Lady Bird Lake or Town Lake as it was formerly known, is a dammed portion of the Colorado river situated just south of downtown Austin. Currently the lake and its surrounding hike and bike trails serve as an attraction for locals and visitors alike. However, Lady Bird Lake was not always as beautiful as it is now.
The lake was created in 1960 as a cooling pond for the adjacent Holly Power Plant. In its early days, Town Lake, as it was known at the time, was an eye-sore. In the early seventies, the Mayor of Austin, Roy Butler, established the Town Lake Beautification Committee. Lady Bird Johnson was appointed the honorary chairman of this committee. In this role, she led the planting of hundreds of plants and trees and the establishment of the hike and bike trails around the lake.
When Lady Bird Johnson died in 2007, Town Lake formally changed its name to Lady Bird Lake in her honor. If you’re visiting Austin, I highly recommend you take a visit to Lady Bird Lake. While you are not permitted to swim in Lady Bird Lake, you can use non-motorized water boats. As a kid, I remember renting a pedal boat for an afternoon on Town Lake, but now stand up paddle boarding is by far the most popular recreational activity on Lady Bird Lake.
If you don’t want to be on the lake, you can take advantage of the trails surrounding Lady Bird Lake. A ten-mile loop offers the perfect landscape for one to explore Austin by bike, or if you feel like walking or running you can also make a shorter loop.
This post originally appeared on activerain.com
This popular Texas town is where many adventurous souls come to have a good time. And, with so many documented accounts of paranormal activity, it’s no wonder that one of the favorite pastimes of residents and visitors alike is investigating the city’s most legendary haunted places.
12. The Inn at Pearl Street
Built in 1896, the Inn at Pearl Street, was once the private residence of Judge Charles A. Wilcox and his family. Almost a century later, after years of neglect, the home was purchased by new owners who restored it to its former glory and opened a boutique hotel commonly known by locals and repeat guests as “The Pearl.” What the new owners did not anticipate was the presence of a couple of friendly spirits. Reports soon surfaced of strange noises, including disembodied footsteps and music, as well as an apparition of a woman floating in the halls to a chair where she rocks her twin boys to sleep.
11. Austin Tavern
This tavern, believed to have once been a sporting house, is said to be haunted by a young prostitute named Emily who was killed here along with her daughter in the 1940s. Reports include people being tapped, pinched and feeling as they are being watched by something unseen. Other reports include seeing hazy apparitions, feeling cold spots, and hearing the sound of footsteps and a phantom pool game.
10. Metz Elementary School
When this century-old schoolhouse was demolished and replaced with a more modern building in 1990, the demolition process did not go smoothly. Many of the heavy machinery operators reported that their machines would unexpectedly and inexplicably turn off during operation. There were also several reports of workers falling from ladders and tools that went missing during the rebuilding process.
Frightened workers at the site demanded an exorcism be performed after several within their ranks reported seeing children's writing mysteriously appear on classroom chalkboards and the appearance of ghostly children in the old building's restrooms.
9. The Omni Downtown
The Omni Downtown is a hotel that offers a pleasant and restful experience for most people traveling through the city of Austin. However, for some unfortunate individuals, it offers up something much more sinister—encounters with the ghost of a man named Jack who committed suicide by jumping off the balcony while staying at the hotel. Numerous guests and employees of the hotel have reported hearing his ghost moving around in the vacant room.
8. The Texas Governor's Mansion
One would anticipate that there would be countless stories attached to the Texas Governor’s Mansion, which dates back to the 1850s. What one might not expect is that these stories would include hauntings by former guests and residents of the mansion.
Two of the most notorious ghosts of the mansion were both former governors. Numerous people over the years claim to have seen the ghost of Sam Houston, whose ghostly figure is said to linger in the bedroom he once occupied while governor. The ghost of Pendleton Murrah, also a former governor, has also reportedly appeared inside the mansion and on the grounds.
