7 weird and wonderful reasons to visit Austin, Texas
What do you look for when booking a holiday: a chance to relax or an adventure to embark on? Well, if you’re after a bit of everything may we recommend Austin?
The capital city of Texas boasts over 200 parks, more than 50 miles of trails, endless music and food options and even a 45-foot waterfall. But as well as the obvious attributes, Austin has a reputation for being one of the quirkiest, strangest and unique places in America; independent businesses even coined ‘Keep Austin Weird’ to encourage locals and visitors to shop small.
So as Virgin Atlantic adds Austin, Texas to its list of destinations, here are a few weird and wonderful things to do in the capital of the Lone Star State.
Watch bats fly over from Congress Avenue Bridge
Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge crosses the Lady Bird Lake in central Austin, but while it boasts several hiking and biking trails, the bridge is most famous for its bats. Yes, bats. Over 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats roost under the bridge and emerge at dusk to feed from spring to autumn. This has become a nightly event, and there’s even an ‘emergency bat hotline’ to find out exactly when they’re most likely to take flight. Better yet there’s a Batfest every summer with food, music and performances on the bridge.
This is one of the largest bat colonies in the world, making it a truly unique event to witness.
Visit the Cathedral of Junk
Like any major city Austin has a plethora of museums, but for some unique art we suggest stopping by the famous Cathedral of Junk. Created by artist Vince Hannemann aka the Junk King, the structure is made up of random items like CDs, licence plates, trolleys and basketball hoops. He began constructing in 1988 and it has since become a pilgrimage for lovers of cool and kitsch art.
One thing to note: Hannemann built this in his actual backyard so visits are by phone appointment only.
Located in a remote area along the shoreline of Lake Travis, Hippie Hollow spans over 100 acres and includes swimming areas, hiking trails and perfect spots for an afternoon picnic. Just a 30-minute drive from downtown Austin, Hippie Hollow - originally known as McGregor County Park - gained popularity in the 1960s during the free love era and to this day is the only clothing-optional park in Texas. Hippie Hollow is adults-only, for obvious reasons.
Grab a pair at Allen’s Boots
You can’t go to France without overloading on pastry and you can’t go to Texas without checking out some of the state’s famous wares. Allen’s Boots has been an Austin tradition since opening in 1977, selling premium footwear to locals and tourists alike. Located in the popular South Congress shopping district, Allen’s Boots has every shade, shape and style of cowboy boot you could imagine.
Play at Peter Pan Mini-Golf
For fun and games you should stop by Peter Pan Mini-Golf, a family staple since 1948. The two 18-hole courses each have an array of handcrafted sculptures and obstacles including a Converse trainer, clown head, giant T-rex and Peter Pan himself. While it’s a great option for families, they do have a BYOB option for adults.
View the HOPE Outdoor gallery
Across the road from the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, the Hope Outdoor Gallery is the rebranded home of colourful murals and graffiti art previously known as Graffiti Park. Now guests can attend art classes and cultural events as well as checking out the art famous pieces on display.
Shop for souvenirs at Uncommon Objects
Instead of the inevitable last-minute shop for souvenirs at the airport, we suggest you stop by Uncommon Objects, a famously quirky establishment with seemingly endless knick knacks, jewellery, sports memorabilia, and more. It’s easy to peruse the shop for a while thanks to its maze-like shelves and you’re guaranteed to find something unique for a loved one and yourself - the perfect way to remember your trip.
Find out more about using your Virgin Points for a trip to Austin.