The slogan, “Keep Austin Weird” intrigued me the moment I saw it on a t-shirt in a resale shop.
I’ve seen weird often on the streets of Houston.
Austin somehow found a way to encourage being weird, and I wanted to do more than read it on someone else’s old t-shirt. I wanted to see it.
Planning the Trip
I recommend leaving for Austin early. There’s really no way to avoid I-35. The traffic is horrible, and there is construction along parts of the freeway that adds to the frustration. It took almost 4 hours to drive from Fort Worth.
If visiting during the summer, dress comfortably, wear sunscreen and prepare to sweat. It was 104° and felt like the sun was trying to liquefy me. You also need plenty of water and possibly a change of clothes.
It helps to compile a list of places you want to visit and choose lodging based on the distance. You won’t be able to see everything in Austin in a weekend – or even a week, so plan activities that allow you to enjoy the city without feeling overbooked. During my first visit, I planned to tour the State Capitol, explore Bullock Museum and walk down legendary 6th Street to see if it was truly the home of all things weird.
Bullock Museum Texas State Historic Museum
The first stop on the tour of Austin was the Bullock Museum
Bullock Texas State History Museum sits on the corner of Congress Avenue with an underground parking garage that is free after 4pm, but otherwise costs $12. In front of the museum stands a huge, bronze Texas star and the 6 flags that make up Texas’ history (Spain, France, Mexico, Republic of Texas and the United States.) The scene is visually striking but only a glimpse of what is inside.
The museum has 3 floors accessible by stairs or elevator. There are many things to see, and each artifact tells its own unique story about Texas history.
It takes about 2 – 2 ½ hours to tour the entire museum, which covers everything from the settlement of Texas to Space Exploration. There is even an Austin City Limits exhibit where you can sit and view Austin City Limits performances from some of Texas’ home-grown musical superstars.
After touring the museum, stop by the Imax theater to see what is playing. The popcorn is tasty, the beverages have unusual names and the sound and picture quality is excellent.
The Texas Capitol
The State Capital is within walking distance of the museum – just a little over 1 ½ miles. Don’t pass this one up. It is absolutely beautiful close-up and admission is free. I toured the law library, which is still in use, saw the Supreme Courtroom used from 1888 – 1959, and the Court of Criminal Appeals, which was used from 1891 -1959. The best part of the tour was watching an actual legislative session in progress, which is truly remarkable to see. Check it out for yourself. You will not be disappointed.
6th Street is filled with friendly, happy people who appear to love life. There are bars on both sides of the street with restaurants and shops buried in the middle. It wasn’t a crazy scene when I visited in the daytime, but I cannot attest to what happens when the moon comes out.
Live music can be heard from some of the bars, people are on the sidewalks and sometimes in the street.
The area was nice, but one thing caught me off guard. I didn’t expect to see such a large homeless population in the area. Many sat on the ground outside a nearby shelter while others walked the streets asking for money. The locals didn’t bat an eye, and I pondered what the city could be doing to improve their plight
As I drove back to the hotel, a little old lady flipped me off on the freeway. I laughed as she flew past me, and I settled into the realization that Austin might not be so weird after all.