a steady source of employees that help to fuel Austin's technology and defense industry sectors. The region's rapid growth has led Forbes to rank the Austin metropolitan area number one among all big cities for jobs for 2012 in their annual survey and WSJ Marketwatch to rank the area number one for growing businesses. By 2013, Austin was ranked No. 14 on Forbes' list of the Best Places for Business and Careers (directly below Dallas, No. 13 on the list). As a result of the high concentration of high-tech companies in the region, Austin was strongly affected by the dot-com boom in the late 1990s and subsequent bust. Austin's largest employers include the Austin Independent School District, the City of Austin, Dell, the U.S. Federal Government, NXP Semiconductors, IBM, St. David's Healthcare Partnership, Seton Family of Hospitals, the State of Texas, the Texas State University, and the University of Texas at Austin.Other high-tech companies with operations in Austin include 3M, Apple, Amazon, AMD, Apartment Ratings, Applied Materials, ARM Holdings, Bigcommerce, BioWare, Blizzard Entertainment, Buffalo Technology, Cirrus Logic, Cisco Systems, Dropbox, eBay, PayPal, Electronic Arts, Flextronics, Facebook, Google, Hewlett-Packard, Hoover's, HomeAway, Hostgator, Intel Corporation, National Instruments, Nvidia, Oracle, Polycom, Qualcomm, Inc., Rackspace, RetailMeNot, Rooster Teeth, Samsung Group, Silicon Laboratories, Spansion, United Devices, and Xerox. In 2010, Facebook accepted a grant to build a downtown office that could bring as many as 200 jobs to the city. The proliferation of technology companies has led to the region's nickname, "Silicon Hills", and spurred development that greatly expanded the city.
Austin is also emerging as a hub for pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies; the city is home to about 85 of them. The city was ranked by the Milken Institute as the No.12 biotech and life science center in the United States. Companies such as Hospira, Pharmaceutical Product Development, and ArthroCare Corporation are located there.
Whole Foods Market, an international grocery store chain specializing in fresh and packaged food products, was founded and is headquartered in Austin.Other companies based in Austin include NXP Semiconductors, GoodPop, Temple-Inland, Sweet Leaf Tea Company, Keller Williams Realty, National Western Life, GSD&M, Dimensional Fund Advisors, Golfsmith, Forestar Group, EZCorp, Outdoor Voices, Tito's Vodka, and YETI.
In addition to national and global corporations, Austin features a strong network of independent, unique, locally owned firms and organizations.
Culture and contemporary life
"Keep Austin Weird" has been a local motto for years, featured on bumper stickers and T-shirts. This motto has not only been used in promoting Austin's eccentricity and diversity, but is also meant to bolster support of local independent businesses. According to the 2010 book, Weird City, the phrase was begun by a local Austin Community College librarian, Red Wassenich, and his wife, Karen Pavelka, who were concerned about Austin's "rapid descent into commercialism and overdevelopment." The slogan has been interpreted many ways since its inception, but remains an important symbol for many Austinites who wish to voice concerns over rapid growth and irresponsible development. Austin has a long history of vocal citizen resistance to development projects perceived to degrade the environment, or to threaten the natural and cultural landscapes.According to the Nielsen Company, adults in Austin read and contribute to blogs more than those in any other U.S. metropolitan area. Austin residents have the highest internet usage in all of Texas. In 2013, Austin was the most active city on Reddit, having the largest number of views per capita. Austin was selected as the No. 2 Best Big City in "Best Places to Live" by Money magazine in 2006, and No. 3 in 2009, and also the "Greenest City in America" by MSN. According to Travel & Leisure magazine, Austin ranks No. 1 on the list of cities with the best people, referring to the personalities and attributes of the citizens. In 2012, the city was listed among the 10 best places to retire in the U.S. by CBS Money Watch. In 2015, Forbes listed Austin as #1 Boom Town because of its economic strength, including jobs among other appealing attributes.
South Congress is a shopping district stretching down South Congress Avenue from Downtown. This area is home to coffee shops, eccentric stores, restaurants, food trucks, trailers, and festivals. It prides itself on "Keeping Austin Weird", especially with development in the surrounding area(s). Many Austinites attribute its enduring popularity to the magnificent and unobstructed view of the Texas State Capitol.The Rainey Street Historic District is a neighborhood in Downtown Austin mostly comprised of bungalow style homes built in the early 20th Century. Since the early 2010s, the former working class residential street has turned into a popular nightlife district. Much of the historic homes have been renovated into bars and restaurants, many of which feature large porches and outdoor yards for patrons. The Rainey Street district is also home to the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center.
Austin has been part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network under Media Arts the category.
"Old Austin" is an adage often used by the native citizens in Austin, Texas when being nostalgic to refer to the olden days of the capital city of Texas. Although Austin is also known internationally as the live music capital of the world and its catch phrase/slogan Keep Austin Weird can be heard echoed in places as far as Buffalo, NY and Santa Monica, CA - the term Old Austin refers to a time when the city was smaller and more bohemian with a considerably lower cost of living and better known for its lack of traffic, hipsters, and urban sprawl. It is often employed by longtime residents expressing displeasure at the rapidly changing culture.The growth and popularity of Austin can be seen by the expansive development taking place in its downtown landscape. Forbes ranked Austin as the second fastest-growing city in 2015. This growth can have a negative impact on longtime small businesses that cannot keep up with the expenses associated with gentrification and the rising cost of real estate. A former Austin Musician, Dale Watson, described his move away from Austin, "I just really feel the city has sold itself. Just because you're going to get $45 million for a company to come to town – if it's not in the best interest of the town, I don't think they should do it. This city was never about money. It was about quality of life."
Annual cultural events
The O. Henry House Museum hosts the annual O. Henry Pun-Off, a pun contest where the successful contestants exhibit wit akin to that of the author William Sydney Porter.
Other annual events include Eeyore's Birthday Party, Spamarama, Austin Gay Pride in August, the Austin Reggae Festival in April, Kite Festival, Texas Craft Brewers Festival in September, Art City Austin in April, East Austin Studio Tour in November, and Carnaval Brasileiro in February. Sixth Street features annual festivals such as the Pecan Street Festival and Halloween night. The three-day Austin City Limits Music Festival has been held in Zilker Park every year since 2002. Every year around the end of March and the beginning of April, Austin is home to "Texas Relay Weekend."
Austin's Zilker Park Tree is a Christmas display made of lights strung from the top of a Moonlight tower in Zilker Park. The Zilker Tree is lit in December along with the "Trail of Lights," an Austin Christmas tradition. The Trail of Lights was canceled four times, first starting in 2001 and 2002 due to the September 11 Attacks, and again in 2010 and 2011 due to budget shortfalls, but the trail was turned back on for the 2012 holiday season.
Cuisine and breweries
Austin is perhaps best known for its Texas barbecue and Tex-Mex cuisine. Franklin Barbecue is perhaps Austin's most famous barbecue restaurant; the restaurant has sold out of brisket every day since its establishment. Breakfast tacos and queso are popular food items in the city; Austin is sometimes called the "home of the breakfast taco". Kolaches are a common pastry in Austin bakeries due to the large Czech and German immigrant population in Texas. The Oasis Restaurant is the largest outdoor restaurant in Texas, which promotes itself as the "Sunset Capital of Texas" with its terraced views looking West over Lake Travis. P. Terry's, a Austin-based fast food burger chain, has a loyal following among Austinites. Some other Austin-based chain restaurants include Amy's Ice Creams, Bush's Chicken, Chuy's, DoubleDave's Pizzaworks, and Schlotzky's.
Austin is also home to a large number of food trucks, with 1,256 food trucks operating in 2016. The city of Austin has the second-largest number of food trucks per capita in the United States. Austin's first food hall, "Fareground", features a number of Austin-based food vendors and a bar in the ground level and courtyard of One Congress Plaza.Austin has a large craft beer scene, with over 50 microbreweries in the metro area. Drinks publication VinePair named Austin as the "top beer destination in the world" in 2019. Notable Austin-area breweries include Jester King Brewery, Live Oak Brewing Company, NLand Brewing Company, and Real Ale Brewing Company.
As Austin's official slogan is The Live Music Capital of the World, the city has a vibrant live music scene with more music venues per capita than any other U.S. city. Austin's music revolves around the many nightclubs on 6th Street and an annual film/music/interactive festival known as South by Southwest (SXSW). The concentration of restaurants, bars, and music venues in the city's downtown core is a major contributor to Austin's live music scene, as the ZIP Code encompassing the downtown entertainment district hosts the most bar or alcohol-serving establishments in the U.S.The longest-running concert music program on American television, Austin City Limits, is recorded at ACL Live at The Moody Theater, located in the bottom floor of the 478 feet (146 m) W Hotel. Austin City Limits and C3 Presents produce the Austin City Limits Music Festival, an annual music and art festival held at Zilker Park in Austin. Other music events include the Urban Music Festival, Fun Fun Fun Fest, Chaos In Tejas and Old Settler's Music Festival. Austin Lyric Opera performs multiple operas each year (including the 2007 opening of Philip Glass's Waiting for the Barbarians, written by University of Texas at Austin alumnus J. M. Coetzee). The Austin Symphony Orchestra performs a range of classical, pop and family performances and is led by Music Director and Conductor Peter Bay. The Austin Baroque Orchestra and La Follia Austin Baroque ensembles both give historically-informed performances of Baroque music.
Austin hosts several film festivals including SXSW Film Festival and Austin Film Festival, which hosts international films. Alamo Drafthouse Cinema was founded in Austin in 1997; the South Lamar location is home to the annual week-long Fantastic Fest film festival. In 2004 the city was first in MovieMaker Magazine's annual top ten cities to live and make movies.Austin has been the location for a number of motion pictures, partly due to the influence of The University of Texas at Austin Department of Radio-Television-Film. Films produced in Austin include The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974), Songwriter (1984), Man of the House, Secondhand Lions, Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, Nadine, Waking Life, Spy Kids, The Faculty, Dazed and Confused, The Guards Themselves, Wild Texas Wind, Office Space, The Life of David Gale, Miss Congeniality, Doubting Thomas, Slacker, Idiocracy, The New Guy, Hope Floats, The Alamo, Blank Check, The Wendall Baker Story, School of Rock, A Slipping-Down Life, A Scanner Darkly, Saturday Morning Massacre, and most recently, the Coen brothers' True Grit, Grindhouse, Machete, How to Eat Fried Worms, Bandslam and Lazer Team. In order to draw future film projects to the area, the Austin Film Society has converted several airplane hangars from the former Mueller Airport into filmmaking center Austin Studios. Projects that have used facilities at Austin Studios include music videos by The Flaming Lips and feature films such as 25th Hour and Sin City.
Austin also hosted the MTV series, The Real World: Austin in 2005. Season 4 of the AMC show Fear the Walking Dead was filmed in various locations around Austin in 2018. The film review websites Spill.com and Ain't It Cool News are based in Austin. Rooster Teeth Productions, creator of popular web series such as Red vs. Blue and RWBY, is also located in Austin.
Austin has a strong theater culture, with dozens of itinerant and resident companies producing a variety of work. The Church of the Friendly Ghost is a volunteer-run arts organization supporting creative expression and counter-culture community. The city also has live performance theater venues such as the Zachary Scott Theatre Center, Vortex Repertory Company, Salvage Vanguard Theater, Rude Mechanicals' the Off Center, Austin Playhouse, Scottish Rite Children's Theater, Hyde Park Theatre, the Blue Theater, The Hideout Theatre, and Esther's Follies. The Victory Grill was a renowned venue on the Chitlin' circuit. Public art and performances in the parks and on bridges are popular. Austin hosts the Fuse Box Festival each April featuring theater artists.The Paramount Theatre, opened in downtown Austin in 1915, contributes to Austin's theater and film culture, showing classic films throughout the summer and hosting regional premieres for films such as Miss Congeniality. The Zilker Park Summer Musical is a long-running outdoor musical.The Long Center for the Performing Arts is a 2,300-seat theater built partly with materials reused from the old Lester E. Palmer Auditorium.
