What can you see? Where can you eat? Whatever can you DO?!
Here are some sights and some of GeneviEve’s favorite experiences for you to explore while you are in Austin. Most of these will be fairly close to GeneviEve’s or no further than downtown or Zilker Park.
See the Bats
Congress Ave bridge at dusk.
Walk down or catch the northbound bus on S 1st St or S. Congress Ave. and go to Riverside Dr. There is a viewing area below the bridge on the south east side of the bridge, with stairs from the sidewalk. Or watch from the bridge itself.
America’s largest urban bat colony has become one of the city’s best known tourist attractions. More than 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats emerge each night at dusk – black swarms of hungry critters out for bugs. They have lived under the bridge for two decades now. July, August, and September are the best viewing months. Read more.
Take your photo in front of the Austin postcard mural on the south side of the Roadhouse Relics building on the corner of S 1st St and W. Mary, just a long block south of GeneviEve’s. Don’t wait until you come back – it’s fading and may be nearing the end of it’s days – we don’t know.
Zilker Park & Barton Springs Pool
Since American Indians passed this way, people have been swimming in the natural pool that we now call Barton Springs. But there’s more than just the icy cold spring-fed Barton Springs Pool at Zilker Park. There are free shows at the Hillside Theater, across from the pool, especially in the summer months. Ballet, concerts, Shakespeare, and locally produced Broadway musicals. In 2011, the show was Footloose. Hillside schedule.
There’s also the 30 acre Zilker Botanical Garden on the river side of Barton Springs Rd. in the park where you can stroll such theme gardens as the rose, herb, or Japanese garden, or enjoy one of the many special weekend shows.
On the west side of the park is the Umlauf Sculpture Garden, a lovely area featuring sculptures by the famous lifelong resident and UT art professor, Charles Umlauf.
Popcorn Ice Cream at Big Top Candy Shop
South Congress Ave.
Big Top is a candy store and Monkey See, Monkey Do is a toy store, where you will find candy and toys from your childhood memories that you thought no longer existed. They share an owner, and are very close to each other on S. Congress.
Blue Bell Ice Cream is a Texas tradition SO GOOD that you may get jealous that you can’t find it in other states. It’s in grocery and convenience stores all over town, BUT GeneviEve’s favorite flavor is ONLY at the Big Top. You simply must try a cone of Caramel Kettle Corn, if they still have it. Popcorn, caramel, and ice cream. Yum!
Monkey See, Monkey Do, 1712 S. Congress
PS: If they don’t have Caramel Kettle Corn ice cream, maybe they’ll have our 2nd favorite, Blackberry Cobbler.
The Bouldin Creek neighborhood in particular, is full of huge plaster, carved styrofoam, concrete, and metal sculptures of all kinds. Start with the book, Wildly Austin (Vol 1), in GeneviEve’s bookcase, for descriptions and maps of many of these sights. Sue has added many personal notes and updates for you.
Don’t miss Faith’s huge chicken two blocks north of our back driveway on Gibson, or Fran’s guitar girl on top of her hamburger place on S. Congress at W. Mary. You’ll have to go inside and ask to see the big rooster at Roadhouse Relics, a block south on S 1st St, because he has been moved to the back yard. Amelia’s Retro-Vogue & Relics, 2213 S 1st, a block or 2 further south and across the street, has a big metal globe structure in front that used to be on top of her shop when it was on S. Lamar. She has also added a field of metal flowers.
Yard Art Junk Stop
Take a minute – or a couple of hours – and visit the Cathedral of Junk just off S. 1st St., on the south side of Ben White Blvd. It’s a bit out of the ‘hood, but you will never see anything else like it. It’s not shopping – it’s Yard Art. To the extreme.
4422 Lareina Dr – Head south on S. 1st St. and cross Ben White/Hwy 71. Go a couple of blocks and turn left on St. Elmo Rd W., then take the second left onto Lareina. It’s mostly well hidden in the rear of the house. Ring the little bell and someone will came to the gate and let you in. It’s free but they accept donations.
Food, that is. Romeo’s Italian Grill & Bar on Barton Springs Rd, just west of S. Lamar has fantastic Italian food. Often on Monday’s and Wednesday’s, Sue gets a 2 for 1 coupon via email. Ask her to print you one if you are interested. Drive or take a short cab ride.
Romeo’s, 1500 Barton Springs Rd.
If you’re feeling a bit more upscale and flush in the pocketbook, try Enoteca Vespaio. The food is fantastic and you can waddle home on foot. Walk Monroe to S. Congress and turn south.
Vespaio, 1610 S. Congress
La Mexicana Bakery, 1924 S. 1st St (walk)
Magnolia Cafe, 1920 S. Congress (walk a bit farther)
Kirbey Lane Cafe, 2700 S. Lamar (car or cab, but not far)
GeneviEve’s personal favorite:
La Feria, 2010 S. Lamar, Happy Hour until 7pm
Drink 3 and you have to promise to walk or take a cab home.
Two blocks south to W Mary St, then go west to Lamar and it will be right in front of you.
For something different & delicious, try the Pollo Romano for dinner.
Best all night specials:
El Mercado, 1302 S. 1st St, 2 blocks north of Monroe
$2.99 Margaritas, lime & flavored (Mango, Mmmmm!), all night on Tue., Thur., & Sun. Mexican Martinis on special Mon. and Wed.
Black Sheep Lodge, 2108 S. Lamar, 2 blocks south of La Feria
Notta Margarita place, but great all-night drink specials every night. Call for the Daily. American pub grub – burgers & such.
Freddys Place, 1703 S. 1st St
When the temperature is 100 or over, the frozen margaritas are just $1
Fred sold a lot of margaritas this year! American pub grub, $2 happy hour specials – practically just across the street on S 1st St., 1/2 block south. (Careful crossing!)