See a panoramic view of Austin from Mount Bonnell
Hoping to get a panoramic view of the Austin downtown, the Colorado River and the lake mansions nearby, one evening we drove up to Mount Bonnell. From there, a short walk up the mountain took us to a brilliant view of the Colorado River underneath, mansions neighboring the lake, bridges spanning across the Colorado River and the green valley. Austin downtown beautifully stood far away from Mount Bonnell.
Watch the 1.5 million bats fly into the skyline from the Congress Bridge
After hearing about the swarms of bats that fly from under the Congress Bridge at dusk, we went to the Congress Bridge half an hour before sunset to see the bats. There was a horde of people on the bridge waiting for the same and we joined them. There are boat tours that take one near the bridge to see these nocturnal animals. I also noticed a couple of lone kayakers waiting near the Congress Bridge. Just around sunset, one bat flew from under the bridge, made a circle and went back in. In just a minute, another one made a circle and swooped backed into the bridge. In a few seconds, another one and then another one. All of a sudden, bats came out in droves and flew into the Austin skyline. At some point of time, they looked like black clouds in the blue sky. The show lasted for a long time, giving us sufficient time to take plenty of pictures. Apparently, these 1.5 million bats help keep the Austin insects at bay!
Visit the vast Zilker Park
While driving from Austin downtown to Salt Lick BBQ in Driftwood during a late evening, we saw the exit sign to Zilker Park and took an impromptu exit to the park. The one-way streets inside the parks were pitch-dark. We parked the car on the streets and took the short trail to the Lou Neff Point. What appeared to be a short trail also turned out to be a scary one. Who knows if we were walking amidst snakes! With a small flashlight, we could barely see the path ahead of our footsteps. We reached the Lou Neff Point, which offers a beautiful and well-lit view of the Austin skyscrapers. While returning to the car, hustling sounds emerged from behind the bushes. Not wanting to see what it was, we simply made our way to the car without stopping for a second.
We returned to the Zilker Park a day or two later in the morning. Greenery all around, Colorado river running through the park, Botanical Gardens and Barton Hot Springs inside, ah, I miss having such kinds of parks in the Bay Area.
Learn about the history of Texas by visiting the Texas State Capitol
Boasting itself to be taller than the United States Capitol in Washington DC, the State Capitol of Texas forms a conspicuous part of the Austin skyline. The massive and imperial dome of the State Capitol can be seen from almost any part of the Austin downtown. After a brief screening, enter inside the State Capitol, stand on the star right below the dome and talk. You will hear your own echo. Creepy and cool at the same time! I really appreciate that free tours are offered every 15 minutes to tour the State Capitol. I personally found the tour to be very enlightening. The State Capitol just doesn’t end with this colossal building. I was particularly impressed with the four-story underground extension with extensive skylights. The architectural details on the floor, door knobs, door hinges, grand hallways, chandeliers, grand staircases were mind-blowing!