Austin: Like No Place Else
By: Beverly Burmeier
Congress Avenue Bridge Bats
Only in Austin would flying bats become a bona-fide tourist attraction. From March through October, hundreds of people gather every evening at dusk on and around the Ann Richards Congress Avenue Bridge to watch a black cloud of 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats stream out from under the bridge and fly away for their nightly feast on mosquitoes and other insects.
Keep Austin Weird
Drive around and you’ll see bumper stickers, T-shirts and billboards touting this popular motto. It’s a sign of the quirky character Austin residents love and nurture. After all, a popular event is Spamarama, a festival held to pay homage to canned meat. Eeyore’s Birthday, an event honoring Winnie the Pooh's sad-faced friend, brings out thousands of partiers to celebrate spring’s arrival.
Live Music Capital of the World
On any given night, the sound of blues, country, rock and roll, jazz and folk blend in Austin’s renowned music districts that attract more patrons than ever at 200-plus establishments now that all public places are smoke-free. The hip, college-age crowd generally drifts to boisterous Sixth Street, while the Warehouse District along Fourth Street attracts a supposedly more mature audience. You’re not an authentic Austin music junkie until you’ve joined ranks with hordes of attendees at the world-renowned South by Southwest or Austin City Limits Music Festivals.
The Hill Country
Austin is a gateway to one of the state’s best-kept secrets, the Hill Country of Central Texas. With topography ranging from rocky ridges and gentle rolling hills to fertile ranch lands dissected by numerous rivers, creeks and lakes, the region offers pleasant surprises to outdoor enthusiasts. Several area state parks, gorgeous landscapes including fields of wildflowers (most notably bluebonnets, the state flower), and abundant wildlife bring city dwellers to the country year-round.
There’s a strange cult of armadillo lovers around Austin, to the extent that this armor-plated critter that neither hears nor sees very well has been adopted as their mascot. Affection is evident in all things bearing this recurring symbol: artworks, games, toys, T-shirts and jewelry contain whimsical likenesses of armadillos. Take a ride on the free 'Dillo, historic green trolleys and small buses, to many points around downtown and central Austin. Armadillos are so popular that Austin’s science fiction convention is named ArmadilloCon. Since 1976, residents have shopped the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar, a huge fanciful sale and musical extravaganza, which began as a special event at the famed Armadillo World Headquarters, once the hottest club in Austin and still a legend around town.
Phoenix: Like No Place Else
These destinations make Phoenix and the surrounding area unique.
Albuquerque: Like No Place Else
Explore the sights and traditions that make this Southwestern city unique.
Houston: Like No Place Else
These nine attractions set this Texas city apart in the Lone Star State.
Dallas: Like No Place Else
From art and landmarks to sports and shopping, Dallas has it all.
Tucson: Like No Place Else
Biosphere 2 and Old Tucson Studios are two of the more unusual attractions in this desert city.
In Austin, the music never stops, politics and education take center stage, and year-round sunshine brings people outdoors.
Local Life and Lore in Austin
Learn the local lingo, cuisine and landmarks to blend in with Austin locals.
Profile: Austin, Texas
Learn about Austin's history, top local destinations, business profile and more in this visitor's guide.
Austin's Zilker Park: The Pulse of the City
Located in the heart of the city, Zilker Metropolitan Park reflects Austin's commitment to the environment, sustainability and a healthy way of life.
What It's Like to Live in a Southwestern City
Hear from homeowners who live in the Southwest and find out what it's really like.