©2006 ACVB Photo/University of Texas Autumn in Austin is highlighted by Texas Longhorns football at Darrell K.  Royal Memorial Stadium.

Austin Special Events & Attractions

There's literally always something going on in Austin. Whether it's a music festival, arts and crafts fair, farmers market, museum exhibit, food festival, or a sports event, finding something to do is pretty easy.

When people think of Austin, they think "hip, cool music not like Texas." The city nurtures and celebrates creativity, entrepreneurship, and independence, yet it's a comfortable existence that's easy to love.

There might not be a major sports team in Austin (though San Antonio's Spurs are just 90 minutes south), but you'd never know it because most people here bleed burnt orange for the Texas Longhorns. Whether it's football, baseball, basketball, soccer or any other sport, there are opportunities galore for spectators and sports nuts. Austin's scenic beauty has also made it a mecca of sorts for golf. Pros like Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, and Fred Couples all have signature courses here.

Austin's also fraught with history, since it's the state capital and home to the Texas Legislature. Don't miss a tour of the Capitol building; it was built in 1888 of Texas Sunset Red granite from nearby Marble Falls, and is the largest statehouse in the country.

Insider's Guide: The Best of Special Events & Attractions in Austin

Insider's Guide: The Best of Special Events & Attractions in Austin

Check out a Texas Longhorns game while you're here. Tickets are especially hard to come by for football games, but they are available. Visit the University of Texas at Austin's sports Web site for ticket information. All of the university's major sports are played on campus: Darrell K. Royal Memorial Stadium (named after UT's legendary football coach) hosts football, the Frank Erwin Special Events Center is used for basketball, and baseball is played at Red and Charline McCombs Field.

Don't miss a chance to take a dip in -- or just stick your toes in -- Austin's Barton Springs Pool (2101 Barton Springs Rd). This well-loved natural spring is a cool 68 degrees Fahrenheit year-round, providing welcome relief on hot summer days to be sure, but also attracting fierce devotees who swim in all seasons, no matter what the weather.

Get active at Zilker Metropolitan Park (2100 Barton Springs Rd), one of the city's most popular hangouts for visitors and locals alike with its volleyball and soccer fields, huge trees, a great playground, and a mini-train for kids big and small that lets visitors tour the 351-acre park in comfort.

Enjoy a walk or run on the Town Lake Trail, the dammed portion of the Colorado River that runs through the middle of downtown Austin. Main trailheads are located under the Mopac Bridge off West Cesar Chavez (First Street) near Zilker Park and at First Street and Riverside Drive.

This 10-mile path is popular and easily accessed from all downtown hotels. The trail is one reason the city's been named one of the "Top 25 Running Cities" by Runner's World magazine. It's the perfect way to experience Austin's natural beauty. Bring a camera and have your picture taken by the statue of Stevie Ray Vaughan -- Austin's native son who launched his stellar blues career here.

While you're on the Town Lake Trail, take a break and stop at the Congress Avenue Bridge to view 1.5 million Mexican Free-tailed Bats emerge from under the bridge at dusk and blanket the sky between mid-March to November. There are several points from which to view the event, and an information kiosk is located on the north back of the river, just east of the bridge. Capital Cruises Austin (208 Barton Springs Rd, 512-480-9264) offers bat watching boat tours, but call to make a reservation and arrive at the boat dock 20 to 30 minutes before sunset. During your boat trip, watch for how the city looks amazing with the State Capitol glowing in the distance down Congress Avenue.

Schlitterbahn Waterpark (305 East Austin St) is another must-do option in New Braunfels between April and September. One of the largest in the country at 65-acres split between two distinct parks, it's been consistently chosen the No. 1 water park in the United States. But don't think this park is just for kids; attractions like the Master Blaster will thrill even the most jaded adult. Best bet is to book a charming cabin at one of the park's two resorts. Nestled among the trees on the banks of the Comal River, it's the best way to experience this huge park.

Before you head out of town, make a stop at the Austin Nature and Science Center (301 Nature Center Dr), a "living nature museum" in Zilker Park that opened in 1960. There's the "Eco-Detective Trail," wildlife exhibits and the incredibly cool Dino Pit exhibit, and an outdoor, hands-on exhibit with six different areas for discovery and exploration. It's great for kids and adults alike -- learning and fun at the same time.

If you're coming to Austin on a whim and aren't operating on a specific timeframe, come for the Texas Hill Country Wine & Food Festival or the Austin City Limits Music Festival. The food and wine festival is held each April and has featured foodies with Texas ties, like Bobby Flay and Drew Nieporent. The ACL Festival is named after the PBS show of the same name, which has been on the air for 31 years, and it's known for showcasing the best in new and established music, plus local food and drink, and is a must-attend event for music lovers of all ages.

Austin has a host of great museums to choose from, whether you're looking for modern art at the Blanton Museum of Art or kid-friendly exhibits at the Austin Children's Museum. On the next page, we provide more details about arts and culture in Austin. There's literally always something going on in Austin. Whether it's a music festival, arts and crafts fair, farmers market, museum exhibit, food festival, or a sports event, finding something to do is pretty easy.

