One day very well spent around Austin exploring beautiful campus of University of Texas, Architectural Marvel Texas Capitol, Downtown, South Congress Ave, lush green Zilkar Park & Mount Bonnell for panoramic views of Colorado River

If you are in Austin and only have few hours to explore the city, Austin Downtown is the place you should head to. Wondering why? This blogpost will help you understand that and we are also trying to share some specific ways to explore the downtown well, along with Texas Capitol in Austin.

 

Whenever you are in USA, everyone expects you to rent a car to move around and explore places as public transportation sucks. So either you rent a car or rely on app based taxis - Uber/Lyft. I don't feel comfortable driving in USA and if you really want to go to multiple places, taxis will be very expensive. You may end up spending approx $100-$200 in a day. and as Indian, I multiply this number with 75 :). But apart from these reasons, I love walking around and I love commuting in local public transportation system. That's what I do in India as well and that's one of the key reasons that I plan most of my travel plans on my own or with Vibha or some close friends who are aligned on this model of traveling, including long road trips. 


So whenever I am in USA and in new region, I like spending time on internet to understand the space, it's public transportation system. Then I chart out a daily plan on Google maps to figure out feasibility in terms of how much do I need to walk, time I will be spending in a bus/train, waiting time etc. When I have an optimised plan, I execute and most of the times I feel very happy with what explore. In this process, certainly I drop few places which may not align well with the plan and consider them later if I was to take Ubers to those.


I was staying in Domain area of Austin and here is what I planned & did in a day to get a feel of Austin city, it's downtown, parks, walks around the river, birds, hiking trails and some beautiful neighbourhoods :

1.  Put 'Texas Capitol' in Google maps and find nearest Bus stop from where you can get a bus for Texas Capitol, which is one of the must visit places in Austin city. From Domain you get direct bus, Bus No 801. 


2. When you get to the Bus, you buy 'Day Pass' instead of 'one way ticket'. and that's a no brainer. One way ticket costs you $1.25 and day pass for $2.5. 


....

3. Now you need to know which stop you have to drop off. You may have realised that you will internet working on our phone throughout the day, so make sure your phone is charged well and it's better if you carry a power bank. I was not carrying a power bank, so I used to take screenshot of the map with name of the station and switch of the internet to save battery. 


4. Take first stop at University of Texas, which comes before Texas Capitol. Explore University of Texas and also visit Harry Ransom Center.

 

Walking around university campuses can be very energising as well as encouraging and it evokes different emotions. I love exploring educational institutional and it's certainly very special experience in USA. This is one of the debates, if we see people in India visiting campuses and there are multiple aspects to it, which we will address in this blogpost but it's mainly about introducing you to University of Texas in Austin and why it's one of the best campuses to explore in USA.

Related Blogpost - University of Texas - Experience the great vibe of this beautiful Campus with museums, libraries, parks, fountains and a lot more


When I was in Austin, during one of the days I visited University of Texas and one of the most amazing places there is Harry Ransom Center. There are multiple reasons to like this place but mine was mainly related to a very interesting photography equipment places at Harry Ransom Center of Austin. I will be sharing more about this Photography equipment and other rare artefacts preserved here. Harry Ransom Center is a place where some interesting exhibitions keep happening so it's worth to keep a watch on activities happening in Harry Ransom Center of Austin. Let's find more about Harry Ransom Center through this blogpost and also know about that special Photography equipment which draws attention of many to this place in Austin.


Related Blogpost - Harry Ransom Center, Austin - Humanities Research Center inside University of Texas with oldest surviving camera photograph


5. Now follow walking direction on map to reach Texas Capitol. Since it was pleasant weather, walking in Austin was beautiful experience. There is no entry ticket for Texas Capitol. 


