Local Attractions

Local Tourist Information

Arts and Culture

Check out the Arts page on the Visit Austin website.

Sheltered on the University of Texas at Austin campus, the Blanton Museum of Art is a must-see for any art enthusiast. Considered as one of the largest university art museums in the country and home to more than 18,000 works of art – ranging from Renaissance and baroque pieces by renowned artists such as Rubens and Poussin to a sizeable collection of contemporary Latin American art.

Want to know more about the history and government of Texas?  Take a tour of the Texas State Capitol Building, or visit the Bullock Texas State History Museum.

The City of Austin was the first municipality in Texas to make a commitment to include works of art in construction projects.  Click here for a downtown walking tour map that highlights the art in public places.  You can explore the full collection of Austin’s public art here.

If the weather is cooperating, the Umlauf Sculpture Garden & Museum, or UMLAUF, features an outdoor sculpture garden centered on the artistic works of American sculptor Charles Umlauf.  The Museum maintains a seasonal schedule including exhibitions of Umlauf and his 20th century peers.  The garden is adjacent to Zilker Park.

Community

Check out the official website of the city of Austin, Texas for information about popular services, government offices, and the latest on COVID-19.

Austin is home to The University of Texas at Austin, one of the world’s largest universities, recognized for a diverse contribution to research, higher education, the arts, business, and more.   Many consider UT-Austin a “Public Ivy” – a public university that offers an Ivy League collegiate experience.   It is the flagship institution of the University of Texas System and houses seven museums and seventeen libraries.   UT-Austin has more than 50,000 undergraduate and graduate students and over 24,000 faculty and staff.

Forty-six area hospitals, including two under construction, and a dedicated children’s hospital, Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas, complement community clinical services of 4,817 direct patient care physicians. Even though Austin is one of the fastest-growing metropolitan areas in the country, the physician-to-population ratio tops those of Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, and San Antonio.  Ascension SetonSt. David’s HealthCare, and Baylor Scott & White operate 25 of the region’s 46 hospitals, with the remainder run by 16 different non-profit and for-profit systems.

Corporate Offices

Austin, Texas is home to a handful of the world’s largest companies, and a myriad of other world-renowned businesses focused on research & development, manufacturing, and back-office facilities.  The Austin area is known for conditions that support great businesses that are fed by the city’s diversity, quality of life, and focus on education.  Nearly 47% of adults in Austin have a bachelor’s degree, compared with 33% nationally, putting Austin in the top 10 among the largest metro areas in the U.S.  The region welcomes newcomers to Central Texas and is most focused on growing the areas of advanced manufacturing, clean technology, data management, life sciences, space technology, and creative/digital media technology.

In November 2020, Austin was ranked number one in the Computing Technology Industry Association’s “Tech Town Index” of opportunity and quality of life for IT workers.

Large companies that are headquartered in Austin include Whole Foods Market, Dell, and National Instruments.

Tesla revealed in the summer of 2020 that its newest automobile factory will be built east of Austin, in Del Valle.  In addition, Elon Musk has relocated his charitable concern, the Musk Foundation, to Austin and will also expand his transit-oriented underground tunneling project to the city.

In December 2020, Oracle announced they are moving their headquarters from the San Francisco Bay area to Austin, Texas.

Recreation

Austin has plenty for the outdoor and nature enthusiasts, even in December!

In most years, Austin averages a daily maximum temperature for December that’s between 59 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit (15 to 19 degrees Celsius). The minimum temperature usually falls between 38 and 46 °F (4 to 8 °C). The days cool steadily during the month of December.

Check out the Hiking & Recreation page on the Visit Austin website.

With an abundance of green space, active travelers can bike in Zilker Metropolitan Park. Within Zilker Park’s 358 acres lies one of the crown jewels of Austin – Barton Springs Pool.  The pool itself measures three acres in size and is fed from underground springs with an average temperature of 68-70 degrees, ideal for year-round swimming.

For great views, head to Mount Bonnell at Covert Park, which provides sweeping views of the city, Lake Austin, and the surrounding hills. The 5.1-acre historic linear park is home to a 775-foot-high outcrop, considered the highest spot in the area.  The peak is named for George Bonnell, who served as Commissioner of Indian Affairs for the Texas Republic.

A 1980 renovation transformed the Congress Avenue Bridge into an ideal bat cave, soon attracting migrating Mexican free-tailed bats. Decades later, Austin’s bat numbers have swelled and locals have adopted the beloved creatures as neighbors who happily handle the city’s bug mitigation and provide an amazing nightly show.   Between 750,000 and 1.5 million bats fly out near dusk. The best viewing is between April-October.

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at The University of Texas at Austin is the state botanical garden and arboretum of Texas. The center features more than 900 species of native Texas plants in both garden and natural settings and is home to a breadth of educational programs and events.

