10 Must-See Austin Landmarks

Posted on Wednesday, June 4th, 2014 at 4:27pm.

10 Must-See Austin Landmarks

Photo courtesy of Bill Bradford

In a city as unique as Austin, there are tons of local landmarks that are known to Austinites and visitors alike. Whether they're historically significant like the Texas State Capitol Building or a product of local culture like the Cathedral of Junk, each one adds to the city's vibrant atmosphere. No matter how long you've called Austin home, these landmarks are worth a visit. We've put together a list of landmarks that we think are must-sees for both longtime residents and visitors. Check out our list of ten must-see Austin landmarks:

Texas State Capitol Building

Photo courtesy of Mike Rastiello

Texas State Capitol Building

Completed in 1888, the Texas State Capitol building is probably the most recognizable symbol of Austin. It is the largest building of all the other state capitols and is only smaller than the U.S. Capitol building. Made of "sunset red" granite mined from just 50 miles away, the Capitol building is easily recognizable by locals and visitors. You can get a spectacular full view of the Capitol building from almost anywhere on Congress Avenue, which leads directly to the southern entrance. The sprawling Capitol grounds are also often the site of local festivals, events and even afternoon picnics.

University of Texas Tower

Photo courtesy of Laura Eakins

University of Texas Tower

Standing 307 feet tall, the University of Texas Tower serves as both a university and local landmark. The Tower was completed in 1937 and offers spectacular views of the city of Austin and the surrounding hill country from its observation deck. Austinites always know when any Longhorn sports team has claimed a victory when the Tower is lit up in a burnt orange light. The Tower was also put in the national spotlight when it's lit windows formed a number "1" shape to celebrate the Longhorn football team's national championship victory in 2005.

Bats of the South Congress Avenue Bridge

Photo courtesy of Braden P.

The Bats of the South Congress Avenue Bridge

Between March and November, locals and visitors gather at the South Congress Avenue Bridge to see one of the most spectacular sights in Austin- thousands of bats flying out from beneath the bridge. It is estimated that 1.5 million Mexican Freetail bats make their home under the bridge during this time. Every evening just before sunset, the bats take to the sky and create a spectacular sight that is not to be missed. An annual festival is even held to commemorate the flight of the bats.

Cathedral of Junk

Photo courtesy of Jason Eppink

Cathedral of Junk

From the curb of 4422 Lareina Drive, you wouldn't guess that a house of junk lay within the trees. Vince Hannemann started building the cathedral in 1988 and has continued to add to it ever since. There's always something new to see at the cathedral. Vince maintains this address as his private residence, but still keeps the cathedral open to the public. The Cathedral of Junk embodies the phrase "Keep Austin Weird".

HOPE Outdoor Gallery

Photo courtesy of Mike Rastiello

HOPE Outdoor Gallery

Located at 11th and Baylor Street in Austin's Clarksville neighborhood, the HOPE Outdoor Gallery is a three-story graffiti gallery. It is one of the largest outdoor galleries in the country. The structure was originally an abandoned apartment project, but thanks to local artists, it has been transformed into a unique art gallery. Graffiti artist Shepard Fairey was the first to create graffiti art here, and since then it has become a popular tradition for locals to make their mark in spraypaint at the HOPE Outdoor Gallery.

Stevie Ray Vaughan

Photo courtesy of Bill Bradford

Stevie Ray Vaughan Statue

This statue dedicated to Austin music legend Stevie Ray Vaughan was commissioned following the musician's tragic death in 1990. Unveiled in 1993, the statue designed by Ralph Helmick faces south on the shores of Lady Bird Lake. To many Austinites, this statue represents the depth of Austin's music scene just as much as the rock star it depicts.

South Congress Avenue

Photo courtesy of Jimmy Emerson

South Congress Avenue

Known as "SoCo" to locals, South Congress Avenue represents all that keeps Austin weird. Several of the shops and buildings on this street are landmarks themselves, including Allen's Boots and Lucy in Disguise. South Congress Avenue is also known for its unique food scene with local eateries like Home Slice Pizza, Hey Cupcake!, Guero's and Magnolia Cafe (to name a few). It's not uncommon to find local craft vendors set up in vacant lots on South Congress Avenue on weekends, too.

Moonlight Towers

Photo courtesy of Matthew Rutledge

Moonlight Towers

The Moonlight Towers in Austin stand 150 feet tall and illuminate the streets around them with a soft glow. Their height makes them hard to miss, but it was the 1993 film Dazed and Confused that made them famous. While local Austin teens no longer party at the moon tower, the 17 remaining moon towers are a reminder of Austin's unique past.

Sixth Street

Photo courtesy of Kevin Harber

Sixth Street

When you talk about nightlife in Austin, Sixth Street is the first name to come up. This downtown Austin street sits at the heart of Austin's entertainment district. You don't even have to enter a bar or lounge on 6th Street to see something unique and truly "Austin". There are also art galleries, theaters, restaurants and comedy clubs to visit here. 6th Street is often the site of local festivals, including SXSW, the Pecan Street Festival and ROT Rally, to name a few.

Austin Murals

Photo courtesy of  Bruce Turner

Austin Murals

Some of the most unique landmarks in all of Austin are the murals that grace the walls of local buildings. Most were painted by local Austin artists and are popular spots for visitors and locals alike to snap a photo. To see a list of our favorite Austin murals, check out this blog post.

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