Tacos, live music, spring-fed swimming holes, a free bat show every night downtown, rugged natural beauty, and a laid-back free spirit — what’s not to love about Austin? Located in central Texas, it’s where the South meets the Southwest, and where the grassy, rolling Southern Plains meets the wooded canyons of the Hill Country. You’ll see magnolias and live oaks mingling with agaves and prairie grasses, and late-spring wildflowers like Mexican hat and blanket flower coloring the roadsides.
Austin’s a town famous for “keeping it weird,” where rednecks and hippies originally found common ground listening to Willie Nelson in local honky-tonks, and where you can still go two-stepping at the Broken Spoke or rock out with thousands at Austin City Limits Music Festival. It’s the Live Music Capital of the World and home to the long-running Austin City Limits TV show. Great live music can be heard any night of the week at downtown clubs.
It’s a high-tech city dubbed Silicon Hills and a creative hub where the South by Southwest (SXSW) Conference brings the world to Austin each spring to explore the convergence of the interactive, film, and music industries. Our skyline bristles with cranes as new high-rises sprout up seemingly every day — to the dismay of many long-time Austinites, who reminisce about when “Austin was cool” and undiscovered.
Austinites love the outdoors and enjoy plentiful trails, parks, natural springs, rivers, and lakes. Lady Bird Lake, a dammed section of the Colorado River, runs through downtown, and the popular Hike-and-Bike Trail around it is a perfect spot to work off some tacos; look for bike-rental stands or just bring your walking shoes. You can also rent paddleboards, swan pedal boats, or kayaks and enjoy some water time (no swimming though). If you want to swim, or just see the “soul of Austin,” Barton Springs Pool, a chilly spring-fed swimming pool, is a can’t-miss attraction, located in Zilker Park just south of downtown.
Austin is the capital of Texas, and history and architecture buffs will enjoy a tour of the Texas Capitol building and Bullock Texas History Museum. As a liberal city in the middle of a conservative state — the blueberry in the cherry pie — Austin’s local government often locks horns with its state leadership, though its citizens are equally proud to call themselves Texans. It goes without saying, but the Austin Fling welcomes all garden bloggers regardless of race, religion, sexual or gender orientation, and you’ll find that Austin welcomes you too.
Early May is a wonderful time to see Austin’s gardens at their best. Many flowering plants will be at peak bloom before summer’s heat arrives. Temperatures in early May are generally warm but comfortable, with average highs in the low 80sF (around 27.7C) and lows in the mid-60s (18.3C). While it’ll be too late in the season for the famous Texas bluebonnets (though you might see a few hangers-on), you can expect to see plenty of late-spring wildflowers like gaillardia and ratibida and other coneflowers in colorful bloom.
I’ve only touched on all that Austin has to offer as a travel destination, but I hope it sounds fun! We’ll be sharing lots more about Austin and its gardens in weeks to come, including, next week, the itinerary. It’s getting real, friends!
Pam at Digging