Day Trip to Austin

The city of Austin Texas is our state capitol. You can visit the State Capitol building, built in 1888 at 11th and Congress Streets. See where the Texas legislature meets. Admission is free.

Austin Texas is much smaller than San Antonio, but the traffic is horrendous. The cost of living is much higher there than here as well. You will find some great restaurants and a lot of people with money. There are no cheap neighborhoods to live in there.

My husband’s sister lived there for years and at one point, we considered moving there when we left the ministry in the Church of the Nazarene but decided on San Antonio because it is just too expensive to live in Austin.

Expect to see lots of Texas politicians on your visit. Austin is also a college town, with tons of college students. My kids have friends who go to school in and around Austin. Some of my friends actually live in Austin and commute to San Antonio each day. In traffic, it takes between 90 minutes and two hours one way. That is a bit too much time on the freeway for me, not to mention the cost of gas!

Here is a distinguishing fact about Austin Texas. This city has the largest city bat population in North America. Each evening, 1 1/2 million bats fly out from under the Congress Avenue Bridge. That is quite a sight to behold.

If you would like to see the bats come out, there is a Bat Hot Line. No, I am not kidding! Call the Bat Hot Line at (512) 416-5700. The category is 3636. This is sponsored by the local Austin newspaper, the Austin American-Statesman.

While in town, you may want to visit President Lyndon Baines Johnson’s library. The LBJ Library and Museum is located at the University of Texas at 2313 Red River. See history unfold as you go through the exhibits. If you lived back in the 1960s, this place will bring back a lot of memories. I was a child then so I remember seeing a lot of this on TV. I really enjoyed touring the museum. This is a great learning experience for the kids. Admission is free.

LBJ’s wife, Lady Bird Johnson loved to plant trees and flowers, both in Texas and at the White House. I can remember as a small girl watching her on TV while she lived in the White House saying, “Lyndon and I have planted trees and shrubs around the White House” in her Texas drawl. She truly loved the outdoors.

You may want to visit the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, which is a beautiful place covering 178 acres of wildflowers. Lady Bird Johnson founded it in 1982, where Texas native plants are studied. The flowers and plants are beautiful. Visit at 4801 La Crosse Avenue. Admission is $7 for adults, $6 for students, $3 for children ages 5 to 12. Kids under 5 get in free.

If you would like to tour the Governor’s Mansion, be sure and make a reservation at least one day ahead of your visit. Admission is free. Right now, the Governor does not live there because of a horrible fire in 2008. As of November 2011, renovations are going on but still are not complete. The governor and his wife live elsewhere. You can call for more information at (512) 463-5516.

My husband and I visited Austin in May 2011 for several days as I was invited to a Google conference there. We decided to make it a working vacation and I had a blast.

I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed seeing and touring the State Capitol building. I got to sit in the House Chamber and in the Senate Chamber and it really was exciting for me. My husband was bored but I was thrilled to pieces.

The building itself is just beautiful. We took the free guided tour and then walked around on our own.

The acoustics are incredible. Down in the Rotunda, visiting choirs from Texas schools took turns performing songs and they sounded great as we stood on the ground floor, on the second floor, and even on the third floor as we looked down on the performers.

Make sure to put visiting the Capitol building on your list of must-see attractions when you visit Austin Texas.