Ballet Austin is the fourth largest ballet academy in the country. Each year Ballet Austin's 20-member professional company performs ballets from a wide variety of choreographers, including their international award-winning artistic director, Stephen Mills. The city is also home to the Ballet East Dance Company, a modern dance ensemble, and the Tapestry Dance Company which performs a variety of dance genres.
The Austin improvisational theatre scene has several theaters: ColdTowne Theater, The Hideout Theater, The Fallout Theater, and The Institution Theater. Austin also hosts the Out of Bounds Comedy Festival, which draws comedic artists in all disciplines to Austin.
The Austin Public Library is a public library system operated by the City of Austin and consists of the Central Library on Cesar Chavez Boulevard, the Austin History Center, 20 branches and the Recycled Reads bookstore and upcycling facility. The APL library system also has mobile libraries – bookmobile buses and a human-powered trike and trailer called "unbound: sin fronteras".The Central Library, which is an anchor to the redevelopment of the former Seaholm Power Plant site and the Shoal Creek Walk, opened on October 28, 2017. The 6-story Central Library contains a living rooftop garden, reading porches, an indoor reading room, bicycle parking station, large indoor and outdoor event spaces, a gift shop, an art gallery, café, and a "technology petting zoo" where visitors can play with next-generation gadgets like 3D printers. In 2018, Time magazine named the Austin Central Library on its list of "World's Greatest Places".
Museums and other points of interest
Museums in Austin include the Texas Memorial Museum, the George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center, Thinkery, the Blanton Museum of Art (reopened in 2006), the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum across the street (which opened in 2000), The Contemporary Austin, the Elisabet Ney Museum and the galleries at the Harry Ransom Center. The Texas State Capitol itself is also a major tourist attraction.
The Driskill Hotel, built in 1886, once owned by George W. Littlefield, and located at 6th and Brazos streets, was finished just before the construction of the Capitol building. Sixth Street is a musical hub for the city. The Enchanted Forest, a multi-acre outdoor music, art, and performance art space in South Austin hosts events such as fire-dancing and circus-like-acts. Austin is also home to the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum, which houses documents and artifacts related to the Johnson administration, including LBJ's limousine and a re-creation of the Oval Office.
Locally produced art is featured at the South Austin Museum of Popular Culture. The Mexic-Arte Museum is a Mexican and Mexican-American art museum founded in 1983. Austin is also home to the O. Henry House Museum, which served as the residence of O. Henry from 1893 to 1895. Farmers' markets are popular attractions, providing a variety of locally grown and often organic foods.Austin also has many odd statues and landmarks, such as the Stevie Ray Vaughan statue, the Willie Nelson statue, the Mangia dinosaur, the Loca Maria lady at Taco Xpress, the Hyde Park Gym's giant flexed arm, and Daniel Johnston's Hi, How are You? Jeremiah the Innocent frog mural.The Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge houses the world's largest urban population of Mexican free-tailed bats. Starting in March, up to 1.5 million bats take up residence inside the bridge's expansion and contraction zones as well as in long horizontal grooves running the length of the bridge's underside, an environment ideally suited for raising their young. Every evening around sunset, the bats emerge in search of insects, an exit visible on weather radar. Watching the bat emergence is an event that is popular with locals and tourists, with more than 100,000 viewers per year. The bats migrate to Mexico each winter.The Austin Zoo, located in unincorporated western Travis County, is a rescue zoo that provides sanctuary to displaced animals from a variety of situations, including those involving neglect.
The HOPE Outdoor Gallery is a public, three-story outdoor street art project located on Baylor Street in the Clarksville neighborhood. The gallery, which consists of the foundations of a failed multifamily development, is a constantly-evolving canvas of graffiti and murals. Also known as "Castle Hill" or simply "Graffiti Park", the site on Baylor Street was closed to the public in early January 2019 but remained intact, behind a fence and with an armed guard, in mid-March 2019. The gallery will build a new art park at Carson Creek Ranch in Southeast Austin.
Many Austinites support the athletic programs of the University of Texas at Austin known as the Texas Longhorns. During the 2005–06 academic term, Longhorns football team was named the NCAA Division I FBS National Football Champion, and Longhorns baseball team won the College World Series. The Texas Longhorns play home games in the state's second-largest sports stadium, Darrell K Royal–Texas Memorial Stadium, seating over 101,000 fans. Baseball games are played at UFCU Disch–Falk Field.
Austin is the most populous city in the United States without a major-league professional sports team. Minor-league professional sports came to Austin in 1996, when the Austin Ice Bats began playing at the Travis County Expo Center; they were later replaced by the AHL Texas Stars. Austin has hosted a number of other professional teams, including the Austin Spurs of the NBA G League, the Austin Aztex of the United Soccer League, the Austin Outlaws in WFA football, and the Austin Aces in WTT tennis.
Natural features like the bicycle-friendly Texas Hill Country and generally mild climate make Austin the home of several endurance and multi-sport races and communities. The Capitol 10,000 is the largest 10 K race in Texas, and approximately fifth largest in the United States. The Austin Marathon has been run in the city every year since 1992. Additionally the city is home to the largest 5 mile race in Texas, named the Turkey Trot as it is run annually on thanksgiving. Started in 1991 by Thundercloud Subs, a local sandwich chain (who still sponsors the event), the event has grown to host over 20,000 runners. All proceeds are donated to Caritas of Austin, a local charity.
The Austin-founded American Swimming Association hosts several swim races around town. Austin is also the hometown of several cycling groups and the disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong. Combining these three disciplines is a growing crop of triathlons, including the Capital of Texas Triathlon held every Memorial Day on and around Lady Bird Lake, Auditorium Shores, and Downtown Austin.Austin is home to the Circuit of the Americas (COTA), a grade 1 FIA specification 3.427-mile (5.515 km) motor racing facility which hosts the Formula One United States Grand Prix. The State of Texas has pledged $25 million in public funds annually for 10 years to pay the sanctioning fees for the race. Built at an estimated cost of $250 to $300 million, the circuit opened in 2012 and is located just east of the Austin Bergstrom International Airport. In August 2017, a new soccer-specific stadium was announced to be built between the Austin360 Amphitheater and the Grand Plaza at COTA. A professional soccer team known as Austin Bold FC will start playing in the United Soccer League in 2019.The summer of 2014 marked the inaugural season for World TeamTennis team Austin Aces, formerly Orange County Breakers of the southern California region. Austin Aces played their matches at the Cedar Park Center northwest of Austin, and featured former professionals Andy Roddick and Marion Bartoli, as well as current WTA tour player Vera Zvonareva. The team left after the 2015 season.
In 2017, Precourt Sports Ventures announced a plan to move the Columbus Crew SC soccer franchise from Columbus, Ohio to Austin. Precourt negotiated an agreement with the City of Austin to build a $200 million stadium on public land at 10414 McKalla Place, following initial interest in Butler Shores Metropolitan Park and Roy G. Guerrero Colorado River Park.
Parks and recreation
The Austin Parks and Recreation Department received the Excellence in Aquatics award in 1999 and the Gold Medal Awards in 2004 from the National Recreation and Park Association.To strengthen the region's parks system, which spans more than 29,000 acres (11,736 ha), The Austin Parks Foundation (APF) was established in 1992 to develop and improve parks in and around Austin. APF works to fill the city's park funding gap by leveraging volunteers, philanthropists, park advocates, and strategic collaborations to develop, maintain and enhance Austin's parks, trails and green spaces.
Lady Bird Lake
Lady Bird Lake (formerly Town Lake) is a river-like reservoir on the Colorado River. The lake is a popular recreational area for paddleboards, kayaks, canoes, dragon boats, and rowing shells. Austin's warm climate and the river's calm waters, nearly 6 miles (9.7 km) length and straight courses are especially popular with crew teams and clubs. Other recreational attractions along the shores of the lake include swimming in Deep Eddy Pool, the oldest swimming pool in Texas, and Red Bud Isle, a small island formed by the 1900 collapse of the McDonald Dam that serves as a recreation area with a dog park and access to the lake for canoeing and fishing. The 10.1 miles (16.3 km) Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail forms a complete circuit around the lake. A local nonprofit, The Trail Foundation, is the Trail's private steward and has made built amenities and infrastructure including trailheads, lakefront gathering areas, restrooms, exercise equipment, as well as doing Trailwide ecological restoration work on an ongoing basis. The Butler Trail loop was completed in 2014 with the public-private partnership 1-mile Boardwalk project.Along the shores of Lady Bird Lake is the 350 acre (142 ha) Zilker Park, which contains large open lawns, sports fields, cross country courses, historical markers, concession stands, and picnic areas. Zilker Park is also home to numerous attractions, including the Zilker Botanical Garden, the Umlauf Sculpture Garden, Zilker Hillside Theater, the Austin Nature & Science Center, and the Zilker Zephyr, a 12 in (305 mm) gauge miniature railway carries passengers on a tour around the park. Auditorium Shores, an urban park along the lake, is home to the Palmer Auditorium, the Long Center for the Performing Arts, and an off-leash dog park on the water. Both Zilker Park and Auditorium Shores have a direct view of the Downtown skyline.
Barton Creek Greenbelt
The Barton Creek Greenbelt is a 7.25-mile (11.67 km) public green belt managed by the City of Austin's Park and Recreation Department. The Greenbelt, which begins at Zilker Park and stretches South/Southwest to the Woods of Westlake subdivision, is characterized by large limestone cliffs, dense foliage, and shallow bodies of water. Popular activities include rock climbing, mountain biking, and hiking. Some well known naturally forming swimming holes along Austin's greenbelt include Twin Falls, Sculpture Falls, Gus Fruh Pool, and Campbell's Hole. During years of heavy rainfall, the water level of the creek rises high enough to allow swimming, cliff diving, kayaking, and tubing.
Austin is home to more than 50 public pools and swimming holes. These include Deep Eddy Pool, Texas' oldest man-made swimming pool, and Barton Springs Pool, the nation's largest natural swimming pool in an urban area. Barton Springs Pool is spring-fed while Deep Eddy is well-fed. Both range in temperature from about 68.0 °F (20.0 °C) during the winter to about 71.6 °F (22.0 °C) during the summer. Hippie Hollow Park, a county park situated along Lake Travis, is the only officially sanctioned clothing-optional public park in Texas. Hamilton Pool Preserve is a natural pool that was created when the dome of an underground river collapsed due to massive erosion thousands of years ago. The pool, located about 23 miles (37 km) west of Austin, is a popular summer swimming spot for visitors and residents. Hamilton Pool Preserve consists of 232 acres (0.94 km2) of protected natural habitat featuring a jade green pool into which a 50-foot (15 m) waterfall flows.
Other parks and recreation
McKinney Falls State Park is a state park administered by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, located at the confluence of Onion Creek and Williamson Creek. The park includes several designated hiking trails and cap sites with water and electric. The namesake features of the park are the scenic upper and lower falls along Onion Creek. The Emma Long Metropolitan Park is a municipal park along the shores of Lake Austin, originally constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps. The 284-acre Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is a botanical garden and arboretum that features more than 800 species of native Texas plants in both garden and natural settings; the Wildflower Center is located 10 miles southwest of Downtown in Circle C Ranch. Roy G. Guerrero Park is located along the Colorado River in East Riverside and contains miles of wooded trails, a sandy beach along the river, and a disc golf course.