Related Blogpost - The Texas Capitol - This stunning place is must visit around Austin city of Texas state in USA


The Texas Capitol - This stunning place is must visit around Austin city of Texas state in USA


5. After exploring Texas Capitol, you can walk towards Downtown and maybe take a quick stop at Cathedral of Saint Mary.


Whenever I make a plan to explore a place, I heavily use Google Map to check the neighbourhood I am planning to visit and then check out what else in that area. So during the same exercise, I found that there is a church close to Texas Capitol as well as Austin Downtown. My plan was to explore this part of the city on foot and hence planned to visit Cathedral of Saint Mary.


Related Blogpost - The Beautiful Cathedral of Saint Mary - A brilliant architecture in the middle of the Austin downtown, Texas


6. Now put "Stevie Ray Vaughan Statue" in your map and walk towards it. On the way, you will experience the streets of Austin Downtown. If you feel like eating anything, find a good place and have your meal. or maybe grab some ice-cream as you walk ahead. Before reaching Stevie Ray Statue you will cross the famous Congress Bridge. From this bridge, there are stairs on the left which take you to the walk along Lady Bird Lake. This walking trail is amazing and idea is to take you to this trail and not the statue. Statue will come on your way. 


In our last blogpost, we shared about one of the best walks around Colorado river in Austin and after we published that blogpost, to our surprise, lot of viewers showed interest to know more about Stevie Ray Vaughan Statue. Where is Stevie Ray Vaughan Statue on this walk, what's the height of Stevie Ray Vaughan Statue, is there any ticket to see Stevie Ray Vaughan Statue in Austin etc. And after receiving all these questions, I realised that probably I was not aware about the importance of Stevie Ray Vaughan Statue. Now through this blogpost, I am trying to share more with Travellingcamera viewers and will invite others from Austin to help us with relevant details through comments section below.     Let me first address that there is no ticket to see this beautiful Statue of Stevie Ray Vaughan and is located on the shoreline of Colorado river.     Stevie Ray Vaughan Statue is located at Auditorium Shores or Lady Bird Lake in Austin and faces high-rise buildings of Austin Downtown on other side of the river.    Stevie Ray Vaughan Statue was fabricated in 1993 by Argos Foundry of Brewster, which is situated in New York. Stevie Ray Vaughan Statue was installed in 1994 and is now maintained by Austin Parks & Recreation. Stevie Ray Vaughan Statue has become a popular tourist attraction in the Austin City and often has flowers or other devotions at it's base.

Related Blogpost - Stevie Ray Vaughan Statue - One of the popular tourist attractions around Lady Bird Lake in Austin City of Texas, USA


Lady Bird Lake is a river-like reservoir on the Colorado River in Austin, Texas, United States. The City of Austin created the reservoir in 1960 as a cooling pond for a new city power plant. The reservoir is named in honour of former First Lady of the United States Lady Bird Johnson. Colloquially Lady Bird lake is also referred to as Town Lake. Lady Bird Lake is the easternmost lake of a chain of reservoirs on the river, which is completely located in Texas. Swimming in Lady Bird Lake is illegal not due to poor water quality from the run-off from area streets, which is a false rumor, but rather due to several drownings as well as debris in the water from bridges and dams destroyed by floods in years past.

Related Blogpost - Lady Bird Lake - A must visit place to enjoy some brilliant hikes and other water activities in Austin, Texas


7. Now keep walking along the Lady Bird Lake till Zilker Park. Zilker park is a huge green park of Austin where music events also happen. You can check online if any event is happening. If there is no event, make your own call if you want to go till Zilker park or not. If you go till Zilker park and visit the Barton Springs which is nearby. 


After walking around Austin city and it's downtown if I have to recommend one place for walk, then it will be walk along the Colorado River from Congress Bridge to Zilkar Park. And there is an obvious questions why do I claim that it's the best walking trail in Austin city. This Blogpost will answer all those questions but in short - this walking trail exposes you to lot of diverse things of Austin in terms of landscapes, downtown, river activities, parks, food trucks and a lot more which we will share as part of this blogpost.

