Whether you’re here for the outdoors, culture, or big events, you’ll discover why Austin’s earned a reputation for being one of the best places to live. In this Section SPORTS TEAMS ACTIVITIES DOG PARKS PERFORMING ARTS AUSTIN–AREA PARKS MUSEUMS MUSIC FILM AUSTIN–AREA EVENTS From world-class golf courses and champion sports teams to beautiful parks and endless cultural stimulation, the lifestyle in Austin is unmatched anywhere else. MORE THAN 193 MILES OF WELLsurfaced scenic paths follow natural greenbelts into all areas of the city. The Veloway is a 3. 1-mile paved, looped track that is open to the public for bicycle and rollerblade traffic only. Play basketball on a city court, or work out at one of the many gyms in town. Whatever kind of athlete you are, Austin is the place to be. Donated to the city in 1917, Zilker Park is a 350-acre recreational park located in the heart of Austin. Bustling nearly every day of the week, Zilker offers attractions that include Barton Springs Pool, the famous 1,000-footlong spring-fed pool with a year-round water temperature of 68 degrees. Also popular are the Zilker Zephyr mini-train ride, Umlauf Sculpture Garden, Zilker Hillside Theater, soccer and volleyball fields, the Nature and Science Center, and Zilker Botanical Garden. Events held in the park range from the ever-popular Austin City Limits Music Festival in early fall to the Zilker Park Kite Festival, held annually for more than 85 years in early spring. The Austin hike-and-bike trail on Lady Bird Lake is one of the true staples in many Austinites’ fit lifestyles. The trail is 10.3 miles, but the most popular route is 3 miles roundtrip. Lady Bird Lake is partly encircled by the hike-and-bike trail and is a popular spot for paddleboarding, kayaking, and rowing. Lake Austin, connected to Lady Bird Lake, is the in-town place for boating and wake boarding, while Lake Travis, the largest lake in the region, covering more than 18,600 acres, is a prime spot for waterskiing, sailing, fishing, and swimming. Don’t miss the sunset on Lake Travis, especially from one of the five-story Oasis restaurant’s balconies that majestically overlook the lake. Barton Creek Greenbelt, 7.9 miles long and 809 acres, is a very popular area. With sheer cliff walls, lush vegetation, and popular swimming areas, the Barton Creek Greenbelt beckons year round. Also within the city limits in southeast Austin is the 640-acre McKinney Falls State Park. Mount Bonnell is generally considered the highest point in Austin, at 775 feet, and can be accessed by climbing 100 stone steps or taking an easier grade to the top. Mayfield Park and Preserve, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, Wild Basin Preserve, and Bull Creek Greenbelt are all in-town venues that make it easy to enjoy the outdoors on Austin’s many beautiful days. The sizable Central Texas rock-climbing community views Reimers Ranch as a destination with world-class rock climbing. The active local mountain biking community also enjoys Reimers Ranch’s 18-plus miles of trails through the classic Central Texas landscape. About 30 miles southwest of Austin, Hamilton Pool Preserve is a historic swimming hole created by Hamilton Creek spilling over limestone outcroppings in a 50-foot waterfall that plunges into the head of a steep box canyon. The waterfall never completely dries up, but in dry times it does slow to a trickle. Other day trips might include Krause Springs, Blue Hole in Wimberley, Buescher Park, Bastrop State Park, or Fredericksburg’s spectacular Enchanted Rock. SPORTS TEAMS & EVENTS Sports fans, grab your binoculars! There’s nothing like the roar of the crowd, the electric pulse of a packed stadium, and that satisfied feeling when you leave the arena hoarse from cheering for your team. Home to seven area colleges and universities, including the Big 12 Conference’s University of Texas, the greater Austin area has no shortage of opportunities to take in college sporting events. Tailgating at UT football games might even be considered a spectator sport, too, what with all the cooking, costuming, and tall tales. The Austin Spurs NBA D-League basketball team, AHL ice hockey team Texas Stars, and AAA baseball team Round Rock Express all serve up top-notch sports entertainment for sure. Pack up the family and head out for an evening of great fun. Austin is proud to serve as the host city of the Formula 1 United States Grand Prix™ for the years 2012 through 2021. Drivers and fans will have the opportunity to enjoy