Austin is a place where business professionals, artists, musicians, filmmakers and students all bring their passions to life. Even with its population growing rapidly, this city continues to welcome new residents with open arms. Over the past few years, several national magazines have touted Austin as a top place to live.
To experience "The Live Music Capital" of the world, Sixth Street is a good place to start. Often closed to vehicle traffic on the weekends, this street is lined with dance clubs, live music venues, eateries and street musicians, plus several tattoo and piercing shops. Visitors can have their tarot cards read by a gypsy on a street corner, or buy handmade jewelry from artists and hippies. Grab a slice of pizza at Roppolo's when the munchies take over; or, if a Cajun meal is what you're after, Roux & Parish serves up Louisiana cooking and great mixed drinks. Music fills the air in this area every night of the week, and visitors can hear everything from country to hip-hop, blues to noise-pop.
If you venture north on Red River Street, you'll find some of Austin's best live music venues. Emo's, Stubb's and Red Eyed Fly all reside here.
The Capitol Building
Built in 1856 and 1857, the Capitol Complex Visitor Center is the oldest remaining state office building in Texas. In 1997, it underwent an enormous restoration and extension. Inside the Capitol Building, there is an exhibit chronicling the restoration, where visitors can view a 20-minute film narrated by Walter Cronkite, titled Lone Star Legacy: A History of the Capitol. The Capitol is a Renaissance Revival-style building made of Texas pink granite and native limestone, overlooking Congress Avenue. Guided tours are free and provide interesting information and anecdotes for visitors. Make sure to stand in the center of the Rotunda, look up, take notice of the Texas star and enjoy the beautiful architecture.
As you are heading south on Congress Avenue, stop by the Austin Museum of Art and check out their collection of 20th-century artwork. Or, if you are in the mood to shop for unique gifts, visit Tesoros Trading Company, where you will find a large selection of Mexican and Latin American jewelry, folk art, amulets and collectibles. Many locals buy their Day of the Dead supplies here, as well as Peruvian good luck charms and Latin American Christmas ornaments.
As you travel further on South Congress and cross Lake Austin, you'll encounter a whole new environment. Starting with Güero's Taco Bar, you will notice that South Austin has a different kind of energy - relaxed and funky. Here, you will find antique shops, retro resale shops, vintage clothing and folk art. Stop by Terra Toys to check out their collection of tin soldiers and chemistry sets, then head over to Texas French Bread for soup and a sandwich.
Zilker Park is a 400-acre park home to natural, spring-fed Barton Springs Pool, a miniature train that circles the park for children to ride, a giant playscape, picnic grounds, rugby and soccer fields, a disc golf course and canoe and kayak rentals. At Christmas time, one of the city's moonlight towers serves as the trunk for the Zilker Park Christmas Tree. Thousands of colored lights are strung to form the shape, and each year locals and visitors twirl around underneath the enormous structure.
Enjoy a number of musical, dance and theater events at the Zilker Hillside Theatre, where the Austin Shakespeare Festival is held each year. Or, visit the Zilker Botanical Gardens, where visitors spend the better part of a day enjoying the cactus, succulents, roses, butterflies and special gardens - all for free.
Originally an African-American community half a mile outside of the city limits, Clarksville remains a melting pot of art and culture. Houses have increased greatly in price due to the location of the neighborhood and all it has to offer. Jeffrey's resides here, a restaurant for fine dining. You may also enjoy a visit to Nau's Enfield Drug, where you can order an old fashioned malt.
The strip of business along Guadalupe Street, bordering the University of Texas, is lovingly called "The Drag." Many of Austin's coolest shops are here, including the Sound Exchange (CD's, records and tapes). Stop by the outdoor Renaissance Market, where you will find jewelry, clothing and gifts made by Austin artisans. If you're looking for live music any night of the week, head down to the Hole in the Wall. This small dive hosts live music seven nights a week, with free Sunday night shows. The back room is full of pool tables and pinball games, and the crowd features many regular customers. Walk a few more blocks and you'll stumble upon Vulcan Video offering rare cult films and indie classics for rental.
Take a leisurely walk or drive through this Central Austin neighborhood and view its historic homes. You will likely see many residents working in their yards, walking pets or riding bikes. Duval Road runs through the neighborhood and is home to the vegetarian restaurant Mother's Café and the popular Hyde Park Grill. This unique area, the city's first planned suburb, has its own small grocery store, and boasts a theatre in its name - Hyde Park Theatre. Stop by Dolce Vita Gelate and Espresso Bar for sweet Italian ice cream or check out Quack's 43rd Street Bakery for a cappuccino and a homemade muffin.