Covert Park, located on the top of Mount Bonnell, is a popular tourist destination overlooking Lake Austin and the Colorado River. The mount provides a vista for viewing the city of Austin, Lake Austin, and the surrounding hills. It was designated a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark in 1969, bearing Marker number 6473, and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2015.
The Austin Country Club is a private golf club located along the shores of the Colorado River, right next to the Pennybacker Bridge. Founded in 1899, the club moved to its third and present site in 1984, which features a challenging layout designed by noted course architect Pete Dye.
Government and law
The city had 39 homicides in 2016, the most since 1997.FBI statistics show that overall violent and property crimes dropped in Austin in 2015, but increased in suburban areas of the city. One such southeastern suburb, Del Valle, reported eight homicides within two months in 2016. According to 2016 APD crime statistics, the 78723 census tract had the most violent crime, with 6 murders, 25 rapes, and 81 robberies.
One of the first American school mass-shooting incidents took place in Austin on August 1, 1966, when a gunman shot 43 people, killing 13 from the top of the University of Texas tower (see University of Texas tower shooting). This event led to the formation of the SWAT team.In 2010, Andrew Joseph Stack III deliberately crashed his Piper Cherokee PA-28 into Echelon 1, an IRS building housing 190 employees. The resulting explosion killed 1 person (excluding the pilot), injured 13, and completely destroyed the building, costing the IRS a total of 38.6 million (see 2010 Austin suicide attack).
A series of bombings occurred in Austin in March 2018.
Austin is administered by an 11-member city council (10 council members elected by geographic district plus a mayor elected at large). The council is accompanied by a hired city manager under the manager-council system of municipal governance. Council and mayoral elections are non-partisan, with a runoff in case there is no majority winner. A referendum approved by voters on November 6, 2012 changed the council composition from six council members plus a mayor elected at large to the current "10+1" district system. November 2014 marked the first election under the new system. The Federal government had forced San Antonio and Dallas to abandon at-large systems before 1987, however the court could not show a racist pattern in Austin and upheld the city's at-large system during a 1984 lawsuit. In five elections between 1973 and 1994 Austin voters rejected single-member districts.Austin formerly operated its city hall at 128 West 8th Street. Antoine Predock and Cotera Kolar Negrete & Reed Architects designed a new city hall building, which was intended to reflect what The Dallas Morning News referred to as a "crazy-quilt vitality, that embraces everything from country music to environmental protests and high-tech swagger." The new city hall, built from recycled materials, has solar panels in its garage. The city hall, at 301 West Second Street, opened in November 2004. The current mayor of Austin is Steve Adler.
Law enforcement in Austin is provided by the Austin Police Department, except for state government buildings, which are patrolled by the Texas Department of Public Safety. The University of Texas Police operate from the University of Texas.
Fire protection within the city limits is provided by the Austin Fire Department, while the surrounding county is divided into twelve geographical areas known as Emergency Services Districts, which are covered by separate regional fire departments. Emergency Medical Services are provided for the whole county by "Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services".
Other levels of government
Austin is the county seat of Travis County and hosts the Heman Marion Sweatt Travis County Courthouse downtown, as well as other county government offices.
The Texas Department of Transportation operates the Austin District Office in Austin.The Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) operates the Austin I and Austin II district parole offices in Austin.The United States Postal Service operates several post offices in Austin.
Austin is known as an enclave of liberal politics in an otherwise conservative state—so much so, that the city is sometimes sarcastically called the "People's Republic of Austin" by residents of other parts of Texas, and conservatives in the Texas Legislature.Since redistricting following the 2010 United States Census, Austin has been divided between six congressional districts at the federal level: Texas's 35th, Texas's 25th, Texas's 10th, Texas's 21st, Texas's 17th, and Texas's 31st. Texas's 35th congressional district is represented by Democrat Lloyd Doggett. The other five districts are represented by Republicans, of whom only one, Michael McCaul of the 10th district, lives in Travis County.
As a result of the major party realignment that began in the 1970s, central Austin became a stronghold of the Democratic Party, while the suburbs tend to vote Republican. Overall, the city is a blend of downtown liberalism and suburban conservatism but leans to the political left as a whole. The city last went to a Republican candidate in 2000 when former Texas Governor George W. Bush successfully ran for President. In 2004, the Democrats rebounded strongly as John Kerry enjoyed a 14.0% margin over Bush, who once again won Texas.City residents have been supportive of alternative candidates; for example, Ralph Nader won 10.4% of the vote in Austin in 2000.
In 2003, the city adopted a resolution against the USA PATRIOT Act that reaffirmed constitutionally guaranteed rights.
Of Austin's six state legislative districts, three are strongly Democratic and three are swing districts, two of which are held by Democrats and one of which is held by a Republican.
Travis County was also the only county in Texas to reject Texas Constitutional Amendment Proposition 2 that effectively outlawed gay marriage and status equal or similar to it and did so by a wide margin (40% for, 60% against).Two of the candidates for president in the 2004 race called Austin home. Michael Badnarik, the Libertarian Party candidate, and David Cobb of the Green Party both had lived in Austin. During the run up to the election in November, a presidential debate was held at the University of Texas at Austin student union involving the two candidates. While the Commission on Presidential Debates only invites Democrats and Republicans to participate in televised debates, the debate at UT was open to all presidential candidates. Austin also hosted one of the last presidential debates between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton during their heated race for the Democratic nomination in 2008.In the 2016 presidential election, Travis County, which contains the majority of Austin, voted for Hillary Clinton (D) by a 38.9-point margin (66.3% to 27.4%).
A controversial turning point in the political history of the Austin area was the 2003 Texas redistricting. Before then, Austin had been entirely or almost entirely within the borders of a single congressional district–what was then the 10th District–for over a century. Opponents characterized the resulting district layout as excessively partisan gerrymandering, and the plan was challenged in court by Democratic and minority activists; of note, the Supreme Court of the United States has never struck down a redistricting plan for being excessively partisan. The plan was subsequently upheld by a three-judge federal panel in late 2003, and on June 28, 2006, the matter was largely settled when the Supreme Court, in a 7–2 decision, upheld the entire congressional redistricting plan with the exception of a Hispanic-majority district in southwest Texas. This affected Austin's districting, as U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett's district (U.S. Congressional District 25) was found to be insufficiently compact to compensate for the reduced minority influence in the southwest district; it was redrawn so that it took in most of southeastern Travis County and several counties to its south and east.
The distinguishing political movement of Austin politics has been that of the environmental movement, which spawned the parallel neighborhood movement, then the more recent conservationist movement (as typified by the Hill Country Conservancy), and eventually the current ongoing debate about "sense of place" and preserving the Austin quality of life. Much of the environmental movement has matured into a debate on issues related to saving and creating an Austin "sense of place." In 2012, Austin became just one of a few cities in Texas to ban the sale and use of plastic bags.
Researchers at Central Connecticut State University ranked Austin the 16th most literate city in the United States for 2008. In addition, the University of Texas at Austin operates the seventh-largest academic library in the nation.Austin was voted "America's No.1 College Town" by the Travel Channel. Over 43 percent of Austin residents age 25 and over hold a bachelor's degree, while 16 percent hold a graduate degree. In 2009, greater Austin ranked eighth among metropolitan areas in the United States for bachelor's degree attainment with nearly 39 percent of area residents over 25 holding a bachelor's degree.
Austin is home to the University of Texas at Austin, the flagship institution of the University of Texas System with over 38,000 undergraduate students and 12,000 graduate students. In 2019 rankings, the university was ranked 49th among "National Universities" by U.S. News & World Report. UT has annual research expenditures of over $600 million and has the highest-ranked business, engineering, and law programs of any university in the state of Texas.Other institutions of higher learning in Austin include St. Edward's University, Huston-Tillotson University, Austin Community College, Concordia University, the Seminary of the Southwest, the Acton School of Business, Texas Health and Science University, University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences, Austin Graduate School of Theology, Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Virginia College's Austin Campus, The Art Institute of Austin, Southern Careers Institute of Austin, Austin Conservatory and a branch of Park University.
The University of Texas System and Texas State University System are headquartered in downtown Austin.
Public primary and secondary education
The Austin area has 29 public school districts, 17 charter schools and 69 private schools. Most of the city is served by the Austin Independent School District. This district includes notable schools such as the magnet Liberal Arts and Science Academy High School of Austin, Texas (LASA), which, by test scores, has consistently been within the top thirty high schools in the nation, as well as The Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders. Some parts of Austin are served by other districts, including Round Rock, Pflugerville, Leander, Manor, Del Valle, Lake Travis, Hays, and Eanes ISDs. Four of the metro's major public school systems, representing 54% of area enrollment, are included in Expansion Management magazine's latest annual education quality ratings of nearly 2,800 school districts nationwide. Two districts—Eanes and Round Rock—are rated "gold medal", the highest of the magazine's cost-performance categories.
Private and alternative education
Austin has a large network of private and alternative education institutions for children in preschool-12th grade including Abrome, ACE Academy, Acton Academy, Austin International School, Austin Jewish Academy, Austin Peace Academy, The Austin School for the Performing and Visual Arts, The Austin Waldorf School, Brentwood Christian School, Cleaview Sudbury School, Concordia Academy, The Griffin School, Holy Family Catholic School, Huntington-Surrey, Inside Outside School, Integrity Academy, Headwaters School, Hyde Park Baptist, Kirby Hall School, Long-View Micro School, Paragon Preparatory Middle School, Progress School, Redeemer Lutheran School, Regents School of Austin, Renaissance Academy, San Juan Diego Catholic High School, Skybridge Academy, St. Andrew's Episcopal School, St. Austin Catholic School, St. Francis School, St. Gabriel's Catholic School, St. Ignatius Martyr Catholic School, St. Mary's, St. Michael's Catholic Academy, St. Paul Lutheran School, St. Stephen's Episcopal School, St. Theresa's, Trinity Episcopal School, and a number of Montessori schools.
Along with homeschooling and unschooling communities, Austin is home to a number of part-time learning environments designed to offer basic academics and inspired mentoring. Such current resources include the Whole Life Learning Center and AHB Community School.Austin is also home to child developmental institutions including the Center for Autism and Related Disorders, the Central Texas Autism Center, Johnson Center for Child Health and Development and many more.
Austin's main daily newspaper is the Austin American-Statesman. The Austin Chronicle is Austin's alternative weekly, while The Daily Texan is the student newspaper of the University of Texas at Austin. Austin's business newspaper is the weekly Austin Business Journal. The Austin Monitor is an online outlet that specializes in insider reporting on City Hall, Travis County Commissioners Court, AISD, and other related local civics beats. The Monitor is backed by the nonprofit Capital of Texas Media Foundation. Austin also has numerous smaller special interest or sub-regional newspapers such as the Oak Hill Gazette, Westlake Picayune, Hill Country News, Round Rock Leader, NOKOA, and The Villager among others. Texas Monthly, a major regional magazine, is also headquartered in Austin. The Texas Observer, a muckraking biweekly political magazine, has been based in Austin for over five decades. The weekly Community Impact Newspaper published by John Garrett, former publisher of the Austin Business Journal has five regional editions and is delivered to every house and business within certain ZIP Codes and all of the news is specific to those ZIP Codes. Another statewide publication based in Austin is The Texas Tribune, an on-line publication focused on Texas politics. The Tribune is "user-supported" through donations, a business model similar to public radio. The editor is Evan Smith, former editor of Texas Monthly. Smith co-founded the Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, non-partisan public media organization, with Austin venture capitalist John Thornton and veteran journalist Ross Ramsey.Commercial radio stations include KASE-FM (country), KVET (sports), KVET-FM (country), KKMJ-FM (adult contemporary), KLBJ (talk), KLBJ-FM (classic rock), KTSN (progressive country), KFMK (contemporary Christian), KOKE-FM (progressive country) and KPEZ (rhythmic contemporary). KUT-FM is the leading public radio station in Texas and produces the majority of its content locally. KOOP (FM) is a volunteer-run radio station with more than 60 locally produced programs. KVRX is the student-run college radio station of the University of Texas at Austin with a focus on local and non-mainstream music and community programming. Other listener-supported stations include KAZI (urban contemporary), and KMFA (classical)
Network television stations (affiliations in parentheses) include KTBC (Fox O&O), KVUE (ABC), KXAN (NBC), KEYE-TV (CBS), KLRU (PBS), KNVA (The CW), KBVO (My Network TV), and KAKW (Univision O&O). KLRU produces several award-winning locally produced programs such as Austin City Limits.Alex Jones, conspiracist, radio show host and filmmaker, produces his talk show The Alex Jones Show in Austin which broadcasts nationally on more than 60 AM and FM radio stations in the United States, WWCR Radio shortwave and XM Radio: Channel 166.
