Cambria Harkey, Capital Sports and Entertainment
Find Cowboy Heritage, Musical Heaven & Formula 1 Speed In Texas Hill Country
In Texas Hill Country you’ll find the very heart and soul of the Lone Star State. This is where beauty and character collide: the beautiful rolling hills, sparkling rivers and bold displays of wildflowers are matched equally with the independent spirit of the Texas Hill County people.
From its lush rolling hills to its craggy cacti-dotted landscapes, this is a region for hiking, mountain biking, caving and rock climbing. And some of the most rustic and refined inhabitants in the state not only coexist here, they somehow seem to complement each other: the high tech and hippie, the cowboy and cosmopolitan happily rub shoulders in Texas Hill County.
The state capital, Austin, enjoys some 300 days of sunshine each year, so no wonder the locals feel so good! This is also the top location for moviemaking in Texas, and the home of directors Robert Rodriguez, Mike Judge and Richard Linklater. Recent area productions include The Tree of Life and True Grit.
Today, the city bills itself as the ‘Live Music Capital of the World’. In Austin, you can honky-tonk yourself silly. The city has almost 200 live music venues, and its musical reputation has been further solidified with the South by Southwest Music, Film and Interactive conferences in March and the Austin City Limits Music Festival in October.
The east side of Austin is currently undergoing an incredible renaissance, where historic homes, high-end restaurants and old-school barbecue joints sit side by side. Alternatively, politicos, hipsters and students mingle in the antique shops, eclectic restaurants and vintage retailers of South Congress Avenue.
If you’re in search of the ‘Cowboy Capital of the World’ – and let’s face it, who isn’t in Texas? – the small town of Bandera completely embraces the Wild West lifestyle. On occasion you still see the locals riding their horses through town. The area is also known for its many dude ranches.
Art & Culture
In Austin, the Harry Ransom Center houses an amazing 41 million literary, film, photographic, cultural and historic artifacts, including original costumes from Gone with the Wind, Woodward and Bernstein’s Watergate papers and Gertrude Stein’s diary.
The Story of Texas attraction at the Bullock Texas State History Museum traces the state’s history from before European exploration to the early 1970s. The Texas Spirit Theater’s Star of Destiny show includes 3-D images, special effects and shaking seats.
In Bandera the Our Frontier Times Museum provides a glimpse of Bandera’s past, while the Western Heritage Park chronicles the town’s history as a staging area for the Great Western Cattle Drive of the 1800s. The Bandera Cattle Company stages historical gunfights every Saturday.
There are plenty of ways to create some family memories in Austin. Thrill seekers can get their adrenaline pumping at Austin Zipline Adventures, while the young-at-art can get their kicks at the Flamingo Ranch Outdoor Art Studio.
You can also play in the wind tunnel at the iFly Austin Indoor Skydiving Company, or blow off some steam on the ‘Zilker Zephyr’, an iconic open-top miniature train that has been carrying passengers on a 25-minute tour alongside Barton Creek and Lady Bird Lake for more than 50 years.
Of course, a visit to a dude ranch is always a big hit with the kids. In Bandera’s ranches, activities include horseback riding, hayrides and cook-outs. Kids always enjoy the Saturday afternoon staged gunfights, and at the end of the show they are deputized and given a certificate to receive an ice cream at Bandera’s old-style ice cream parlour. During the summer months the weekend rodeos are also hugely popular.
Dining & Nightlife
Like all the coolest cities in the U.S., Austin boasts a vibrant mobile food trailer scene. For affordable feeds, keep your eyes peeled for Chi’lantro for Korean tacos, and the Holy Cacao for cake balls and iced chocolate.
The city’s uber-funky east side has a fabulous array of eclectic eateries. Founded by Top Chef Texas winner, Paul Qui, the Liberty Bar has a great beer garden, while the house punch and afternoon tea simply have to be sampled at the Hillside Farmacy, which is housed in an old 1950s’ pharmacy. The Scoot Inn is the oldest beer bar in Austin, and the owners are often found barbecuing in the shady beer garden out back, where a $2 donation will buy you a burger.
There’s also a very healthy craft brewing scene in central Texas. Some 20 breweries have popped up in Austin over the last few years. Every new pub that opens – Pinthouse Pizza, Hopfields, Craft Pride, Chicago House, Bangers, HiHat – seems to tout its craft beer selection.
For indie rock, electronic, metal, punk and hip hop, make your way to The Mohawk in the Red River District, or for some country-style ambience, head to the Rattle Inn in the Warehouse District. This bar is decked out with faux snakeskin booths and real deer antlers. You can listen to live music or head to the upstairs outside patio to take in the views of Austin’s beautiful skyline. Don’t be surprised if you bump into co-owner and Austin music legend Ray Benson of Asleep at the Wheel.
In Bandera you’ll find the O.S.T Restaurant, which features a room that is filled with photos of John Wayne. For the ultimate Wild West experience, you can even sit on a saddle while you order your food! Formula 1 United States
Feel the speed at Austin’s Circuit of the Americas (CoTA). The track is the only purpose-built facility in the United States designed for Formula 1 racing, and it is the host circuit for the United States Grand Prix from 2012 to 2021. The circuit is designed to be open year-round as a premier entertainment facility.
The X Factor
Things can get a bit batty in Austin. The city is home to North America’s largest urban bat colony – that’s between 750,000 and 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats. Between April and October, crowds gather to see the bats emerge from under the Congress Avenue Bridge. The event has become one of the most spectacular and unusual tourist attractions in the region.Austin CVB
Texas Hill Country: What’s On?
Fun Fun Fun Fest, November 8 to 10
Formula 1 United States Grand Prix, November 15 to 17
Armadillo Christmas Bazaar, December 17 to 24
Austin’s New Year, December 31
Martin Luther King Jr. March & Festival, January
Carnaval Brasileiro, February 1
Austin Marathon, February 16
SXSW Music, Film, and Interactive Conference and Festivals, March 7 to 16
Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays and Austin Urban Music Festival, March 26 to 29
Austin 10/20, April 13
Moontower Comedy and Oddity Festival, April 23 to 26