The mansion’s most famous ghost story, however, is the tragic account of a young man in his teens who was courting Murrah’s niece. When the girl rejected his marriage proposal, the young man killed himself in his guest room in the mansion. Since his death, there have been frequent reports of paranormal activity in that room. People living in or visiting the mansion cite the room as a constant source of unpleasant noises, including moaning and the sound of someone gasping for breath.
7. Oakwood Cemetery
When looking for haunted spots, no ghost tour or paranormal investigation would be complete without including a cemetery. Established in 1839, the Oakwood Cemetery in Austin spans 40 acres and is the final resting place for more than 23,000 souls. Many people travel here with the hopes of seeing the ghost of General Sam Houston who is buried at the cemetery. Some have captured pictures of orbs at his grave and other graves in the cemetery.
6. The Texas Capitol
The Texas Capitol has had its share of people going in and out of the building since it was first built. Today, visitors and people who work in the Capitol are not the only souls to be found in the building, which is said to be haunted by a number of people. Some witnesses claim to have seen the ghost of Robert Marshall Love, who was killed in the building while sitting at his desk. Others report an apparition of a lady in red on the third floor who is said to visit a stairwell hoping to have a rendezvous with a man. Many people have also reporting seeing former Governor Edmund Jackson Davis stare at people from the first floor window until they move out of his line of sight.
5. The Walter Tips House
Built in 1876, this stately residence was home first to Walter Tips and his family, then later Theo P. Meyer, both successful businessmen in their own right. The house, which was moved to its current location for restoration purposes and now functions as a bank, is regarded by many as one of the top haunted sites in Texas.
The ghosts or spirits that reportedly haunt the house today seem to be very angry. It is said that when people approach the house, they get the distinct impression they are not wanted there.
4. St. Edward's University
St. Edward’s University, a center for higher learning that has educated many students over the years, has a history of spooky happenings and there are claims it is home to as many as three ghosts.
The ghost of a young man who committed suicide by hanging is said to reside in the Mary Moody Northern Theater. Witnesses report seeing his ghostly body hanging from where he perished and, despite not seeing the rope, many have heard the sounds of it creaking as it swung back and forth.
Premont Hall is said to be haunted by a former resident advisor who died in the showers. The slamming of doors and windows is one way this ghost makes his presence known. The unhappy ghost is also said to turn all the showers on simultaneously. The final ghost, found in Doyle Hall, appears to be that of a nun who also enjoys turning on the showers in the building.
3. The Driskill Hotel
Colonel Jesse Driskill built the now historic Driskill hotel in 1886. From the outside, the famous hotel is an amazing piece of architecture that has welcomed thousands of people through its doors during its 100- plus years. However, some of the people that stayed at the hotel never left, according to reports.
Feeling as though someone has brushed up against you is a common occurrence at the Driskill. There are those who state Driskill himself roams the hallways of his hotel, and occasionally employees and guests can smell the scent of his favorite cigars. A little girl also haunts the stairs and other common areas of the hotel and can often spotted holding flowers. But one of the creepiest locations in the hotel is Room 525. According to reports, two different brides committed suicide in the room, 20 years apart. The presence of the women is often felt in the unhappy room.
2. Shoal Creek Indian Massacre Site
When Gideon White decided to build a home in close proximity to Shoal Creek, many people told him it was not a good idea. Ignoring their advice, he built his log cabin in 1839.
Things were fine for roughly three years when, according to reports, White was killed by some Native Americans. People who have visited the area since his death have discovered many graves, including White’s and those of many people who died from yellow fever, cholera, and other tragedies.
With so many bodies buried in the location, it is not unusual to feel cold spots, hear strange noises, or see apparitions. Because of the high amount of paranormal activity in the area, people are not permitted to visit the creek after 10 p.m.
1. Littlefield House
Built in 1894, this beautiful, yet creepy looking home was where Major George Washington Littlefield and his wife lived without any children until they both died. Upon his wife’s death, the home was bequeathed to the University of Texas at Austin.
The house remains in the same location near the campus grounds and the university often uses the first floor of the building as a site for university events. The staff who work in the building say you can see Alice’s ghost roaming around the grounds and in the house, and some say you can hear Alice playing the piano at all hours of the night.