Related Blogpost - Best Walking Trail in Austin, Texas - A Beautiful walking-trail along the Colorado River, from Congress Bridge to Zilkar Park in Austin


I was there in the month of March and the park was looking a little dull after fall but soon it will be looking great in summers.   Zilker Metropolitan Park is a recreational area in south Austin city of Texas state at the juncture of Barton Creek and the Colorado River. Zilker Park comprises over 350 acres of publicly owned land. It is named after its benefactor, Andrew Jackson Zilker, who donated the land to the city in 1917. The land was developed into a park during the Great Depression in the 1930s. Today the park serves as a hub for many recreational activities and the hike and bike trail around Lady Bird Lake, both of which run next to the park. The large size of the park makes it a capable venue for large-scale events such as the Austin City Limits Music Festival and the Zilker Park Kite Festival.   Related Blogpost - Best Walking Trail in Austin, Texas - A Beautiful walking-trail along the Colorado River, from Congress Bridge to Zilkar Park in Austin

Related Blogpost - Zilker Park in Austin - One of the best Parks in the city which hosts 'Austin City Limits Music Festival' & 'Zilker Park Kite Festival'


In last blogpost, we shared about Zilker Park of Austin and today we are sharing about a close-by place which is mainly popular amongst locals but worth walking by. It's a place called Barton Springs Pool, which is a recreational outdoor swimming pool filled entirely with water from nearby natural springs. It is located on the grounds of Zilker Park in Austin, Texas. The pool exists within the channel of Barton Creek and utilises water from Main Barton Spring, the fourth largest spring in Texas. The pool is a popular venue for year-round swimming.

Related Blogpost - Barton Springs Pool - A beautiful recreational outdoor swimming pool with natural spring water around Zilker Park, Austin


8. What's Next? It depends upon the timing. If you have 2-3 hrs before sunset, you can go to Mount Bunell, which is little far and in different direction. If sunset is happening soon, you can head back to Congress Bridge where you see thousands of bats flying around the Lady Bird lake and the downtown and head towards South Congress Avenue, which has very interesting vibe and a good place to conclude your day with nice dinner. Austin is known for live music and there are multiple pubs/restaurants which have live music. 

During my recent visit to Austin, I visited quite a few places around Austin city and if I have to pick top 3 places or things to do, I will certainly mention a hike to Mount Bunnell. And here please note that I am talking about the 'hike' to Mount Bunnell. In this blogpost we shall share about how to reach Mount Bunnell from different parts of Austin, what to do there and how to plan your visit in such a way that you make best of your time.



SOCO is well connected through buses of Austin. I took a bus from Zilkar park to SOCO.   Route 801 traverses South Congress Avenue providing express service to the rest of the city. Specifically, the route has stops at Auditorium Shores, SoCo, Oltorf, and St. Edward's stations. South Congress Transit Centre at Ben White Boulevard also provides connection to other bus routes in the area. South Congress will be future served by the Orange Line light rail service as a part of Project Connect.



9.  Before heading back to your hotel, take a quick walk under the Congress Bridge to witness these beautiful reflections of Austin Downtown in Lady Bird Lake. 

During sunset, watching thousands of Bats in the sky around Congress bridge is one of the key activities people wait for. One can sit around the bridge and enjoy these sights. You can also take a cruise which goes under the Congress bridge and helps you see these bats moving around. I didn't take the cruise so can't comments if that offers better viewing option, but I enjoyed watching these bats from Congress Bridge.


That's how I spent my time in Austin and I started the day little early and could visit all these places. I didn't have to rush anywhere. Hope this blogpost is helpful for planning you a day in Austin City. 

This blog doesn't talk about activities you can do while exploring the Austin city and Food options. Austin deserves a separate blogpost about some of the unique activities it offers like throwing axes and shooting ranges etc. Austin has some really cool food trucks across the city which serve great Tex-Mex food. you will find some around Zilkar Park, where I had my lunch. and don't miss Tacos of Austin. There is one outlet in Domain area call 'Velvet Tacos', which offers great variety of delicious tacos. For foodies and live music lovers, Austin is the place to explore and you will not be disappointed. 

Please use comments section below to ask your questions or sharing suggestions. Thanks for your time !

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