What is Austin, Texas Known For? (15 Things It’s Famous For)

Austin is the capital city of Texas and the southernmost state capital in the US. It has a total area of 305.1 square miles, of which 7.2 square miles is water. Texas became part of Mexico when it gained independence from Spain in 1810. However, the Texas Revolution from 1835 to 1836 freed the state from the Mexicans and turned it into an independent country with its own president. It became the 28th state of the US in 1845. 

Austin is known for its music scene. It’s called the “The Live Music Capital of the World” because it has many live music venues and thousands of musicians. It also has a music program called Austin City Limits that has been running since 1974 to present.

The Live Music Capital of the World

Austin officially had the slogan “The Live Music Capital of the World” in 1991 after discovering the city had a higher earning with its live music venues than other places in the country. You’ll find thousands of musicians, including performing artists and bands, in various venues, from theaters to coffee shops. As mentioned, there’s also the Austin City Limits, which is a long-running music program that still airs today. A music festival of the same name also happens every year. Other festivals to look forward to are South by Southwest, Lucktoberfest, and Levitation. 

Its Other Slogan Is Keep Austin Weird

Austin has many quirky things you can check out, such as the Museum of the Weird and Cathedral of the Junk. In addition, there are odd shops and murals to visit and snap some pictures of. Unique activities to try include turtle racing and chicken shit bingo. Many tourists get curious about the city because of these peculiar things, which is why it attracts visitors the whole year round. The Austin Independent Business Alliance uses this slogan to boost small businesses in the city. It originated from its very low house prices after the housing boom ended in the 80s. 

It’s Home to the Longhorns

It’s the name of the University of Texas at Austin varsity teams. The Texas Longhorn is a beef cattle that played a vital role in the progress of the state of Texas, now making it its official large animal. The team’s mascot called Bevo is also based on the said animal. The university is big in sports. Sports Illustrated even named it America’s Best Sports College in 2022. It was also number one on the list of top-selling merchandise for collegiate athletic teams from 2005 to 2013.  

It Has Silicon Hills

If California has Silicon Valley, Austin has Silicon Hills. The city got this nickname in the 90s due to the rapid boom of startup and technology companies. Some of those headquartered here are IBM, Google, Facebook, eBay, and Cisco. While they coined the term Silicon from the high-tech center in California, the term Hills refers to its hilly terrain. Due to the businesses and job opportunities, the commercial district attracts many people to move here. In 2018, it was one of the top cities attracting young professionals, where LinkedIn users from San Francisco wanted to migrate. 

Texas State Capitol

It’s the seat of the government of Texas. Built from 1882 to 1888, you can’t help but admire its Italian Renaissance Revival architecture that stood the test of time. Although it has the same style as the US Capitol in Washington, it’s taller than the latter, standing at 20.64 feet. As a result, it has the sixth spot on the tallest state capitol in the country. The Texas State Capitol offers free tours where you can learn its history and appreciate its beauty more closely. In addition, there are exhibits where you can learn more about Texas culture and tradition. 

Breakfast Tacos

Besides Texas barbeque, another must-try food is the breakfast tacos. They say that your visit to the city will not be complete without having a bite of this popular dish. According to Texas food writer Robert Walsh, Corpus Christi first made this recipe in the 50s, but Austin was the first to call it breakfast tacos. Nevertheless, it’s now one of the iconic food in the city, served in restaurants and food trucks. It uses the Mexican staple flour tortilla and ingredients available in Texas, including egg, bacon, and cheese. Different variations are now available, like one that’s vegan-friendly.  

Mexican Free-Tailed Bats

Also known as Brazilian free-tailed bat, you’ll find millions of these under the Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge. Thousands of tourists and locals visit the bridge yearly to witness the bats leave their nests as they search for insects. They fly the highest among different bat species, as they can reach an altitude of about 10,800 feet. These bats are 3.5 inches long on average, with tails that are almost half their length. Since they are nocturnal, they start feeding at night. 