This wonderful list of Austin’s haunted spots was thoughtfully crafted by my friends at First American Title.
Looking for a fun activity to spend the day with Dad this Father’s Day? Look no further; here are 10 ideas for celebrating the day with Dad on June 17th, 2018 in Austin, Texas.
Father’s Day in the Park by Austin Symphonic Band
Zilker Park- Hillside Theater
Austin, Texas 78704
Banger’s Sausage House & Beer Garden Big Band Brunch
79 Rainey St, Austin, TX 78701
Father’s Day at Live Oak Brewing Company
1615 Crozier Ln, Del Valle, TX 78617
Father’s Day Screening: True Grit @ Alamo Drafthouse Slaughter and Lakeline Locations
5701 W Slaughter Ln, Austin, TX 78749
14028 U.S. 183, Austin, TX 78717
Round Rock Express Baseball Game
3400 E Palm Valley Blvd, Round Rock, TX 78665
Marble Falls Soapbox Classic
3rd and Main St. Marble Falls, TX 78657
Chocolate Tastings and Whiskey Pairings at Delysia Chocolatier
2000 Windy Terrace #2c, Austin, TX 78726
Father’s Day Bikes and Beer Bash at Friends and Allies Brewery
979 Springdale Rd #124, Austin, TX 78702
Father’s Day Brunch Buffet at the Oasis
6550 Comanche Trail, Austin, TX 78732
Father’s Day BrewBCruise
208 Barton Springs Rd, Austin, TX 78704
If you’re new to Austin, you may be wondering what these spurts of blue are that you keep seeing along the sides of highways. Well, these are bluebonnets, the state flower. However, they won’t be here for long, so if you want to get an epic bluebonnet picture you should act now. Luckily, I’ve rounded up some of my favorite locations to get that perfect shot.
Ok Muleshoe Bend is a little outside of Austin in Spicewood, Texas. However, it has some of the most beautiful, sprawling displays of bluebonnets I have ever seen. Muleshoe Bend is a 654 acre park on the banks of Lake Travis. It has copious trails for walking and biking, beautiful campsites with water views, and of course, epic bluebonnets.
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center located near Circle C in southwest Austin is a great place to visit any time of year. However, now it is one of the best places to see the state flower in full bloom. In fact, Lady Bird Johnson played a large role in creating all of the bluebonnets we see along highways today through her beautification efforts. She incentivized folks to grow wildflowers by personally writing checks for winners of her Texas Highway Beautification Awards.
Along the edges of 360 near the loop 360 bridge, aka Pennybacker bridge there are often tons of bluebonnets. You will also find a scattering of Indian Paintbrushes and other wildflowers here. If you park underneath the bridge near the boat ramp, you can easily walk to a number of good photoshoot locations.
Willow City Loop
Just northwest of Fredericksburg off Hwy 16 is the historic 13-mile Willow City Loop. It offers one of the most picturesque displays of Texas wildflowers. In addition to the colorful fields or wildflowers, there are rolling hills and a beautiful canyons speckled with live oaks, pecan and mesquite trees.
The Zilker Kite Fest is an Austin tradition. Held annually the first Sunday in March, weather-permitting, the Kite Fest is an event for all ages not to be missed. 2018 marks the 89th anniversary for the festival. This free event features a variety of activities including kite contests, a fun run, and a children’s music concert.
In 1929, the simple kite contest was designed to encourage creativity in children. Now, ABC Home and Commercial Services sponsors the festival and proceeds from the kite fest go to Communities in Schools of Central Texas and the Moss Pieratt Foundation.
The contest part of the festival is open to anyone who wants to compete, and there is no entry fee. You may only enter using a homemade single line kite. Participants can compete to win in a number of categories including: largest kite, smallest kite, youngest kite flier, oldest kite flier, strongest pulling kite, most unusual kite, steadiest kite, highest angle kite, and the 50 yard dash. Registration for the contest opens at 11 a.m. on the fourth at the festival, and the contest starts at 1 p.m.
This is the first year that there will be a fun run associated with the festival. The 2.1 mile fun run starts at 9 am. You can purchase tickets for the fun run here. The fun run start at the Zilker Moontower, and ends inside the festival near the MossFest stage.
