Five Things Not to Miss in Austin

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Austin a great destination for the SC15 conference. In this special guest feature from the Print ‘n Fly Guide to SC15, William Wallace describes five things not to miss in Austin.

AustinAustin, once a sleepy college town known for being home to state government of ces and the Texas’ biggest university, has become over the last several years a vibrant, hip, dynamic city with a robust tech sector. Now a destination spot for tourists, festivalgoers and convention attendees, Austin has opened its arms to its many visitors with tons of fun and exciting things to do. The following are 5 must dos in the city as well as additional recommendations for the excellent food and entertainment scene.

1) Lady Bird Lake

The center of Austin both literally and figuratively is the beautiful lake named after the former First Lady, Lady Bird Johnson. Stretching from one end of the city to the other and beyond, the lake serves as Austin’s outdoor social and physical activity playground. Take an energizing run along the lake’s miles and miles of verdant shore- side trails or rent a kayak or paddle board for gorgeous views of downtown Austin and the city’s West Hills. If this might seem like too much activity after a long day at the conference, a leisurely walk around the lake is as inviting as it is relaxing.

2) The Texas Capitol

The Italian Renaissance building made of locally sourced and beautiful red granite is 14 feet taller than the nation’s capitol (in typical, everything’s bigger fashion) and sits resplendently at the base of Austin’s Congress Ave. Guided tours will take you through the stunning architecture and its many quirky features as well as shed light on the fascinating tales from The Capitol’s storied past. Too pretty out to be inside? Grab a lunch from one of the many cafes or food carts in the surrounding area and sit under the trees among the capitol’s gorgeously formal landscaping.

3) The Bats of Congress Avenue

With the stately capitol behind you, walk up Congress Ave. to the Ann W. Richards Bridge on Lady Bird Lake at sunset to witness the spectacular show. The 1.5 million Mexican Free-Tailed Bats — the largest urban bat colony in the world—leave the bridge en masse on their hunt for a dinner of local, unsuspecting insects. While late November is the tail-end (ahem) of the season, the bats should still be around at SC’15 to wow and amaze with their swirling aerial acrobatics.

4) The University of Texas

Take a walk or short Uber/taxi ride from downtown past the capitol building a few blocks north to the sprawling University campus. A stroll through the area will reveal the University’s wonderful architecture that ranges from the Beaux-Arts Main Building to Classical to Modern examples. The University is home to 17 significantly sized libraries—including the LBJ Library—and several world-class museums. A must-see is a super rare complete version of The Gutenberg Bible at The Harry Ransom Center. One of only seven (complete or not) in North America, the bible was published in 1454 and has in nite historical/ aesthetic value. The Blanton Art Museum by the University’s football stadium is home to a superb array of various styles and techniques. With over 18,000 pieces, the well-endowed museum is particularity strong in American/ Contemporary and Latin American Art.

5) South Congress Neighborhood

In the other direction from downtown up Congress Ave. beyond the bridge lies the funky, eclectic South Congress neighborhood known as SoCo. The area hearkens back to Austin’s hippie, college town vibe but is squarely in the present. A walk up one side then down the other is a good 1-2 mile jaunt that has many things to see and do. Visit one of the numerous area boutiques to nd cowboy boots, locally made jewelry, vintage clothes and contemporary styles. Stop in and listen to a happy hour set at one of the several music venues. Don’t miss the Continental Club — a fantastic step-back in time at 1315 S Congress Ave. Feel like relaxing with a cup of coffee or cold Shiner Bock? Involve yourself in perhaps SoCo’s greatest activity—people watching. Look forward to scores and scores of interesting people, street-performing buskers, and vintage hot rods as you grab a snack and a delicious local beverage.

printnflyAustinThis article was originally published in the Print ‘n Fly Guide to SC15 in Austin. We designed this Guide to be an in-flight magazine custom tailored for your journey to SC15 — the world’s largest gathering of high performance computing professionals.

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