In 2009, 72.7% of Austin (city) commuters drove alone, with other mode shares being: 10.4% carpool, 6% work from home, 5% use transit, 2.3% walk, and 1% bicycle. In 2016, the American Community Survey estimated modal shares for Austin (city) commuters of 73.5% for driving alone, 9.6% for carpooling, 3.6% for riding transit, 2% for walking, and 1.5% for cycling. The city of Austin has a lower than average percentage of households without a car. In 2015, 6.9 percent of Austin households lacked a car, and decreased slightly to 6 percent in 2016. The national average is 8.7 percent in 2016. Austin averaged 1.65 cars per household in 2016, compared to a national average of 1.8.
Central Austin lies between two major north-south freeways: Interstate 35 to the east and the Mopac Expressway (Loop 1) to the west. U.S. Highway 183 runs from northwest to southeast, and State Highway 71 crosses the southern part of the city from east to west, completing a rough "box" around central and north-central Austin. Austin is the largest city in the United States to be served by only one Interstate Highway.
U.S. Highway 290 enters Austin from the east and merges into Interstate 35. Its highway designation continues south on I-35 and then becomes part of Highway 71, continuing to the west. Highway 290 splits from Highway 71 in southwest Austin, in an interchange known as "The Y." Highway 71 continues to Brady, Texas, and Highway 290 continues west to intersect Interstate 10 near Junction. Interstate 35 continues south through San Antonio to Laredo on the Texas-Mexico border. Interstate 35 is the highway link to the Dallas-Fort Worth metro-plex in northern Texas. There are two links to Houston, Texas (Highway 290 and State Highway 71/Interstate 10). Highway 183 leads northwest of Austin toward Lampasas.
In the mid-1980s, construction was completed on Loop 360, a scenic highway that curves through the hill country from near the 71/Mopac interchange in the south to near the 183/Mopac interchange in the north. The iconic Pennybacker Bridge, also known as the "360 Bridge", crosses Lake Austin to connect the northern and southern portions of Loop 360.
State Highway 130 is a bypass route designed to relieve traffic congestion, starting from Interstate 35 just north of Georgetown and running along a parallel route to the east, where it bypasses Round Rock, Austin, San Marcos and New Braunfels before ending at Interstate 10 east of Seguin, where drivers could drive 30 miles (48 km) west to return to Interstate 35 in San Antonio. The first segment was opened in November 2006, which was located east of Austin–Bergstrom International Airport at Austin's southeast corner on State Highway 71. Highway 130 runs concurrently with Highway 45 from Pflugerville on the north until it reaches US 183 well south of Austin, where it splits off and goes west. The entire route of State Highway 130 is now complete with last leg, which opened on November 1, 2012. The highway is noted for having the entire route with a speed limit of at least 80 mph (130 km/h). The 41-mile section of the toll road between Mustang Ridge and Seguin has a posted speed limit of 85 mph (137 km/h), the highest posted speed limit in the United States.
State Highway 45 runs east-west from just south of Highway 183 in Cedar Park to 130 inside Pflugerville (just east of Round Rock). A tolled extension of State Highway Loop 1 was also created. A new southeast leg of Highway 45 has recently been completed, running from US 183 and the south end of Segment 5 of TX-130 south of Austin due west to I-35 at the FM 1327/Creedmoor exit between the south end of Austin and Buda. The 183A Toll Road opened March 2007, providing a tolled alternative to U.S. 183 through the cities of Leander and Cedar Park. Currently under construction is a change to East US 290 from US 183 to the town of Manor. Officially, the tollway will be dubbed Tollway 290 with the Manor Expressway as a nickname.
Despite the overwhelming initial opposition to the toll road concept when it was first announced, all three toll roads have exceeded revenue projections.
Austin's airport is Austin–Bergstrom International Airport (ABIA) (IATA code AUS), located 5 miles (8 km) southeast of the city. The airport is on the site of the former Bergstrom Air Force Base, which was closed in 1993 as part of the Base Realignment and Closure process. Previously, Robert Mueller Municipal Airport was the commercial airport of Austin. Austin Executive Airport serves the general aviation coming into the city, as well as other smaller airports outside of the city center.
Intercity bus service
Greyhound Lines operates the Austin Station at 916 East Koenig Lane, just east of Airport Boulevard and adjacent to Highland Mall. Turimex Internacional operates bus service from Austin to Nuevo Laredo and on to many destinations in Mexico. The Turimex station is located at 5012 East 7th Street, near Shady Lane.Megabus offers daily service to San Antonio, Dallas/Fort Worth and Houston from a stop at Dobie Center.
Intercity rail service
An Amtrak Texas Eagle station is located in west downtown. Railway segments between Austin and San Antonio have been evaluated for a proposed regional passenger rail project called "Lone Star Rail"; however, failure to come to an agreement with the Union Pacific Railroad, the tracks' current owner, ended the project in 2016.
The Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority ("Capital Metro") provides public transportation to the city, primarily by bus. Some heavily utilized routes feature bus rapid transit, with 60-foot (18 m) long, train-like, high-tech buses.
Capital Metro opened a 32-mile (51 km) commuter rail system known as Capital MetroRail on March 22, 2010. The system operates on existing freight rail lines and serves downtown Austin, East Austin, North Central Austin, Northwest Austin, and Leander in its first phase. Future expansion could include a line to Manor and another to Round Rock. The MetroRail system has struggled to build ridership and has faced heavy criticism for its high per-rider cost to the public.Capital Metro has also explored building a light rail system to connect the MetroRail line to key destinations in Central Austin. On August 7, 2014, the Austin City Council unanimously voted to place a $600 million light rail bond proposal on the November 4, 2014 ballot; the ballot measure was voted down, and no further rail expansions have been put to voters since.
Capital Area Rural Transportation System connects Austin with outlying suburbs.
In Summer 2018, Capital Metro began testing autonomous electric shuttles on Downtown streets; the pilot program tested two driverless bus models from EasyMile and Navya on a route from the Austin Convention Center to the Austin Central Library. Capital Metro is also considering implementing full-size driverless buses, likely to be included on a 2020 transportation referendum.
Austin is served by several ride-sharing companies including Uber, Lyft, and RideAustin. On May 9, 2016, Uber and Lyft voluntarily ceased operations in Austin in response to a city ordinance that required drivers for Uber, Lyft, and other transportation network companies to get fingerprint checks, to have their vehicles labeled, and to not pick up and drop off in certain city lanes. Uber and Lyft resumed service in Summer 2017. The city was also served by Fasten until they ceased all Austin operations in March 2018.The City of Austin is partnered with Austin B-cycle, a nonprofit bike-sharing service with 63 stations in and around downtown for electric bicycles. In 2018, LimeBike began offering dockless bikes, which do not need to be docked at a designation station.In 2018, scooter-sharing companies LimeBike and Bird debuted electric scooters in Austin. The city briefly banned the scooters - which were operating without a permit - until the city unveiled their "dockless mobility" permitting process on May 1, 2018. Dockless electric scooters and bikes are banned from Austin city parks, the University of Texas campus, and the Ann and Roy Butler Trail and boardwalk. For the 2018 Austin City Limits Music Festival, the city of Austin offered a designated parking area for dockless bikes and scooters.Austin is also served by Electric Cab of North America's six-passenger electric cabs that operate on a flexible route from the Kramer MetroRail Station to Domain Northside and from the Downtown MetroRail station and MetroRapid stops to locations between the Austin Convention Center and near Sixth and Bowie streets by Whole Foods.The city also has access to carsharing services from Car2Go and Zipcar.
Cycling and walkability
Austin is known as the most bike-friendly city in Texas, and was ranked the #7 city in the US by Bicycling Magazine in 2016.The city's bike advocacy organization is Bike Austin. Bike Texas, a state-level advocacy organization, also has its main office in Austin.Bicycles are a popular transportation choice among students, faculty, and staff at the University of Texas. According to a survey done at the University of Texas, 57% of commuters bike to campus.A 2013 study by Walk Score ranked Austin 35th most walkable of the 50 largest U.S. cities. More recently, Walk Score rated some Austin neighborhoods among the most walkable in Texas. Downtown Austin scored 88 points out of a possible 100, with the West Campus neighborhood scoring 87, and East Austin scoring 81.
Twin towns – sister cities
The following are sister cities of Austin, Texas, designated by Sister Cities International:
Adelaide, South Australia, Australia – since 1983
Angers, Maine-et-Loire, Pays de la Loire, France – since 2011
Manaus, Amazonas, Brazil – since 2015
Antalya Kepez, Turkey – since 2009
Gwangmyeong, Gyeonggi, South Korea – since 2001
Hackney, Greater London, United Kingdom - since February 2014
Koblenz, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany – since 1991
Lima, Peru – since 1981
Maseru, Lesotho – since 1978
Ōita City, Japan – since 1990
Orlu, Imo, Nigeria – since 2000
Saltillo, Coahuila, Mexico – since 1968
Taichung, Taiwan – since 1986
Xishuangbanna, Yunnan, People's Republic of China – since 1997
Pune, Maharashtra, India – since 2018The cities of Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil and Elche, Alicante, Valencian Community, Spain were formerly sister cities, but upon a vote of the Austin City Council in 1991, their status was de-activated.
1 Austin Visitor Center, 602 East 4th Street, ☎ +1-866 GO-AUSTIN (46-287846). Daily 8:30AM–5:30PM.
Austin weather is generally nice most of the year; activities are generally not limited by season. However, as Austin lies within Central Texas, be prepared to deal with the long, hot summers if you are visiting between May and September. It is not uncommon for daily high temperatures to be between 90 and 100 °F (32-38 °C) during this time — in fact, a day in the 80s is rare, and several days may even reach triple digits (90 days in 2011). If you are here when the weather is like this, dress accordingly, drink plenty of water, and do not plan on staying outside for long (nearly all indoor places are air-conditioned) — unless you're taking the opportunity to take a dip in Barton Springs Pool or any of the other swimming holes in the area. This is especially true if the heat index is around 105 or higher, which is considered to be dangerous. The interior of cars will get dangerously hot, especially if the windows are up and it's parked in the sun — don't leave pets or children in there, no matter how briefly. How hot the summer gets usually depends on the amount of precipitation the area has been getting. If there is no drought and the spring has been particularly wet, temperatures will remain relatively tolerable and rarely break triple digits. If it has been dry, as it was from 2007-2009, summers can be very uncomfortable and triple-digit temperatures will be very common.
Central Texas winters are short to non-existent. There are many pleasant or even warm days during the winter months (the first 90 ° day of 2012 was in February), and snowfall is rare. However, hard freezes happen occasionally, and light freezes may occur frequently (especially in the more rural areas), and when this mixes with precipitation, ice storms and other wintry weather happen. If the storm is severe enough, the city may shut down for a day or so, traffic may be snarled, and the local auto body shops may notice a spike in business. The Austin area usually experiences such events 0-2 times each year or so, from late December to mid-February. Generally, though, winter weather just varies a lot, with alternating cold and warm fronts that can make for large temperature swings in the course of a single week.
