Austin, Texas' capital city, is a cultural wonder in the fact that it is so much more culturally diverse than much of the state. The city is divided into more than half a dozen districts, each with their own feel. Take a minute to orient yourself with the different areas within Austin to better plan your visit to one of Texas' coolest cities.
Austin, state capital and Texas's groovy center for music and inner city greenways, is split into some typical districts; a hip and cultural Downtown, an artsy East Side, and a parky South Side. Further, you'll find nature preserves in Tarrytown and Oak Hill and fringe theater in Hyde Park.
Oh, Downtown. Home to University of Texas, Sixth Street, and much of what makes Austin . . . Austin. Read more about it here.
East Austin is artsy. Of course, all of Austin is artsy. Expect to find venues for music, dance, and theater with little difficulty. Parks and swimming pools are literally everywhere and the hike and bike trails are reputed to be especially good, or, at least, less crowded than some other Austin trails.
This is the home of the Continental Club, which is a famous live music venue. But if the Club is packed, South Austin is also home to any number of music-and-food venues. If you're not in the mood for either, South Austin's home to beautiful Zilker Park.
Tarrytown is a residential area, but visitors can stop by the green and quiet Reed Park, or go just a little farther to Lake Austin and its Mayfield Preserve. Austin Museum of Art ? Laguna Gloria is nearby, historical Mediterranean mansion turned gallery.
Hyde Park is historic homes and tree-lined streets and is also as fringe, contemporary, and hyper-cool as Austin likes to be. The sculptures of the Elisabet Ney Museum, and the hip performances of Hyde Park Theater give the district part of its flare.
Old West Austin
Old West Austin is a historic district encompassing over 1,500 old and significant homes, including Woodlawn, or the Pease Mansion.
The Oak Hill neighborhoods are surrounded by flora, acres and acres of parks, greenbelts, and preserves. This is the location of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. Bikers should definitely check out the Veloway.
Other districts include North Loop and its unique shopping sites, Brentwood and its Farmer's Market and college-town scene, Riverside and its markedly Mexican culture, Travis Heights and its hip cafes, and Windsor Hills.
Other Things to Know
If plane is your preferred mode of travel, Austin Bergstrom International Airport is just southeast of the city center. Amtrak trains and Greyhound buses make stops in Austin, but neither train or bus is normally the best way to travel Texas. If you're going by car, take I-35 if you're coming from either the south or the north. If you're coming east, from the coast, take US-290. Once you're in the city itself, biking is a popular way to get around and the buses are remarkably cheap. Driving isn't too bad save in the rush hours of the morning and evening, but trying to navigate through the city on I-35 can be confusing and if you don't like toll-roads, keep a careful eye out; there's a fair number of them.