Downtown Austin is home to many fine attractions, and thanks to its manageable size, getting around to all of these attractions is a relatively easy pursuit. For defining purposes, the Downtown District in Austin is bounded by Lady Bird Lake to the south, Interstate 35 to the east, 11th Street to the north, and Lamar Boulevard to the west. On the north side, you could effectively draw the Downtown boundary at Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, thus including the interesting Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum as a Downtown attraction. On the other side of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, the University of Texas at Austin unfolds. The larger Downtown and University of Texas area is often referred to as Central Austin, while the area on the south side of Lady Bird Lake is known as South Austin.
There are scores of fun things to do in Downtown Austin, with trips to the Texas Capitol figuring on many a tourist's itinerary. In addition to being the largest state capitol in the country, the Texas Capitol is also one of the most beautiful. The main north-to-south street in Downtown Austin is Congress Avenue, and it runs from Lady Bird Lake on up to the Capitol campus. It is worth noting that the Congress Avenue Bridge, which spans Lady Bird Lake, is where more than a million bats roost between March and November. Each evening, a large number of these bats emerge from underneath the bridge to feed on insects. Many residents and tourists alike come to watch the show. In addition to the Capitol Building and the Bat Bridge, the Downtown Austin attractions that can be found along Congress Avenue include the beautiful and historic Paramount Theatre, which originally opened as a Vaudeville House in 1915.
Where Congress Avenue meets 6th Street in Downtown Austin, a renowned entertainment district unfolds. The seven-block stretch of 6th Street from Congress Avenue to Interstate 35 is known as the 6th Street Entertainment District, and if you are looking for fun things to do in Downtown Austin, it's a good place to start. A healthy collection of bars, clubs, restaurants, and shops can be found in this top-rated entertainment district, and if you can't find something to suit your fancy on 6th Street, you might wander over to the Warehouse District or the Red River District to see what's going on. Both the 6th Street Entertainment District and the Red River District figure among the best places in the country to catch some live music, while the Warehouse District is known for its upscale restaurants and bars.
Downtown Austin is a mix of newer buildings, some of which are skyscrapers, and historic buildings, many of which date back to the 1800s. The majority of the older buildings house restaurants, bars, clubs, and shops, and thanks to their overall attractiveness, they help to make the Texas Capital ideal for walking tours. Should you be looking to add some interesting Downtown Austin attractions to your walking tour, there are a handful of excellent museums to be found in the district, including the Austin Museum of Art. While the Governor's Mansion fell victim to arson in 2008, it too is worth a look. Restorations aim to restore the mansion to its former glory, and public tours will resume once it re-opens.
These are just some of the options for things to do in Downtown Austin, and should you cross over Lady Bird Lake and venture into South Austin, the options will only become more complete. In addition to Zilker Park and the Long Center for the Performing Arts, which are close enough to be Downtown Austin attractions, South Austin also boasts the trendy South Congress District, or SoCo. Some cool clubs, bars, restaurants, shops, and hotels can be found in SoCo, and on the first Thursday of every month, a mini festival of sorts encourages visitors to drop on by for some fun events and activities.
Thanks to the quality of the Downtown Austin attractions, many visitors to the Texas Capital look to book a stay at one of the Downtown hotels. There are some very attractive hotels in the heart of town, including the upscale Four Seasons and the more budget-friendly Holiday Inn, and since rooms tend to go fast, booking your stay in advance is recommended. It is worth noting that the Downtown Austin hotels fill up extra fast when festivals such as SXSW, Austin City Limits, and the Austin Film Festival are going on.