The mighty Colorado River flows through the center of Austin. It weaves past the gleaming capitol dome downtown to the lakeside suburbs of West Lake. South of the river, along Congress Avenue, is South Austin, home to live music clubs, trendy boutiques and stylish restaurants. North of the river, Sixth Street buzzes with shops, clubs and restaurants. North of downtown, historical buildings and museums highlight the University of Texas in Central Austin. Farther north are the peaceful tree-lined streets of Hyde Park. Old-fashioned bedroom communities, like Lakeway and Round Rock, provide scenic respites a few miles outside of town.
Nineteenth-century Texas comes to life with a walk among the bold period architecture of the University of Texas campus. Climb the staircase of the iconic clock tower for a view of the State Capitol dome. Texas history fans will thrill to the simulated high-speed whoosh of the Galveston Hurricane at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum. Historic Sixth Street downtown is where the city first dug its roots. A leisurely stroll along the quiet tree-lined streets of Hyde Park takes you past elegant 19th-century Victorian and American Arts and Crafts-style homes.
Austin appetites are hearty – you’ll find off-the-bone barbecue dripping with sauce and heaped plates of spicy Tex-Mex all over town. Spaghetti Bolognese whets the appetite in stylish downtown trattorias and bowls of zesty chili pork stew get the juices going in a Western-themed dining room. Or linger over a fillet of meaty redfish on an elegant patio overlooking Town Lake.
Couture boutiques, folk art stores and souvenir shops fill Sixth Street, downtown, while Lamar Boulevard is the place for a mix of chic and folksy one-of-a-kind clothing shops, bookstores and record stores. South Congress has art galleries, bargain antique stores and local arts and crafts. Trendsetters go to Guadalupe Street by the university for funky boutiques and trinkets. A drive out to the northwest suburbs leads you to mall shopping.
From country and rock to bluegrass and punk, the fertile Austin music scene covers every genre imaginable. Downtown, the action centers around the rock bars and clubs, Sixth Street and Red River Street. Spots like Qua and Malaga sizzle with the sophisticated set in the glitzy Warehouse District. Raving rockabilly bands play at the Continental Club and country is on the menu at the Broken Spoke. For a break from the music, take an evening bat-watching cruise on Town Lake or see an offbeat performance at the Hyde Park Theatre.