racing excitement at the state-of-the-art Circuit of the Americas facility that holds 120,000 fans. Beginning in 2016, Austin Country Club will host four years of the PGA Tour’s World Golf Championships: Dell Match Play tournament. ACTIVITIES Staying active comes easy in Austin. Whether you’re training for a marathon or want a low-key volleyball game that gives you and your coworkers an excuse to drink beer, you can keep moving seven days a week. The City of Austin is designated a Bicycle Friendly Community, and while you’ll find many who bike to work, for most of us biking is for fun or competition. Ride for the Roses Weekend is a longstanding tradition, as are other bicycle races and events coordinated by Livestrong. The Austin Sports and Social Club organizes fun and competitive team sports, with a happy hour following every game. Locals and newcomers alike enjoy a fun combination of sports and socializing. Aussie’s Grill and Beach Bar hosts coed volleyball leagues Sunday through Friday nine months of the year. With nearly 50 area golf courses and amiable weather most any day of the year, Austin is any golfer’s dream. If miniature golf is more your style, head over to Peter Pan, just south of downtown. And for an entirely different experience, try your hand at disc golf in Zilker Park. Austin’s yoga community continues to grow, with studios featuring many different yoga practices, so you’re sure to find the right place with a little searching. Lululemon and others offer free classes. Rent a canoe or kayak, head to the ice rink, or strap on your rollerblades and hit the Veloway on the south side of town. We have bowling alleys scattered around the city, too, so find your pleasure and get your move on. DOG PARKS There are 11 off-leash areas in Austin maintained by the Parks and Recreation Department. Most parks are open from 5 a.m. until 10 p.m. barring events or closings for maintenance. The following are rules for Austin off-leash areas: • Dogs must be within sight and sound control of owners/handlers at all times • Dogs in heat are not allowed in off-leash areas • Rabies vaccinations are required for all dogs, per state law • Owners/handlers must clean up after their dogs and deposit waste into a trash can • Aggressive dogs must be removed from public spaces immediately When not in these specified areas, the Austin leash ordinance requires dogs to be on a leash no longer than six feet on all city land. The maximum fine for not following this ordinance is $500. PERFORMING ARTS Come in, sit down, and be swept away. Spend one evening enjoying world-class entertainment in any of Austin’s outstanding performance venues, and you’ll be hooked. The Long Center for the Performing Arts is the permanent home for the Austin Symphony Orchestra, Austin Lyric Opera, and Ballet Austin. Built on the site of the old Palmer Auditorium, it features two acoustically superior theaters under one roof and a stunning outdoor terrace with towering pillars and arches overlooking the lake and the downtown skyline. The Paramount Theatre, located in the heart of downtown and Congress Avenue’s crown jewel, is one of Austin’s most cherished possessions. It has been a beacon of performing arts in the city for nearly 100 years since it opened in 1915 as the Majestic Theatre. Originally a home for vaudeville performances, the stage has been graced by many of today’s stars—and yesterday’s as well. Bass Concert Hall, located on the University of Texas campus, hosts the Broadway Across America series and among other shows, the annual Nutcracker ballet, which traditionally features local celebrities in the role of Mother Ginger. Ranking among the finest performance spaces in the country in both size and accoutrements, Bass Concert Hall attracts the world’s greatest performers and full-scale productions. Specially designed for excellent acoustics, UT’s Bates Recital Hall is a 700-seat venue that is capable of hosting everything from symphony orchestras, major choral presentations, and concert bands to ensembles and solo recitals. The hall also houses the country’s largest tracker organ. Based on an 18th-century Dutch design, the Visser-Rowland organ is three stories tall, weighs 24 tons, and has 5,315 pipes. Zach Theatre is a professional regional theater producing plays and musicals, and offering camps and education for kids, teens, and adults. Dougherty Arts Center and Mary Moody Northern Theatre at St. Edward’s University offer additional variety, and for outrageous comedy, the