Lively Festivals

Austin is home to exciting festivals that draw huge crowds. Besides the music festivals we listed above, there are more festivities that the city is famous for, like the Pecan Street Festival, which is one of its oldest. It’s ideal for the entire family as it has everything that would interest the young and old, such as artwork, food, face painting, a petting zoo, and mini rides. There are also musicians and magicians performing on the street. If you love books, you shouldn’t miss the Texas Book Festival. 

Austin as a Film Location

Austin is a popular location for filming indie and mainstream movies. An example of this is the 2001 film Spy Kids, which follows the adventure of two siblings searching for their secret-agent parents who went missing after being taken by the villains. The Hotel Belen was the Omni Austin Hotel Downtown, while the West Fourth Street was the location for the spy shops. Sandra Bullock’s 2000 romantic comedy movie Miss Congeniality also had scenes shot in Austin, including the beauty pageant taken at the University of Texas and St. Regis Hotel, which they shot in The Driskill Hotel.

The University of Texas at Austin

Founded in 1883, it’s the oldest institution in the UT System, comprised of five independent health institutes and eight universities. This public university is among the most prestigious public universities and colleges in the US. It also plays an important role in academic research. In 2018, the university spent $679.8 million on research. UT Austin has seventeen libraries and seven museums, including the Blanton Museum of Art and the LBJ Presidential Library. It also has two radio stations, the KUTX for music and KUT for information and news.

Barton Springs

No matter the season, you will enjoy the waters at Barton Springs, located in Zilker Park in Austin. The water temperature ranges from 68 to 73 degrees Fahrenheit, making it ideal for swimming any time of the year. It uses water from the Main Barton Spring. The tribe of Tonkawa Native Americans originally used the spring for their purification rituals. The Spanish explorers found the spring in the 17th century and inhabited the site. In 1837, William Barton settled here and saw its potential. So, he started promoting it, and the rest is history. Barton Springs was named after him.    

United States Grand Prix

Originally called the American Grand Prize, the United States Grand Prix has been around since 1908. This popular motor racing, which is now part of the Formula One World Championship, is held in different locations. However, it has been held yearly in Austin since 2012 at the Circuit of the Americas (COTA), except during COVID-19 in 2020. Although the funding for the 2016 race was lower, the event pushed through and even had the most attendees. Bruno Mars and Britney Spears performed during the 2018 race.

Hippie Hollow

This park is on the shore of Lake Travis. Since the location is secluded, it became a go-to spot for nude swimming. It became even more popular after the Woodstock music festival in the 60s. However, it received complaints from some people due to the nudists. But since the sheriff in the country thought it would be best to use the funds on more serious matters, they turned it into a clothing-optional park with a sign at the entrance reminding visitors of what to expect. It also only allows entry to those 18 years old and above.

Mexic-Arte Museum

Founded in 1984, Mexic-Arte Museum aims to share Mexico’s culture and art with Texas. It’s located on Congress Avenue, Austin’s lively downtown and center of tourism, arts, culture, and business. It has educational programs and exhibitions that feature traditional to modern artworks. Every year, the museum welcomes 75,000 visitors, from curious children to art enthusiasts. It also hosts exciting events like the Taste of Mexico, with demos and activities highlighting Mexican cuisines used by vendors, food trucks, and restaurants in Texas. There’s also Viva la Vida, which is the longest-running Day of the Dead event in Austin.

Austin Public Library

The public library system of Austin is composed of an upcycling facility, a bookstore, the Austin History Center, and the Central Library. The American Association of University Women (AAUW) solicited books from households as a donation to the public library, which opened its doors in 1926. The branches offered service based on race from 1933 to 1951, which stopped by the end of 1951. After that, they built more buildings for its expansion, including the central library with event spaces, an art gallery, and a living rooftop garden. Mobile libraries that run on trailers and buses are also available.