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Enlightening Indoor Escapes around Austin, Texas

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Austin, Texas, is well known for both its live music venues and its “green” ways, but beyond concerts and park hopping, visitors will find a well-rounded list of cultural attractions to fill days when the sun doesn’t shine. Or when it shines too bright. Really, can’t everyone use a bit of climate control every now and then?

History buffs, take note. Two of the best museum facilities around town are right up your alley. Topping the list is the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum. Leave your suspicion that history is dead at the door - here lively exhibits and plenty of hands-on activity make this one a shoo-in with the whole crowd. Also worthy of a visit (though perhaps less exciting for young ones) is the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum. Not only is it free but it also offers an interesting glimpse of the Johnson presidency, from Oval Office to presidential papers.

Houston is, of course, the biggie when it comes to Texas art museums. But don’t dismiss Austin, Texas, out of hand. Of association with The University of Texas at Austin is the Blanton Museum of Art, one of the largest university museums in the country. You’ll want to stop in both for their collection of European, American and Latin American art but also to browse carefully curated changing exhibits. The Austin Museum of Art (AMOA) is the other main arts facility in town. Check out the main collection and changing exhibits at the downtown location before venturing out to AMOA-Laguna Gloria, near Lake Austin. Historic site, thriving art school and intimate exhibit space, this venue also boasts peaceful gardens, lake views and outdoor sculpture to round out the experience.

And though it doesn’t fall into the museum category, the other must-see stop in Austin, Texas (aside from the flagship Whole Foods store), is the Texas State Capitol. This big, grand Renaissance Revival-styled building is the largest state capitol in the U.S., and during business hours you can take a free self-guided tour of both the building and the carefully groomed grounds.

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