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Austin, Texas, USA

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Austin, Texas is a city with polite people and beautiful scenery. Judging from the number of people who go there and don't leave again - much to the dismay of some residents who have lived here for a long time - Austin's a pretty desirable place to live.


Where it Is

Austin is located not very far to the south east of the geographic centre of Texas, along Interstate 35 about 500km to the south of Dallas. For those of you who wish to be more precise, it's somewhere near 30.20°N by 97.75°W.

Within The City

Looking at a map of Austin, the first thing you will notice is that almost all of the major roads run north-south. There is, as far as anyone knows, no good reason for this. Austin is squeezed against the Balcones Escarpment to the west, but the cedar-sloped hills to the west of the Escarpment are being turned into suburbia at a fairly quick rate. Most of the central city is taken up with state government offices and the University of Texas.

Places To Go

  • Barton Creek - The 'greenbelt' park along the creek makes for a great hike. It's quite a walk to go the whole way, but it's worth it.

  • Capitol Building - The pink granite dome - taller than the one atop the Nation's Capitol - rises above most of the Austin skyline, on a hill at the northern end of Congress Avenue. The building has been restored to look as if it hadn’t changed as much as it has in the past hundred or so years, and the underground annex is spectacular considering it's a basement. However, you want to avoid it during legislative sessions, which only occur for 100 days in the late spring of every odd-numbered year.

  • Downtown - Between the live music mainstay of Sixth Street, and the increasingly trendy Warehouse District in the south-western quadrant of the city's core, there is almost more action after the sun sets than there is at noon.

  • Hike-and-Bike Trail along Town Lake - A little 'Zen' in the middle of downtown. It can easily be ten degrees cooler along the trail next to the lake than on the sidewalk just on the other side of the banks.

  • Interstate 35 - If you spend any time in Austin, you will probably spend time on I-35. Odds are, you will end up stuck on it. When you do get stuck on it, sit back, relax, and remind yourself that your destination isn't going anywhere.

  • Lakes - The Highland of Lakes are a series of flood-control and water-storage reservoirs north and west of town along the Colorado River. They can be scenic when they're full, but get pretty bad pretty quickly when above or below their normal levels.

  • McKinney Falls State Park - The park is, for an area only five miles from the centre of a large city, surprisingly untouched by man. There are a couple of miles worth of trails around the park and along Onion Creek. Unless there has been a heavy rain within the past day or two - Onion Creek is incredibly flood-prone - there is swimming in the creek just below the lower falls.

  • President Lyndon B Johnson - Well, he's not something to do, but there are quite a few sites around town with his name attached. The LBJ (as he is always abbreviated) Library on the University of Texas Campus features a display on his presidency, huge amounts of archives, and a replica of the Oval Office. Johnson City - named for Lyndon’s forebears - about 50 miles west of Austin, has his birthplace, and LBJ State/National Park to the west of there contains the 'Texas White House'.

  • Swimming holes - Austin has plenty. In town, there are Deep Eddy and Barton Springs pools. Of the two, Barton Springs is the most famous, but Deep Eddy is free of the algae that Barton Springs is currently having problems with and, despite having water which is the same chilly 68° as Barton Springs, Deep Eddy has a much lower 'temperature shock' factor. Not in the city itself, but nearby, is Hamilton Pool, along the Perdenales River west of the downtown district. Swimming near the city is also available at McKinney Falls, most of the time. Also in the area are Blue Hole in Wimberley, and the San Marcos river near University Drive in the city of San Marcos.

  • Texas Memorial Museum - The University of Texas's entry into the museum scene largely goes unnoticed outside of the school field-trip crowd. It's standard museum fare, but it is an air-conditioned, pleasant way to spend an afternoon indoors.

  • University of Texas - A beautiful campus, a winning sports teams, and 60,000-plus attractive young people. What more could you want?

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