Spring and fall are the best times to visit. Springs tend to be stormy (see "Stay safe" for related warning), and falls may bring light freezes during the night. For the most part, though, springs and falls are very pleasant times to experience Austin.
Pick up an Austin Chronicle newspaper first thing. These are freely available all over town, including the information desk across from baggage claim at the airport. It will be your guide to everything that's going on in Austin from festivals (Spam Festival, Chili Festival, etc.) to music, theater and food; it's all in there. New issues are published every Thursday.
Austin American-Statesman — the major daily paper.
Austin Chronicle — the alternative weekly. Their "Best of" lists and calendar of events are great resources and can be accessed online.
The Daily Texan — the student newspaper of the University of Texas at Austin.
Tribeza — Tribeza is a free monthly publication profiling and highlighting local culture, focusing a bit on higher end establishments while remaining accessible.
Austin Monthly — aims to highlight more in depth the people, places and events that make Austin unique. Can be purchased on any newsstand in town (including Austin Bergstrom International Airport).
Edible Austin — a free quarterly publication that celebrates the local food culture in Austin. The primary focus is on sustainable food practices and the farmers, retailers and chefs in Austin and surrounding areas that strive to contribute to a sustainable food culture in the region.
L Style/G Style — a free bi-monthly lifestyle magazine for social and cultural influencers in the gay/lesbian community.
1 Austin Bergstrom International Airport (AUS IATA) (6 mi (9.7 km) miles southeast of the city center). Is served by most major carriers, with non-stop service to 49 destinations by the following airlines: Barbara Jordan Terminal: Aeromexico, Air Canada, Alaska Airlines/Virgin America; American Airlines, British Airways, Condor, Delta, Frontier, Jetblue, Lufthansa, Norwegian, Southwest, United, Volaris. South Terminal: Allegiant, Sun Country and Via Air. There are a selection of buses, taxis, ride share (Uber & Lyft), shared ride shuttles and car rentals to get you into town and back. Chauffeured sedans or limos are also available to pick you up or drop you off at the airport but normally require advance reservations. Taxi fare to downtown Austin is approximately $30. You may also catch Capital Metro bus 100 from ABIA to Downtown Austin, $1.25 for one way or $2.50 for a 24-hour local pass.
2 Austin Amtrak station, 250 North Lamar Blvd.. Served by the Texas Eagle Line with service from Chicago to San Antonio.
Austin is on one major freeway and several regional highways, and its outskirts are served by several tollways. From San Antonio, head north on IH-35, about one and a half hours. From Dallas, head south on IH-35, about three hours. From Houston, head west on US-290 (or I-10 W to Hwy 71 W if you want to reach South Austin), about three hours. From I-10, take SH-130 Toll north to Austin.
There are multiple long distance bus lines serving Austin from San Antonio, Houston, Laredo and Dallas-Ft Worth in the U.S. and from Nuevo Laredo and Monterey in Mexico. Each company has a stop or their own bus station in different parts of town that are far from each other:
Arrow Trailways of Texas (Southwestern Stagelines), (Greyhound bus depot) 916 E Koenig Ln and at the CARTS/Greyhound Station on 402 W Bowman Rd in Round Rock, north of Austin, ☎ +1 254 634-3843. From Killeen to Temple, Waco, Round Rock, Austin and Houston.
El Expreso & Tornado Bus, 711 Ben White Blvd (Southwest of the intersection of Interstate 35 and TX-Hwy 71), ☎ +1 512 227-2652. They go to various cities in Texas, Illinois, Florida, Georgia, Arkansas, Tennessee, North and South Carolina and Alabama from Houston and to various Mexican cities south of the border. Connections to other Mexican bus lines for onward travel further south
Greyhound Lines, Autobus Americanos & Valley Transit, (bus depot) 916 E Koenig Ln (northwest of the I-35/US Hwy290 interchange at E Koenig & Middle Fiskville Rd.), ☎ +1 512 458-4463, toll-free: +1-800-231-2222. Greyhound travels primarily on Interstate 35/35E (Dallas-San Antonio with some buses continuing to Laredo) and on US Hwy 290 (Austin-Houston). Passengers transfer to other buses in San Antonio, Dallas, Laredo and/or Houston to get to other cities & towns and to Capitol Metro #7 or #10 going south on Airport Blvd to get to downtown Austin. Autobus Americanos travel along the I-35 corridor between Dallas & Laredo in the US and from Nuevo Laredo down to Monterrey along MX Hwy 85/85D in Mexico. Both Greyhound & Autobus Americanos share the same station.
Megabus, (bus stop) 2008 Whitis Ave (Along the west side of Whitis Ave between W 20th and 21st St in the SW part of the U Texas campus.). Service from San Antonio, Dallas, and Houston. Fares from $1.
Turimex Internacional, (bus depot) 5012 E 7th St (E 7th St & Shady Ln, NW of the US-Hwy 183 & E 7th St), toll-free: +1-800-733-7330. Mexican trans-border bus line with services to various points in Mexico and the southeastern U.S. Take the Capitol Metro #4 going west on 7th St to get downtown.
Zima Real, 9318 N Interstate Hwy 35 (N Interstate 35 and E Rundberg Ln), ☎ +1 512 579-8488, +1 512 386-5730. Goes to Matehuala, San Luis Potosi, Rio Verde and Celaya in Mexico from Houston, San Antonio, Dallas and Austin in Texas.
Generally, the feasibility of seeing Austin by foot depends largely on the weather
For those content to see only downtown Austin and who are in good shape, exploring most of the downtown area on foot is possible. There are many attractions within a 1 - 2 mile walk from most downtown hotels. Just be prepared for potentially oppressive heat during the summer months.
The University of Texas area, just north of downtown, is also very pedestrian friendly, and in fact can be a difficult place to get around by car (very hard to find a parking spot).
Though there are some exceptions, most of downtown Austin is reasonably bike friendly. There is a high concentration of cyclists in the city, and many trails around town.
Austin is hilly to the west but generally mildly sloping toward the river in the center of town. There are bike lanes on most major streets. Biking is a great way to get around year round and the weather is usually agreeable from mid-October to mid-April. May to mid-October temperatures may reach the high 90s to 100s °F (32-38 °C), and humidity may be a problem.
Austin B-Cycle. Has a number of automated bike-rental stations in downtown, the University area, and near south Austin.
Yellow Bike Project, ☎ +1 512-457-9880. Operates two community bike shops where individuals can go and repair their own bikes free of charge. Coordinators are present to answer any questions and guide you, but not to fix your bike for you. At the Main Shop on 51st Street there are 10+ work stands and tools sets available for use. The Satellite Shop is better for minor repairs and only has as a few work stands. If you are looking for a cheap bike while in town and are willing to do a little maintenance work, visit The Yellow Bike Project and pick out a bike that needs a little love in exchange for a small donation. If you are interested in getting away from touristy attractions on your visit, the Yellow Bike shop is a great place to drop in and volunteer for a few hours. Their hours change monthly but are up-to-date on their website. If you are lucky you might see one of the eponymous Yellow Bikes around town. If you see a Yellow Bike, feel free to ride it to your destination and leave it for the next person. Yellow Bikes are not to be locked up and you ride at your own risk. The Austin Yellow Bike Project has been operating for ten years and has released over 600 yellow bikes.
Bicycle Sports Shop - Bike Rentals, ☎ +1 512-477-3472. The Bicycle Sports Shop is Downtown and offers the largest selection of bike rentals in the city.
Rocket Electrics - Electric Bike Sales, Rentals, and Tours, ☎ +1 512-442-2453. Rocket Electrics is Austin's only all-electric bike shop and is 1 mile southeast of downtown in the Southshore District with direct access to the Hike-and-Bike Trail System. Day rentals are available as well as guided tours including a foodie tour and a Live Music Capital of the World Tour that is led by full-time Austin Musicians and includes a live performance by the artist.
Capital Metro. The city's public bus network with a system of inexpensive neighborhood, express and downtown routes. Visitors can also get around on the Capital MetroRail commuter train which operates on weekdays (and in the early evening only on Saturdays) between Downtown and northwest Austin. Local fares cost $1.25 per trip, or you can get a 24-hour pass for $2.50 on board every bus (while commuter express buses and MetroRail fares are $3.50, $7.00 for a day pass). "E-Bus" and "Night Owl" services serve the city's entertainment districts after hours. Expect a bus ride from any point north of 183 to downtown to take at least half an hour. The Capital Metro website has a trip planner which can be used to find public transport options between two points in Austin.Austin has a generally mediocre public transit system - even by the already low US standards. However, the bus can be a viable method of getting around with proper planning ahead of time.
The University of Texas shuttles (route numbers in the 600s) offer frequent service between the University and some neighborhoods during weekdays (and less frequently on Sundays) when school is in session. Blue buses are generally used on the shuttle routes; boarding requires a UTexas ID or Capital Metro bus pas.
There are also double-decker tour buses:
DoubleDeckerAustin.com, 602 E 4th St, ☎ +1 512 478-0098, e-mail: [email protected] Hop on, hop off, with a guide. $25.00 and up.
Driving is not too difficult if you're used to living in a large city. Traffic is worse from 7-9AM and 3:30-7PM weekdays, though IH-35 through town can be jammed at other times as well. Austin's traffic is among the worst in the nation in terms of hours of delay per year, so allow plenty of extra time during the morning and evening commute.
There are two major north-south expressways: I-35 (non-standardly called "IH-35") and Loop 1 (also called the MoPac Expressway for the former owner of the railroad which runs along it, Missouri-Pacific - or "Slo-Pac" for anyone who has experienced it at rush hour). There is only one true major east-west freeway in Austin, south of the city center, known as Ben White or US 290 West/Texas highway 71. The freeway section of 290 West/Ben White runs from I-35 to just east of Oak Hill. Freeway extensions are being constructed east on 71 to the airport, and the beginning stages of construction are taking place west towards and past Oak Hill. Hwy 183 runs from the southeast corner of the city near the airport to the northwest suburbs, bridging MoPac and I-35 in North Austin.
Oak Hill is the point at which TX 71 and US 290 split apart and go in separate directions, and in case this isn't confusing enough, some people make the distinction between 290 West and 290 East because at I-35, 290 East heads up the interstate, and then continues on to the east in North Austin. There is a second freeway that runs from the Northwest side of the city down to the Southeast side of the city past the airport. This freeway is called US 183, and in North Austin it may also be referred to as Research Boulevard. Most of it is freeway now; however, there are still several major intersections which are being constructed and turned into freeway.
I-35 has no loop that circumnavigates the city, so watch out for aggressive, confused drivers. Also, keep your eyes open for the upper deck/lower deck split between Airport Boulevard and Martin Luther King Jr Boulevard; it's confusing, and accidents occur there frequently. Drivers going through Austin without stopping, or those who wish to avoid the chaos of the lower deck, should use the right two lanes as the deck split approaches, in contrast to other cities where through traffic uses the left lane. On the northbound side, traffic entering I-35 at Martin Luther King Jr Boulevard goes directly to the upper deck.
Out-of-towners be warned: on-ramps on I-35, especially the lower deck, are very short.