For more information on the festival, please visit the ABC Kite Festival website.
If you or someone you know is planning an Austin move, contact me today. I’m an Austin native with a plethora of real estate knowledge I look forward to sharing.
If you’re looking to embrace the holiday spirit in Austin, there are a plethora of events and attractions sure to get you in the mood. Take a look at this list of Austin area holiday events and attractions, and let me know if you have a favorite holiday happening to add to the list!
A Christmas Affair
The Junior League of Austin hosts its annual shopping extravaganza. Proceeds from the event fund various charitable endeavors of the Junior League of Austin. A Christmas Affair hosts around 200 vendors selling unique gifts for the entire family. Santa will be there, and a variety of special events enhance the shopping scene. For tickets and more information visit their website.
Armadillo Christmas Bazaar
The Armadillo Christmas Bazaar is another Austin holiday tradition. The eleven-day event features live music, fine art, and an assortment of other unique gift retailers. The event is complete with a bar and food from Southside Flying Pizza. The Bazaar is open daily from 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. Tickets can be purchased ahead of time on their website or at the door.
Trail of Lights and the Zilker Tree
Trail of Lights: Decmber 8th-23rd 7:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m
Zilker Tree: November 26th-December 31st 6 p.m.- Midnight
In my opinion the Trail of Lights and the Zilker Tree are the most quintessential Austin holiday events around. Zilker Park transforms into an unbelievable display of hundreds of thousands of lights, that to me, are the essence of the holiday season in Austin. If you’re not up for the entire Trail of Lights, you must spin under the Zilker tree. Twirling under the 3,309 light bulbs that create the Zilker Tree till you get dizzy and fall over is an Austin rite of passage. Once you’ve had enough you can grab a cup of hot cocoa and meander through the full trail of lights if you’re up for it. The tree is free, and the Trail of Lights offers many free nights. Check their site for the full schedule.
Mozart’s Light Show
November 17th through January 1st (except Thanksgiving and Christmas Day)
Mozart’s Coffee is a beautiful place to enjoy a cup of coffee or cocoa any time of year with the gorgeous Lake Austin backdrop. However, around the holidays, Mozart’s sets up an elaborate light show display with thousands of LEDs creating a holiday wonderland atmosphere. This year, various children’s choirs will be adding to the ambiance. The light shows lasts about 15 minutes, and starts nightly at 6 p.m. running every hour on the hour until 11 p.m.
Ice Skating at Whole Foods
November 24th through January 15th (closed Christmas Day, limited hours Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve/Day)
The flagship Whole Foods in downtown Austin turns their rooftop into an ice-skating rink for the holiday season. The rink is open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and the $10 admission fee includes skate rental. Check the Whole Food’s website before attending as they are closed for some private events during the week.
Blue Genie Art Bazaar
November 24th-December 24th (closes early Christmas Eve)
The Blue Genie Art Bazaar has been an Austin attraction for over fifteen years. The Bazaar features work from over 200 artists. If you’re looking for something truly unique for someone special in your life, this is a great place to shop! Blue Genie is open daily from 10 a.m.- 10 p.m. Visit their site for more information.
Ballet Austin’s The Nutcracker
December 8th- 23rd
This iconic holiday ballet returns to Austin for its 55th year. Ballet Austin’s production of The Nutcracker features beautiful sets, gorgeous costumes, and hundreds of graceful dancers with the musical notes of the Austin Symphony Orchestra. Gather your friends and family, and head to the Long Center for a show not to be missed this holiday season. Evening performances begin at 7:30 p.m.; matinees begin at 2 p.m. Visit their site for tickets and more information.
Have favorite holiday pastimes of your own you would like to share? Email your recommendations.
If you have driven across Austin’s South Congress bridge recently you may wonder why there are hundreds of people gathered along the eastern side of the bridge. A little before sunset, spectators appear on the sidewalk along the bridge to watch North America’s largest urban bat colony.
