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Austin, Texas, music capital of the world!

© By Mike Keenan
Austin Skyline With Zilker Tree In Foreground

Think music when it comes to Austin. They even measure the distance from the airport to the city in terms of songs - a mere seven and a half miles, less than 15 minutes drive time or about four songs' worth!
     This is The Live Music Capital of the World®, with nearly 200 live music venues. The largest concentration is downtown in the high-energy bars along famed Sixth Street, the rockin' live music venues on Red River and the eclectic scene down in the Warehouse District. The East Sixth Street Capitol At Night area runs between IH-35 and Congress Avenue; the Red River area runs north from Sixth Street along Red River; the Warehouse District encompasses Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Streets, west from Congress Avenue to Guadalupe Street.
     Just a mile or two from downtown, you'll find the South Congress Avenue (SoCo) area, centred on the favourite Continental Club at 1315 S. Congress Ave. Off South Lamar in SoLa, there's the celebrated honky tonk called The Broken Spoke at 3201 South Lamar. That's just a beginning. Austin boasts more live music entertainment per capita than any other U.S. city.
     For 10 days each March, the South by Southwest Music, Film and Interactive Conference and Festivals brings people from all over the world to Austin. In September, the Austin City Limits Music Festival is a three-day outdoor music extravaganza: Now in its sixth big year, the ACL Fest spreads over 16 acres in Zilker Park and features hundreds of the best music acts in the world.
     Before you arrive here, you should become familiar with the 'Dillos.' A free 'Dillo' ride is the easy way to get around downtown and central Austin. Trolleys-on-wheels and small buses transport you around the central city; just park and enjoy the ride. Special routes are designed for lunchtime, commuters, east-and-west travel and even sightseeing from Lady Bird Lake all the way to The University of Texas®.
     Austin's weather is temperate with an average temperature of 68.5degrees. Winters are mild; spring and fall are wonderful; and the summertime is sunny and bright. With such great weather, Austin has become a film and TV production mecca besting all other Texas cities in feature film production budgets. Numerous independent and blockbuster movies have been made here, and the annual Austin Film Festival is one of the top film festivals in the country. MovieMaker magazine recently named Austin the No. 1 city to live, work and make movies in.
     What to do here besides listen to music? Here's Austin's top 10 things to do:
       Barton Springs - Three acres in size, the pool is fed from underground springs and water temperatures remain a constant, cool 68 degrees year-round. 2101 Barton Springs Road (located in Zilker Park) Austin, TX 78704 512-476-9044, http://www.ci.austin.tx.us/parks/bartonsprings.htm

Blanton Interior  Cowboy Neon Sign  Darrell K Royal - Texas Memorial Stadium  Gibson Guitar Town  Harry Ransom Center  LBJ Library

       Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum - From rare artifacts to interactive displays, the Bob Bullock Museum creatively tells the story of Texas. 1800 N. Congress Ave., Austin, TX 78701 1-866-369-7108, http://www.thestoryoftexas.com/
       Texas State Capitol - With more than one million visitors per year, the Texas State Capitol ranks as one of Austin's most popular attractions. Completed in 1886, the Texas State Capitol is the largest in square footage of all state capitols and surpasses the national Capitol in height by 14 feet. 1100 Congress Ave. Austin, TX 78701, 512-463-0063, http://www.tspb.state.tx.us/spb/plan/tours.htm
       Warehouse and Sixth Street Entertainment Districts - Four blocks of Fourth and Fifth Streets comprise the Warehouse District. The buildings have been renovated from warehouses to trendy, distinctive hot spots. Austin's Sixth Street is widely known for its unique blend of dance clubs, live music venues, restaurants and bars.
       Congress Avenue Bats - Only in Austin will you find millions of bats and thousands of humans all hanging out under the same bridge every night. Austin boasts the largest urban colony of Mexican free-tail bats in North America with a population of 1.5 million. The sunset exodus of the bats creates a nightly spectacle from March through October with onlookers watching as the nocturnal creatures emerge from beneath the Congress Avenue Bridge. First Street & Congress Avenue; Bat Conservation International, 512-327-9721, http://www.batcon.org/
       Highland Lakes - Austin stands as the gateway to seven Highland Lakes that stair step 100 miles through the Central Texas Hill Country. Area lakes offer a variety of aquatic adventures, from sailing on Lake Travis to water-skiing on Lake Austin and canoeing along Lady Bird Lake.
       Hike & Bike Trail - Ten miles of trails border Lady Bird Lake in downtown Austin and serve as a social hub for runners, walkers and cyclists.
       SoCo - One of the hippest Austin hangouts is SoCo, a colorful stretch of Congress Avenue lined with funky shops, trendy dining spots, unique accommodations, art galleries and music venues. On the first Thursday of each month, merchants keep their doors open until 10 p.m., playing host to an array of events and activities. South of the Congress Avenue Bridge; http://www.firstthursday.info/

LBJ Library  Los Lonely Boys, ACL Festival Starting Early With Sax  Texas Flag Texas State Capitol  Texas State History Museum

       Harry Ransom Center - Home to the Gutenberg Bible and the world's first photograph, the HRC also archives thirty million literary manuscripts, one million rare books, five million photographs and more than 100,000 works of art. 512-471-8944, http://www.hrc.utexas.edu/
       The Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library - The life and legacy of LBJ are on exhibit at the nation's most visited presidential library. University of Texas, 2313 Red River Street, 512-916-5137, http://www.lbjlib.utexas.edu/
     That should keep everyone busy in between the live music sessions.

Mike Keenan writes for QMI Agency (Sun Media) Canada's largest newspaper publisher, printing 44 daily newspapers as well as a web portal, Canoe.ca. Besides regular columns for the St. Catharines Standard, Welland Tribune and Niagara Falls Review. Mike has been published in the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, Buffalo Spree, Stitches, West of the City and Hamilton-Burlington's View Magazine. His work is found in QMI published dailies such as the Toronto Sun, Ottawa Sun, Vancouver Sun, London Free Press, Calgary Sun, Winnipeg Sun and Edmonton Sun.

Photo Credits
Courtesy of Austin Convention & Visitors Bureau

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Lat/Lon: 30.3° N 97.7° W
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