Austin has a mostly completed network of toll roads, see Central Texas Turnpike System and Central Texas Regional Mobile Authority. These include SH 130, an Austin bypass east of town; SH 45, an east-west artery in North Austin; the North MoPac extension; the US 183A bypass of Cedar Park and Leander; and SH 45SE in far south Austin. TxTag accounts are available for commuters. There has been significant opposition and accommodations have been made in some areas. Both US 183A and MoPac are rather deceptive — if you keep going north on either 183 or MoPac, the freeway seamlessly transitions into a toll road and the signage is rather poor. To avoid the toll, you must keep a sharp eye out and get off the main lanes. Even worse, all tolls on 183A are "TxTag Only" meaning that you cannot pay cash. This trend will likely extend to all Austin tollways in the near future.
Parts of the city are subject to flooding at times during the year; however, it is not too common as Austin does not usually get an excessive amount of rain. The year 2007 saw several flood episodes with the worst effects in Marble Falls, northwest of the city. 2015 was another heavy rain year with selective local flooding. See City of Austin Flood History for historic flooding.
For those of you unfamiliar with proper treatment of flooded areas, never drive through flooded low water crossings. You will lose your car and possibly your life. As little as a few inches of running water can and does wash a car away and each year there are some deaths due to this. "Turn Around, Don't Drown."
While driving is not too bad, parking in the city center can be difficult; look for municipal parking garages as officers will ticket you in the blink of an eye (check meters, though, because many are free in the evenings, on weekends, and on major holidays). Worse yet, vehicles illegally parked in private parking areas are very quickly towed, so make sure that you don't park in spots marked no parking.
Parking is free in the Texas State History Museum garage near UT after hours and on weekends. As of 2005 under SB 1533, state employees may park in state garages during non-business hours for free.
There are several cab companies on call if you'd prefer to avoid the driving hassle.
Yellow Cab, ☎ +1 512-452-9999. website includes fare estimator and online booking
Marriton Limousine, ☎ +1 512 329-7007, toll-free: +1-800-940-7007. For airport transfers or those who just demand a bit more luxury you can rent a chauffeured sedan, limousine or minibus.
Take a beautiful stroll around The University of Texas at Austin. While there you might want to visit the Blanton Museum of Art, the Harry Ransom Center, Texas Memorial Museum of Science and History, or view the public art around campus The famous UT tower has reopened and is worth a look for the breathtaking views and history lesson. It is a tour though so you need to make reservations (see the previous link). The theater and music departments are both well regarded and have performances throughout the school year. If you visit during football season, you can see the 2005 National Champion Texas Longhorn football team play at Darrell K. Royal Texas Memorial Stadium.
The Texas State Capitol is a must-see for new visitors to Austin. Unlike many other state capitols in America, Texas's is as welcoming as the state's people, and is completely open to the public seven days a week.
Access ATX Tours, ☎ +1 512 999-8687, e-mail: [email protected] Access ATX Tours offers private Austin city tours and day trips to the Texas Hill Country and San Antonio. Also offers Austin food tours, Texas BBQ Trail Tours, and Wine Tasting/Distillery/Brewery Tours.
Twisted Texas Tour, 602 E. 4th Street, ☎ +1 512 999-8687, e-mail: [email protected] every weekend. Austin's wildest ride with a live band on board the bus. Twisted Texas offers Brunch/Food Tours and Brewery Tours with live music, starting at $64 per person. Tours depart on weekends. $64-$69.
Segway Tours. Austin Segway Tours enable you to tour downtown Austin on the Segway. Learn to ride a Segway for $50 or tour downtown Austin for $75. Tours depart daily.
Austin Tours, 555 E. 5th Street, #2811, ☎ +1 512 215-4603, e-mail: [email protected] Operating daily. Offers scenic carriage and van tours as well as ground transportation to several area landmarks including Arboretum, Round Rock, and UT. Priced from $16.95.
TexasWineTours.com, ☎ +1 512 329-7007, e-mail: [email protected] http://www.Texas-Wine-Tours.com. Offers half and full day tours of the nearby Texas Wine country. Rent a chauffeured sedan, limo or minibus, generally departing between 10AM and noon daily. $50-$1500.
Independence Brewery Tour, 3913 Todd Lane #607, ☎ +1 512 707-0099, e-mail: [email protected] 1-3PM, first Saturday of the month. Austin's local microbrewery, if you're in town on a tour day they are worth the time to see (and sample).
Bike Nation Tours and Rentals, 1108 Lavaca St, ☎ +1 512 663-9634.
Rude Mechanicals (Rude Mechs). Original pieces are always engaging. Their production values are over the top (10 foot tesla coils on stage), and always make you interested to be watching theater. They did Lipstick Traces, which I loved. Also loved Get Your War On. They tour, so look for them.
Pro Arts Collective. They do everything: theatre, dance, hip-hop, musicals, festivals and more.
Teatro Vivo. Dedicated to producing quality bilingual theatre. Reflects the heart and soul of the Latino reality.
Salvage Vanguard. Original musical pieces in conjunction with the Golden Arm Trio's Graham Reynolds are not to be missed.
Different Stages. One of Austin's oldest rep. companies.
Refraction Arts. They dabble in multiple mediums. Always interesting.
the dirigo group. These critical darlings do original and established work.
Loaded Gun Theory. Original pieces.
1 Paramount Theater (Stateside at the Paramount). Feature a wide variety of plays and acts, from Broadway touring shows to Chinese acrobats to plays and unique dance companies.
2 Esther's Follies, 525 E 6th St, ☎ +1 512-320-0553. Offers an entertaining Saturday Night Live-like comedy skits (Th-Sa). In the 6th street entertainment district, it's a great way to start an evening. Reservations recommended.
3 The Hideout, 617 Congress Ave, ☎ +1 512-443-3688. Managed by The Austin Improv Collective. You can always find improv comedy there.
4 The ColdTowne Theater, 4803 Airport Blvd, ☎ +1 512-814-8696. Plenty of comedy, ranging from stand-up to sketch and improv.
5 Zach Theatre (Zach Scott). Dave Steakley is artistic director. If you are looking for solid musical theatre, this is your venue. They also have a lock on Christmas plays.
6 The Blue Theater, 916 Springdale Rd. Managed by Refraction Arts and featuring theatre, music, film and dance.
7 The Vortex, 2307 Manor Rd, ☎ +1 512-478-5282. Bonnie Cullum is artistic director. Original musicals and operas and plays. Some of the most delightfully weird stuff you'll see.
8 The Mary Moody Northen Theatre, 3001 S Congress Ave., ☎ +1 512-448-8484. Sitting atop a hill with gorgeous views of downtown, this professional Equity house at St. Edward's University allows college students and seasoned actors to work together creating exceptional theatre at a great value.
Austin Poetry Slam. 8:30PM, every Tuesday night at the 29th Street Ballroom.
KUTX Austin Music Map (Warning: sound; mute at bottom left)
Austin is the "Live Music Capital of the World". If you're into the bar and club scene, head to Sixth Street during the later hours for a wide selection of venues, many of which also feature live music. Sixth street is not by any stretch the only place to see music. It can in fact, become very crowded, and is generally the most tourist filled part of town. By ordinance for the protection of workers and public enjoyment, all public buildings in Austin are clean air zones, including bars. Smoking is prohibited except in rare separately ventilated areas, making Austin one of the few cities where a large and varied selection of music can be experienced smokefree.
The Cactus Café, 2247 Guadalupe (at 24th St.), ☎ +1 512 475-6515, e-mail: [email protected] M-Th 11AM-Midnight, F 11AM-2AM, Sa 8PM-2AM (hours may vary during school breaks). A great place to hear many local artists. Much of the music that is played there seems to be singer-songwriter. It's musically akin to Austin City Limits and unlike Austin City Limits you can probably actually get in to the Cactus Café.
Austin City Limits, e-mail: [email protected] The venerable PBS show was filmed at Studio 6A in the Communications Building B at the University of Texas from 1976 to 2010. In February 2011, it moved to The Moody Theater at 310 Willie Nelson Blvd in Downtown Austin.
Stubb's BBQ, 801 Red River, ☎ +1 512 482-8422. This BBQ restaurant has some of the best selection of live music in Austin, thanks to Charles Attal, one of the owners, who is recognized nationally for his music booking business. Crowded on Sundays.
Antone's, 213 West 5th, ☎ +1 512 320-8424. An Austin original that has survived despite many hardships. Considered by USA Today to be one of the best Blues clubs in the nation, Antone's continues to be a launching pad for dozens of new artists each year.
The Saxon Pub, 1320 South Lamar, ☎ +1 512 448-2552. M-Sa 11AM-2AM, Su Noon-2AM. An awesome live music venue. The Saxon hosts live music throughout the week and even has a "no cover" happy hour until 7PM. Look for the giant knight and neon guitar.
Hole in the Wall, 3600 Guadalupe (UT Campus ARea.). Unique UT campus area club. Great Live Music. Usually no cover. Unique mix of students and z's, craftsman and construction workers, gays, and professionals.
Elysium, 705 Red River (Take I-35 to exit number 234B, 8TH), ☎ +1 512 478-2979. Voted Best Dance Club 2003-2008 in the Austin Chronicle Readers' Poll
Mohawk, 912 Red River (Intersection of East 10TH and Red River). Live music venue featuring local and national tallent. 8PM-2AM live music everyday. 5-9PM weekday happy hour featuring local ales on tap. varies based on performer.
Broken Spoke, 3201 S. Lamar, ☎ +1 512-442-6189, e-mail: [email protected] price=cheap cover, generally. Longtime honky tonk, family friendly with great music. One of the "last true dance halls in Texas," according to their website.
The Alamo Drafthouse. Four locations. A movie theater with full restaurant service. Downtown always has an eclectic array of cult and foreign films and a good beer and food menu, and serves liquor. They also have a dizzying number of specialty shows and film festivals. Their other locations show more first run movies with the same excellent food and beer menu.
9 Regal Cinemas Arbor 8 at Great Hills, 9828 Great Hills Trail (in the Arboretum area), ☎ +1 844-462-7342. Even though it is owned and operated by mainstream Regal Cinemas, the Arbor 8 shows art and foreign films.
10 IMAX Theatre, 1800 Congress Ave, (At Bob Bullock Texas State Historical Museum), ☎ +1 512-936-4629. Huge screen, 400 seats, with 2-D and 3-D capability.
Austin Film Society. Various theaters. A membership organization bringing the best of cinema to Austinites. Many screenings open to the public. Check the website for current programs and community film annoucements.
Enjoying the outdoors
Place include Barton Springs Pool, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, Zilker Park, McKinney Falls State Park. There are numerous parks all over the city and in the surrounding suburbs that are very popular with the residents of Austin. A significant number of these parks are pet friendly.
Cycling trails at a number of locations including Walnut Creek Municipal Park, Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail as well as The Veloway. There are also a couple of BMX and skate parks downtown.
Town Lake Boat Rental. Rent a canoe or kayak and enjoy the natural world in the heart of the city.Austin Rowing Dock, 2418 Stratford Drive +1 512 459-0999. From $10 to $25/hr.
Zilker Park boat rentals, +1 512 478-3852. In the park. $10/hr, $40 per day.
Tubing the San Marcos River, 170 Bobcat Dr, ☎ +1 512 396-5466. San Marcos, 25 miles south of town on I-35. There is no more quintessentially Central Texan thing than enjoying a summer afternoon lazily floating down the river. The Lion's club of San Marcos rents tubes at around $8/person or canoes at $10/each. They take you to the river and pick you up.
Town Lake Hike & Bike trail. A big loop around Town Lake, beautiful scenery while getting a good workout. Recent beautification has cleaned up parts, and is making it nicer for all. Runs alongside Zilker park. A good place for biking, running, walking, or taking the dog out for a nice run. Relatively easy hike.
University of Texas Longhorns. Austin is a university town and Texas sports are taken very seriously. Home of the 2005-06 National Football Champions. UT also has strong basketball and baseball teams, in particular.