eccentric Esther’s Follies can’t be beat. MUSIC Austin’s live music scene does not disappoint. Known as the “Live Music Capital of the World,” Austin lives up to its name, with more than 1,900 bands and performing artists calling the Austin area home. Many world-renowned musicians got their start in Austin, including Stevie Ray Vaughan, Willie Nelson, and Janis Joplin. To this day, Austin still maintains that spirit of musical expression and creative freedom. On any night of the week, nearly 200 musical acts appear along our famed Sixth Street. You can find music of all types here in Austin, from bluegrass to jazz to rock ’n’ roll. Music constantly fills the air and lends the city a distinctively soulful atmosphere not found anywhere else. Blues-rock, one of Austin’s major cultural exports, can be heard along 6th Street every night. The Continental Club on South Congress Avenue has become a gathering place for fans of Americana, country, and singer-songwriter acts, with living local legends like James Mc- Murtry and Dale Watson playing regularly. Austin also is known as a breeding ground for many indie bands. To hear some of the new sounds coming out of Austin, pop into Mohawk or Stubb’s BBQ in the Red River District just north of historic Sixth Street. The South by Southwest (SXSW) music festival in March, as well as October’s Austin City Limits Music Festival, have put Austin even more prominently on the map when it comes to live music. People travel from all over the world for these yearly events to hear such acts as the Eagles, Norah Jones, Muse, and the Black Keys, as well as up-and-coming bands. We’ve got ACL Live at the Moody Theater, the Elephant Room, and Emo’s (and more!), but this is Austin and you’ll find music in the streets during an art festival—or even at Austin’s old power plant, where Kanye West (who incorporated a local high school marching band in one of his sets) once took the stage during SXSW. Looking for music and a family-friendly scene? Check out Central Market on North Lamar, where you can find live music a few nights a week and enough playground and green space to entertain the kids. FILM Lights, camera... action! Movies are made here, written here, produced here, and loved here. Join the industry or enjoy the fruits of the community’s labor—either way, Austin’s film scene rocks. Listed as No. 1 in MovieMaker magazine’s 10 Best Places to Live and Work as a Moviemaker in 2013, Austin has developed a reputation as a center for movie production that has been growing, especially since the City of Austin and the State of Texas have established new film incentives for filmmakers and productions. Today, film shoots are as common as running into a local celeb at your favorite Mexican joint. Lonesome Dove, Fast Food Nation, Secondhand Lions, Miss Congeniality, True Grit, and the Friday Night Lights TV series are a few of the productions that have been filmed in Austin, and filmmakers Robert Rodriguez and Richard Linklater, actor Matthew McConaughey, and actress Sandra Bullock are among a growing number of movie-industry luminaries who have called the Austin area home. A partnership between the city and the Austin Film Society created Austin Studios, 20 acres of film and video production facilities close to downtown Austin. This complex features an 8,000-square-foot production office building and 79,000 square feet of production space, including areas for set construction, wardrobe, and sound stages as well as acres of paved parking. Recognized as a leader by people in the industry, Austin boasts the wildly successful South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Conference and Festival, and the equally prestigious Austin Film Festival, both of which originated in 1994. These festivals have won national acclaim, attracting directors, stars, producers, and film shoots to the Lone Star State. Within six years, the two festivals blossomed in prestige as well as attendance. Held each March as part of a series that includes a music festival, a conference, and an interactive festival, SXSW has grown into an international event. Meanwhile, the Austin Film Festival, which focuses on screenwriters, is held every year in October. Past winners of the festival’s screenplay competition include Max D. Adams, whose screenplay Excess Baggage took the top prize in 1994 and was later made into a feature film. All this acclaim adds up to a new era in moviemaking— Austin-style.
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