The Mexican Free-Tailed Bats have a long history in Austin, but it wasn’t until the bridge was modified in 1980, that the bats centralized under the eaves of the South Congress Bridge. When the bridge was widened, expansion joints were added creating the perfect nooks for the bats to call home.
The bats emerge from under the South Congress bridge each night annually from March through November. In March, the bats migrate from Mexico to Austin. The colony that lives under the South Congress street bridge is entirely female when they migrate in March. They reside under the bridge and emerge nightly to feed on various insects. These females are all pregnant and they give birth to one pup each in early June. At this time, the bat colony doubles and researchers believe the population to be between 1.5- 2 million. Interestingly, this is approximately the same number of people who reside in Austin and the surrounding suburbs.
The bats continue to leave the bridge each night around dusk from June through November. In June and July, the mother is still nursing the pup. It is believed that they nurse the pup before and after they hunt. Interestingly, the bats hunt alone so watching them return from hunting is not nearly as entertaining as watching the max exodus that occurs around dusk. The pups do not stay with their mothers. The pups are centered together and each night the mother will return to find and feed her pup before retreating to the northern side of the bridge where the mothers reside.
Between Late July and October, the largest exodus of bats occurs. This is the time that pups are learning to fly and hunt for themselves. Hence, this is one of the best times to see Austin’s bat colony.
In early November, the cooler climate signals the Mexican Free-Tailed Bats that it is time to return to Mexico. Not all the bats leave at once, but they do leave in large groups. It is believed that the mothers will return to the South Congress bridge each year to have and raise their new pup.
If you are interested in seeing the South Congress bridge colony for yourself, now is a great time of year to do it! You can park at the Austin American Statesman building and watch from the South Congress Bridge. Many people often gather on the hike and bike trail, just east of the bridge along Town Lake. One of the best ways to see the South Congress Bats is from the water of Town Lake also known as Lady Bird Lake. Companies like Capital Cruises host nightly sunset bat watching tours. Alternatively, you can rent a canoe, kayak or paddle board to view the bats in a more intimate environment.
Krause Springs is located about 45 minutes west of Austin in Spicewood, Texas. The property features a man-made pool as well as a natural swimming hole created by the springs. The entire property is filled with towering trees creating shade and adding to the scenic ambiance of the recreational site. The natural springs constantly flow at approximately 68 degrees feeding the swimming holes at Krause, so there is always water! Day passes costs $8 for adults and $5 for children. You can also camp at Krause! They have tent sites as well as RV sites. Krause Springs does not allow pets. However, you are welcome to bring picnics, floats and grilling supplies. For more information on Krause Springs, visit their website.
Krause During a Busy Summer Day
The San Marcos River:
If you’ve never been floating in Texas, you’re missing out! Floating the river is a popular pastime for Austinites, and one of the closest places to do so is in San Marcos. San Marcos is approximately 40 minutes south of Austin, and is home to Texas State University. Most people start their float trip at the Lion’s Club Tube Rental. Here you can rent tubes for $12 which also includes shuttle service. You can also bring your own tubes and pay a small fee to have them blown up. Similarly, you can opt to just pay for the shuttle service. It’s important to remember to get a cooler tube too! I also highly recommend bringing string or bungee cords so you can tie off to all of your friends and float the river together. Floating in San Marcos is fairly calm. The river runs constantly, but add a mild pace. The entire float takes about an hour, and at the end dumps you at a large tube chute- a natural water slide of sorts. The shuttle picks you up here and brings you back to the Lion’s Club.
Hamilton Pool is also located west of town in the same direction as Krause Springs but a bit closer to town. It is located in Dripping Springs, and has become quite popular in recent years. In fact, reservations are now required for summer trips to Hamilton Pool. The entrance cost for Hamilton Pool is $15 per vehicle. Once you enter the Hamilton Pool Preserve, you can park your car and hike approximately 8 minutes down to the pool. The actual pool is picturesque. A large, fifty-foot waterfall cascades over a cliff edge delivering water to the popular swimming hole. There is almost always water at Hamilton Pool; however, during severe droughts, it may not be swimmable. You are welcome to bring food and drinks, but no glass or public display of alcohol is permitted. To learn more about Hamilton Pool, visit the Travis County Parks and Wildlife Site.