Shopping

Love to shop while traveling?  Austin makes it easy to shop local and bring home the perfect gifts and souvenirs.

Shopping Districts

South Congress (SoCo) is known for its bohemian energy and hosts vintage clothing shops, chic boutiques, used bookstores, funky home furnishings, casual eateries, and cafes.  (6 miles, 15 minutes by car from the JW Marriott hotel)

South First Street is a bit off the beaten path but the emerging locally owned shopping and dining scene deserves exploration and support.  Coffee enthusiasts should check out the “South Austin Coffee District” while food truck fans can’t miss the South First Food Court.   (5 miles, 15 minutes by car from the JW Marriott hotel)

2nd Street District’s more than 50 stores and restaurants make this downtown mixed-use area extremely walkable.  Cool local clothing stores mix with well-known chains, high-end spas, salons and top-notch eateries.   (0.4 miles, 10 minutes walking from the JW Marriott hotel)

The Domain is a family-friendly outdoor mall with 100 high-end chain stores, boutiques, restaurants, and bars nestled in the North Burnet neighborhood of north Austin. Macy’s, Tiffany & Co., and Louis Vuitton reside at The Domain.   (11 miles, 20 minutes by car from the JW Marriott hotel)

Local Attractions

Austin’s attractions cater to all ages.  Keep an eye on the ever-changing 2021 Austin Event Guide here.

“Keep Austin Weird” is the slogan adopted by the Austin Independent Business Alliance to promote small businesses in Austin, Texas.  The phrase is intended to promote local businesses and is inspired by comments made by Red Wassenich in 2000 while giving a pledge to a local radio station.

Along that theme, check out Austin’s Museum of the Weird, located on the city’s famous Sixth Street – the perfect place to unwind after a long day of conference sessions and networking.  For other ‘out there’ ideas, check out The Crazy Tourist’s 15 best things to do in downtown Austin.

Looking for a more traditional list of activities and sights to see in Austin?  Try this list of the top 10 things to do downtown.

Hoping to see all of Austin’s top sights in a short amount of time?  This page has 16 different themed tours of Austin, highlighting everything from local breweries to the best self-guided bike tours, to river tubing and a sunset cruise.

Transportation

In sprawling Texas, Austin is the lone star of transportation. Boasting 3,000 bus stops along with light rail, its 140,000 rides per day is the highest ridership per capita in Texas.  Austin has the 4th highest use of mass transit per capita in the nation.

The best way to get around Austin is by bus and light rail. Some travelers recommend a car; however, the expense and pains of one are enough to encourage many visitors to use Capital Metro – Austin’s public transit system. The Route 20 Manor Road/Riverside line connects the downtown area with Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS), where you’ll likely be greeted by music as soon as you exit the plane, to the heart of downtown about 10 miles northwest.  The minimum taxi fare from the airport to downtown Austin costs $13.30. Amtrak provides train service to the city via the Texas Eagle line.

If you’ll be centrally located downtown between the Convention Center and the University of Texas at Austin, you should be able to walk or bike.

Public Transit  Capital Metro Transit provides bus routes that cover the city, as well as a MetroRapid bus that serves the downtown area. Austin also has 32 miles of light rail that spans from downtown to the northwest suburb of Leander. All public transport runs more frequently during rush hour, with more limited service on the weekends. Also, the light rail does not operate on Sundays. The assortment of passes and their pricing can be complicated, so check its website or download the CapMetro smartphone app to help decide which pass is best for you. Fares start at $1.25 for a single ride; day passes cost $2.50.

Car Austin’s notorious for some of the worst traffic in the country. Be aware that the city streets require as much vigilance as the highway. Many downtown streets are one-way and lack street signs. Parking in the downtown area is scarce, so prepare to pay a premium for parking. But if you’re in the mood to rent a car and hit the open road to visit nearby cities like San Antonio, Highway 130 is known for having the highest speed limit in America: 85 mph.
Taxi Although cabs are the faster but pricier alternative to a rental car or a bus, splurging on them will save you many headaches. You shouldn’t have trouble hailing a cab in the downtown area. Ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft, as well as Ride Austin – a local ride-hailing option – also operate in the Austin area.

On Foot Known as a pedestrian-friendly city, Austin’s streets are accompanied by sidewalks, bike lanes and crosswalks. Plus, many of the top tours in the city are walking tours . Experienced travelers recommend biking as a means of transportation since there are several bike trails found throughout central Austin. You can rent bikes from the city’s bike-share program, Austin B-Cycle. Most of the stations are concentrated in the downtown area. You can purchase a 24-hour access pass for $12; the first 30 minutes are free, with each additional half hour costing $4 (plus tax). Passes can be purchased at B-Cycle stations. Most downtown neighborhoods are also easy to traverse by foot (or via pedicab).