When people think of Austin, they think "hip, cool music not like Texas." The city nurtures and celebrates creativity, entrepreneurship, and independence, yet it's a comfortable existence that's easy to love.

There might not be a major sports team in Austin (though San Antonio's Spurs are just 90 minutes south), but you'd never know it because most people here bleed burnt orange for the Texas Longhorns. Whether it's football, baseball, basketball, soccer or any other sport, there are opportunities galore for spectators and sports nuts. Austin's scenic beauty has also made it a mecca of sorts for golf. Pros like Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, and Fred Couples all have signature courses here.

Austin's also fraught with history, since it's the state capital and home to the Texas Legislature. Don't miss a tour of the Capitol building; it was built in 1888 of Texas Sunset Red granite from nearby Marble Falls, and is the largest statehouse in the country.

©2006 ACVB Photo/University of Texas Autumn in Austin is highlighted by Texas Longhorns football at Darrell K.  Royal Memorial Stadium.

Insider's Guide: The Best of Special Events & Attractions in Austin

Insider's Guide: The Best of Special Events & Attractions in Austin

Check out a Texas Longhorns game while you're here. Tickets are especially hard to come by for football games, but they are available. Visit the University of Texas at Austin's sports Web site for ticket information. All of the university's major sports are played on campus: Darrell K. Royal Memorial Stadium (named after UT's legendary football coach) hosts football, the Frank Erwin Special Events Center is used for basketball, and baseball is played at Red and Charline McCombs Field.

Don't miss a chance to take a dip in -- or just stick your toes in -- Austin's Barton Springs Pool (2101 Barton Springs Rd). This well-loved natural spring is a cool 68 degrees Fahrenheit year-round, providing welcome relief on hot summer days to be sure, but also attracting fierce devotees who swim in all seasons, no matter what the weather.

Get active at Zilker Metropolitan Park (2100 Barton Springs Rd), one of the city's most popular hangouts for visitors and locals alike with its volleyball and soccer fields, huge trees, a great playground, and a mini-train for kids big and small that lets visitors tour the 351-acre park in comfort.

Enjoy a walk or run on the Town Lake Trail, the dammed portion of the Colorado River that runs through the middle of downtown Austin. Main trailheads are located under the Mopac Bridge off West Cesar Chavez (First Street) near Zilker Park and at First Street and Riverside Drive.

This 10-mile path is popular and easily accessed from all downtown hotels. The trail is one reason the city's been named one of the "Top 25 Running Cities" by Runner's World magazine. It's the perfect way to experience Austin's natural beauty. Bring a camera and have your picture taken by the statue of Stevie Ray Vaughan -- Austin's native son who launched his stellar blues career here.

While you're on the Town Lake Trail, take a break and stop at the Congress Avenue Bridge to view 1.5 million Mexican Free-tailed Bats emerge from under the bridge at dusk and blanket the sky between mid-March to November. There are several points from which to view the event, and an information kiosk is located on the north back of the river, just east of the bridge. Capital Cruises Austin (208 Barton Springs Rd, 512-480-9264) offers bat watching boat tours, but call to make a reservation and arrive at the boat dock 20 to 30 minutes before sunset. During your boat trip, watch for how the city looks amazing with the State Capitol glowing in the distance down Congress Avenue.

Schlitterbahn Waterpark (305 East Austin St) is another must-do option in New Braunfels between April and September. One of the largest in the country at 65-acres split between two distinct parks, it's been consistently chosen the No. 1 water park in the United States. But don't think this park is just for kids; attractions like the Master Blaster will thrill even the most jaded adult. Best bet is to book a charming cabin at one of the park's two resorts. Nestled among the trees on the banks of the Comal River, it's the best way to experience this huge park.

Before you head out of town, make a stop at the Austin Nature and Science Center (301 Nature Center Dr), a "living nature museum" in Zilker Park that opened in 1960. There's the "Eco-Detective Trail," wildlife exhibits and the incredibly cool Dino Pit exhibit, and an outdoor, hands-on exhibit with six different areas for discovery and exploration. It's great for kids and adults alike -- learning and fun at the same time.

If you're coming to Austin on a whim and aren't operating on a specific timeframe, come for the Texas Hill Country Wine & Food Festival or the Austin City Limits Music Festival. The food and wine festival is held each April and has featured foodies with Texas ties, like Bobby Flay and Drew Nieporent. The ACL Festival is named after the PBS show of the same name, which has been on the air for 31 years, and it's known for showcasing the best in new and established music, plus local food and drink, and is a must-attend event for music lovers of all ages.

Austin has a host of great museums to choose from, whether you're looking for modern art at the Blanton Museum of Art or kid-friendly exhibits at the Austin Children's Museum. On the next page, we provide more details about arts and culture in Austin.