Austin is the hub of Texas politics, the home of Texas music, the heart of the state and the perfect place for a weekend getaway. Cool and trendy, the city lures visitors with a mix of culture, scenery and the possibility of spotting a celebrity or two. You never know when you might bump into Sandra Bullock, Matthew McConaughey or Willie Nelson. Whether you want to spot celebs, enhance your knowledge of the history of the state, step out at night on 6th Street or just relax in the beauty of central Texas, Austin is the perfect spot to let loose for the weekend.
Getting There

From the north and northwest areas of Houston, head out US 290 and check out Brenham and Giddings on the three-hour drive into the northern side of downtown Austin. From the rest of the city, take I-10 west to Luling, and then head north on U.S. 183 into the south side of town, or hop off I-10 at Columbus and take TX-71 through La Grange, Smithville and Bastrop into the state’s capital city.

What To Do

Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum
1800 N. Congress Ave.
Austin, TX 78711
(512) 936-8746

Price: $9 adults/$6 children (4 to 17)/$7 seniors (65 and older) and military/$8 adult IMAX tickets/$6 children (4 to 17)/$7 seniors (65 and older) and military

A must for Texas history buffs and kids who are studying it in school, this museum is filled with three floors of exhibits that share the history of the land, the cultures and the industries that shaped the state. Many exhibits are interactive to keep even the youngest visitors fascinated. Through Oct. 14, visitors may see a special exhibit on the roots of Texas music and the people who shaped the genre. For a bigger-than-life treatment of this bigger-than-life state, check out “Texas: The Big Picture” in the IMAX theatre.

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Barton Springs Pool
2101 Barton Springs Road
Austin, TX 78704
(512) 867-3080

Prices: $1 to $3 per person

Not your average municipal pool, this scenic spot is a popular destination. Fed by natural underground springs, the average water temperature is 68 degrees, no matter what the thermometer says. Bring a picnic lunch and find a spot on the grassy hillside to take in the sun. This one’s definitely for the whole family with perfect water, plenty of sunshine and gorgeous scenery.

The Broken Spoke
3201 S. Lamar Blvd.
Austin, TX 78704
(512) 442-6189

Billing itself as the last of the true Texas dance halls, this is the spot in Austin for some real honky-tonk music. Check out the memorabilia and hundreds of photos of the country music stars that have honed their skills there before two-stepping out on the dance floor to some of the new bands looking to follow in their famous predecessors’ footsteps. The Spoke also offers menu items and boasts that Willie Nelson still stops in once in a while for a chicken fried steak.

(credit: Thinkstock)

State Capitol Building & Visitors Center
112 E. 11th St.
Austin, TX 78711
(512) 305-8400

Prices: free

Don’t go to the state capital and visit the state capitol. This is a great excursion for the whole family to see where the state’s business is done. Start at the Visitors Center on the southeast corner of the grounds and walk across the shaded grounds to the capitol rotunda to begin the free guided tour. If the time is right, you might see a state representative, senator or even the governor. Designed to resemble the nation’s capitol building in Washington, D.C., seeing the architectural structure is worth the trip alone.


1610 S. Congress St.
Austin, TX 78704
(512) 441-6100

Upscale yet casual, this well-appointed restaurant offers pizza, pasta, antipasti and salads made daily from fresh ingredients, but because it is a popular spot, reservations are recommended. The extensive wine list will please the choosiest of connoisseurs. Save room for tiramisu and coffee to top off dinner. For the health-conscious diner, it also offers gluten-free pasta.

(credit: Lonnie King)

South Austin Trailer Park & Eatery
1311 S. 1st St.
Austin, TX 78704
(512) 366-0537

Trailer eateries are becoming something of a phenomenon in Austin and this home to Torchy’s Tacos, Holy Cacao and a handful of other eclectic food vendors is a trendy spot that offers a tasty variety of foods and sweets. There’s sure to be something to please everyone in the group. Grab a spot to enjoy your selections at the picnic tables under the shade of the grand oak trees. Don’t be concerned, these vendors are much-loved local institutions and their health permits are prominently displayed.


The Driskill Hotel
604 Brazos St.
Austin, TX 78701
(512) 474-5911

Prices: from $249 per night

This Texas landmark, built in 1886, offers its guests the finest in luxury accomodations for a getaway weekend. As much a part of the history of the city as any of the artifacts in the nearby museums, this downtown hotel also offers convenient access to the capitol building, 6th Street and the University of Texas’ main campus. Enjoy the best in live music from local artists in The Driskill Bar or sample great menu items from either the Driskill Grill or the 1886 Cafe & Bakery.

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Lonnie King is a freelance writer living in Houston. His work can be found at