Bullock Texas State History Museum#11 in Best Things To Do in Austin
Named for Texas's 38th lieutenant governor, the Bullock Texas State History Museum explores the Lone Star State's vibrant past with artifacts ranging from the original Goddess of Liberty statue that resided at the top of the State Capitol's dome to astronaut Edgar Mitchell's space suit used in the Apollo 14 mission to the moon. Along with galleries featuring more than 500 artifacts, the museum features rotating special exhibits to reflect the diverse history of the state. The museum is also home to the largest IMAX screen in Texas as well as the 4-D Texas Spirit Theater with special documentary short films, a cafe with an outdoor patio and large museum store to take a piece of Texas history home with you.
Since opening in 2001, more than 9 million people have visited the museum to learn about the history of the Lone Star State. Native Texans and out-of-towners alike say the exhibits are well laid out and many recommend setting aside at least a few hours to take in all there is to see.
Set on the edge of the University of Texas at Austin's campus across the street from the Blanton Museum of Art, the museum is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from noon to 5 p.m. on Sundays. Admission is $13 for adults, $11 for students and senior citizens and $9 for children ages 4 to 17. The museum also offers free admission on the first Sunday of each month. There are additional fees for the IMAX movies and the Texas Spirit Theater. Parking costs $10; several bus routes, including nos. 1, 7, 18 and 19, as well as the 801 and 803, stop within two blocks of the museum. For more information on current exhibits and movie times, visit the museum's website.
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#1 State Capitol
Standing stoically in the heart of central Austin is Texas's legislative center, the State Capitol. Opened in 1888, this pink-granite landmark stands 14 feet taller than the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. Much of the capitol, including the 218-foot rotunda, the chamber of the Hall of Representatives and the governor's receiving room, still look the same as they did when the capitol opened.
The structure underwent a large-scale restoration starting in the 1980s, including replacing the zinc statue of the Goddess of Liberty that sits atop the dome with an aluminum one. The restoration also included a 667,000-square-foot underground extension that was completed in 1993 to accommodate how much the state government had grown. Many visitors say it's the most impressive state legislative building they've ever seen, but they also warn it can be crowded at times. If you want to learn a bit of Texas history without having to pay an entrance fee, you can't beat a visit to the capitol building, according to past travelers.
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