Professional sports. No major professional sports team plays within the city limits (at least until 2021); four minor-league teams, plus one top-level team in a minor US sport, play in the suburbs. The H-E-B Center, in the suburb of Cedar Park, is home to basketball and hockey teams. In basketball, the Austin Spurs play in the NBA G League, serving as a farm team for the San Antonio Spurs. In hockey, the Texas Stars play in the American Hockey League as the top affiliate of the NHL's Dallas Stars. The Round Rock Express, a baseball team affiliated with the Texas Rangers, play at Dell Diamond in another suburb, Round Rock, in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League. In soccer, the city formerly had a team in the league now known as the USL Championship, the Austin Aztex, but that team folded after troubles securing a new stadium site. A new team, Austin Bold FC, starts play in the USLC in 2019 at a new stadium on the grounds of the Circuit of the Americas. Bold FC is a prelude to an even bigger soccer development—the arrival of Austin FC in Major League Soccer. That team is preparing to break ground on a new stadium in northwest Austin, and will most likely begin play in 2021. Finally, in rugby union, Austin Elite competes in Major League Rugby, the top level of that sport in the US; that team shares Dell Diamond with the Express.
Formula 1 (at the Circuit of the Americas south of Austin-Bergstrom Airport). Formula 1 has added Austin to its series of races. A must see for auto enthusiasts, the COTA also hosts other racing events such as Moto GP; it even hosted a round of the Australian Supercars series in 2013, though that race didn't return. As noted above, the complex also houses a soccer stadium that will be home to Austin Bold FC from 2019 forward.
Austin Steam Train Association. Runs several tours aboard the Hill Country Flyer steam train into and around Texas Hill Country. The train makes short half hour jaunts as well as a 30 mi (48 km) circuit on weekends March through December. The Steam Train Association does actually own a live steam train, but it has been out of commission since about 2000. The train still runs though, just using a borrowed diesel engine. It is still nice, but not as attractive as it used to be.
Festivals arranged by month. The mammoth South by Southwest (SXSW) festivals are in March.
The major Austin City Limits Festival is in October.
Lunar New Year Festival. February.
ABC Kite Festival. March. The oldest continuous kite festival in the USA. Hundreds of kites will dance in the sky the first Sunday in March (10AM to 5PM). Admission is free. Everyone is welcome whether they fly a kite or just enjoy the spectacle that must be seen to be believed. Kite flying demonstrations will be held all day and delicious food of all kinds will be prepared fresh at the event. See kite ballet, kite battles, kite buggies and giant kites over 50 feet long. Come compete in both youth and adult kite contests with your homemade kite. Trophies are awarded to the winners. Proceeds from vendor sales go to break the cycle of child abuse. Free parking and shuttles. Come on down to Zilker Park and enjoy "Kite Day". Zilker Park is at 2200 Barton Springs Road. Rain date is the following Sunday.
Austin Chocolate Festival. March. The festival will include up to 20 vendors including chocolatiers, bakeries, patisseries, restaurants, hotels, caterers, authors, and resorts. The participating vendors will offer samples to festival guests. Guests will also enjoy and participate in chocolate competitions and demonstrations. It was founded in 2006 and benefits Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Tickets for the Austin Chocolate Festival are available for purchase online in advance at the festival website. For more information, volunteer, vendor or sponsorship opportunities please visit the website.
South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival. March. Beginning before and overlapping the SXSW Music Festival. SXSW Film is a significant industry conference, but also hosts many film screenings.
South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive Festival. March. Spotlighting cutting-edge technologies and digital creativity, SXSWi features five days of presentations and workshops, networking events and special programs.
South by Southwest (SXSW) Music Festival. march. One of the biggest music festivals in the United States, with more than 1,400 performers playing dozens of venues around Austin for four days. The wrist bands are loved by college students here, but be warned that you'll be turned away at the door at many of the venues even with one. You can still get into some of the larger venues without a wristband if you'd simply like to sample a band or two and check out the atmosphere; you can usually pick one "official" venue where you think you'll like all the bands, and then go early and pay the cover. Hardcore music fans usually make a week long calendar and plan to arrive at different venues for different acts.
Wildflower Center Art and Artisans Festival. March. The annual Wildflower Days celebration begins with the Art and Artisans Festival devoted to arts, crafts and nature. This early spring event features the work of local artists and artisans, all working with a nature theme. You will find watercolors, metalwork, pottery, jewelry, photography, woodwork and more, all lovingly made by hand. Highlights include children's activities in the Little House as well as book signings and special discounts at the store. Then, add some leisure to your arts - dine on tasty cuisine at the Wildflower Cafe and enjoy entertainment provided by local musicians.
Texas Round-Up & Street Festival. April. The Texas Round-Up 10K, 5K and Family Mile is held annually in Austin on the last Saturday in April. Race weekend begins with a health and fitness expo showcasing vendors and sponsors. The race is followed by a fitness festival where families can enjoy live music, food, fitness demonstrations and family-friendly activities. Many participants spend months training for Texas Round-Up, and for several participants, the Texas Round-Up is their first race, making the events a very special accomplishment and a true celebration of healthy living.
Dragon Boat Festival. April. Running since 1999 with growing participation and attendance; held centrally on Town Lake. In addition to the friendly, competitive races, the festival will include many other cultural exhibitions, vendors, and kids activities. Free admission to the public.
Eeyore's Birthday Party. April. Held on the last Saturday of every April to ring in spring, there are few things that seem so "Austin" as Eeyore's Birthday Party. It is a unique event: a free-form hang-out of several thousand people. sitting, walking, playing music, beating drums, eating, drinking beer, playing games. Be yourself. there are families, dogs, tattoos, costumes, hotties, hippies, gay, straight, black, white, brown, red, tan. and a statue of Eeyore dressed like the Statue of Liberty. The drum circle is massive and the beat vibrates throughout the central city. It ends when the sun goes down and everyone leaves peacefully.
Moontower Comedy Festival. April. Moontower Comedy and Oddity Festival brings to Austin some of the funniest, wittiest and oddest world-class comics from around the globe. This marathon of side-splitting nights throughout the city is slated to bring over 60 comedians doing everything from stand-up and sketch to improv and musical comedy. National headliners, up-and-comer and local Austin-based comedians ensure that there are options for every type of comedy fan, from die-hards to those just looking for a fun night.
Old Pecan Street Festival. May & September. East Sixth Street (formerly Pecan Street) from Congress to IH-35 and adjacent streets are closed to traffic to host over 240 arts, crafts and other vendors. Several music stages offer live music.
Austin Food + Wine Festival. April. A uniquely Austin 3-day Texas wine celebration - rain or shine! Wineries from Lampasas to New Braunfels and Fredericksburg to Dripping Springs have bloomed from a pioneering few, into an internationally awarded and recognized wine region. The number 2 wine destination in the nation, second only to Napa! Together they have created the annual Austin Wine Festival, the first of its kind in Texas.
Austin Gay Pride. September. Austin's single largest LGBT event includes a festival at Fiesta Gardens park and a parade that goes through the Warehouse District.
Austin Bamboo Festival, ☎ +1 512 477-8672. August. Zilker Botanical Garden. This annual event features tours of the Taniguchi Japanese Garden, traditional dances, bamboo crafts and flute music.
Austin City Limits Festival. October. An annual six-day (two weekends of Friday, Saturday, and Sunday) outdoor music festival. It brings together more than 130 bands on eight stages, including rock, country, folk, indie, Americana, hip-hop, reggae, and bluegrass, and attracts a crowd of about 65,000 music-lovers each day. A great mix of big names and local acts, but be prepared to deal with the heat.
Texas Book Festival. October. Has reached national prominence, in part due to support from Honorary Chairperson Laura Bush.
Austin Film Festival. October. Conference and film showings.
Lone Star Vegetarian Chili Cook-Off. November. The annual vegetarian cook-off began in 1989. Its mission is to show a healthy lifestyle can be as familiar as traditional, homemade chili – and a lot more fun! All of the chili is purely vegan (no animal products). The cook-off is open to all entrants. It is open to the public for tasting and mingling; admission enables you to taste ALL the different chili (and includes zoo entrance fee)! There will be lots of chili to taste, lots of interesting people to meet, guest speakers, great door prizes, live music, and many educational booths and exhibits. Half of the proceeds benefit the Austin Zoo, a rescue zoo providing sanctuary to displaced animals.
Austin Jewish Film Festival. Takes place annually in January, presenting a cinematic examination of Jewish life and culture
Cine Las Americas International Film Festival. Takes place in April, presenting the best in Latino and Indigenous cinema. The Festival presents approximately 100 films with screenings in theaters throughout Austin
All Genders, Lifestyles, and Identities Film Festival. Takes place annually in September. aGLIFF (formerly the Austin Gay and Lesbian International Film Festival) is the oldest and largest gay & lesbian film festival in the Southwest and one of the Top 5 Film Festivals of its kind in the nation
Austin Bicycle Film Festival. Takes place annually in September. The Bicycle Film Festival is a celebration of bicycles through film, art and music
Austin Asian American Film Festival. Takes place annually. An innovative Asian/Asian-American film festival committed to celebrating the best in independent Asian cinema from around the globe. The festival highlights the complexity and vitality of Asian/Asian-American communities through cutting-edge narrative, documentary and experimental films.
Austin is one of the premier educational areas in the nation. The University of Texas at Austin is one of the best universities in the world, public or private. The flagship institution of the University of Texas System, it is also one of the largest universities in the world, both in terms of endowment, and in terms of student population. UT has been the largest university in the United States, but has intentionally limited enrollment and now ranks in the top five nationally. The red-tiled roofs of the "Forty Acres," as it is known, shelter many cultural and entertainment institutions. The campus is beautiful and vibrant, and visitors are welcome.
Austin is a college town as well as a government and high-tech center. It draws its population from all over, and many students decide to stay. This gives Austin a high level of general education and a diverse cultural scene.
Acton School of Business, 1404 E. Riverside Dr., ☎ +1 512 495-9925.
Austin Community College, 5930 Middle Fiskville Rd., ☎ +1 512 223-4222.
Baylor University, 3107 Oak Creek Dr., ☎ +1 512 255-3622. Executive MBA Program
Concordia University Texas, 11400 Concordia University Dr., ☎ +1 512 313-3000.
Huston-Tillotson College, 900 Chicon St., ☎ +1 512 505-3000.
Park University, 10415 Morado Circle (in the Arboretum area), ☎ +1 512 385-7275.
St. Edwards University, 3001 S. Congress Ave., ☎ +1 512 468-6738.
University of St. Augustine, 5401 La Crosse Ave., ☎ +1 904 826-0084.
University of Texas, 110 Inner Campus Dr., ☎ +1 512 471-3434.
Austin is very proud of its local stores. Great places to shop are South Congress (SoCo), The Drag, (Guadalupe, from 17th to 38th, along the West side of the UT campus) and South First. North Loop also has a few fun and funky shops, but you'll probably have to ask a local (or several) how to get there. There are several antique stores on South Congress. Half-Price Books with five locations around town is a Texas-based chain whose stores offer exceptional value for your dollar, and have an extremely diverse selection. A peek in these stores will show you what Austinites are really reading.
Austin is home of the original and the world headquarters of Whole Foods. Their flagship store is downtown at W. 6th St. and Lamar, in the same building as their brand-new corporate headquarters. They have several other stores around town as well. The flagship store is a destination in and of itself.
Austin is also home to the original Central Market, near Lamar and 38th St., and a second location at Lamar and Westgate, down south. Both have live music in their dining areas on weekends.
Whole Foods and Central Market have a large selection of fresh fruits and vegetables, wines, beer, cheese, free-range meats, and seafood. The Whole Foods flagship store downtown and the 38th St. Central Market locations have a varied selection of gelato. The "mothership" Whole Foods (as locals call it) is the largest in its chain, boasting six mini-restaurants with dishes prepared to order (seafood, vegetarian, BBQ, Italian, Asian, and pizza). Spirits live music at night, and an ice rink on top during the winter.
