Austin Travel Guide

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Omni Austin South Park

Omni Austin South Park

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Austin is the capital of Texas and one of the fastest-growing, most vibrant cities in the United States. Say the word "Austin" and a myriad of images come to mind: Hip, cool, trendy and high-tech.

But Austin is also a city with a rich historic past. Originally a buffalo hunting ground favored by Tonkawa Indians, the original name of the city was "Waterloo". This name was chosen because of the abundance of springs and creeks in the area. The city's history comes alive in such places as the Texas State Cemetery, the final resting place of many prominent Texans; Bremond Block, an area of stately 19th century mansions; the antebellum Governor's Mansion; and more than 220 other landmarks. The new Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum also helps chronicle the colorful history of the state.

Austin is also a very green city. With a river running through it and a mild year-round climate, Austin prides itself on natural beauty. Greenbelts, waterways and pockets of undeveloped land create a unique verdant landscape. With constant 68-degree waters, Barton Springs Pool remains the favorite place in town to cool off on a hot summer's day. Ladybird Lake, the southernmost in a series of seven manmade lakes along the Lower Colorado River, bisects the heart of downtown. Some 10 miles of hike-and-bike trails encircle the lake. President Bush routinely jogged here while  governor of Texas. Farther upstream, Lake Austin and Lake Travis attract boaters, fishermen, water-skiers, windsurfers and scuba divers.

Austin is also home to the University of Texas, one of the largest universities in the U.S.; enrollment is usually around 50,000 students. Having such a large group of young people in the city gives Austin a young, hip feel and guarantees plenty of choices for entertainment.

And finally, Austin is a major cultural hub. It is one of only a handful of U.S. cities with professional ballet, symphony, opera and theater companies. With twenty museums, nearly three dozen galleries and 35 theater companies, the city is experiencing a cultural renaissance.

First thing to do: pick up an Austin Chronicle newspaper. It will be your guide to everything that's going on in Austin from festivals (Spam Festival, Chili Festival, et al.) to music, theatre and food; it's all in there.These are freely available all over town.


March 25, 2004 change by mlinksva

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