If you enjoyed reading about these day trips from Austin, you may also enjoy reading about The Barton Creek Greenbelt.
The 4th of July is my personal favorite holiday! What’s better than enjoying a day in the sun filled with good friends, family, and barbecue. Of course let’s not forget the best part of this holiday- fireworks! If you’re looking for a fun way to enjoy the 4th in Austin, there are a variety of festivals and firework shows sure to keep you entertained!
H-E-B Austin Symphony 39th Annual July 4th Concert and Fireworks at Auditorium Shores: This is by far the largest fireworks display in the Austin area. It will be packed, but it’s a great place to watch gigantic fireworks with a picturesque downtown backdrop. Bring a blanket and a picnic, the show starts at 9:30 but I highly recommend arriving early! For more info visit the official site.
Independence Day Celebration at the Hill Country Galleria: If you haven’t been out to the Galleria in Bee Cave recently, you may want to check it out this 4th. The shopping center recently underwent a $16-million-dollar renovation, and to tell you the truth I can hardly tell the difference. The best place to watch the fireworks display is still where it has always been in the large grassy pavilion in the middle of the shopping center. They will have live music starting at 6:30 and the fireworks show starts at 9:15 pm. For more info visit the Galleria's site.
Lakeway’s 4th of July Celebration: The City of Lakeway continues it’s 4th of July tradition with a parade starting at 8:30 am. This year’s theme is "Patriotism On Parade". The parade begins at the Live Oak Golf Course and continues on Lakeway Drive to the Lakeway Activity Center. At 10:30 am, the Pageantry of the Flags program begins at the Lakeway Activity Center. The Lakeway swim center opens its doors at noon, allowing everyone to enjoy a chance to cool off during this hot holiday. For more info, click here.
Rollingwood’s 4th of July Parade, Picnic, and Fireworks: I loved participating in the City of Rollingwood’s 4th of July Parade as a kid. We would get an assortment of red, white and blue paraphernalia, cover our bikes in it, and get to be in the parade! Rollingwood continues its tradition again this year. The parade starts at 8:30 am. Decorated wagons and bikes meet at the intersection of Wallis and Rollingwood Drive while cars and floats start on Riley Rd. After the parade, come play at the Rollingwood Park where there will be face painting, games, a raffle and more. If you’ve still got more energy, you can watch the fireworks from the Zilker Clubhouse in the evening. For more info visit the City of Rollingwood's website here.
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Unplugged at the Grove: This summer concert series at Shady Grove presents live music every Thursday this summer on Shady Grove’s front lawn. For the full summer schedule, click here.
Deep Eddy Movie Night: Ok, this one isn’t free but it’s incredibly inexpensive and one of my personal favorites! I remember looking forward to these summer showings as a kid and enjoying some Mangia’s pizza while I watched the flick. Texas’ oldest swimming pool screens family-friendly movies on a large screen in front of the pool Saturday nights throughout the summer. Bring a big floatie to enjoy the show from the pool or a blanket to relax on the hillside. The movie usually starts around 8:45 pm.
Stargazing with Texas Parks and Wildlife Dark Skies Program: Tomorrow, June 9th, Mckinney Falls State park will have a demonstration on how craters are made on the moon, then you can view the moon from their telescope and binoculars. Meet at the Lower Falls at 8 pm. For more opportunities to see the stars, click here.
Summer at the Springs: Wanderlust Yoga puts on free yoga classes right outside the gates of Barton Springs every Monday. Free Vinyasa starts at 7:30 p.m. followed by snack time from Blenders and Bowls at 8:30 and then free swim at Barton Springs starts at 9 pm.
Yard Bar hosts Movie Mondays: Every other Monday starting June 12th running through November this year, Yard Bar will be screening a canine related flick. Popcorn, smores and drink specials are only part of the fun. Grab your lawn chairs and head to the patio! All ages and dogs welcome! Free Admission.
Erika Rae Albert
Sharing my Austin real estate updates, home owner tips, & more.