Wheatsville Food Co-op (original location 3101 Guadalupe, open daily 7:30AM-11PM, new south Austin store 4001 S. Lamar Blvd) is now a thriving cooperative grocery and has been around for over 30 years. Their focus on food issues guaranteed an excellent selection of ethically produced products including organics, vegetarian, vegan, free range meats and eggs, fair trade, household items, bulk foods and a full service deli. The store is a much smaller than the large supermarkets and provides a much more personal grocery experience. "King of the Hill" made fun of the earnestness of the place by having Hank eat "faux fu" (a more ethical form of tofu) from the place.
HEB is one of the largest private (not publicly traded) corporations in America, has many supermarkets around town. They have great selection. Most markets have specialty, organic, and ethnic foods. Many are open 24 hours. Their newest large-scale supermarkets include everything from furniture to electronics to books to eggs.
Randalls, the second largest supermarket chain in town after H-E-B, owned by Safeway has a few locations open 24 hours.
Austin also features a large variety of ethnic grocery stores, including Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese, and, of course, Mexican.
When you visit Austin, or if you decide to live here, you'll have no shortage of interesting and satisfying places to eat. Austin's restaurants are a feast for the mind and the palate. The listings below are only a sampling of the diverse and plentiful Austin restaurant scene.
Austin has many high-end, destination restaurants, but it also has many high-quality, unique, and inexpensive restaurants where the locals eat, drink, and socialize every day (all day). It's a town built for living in, and the affordable, excellent restaurants show it. Just so you know you're in Texas, Austin has a large number of places serving Texas Barbeque and Tex-Mex; many of them are venerable, famous, and exceptionally good eating.
Austin is vegetarian-friendly, and many restaurants have a good selection to choose from. Most supermarkets such as HEB, Fiesta and Randall's offer inexpensive prepared food.
While Austin has dining options ranging from casual to upscale, most of the popular restaurants skew towards the budget end of the spectrum. There's a good chance the restaurant you want to visit has counter or quick-casual service and does not accept reservations. Part of the reason behind this is the fact that many popular restaurants started out as food trucks and then later built brick-and-mortar locations. Many of these places require that you pay up front, including tipping. When presented with the tipping step, bear in mind that Austin housing has become relatively expensive for service industry workers.
Consequently, many popular restaurants also have long lines (e.g., Franklin Barbecue). While some people enjoy striking up conversations in these famed lines, you may find yourself wanting to actually eat rather than talk. Austin's restaurants tend to follow trends (e.g., BBQ, tacos, pizza), so plan on some nearby alternatives if the idea of standing in 100 °F heat for an hour for a burger isn't your idea of fun.
Local burger chains that you can find in numerous locations around Austin include P.Terry's who serve hormone free, anti-biotic free beef (Veggie burgers and quality chicken burgers, better than the regular burgers, are also available); and Mighty FIne with short menu but not short on taste.
If you're going to Austin looking for barbecue, you're going to the right place. Austin is home to multiple of the best barbecue restaurants in the state.
There are numerous Japanese restaurants in town (if you are looking for the real thing, most Japanese restaurants in town also are Korean or Chinese run). If you see bulgogi or other Korean fare it's likely a Korean restaurant. These places are pretty good and if you're not really into sushi, it's great to also have the option to eat Korean food.
Austin is home to a variety of excellent Mexican restaurants. Everyone in town has his/her favorite so if your looking to find a good one just ask the locals.
Baby Acapulco's is a well-known Tex-Mex restaurant serving out of 4 locations throughout the Austin area. A fun place for happy hour with a more upbeat and younger crowd. The famous purple margarita will do you just fine. But they serve a limit of two so drink responsibly!
Chuy's Restaurant an Austin institution with great Tex-Mex food. The North Lamar location is somewhat out of the way, but also tends to have the shortest wait times. Call ahead because the wait can sometimes be extremely long, though there are free chips and salsa to help make up for it.
Maudie's with 6 locations is great local Tex-Mex chain with locations spread across the city. Excellent tacos, enchiladas and chili rellenos. Serves breakfast all day. Gluten Free Menu available upon request.
Lupe Tortilla's is a really delicious and affordable Tex-Mex with great margaritas and their queso is the best in town, and be sure to try the flour tortillas (which are as big as your plate).
Serranos a homegrown Tex-Mex restaurant with five area locations around town offering a great selection of tasty Tex-Mex dishes. The food and service are consistently good for a reasonable price. For something different try the enchiladas con huevos.
Torchy's Tacos has amazing tacos of every kind, including breakfast tacos. Try the green chile pork or the democrat.
Other local offering found in multiple locations around the city include:
Amy's Ice Creams where the atmosphere is lively and the employees are friendly. Add a fruit or candy "crush'n" to your ice cream for even more flavor. The location on Burnet Road, aside from being right beside the Amy's production facility, also features a burger joint - Phil's Ice House. Try the sweet potato fries and the burger sampler.
Kerbey Lane Cafe an Austin favorite offers legendary pancakes and an extensive vegan menu that includes breakfast tacos, chai pancakes, tofu cheesecake, and more. Also try the queso and Dave's enchiladas. Breakfast all day.
Opal Divine's serving up American food menu at four Austin locations, all of which have large outdoor decks for those who prefer to dine or enjoy an adult beverage with nature.
Thundercloud Subs a local sandwich deli with over 27 locations around town. Known for its 'Keep Austin Weird' atmosphere and 'Thunder sauce'.
Whole Foods Market Cafea vegetarian-friendly grocery store with numerous food bars offering vegan and vegetarian options. Whole Foods' flagship store is in Austin.
Austin is coffee mad. The coffeehouse culture is strong and growing here in Austin, and you can hear poetry and live music at quite a few of these places, as well as getting light eats. Coffeehouses are where the liberal heart of Austin beats for all to see. Free wireless Internet connections are very common (and available at many other businesses as well).
There are a number of local chains including Caffe Medici.
Most gay and lesbian bars and night clubs are downtown with the highest concentration in the Warehouse district.
For alcohol Austin's main strip is on 6th Street downtown. But like most entertainment districts that get raves in the media, it's a little overhyped. Check out the nearby Warehouse District and Fourth Street if you don't want quarter wells and million-dollar sorority girls.
Most grocery stores (especially HEB and Central Market) carry a variety of Texas beer. There are several microbreweries operating in Texas, and you can expect to find their beer at outlets with moderate to wide selections:
Independence Brewing Co.. Relatively new, and in Austin.
Spoetzl. Has several brews, including the Texas staple, Shiner Bock.
Rahr & Sons. Out of Fort Worth
Real Ale Brewing Company. Is based in Blanco, about an hour west of Austin.
Saint Arnold Brewing Company. From Houston is fairly established and has a near-cult following.
Live Oak Brewing. Is another Austin microbrewery. You can find their beers on tap all over town.
(512) Brewing Company. One the Austin microbreweries, just south of downtown in the SoCo neighborhood. Their beers are on tap in almost every bar in Austin.
Jester King Craft Brewery. An emerging traditional farmhouse brewery a short drive west of town on a pastoral farm in the Hill Country. They offer tastings and tours every Saturday afternoon.There are also a number of small brewpubs serving their own house-brewed beers to the local cognoscenti, many in the North Loop area.
Individual listings can be found in Austin's district articlesMany hotels sell out for Austin festivals, particularly South By Southwest. Book well ahead for anything downtown.
Free Austin area WiFi Hotspots.
Austin is one of the safest major cities in the US. However, this does not mean that there is no crime. As with most American cities, credit cards are accepted nearly universally, especially for nightlife. Therefore, for convenience and safety, it's inadvisable to carry large amounts of cash. The number for police, fire, and medical services is 911.
In many parts of Austin, there are beggars on the street corners, particularly off of the freeways, who will hold signs asking for money (panhandling). Almost all of these people are fakes. A business hires them, supplies them with a cardboard sad-message sign, puts them at a begging station in the morning, picks them up at the end of the day, and takes a cut of the handouts. Much of the panhandled donations goes straight to drug dealers. These fake panhandlers crowd out legitimate poor people. Therefore, is not recommended that you give handouts to panhandlers. Donate instead to a legitimate charity, like Meals on Wheels, the Salvation Army or Austin Atheists Helping the Homeless.
There is a district around 6th St. and Red River that houses a large homeless shelter known as the Arch. This area is generally safe during the day, but often filled with panhandlers at night. They can be fairly aggressive and sometimes follow people traveling alone. In addition, groups of muggers sometimes target intoxicated bar patrons who dare to depart on their own.
There is generally a large, visible police presence (mounted, foot, and cruiser) at night in the 6th St. area. They are quite willing to let belligerent drunks dry out overnight in the city jail (or the recently-opened "Sobering Center"). They do, however, provide a safe and secure area to enjoy yourself and Austin's famous live music.
There is the Rundberg area, where you should not walk alone on the streets by yourself, especially around the I-35 area. Austinites tend to avoid this area.
Because surrounding hills concentrate the water, some streets in Austin and the surrounding area are prone to flooding during periods of heavy rain. These areas are typically marked as 'low water crossings' but in any event do not drive or walk across moving water. Each year several people are killed as they are swept away by flooding. You will also see many flood control structures built into the landscape. Small, dry low places with bounding berms during the dry season, these are dangerous places to be in, but keep Austin safer when the rains come.
Chittamani Buddhist Center, 1918 Bissel Ln, ☎ +1 512-916-4444. Offers relaxation meditations and meditation classes to increase inner peace.
Ireland, 515 Congress Avenue 1720, ☎ +1 512 792-5500.
Mexico, 800 Brazos St Ste 330, ☎ +1 512 478-2866, fax: +1 512 478-8008.
89.5 KMFA, commercial-free classical station
90.5 KUT, Austin's public radio station. (24/7 news/talk radio).
91.7 KOOP, volunteer community radio
93.3 KGSR, adult album alternative
93.7 KLBJ, classic rock
94.7 KAMX, mix of the 80s, 90s and modern music
95.5, soft rock
96.7 Kiss, top 40
98.9 KUTX, Austin's public radio station. (24/7 music).
99.7 KLBJ, talk radio
101.5 KROX, Independent. Local. Alternative.
The Salt Lick, 3801 N Capital of Texas Hwy, ☎ +1 512 328-4957, e-mail: [email protected] Daily 11AM-10PM. About 30-40 minutes outside of town in Driftwood, you'll get to drive through some beautiful hill country before arriving at this sprawling and magnificent BBQ restaurant. It's BYOB, cash only, and the all-you-can-eat menu option that will have you staggering back to your hotel. A satellite restaurant is in the airport, and is a great place to eat. If you've got withdrawal symptoms, and need your maintenance dose, Salt Lick barbeque is available shipped worldwide! All-you-can-eat $16/5 (Adults/Children under 12).
Hill Country Flyer, +1 512 477-8468. A scenic 2-hour train ride through the Hill Country to Burnet, where the train stops for shopping and dining. The ride especially scenic during mid-spring when the hills are covered in bluebonnets. The train is normally pulled by an old steam engine which is under restoration. In the meantime, the route still runs, pulled by a 1960s diesel engine.
San Marcos - 32 miles south of Austin, San Marcos is the home of Texas State University and its Aquarena Center, as well as two massive outlet malls that have more than 350 shops.
New Braunfels - 48 miles south of Austin, this town is best known for its German culture and heritage, not to mention the Schlitterbahn, persistent in being voted the world's best waterpark.
San Marcos River
Hippie Hollow, county park offering clothing-optional bathing since the 1960s.