State Capitol picture
State Capitol
1 of 3
Dave Wilson, WebArtz Photography /Getty Images

Key Info

1100 Congress Ave.

Price & Hours

Free
Mon-Fri 7 a.m.-10 p.m. | Sat-Sun 9 a.m.-8 p.m.

Details

Sightseeing, Free Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
4.6scorecard
  • 5.0Value
  • 5.0Facilities
  • 4.0Atmosphere

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.

Visitors to the State Capitol are welcome to explore the building and the grounds on their own using the self-guided tour pamphlets provided by the Capitol Visitors Center (also available to download on the State Preservation Board's website), or they can tag along on a free guided tour, which generally last about 30 minutes. Tours are offered daily; Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.; Sunday from noon to 3:30 p.m. The building itself operates on different hours (it's open until 10 p.m. throughout the week and 8 p.m. on the weekends). Travelers can also learn more about Texas's history at the exhibits inside the Capitol Visitors Center located at the southeast corner of the capitol grounds. Parking is free for the first two hours. The Capitol Station bus station sits within walking distance of the capitol, and several routes, including nos. 801 and 803 and the No. 3 make stops there. Hours vary depending on the building and season, so check the State Preservation Board's website to plan your visit. 

See all Hotels in Austin »

More Best Things To Do in Austin

Mount Bonnell
Zilker Metropolitan Park
Type
Time to Spend
1 of 20
#2 Mount Bonnell

For great views, head to Mount Bonnell at Covert Park, which provides sweeping views of the city, Lake Austin and the surrounding hills. The 5.1-acre historic linear park is home to a 775-foot-high outcrop, considered the highest spot in the area. Mount Bonnell is designated a Texas Historic Landmark and is also listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The point is located alongside the Lake Austin portion of the Colorado River and has proven to be an enduring tourist destination since the 1850s.

Recent visitors said it offers great views, best enjoyed on clear days. The peak of the overlook, which takes 102 steps to get to, is a craggy limestone outcropping and is surrounded by a forested area of live oak, ash juniper, persimmon and mountain laurel. Past travelers described the walk as "scenic and easy."

Read more
RoschetzkyIstockPhoto/Getty Images
See full list of Best Things To Do in Austin »

Explore More of Austin

Recommended

10 Amazing Montana Vacations

Breathtaking landscapes and year-round outdoor adventures will inspire you to visit Big Sky Country.

Gwen PratesiMay 20, 2019

The 13 Best Savannah Tours

Experience real southern hospitality when visiting Savannah with these top tours.

John RodwanMay 16, 2019

The 15 Best Boston Tours

Get to know one of America's most historic cities with these tours.

Kim Foley MacKinnonMay 14, 2019

The 18 Best New Orleans Tours

With so much to see and do in New Orleans, these tours will help you maximize your time in the Big Easy.

Claire LawtonMay 10, 2019

The 7 Best Chicago Boat Tours

These low-key tours offer unique views of a city famed for its skyline.

Holly JohnsonMay 9, 2019

30 Cheap Weekend Getaways in the USA

From beach destinations to amusement parks, these vacations are perfect for an affordable and quick trip.

Holly JohnsonMay 9, 2019

The 15 Best Chicago Tours

Foodies, boat enthusiasts and historians alike will appreciate any one of these tours of the Windy City.

John RodwanMay 8, 2019

16 Incredible Midwest Vacations

See which outstanding escapes showcase some of Middle America's top destinations.

Lyn MettlerApril 29, 2019

The 21 Most Beautiful Waterfalls to See Around the World

Discover which stunning falls offer once-in-a-lifetime travel experiences.

Kyle McCarthyApril 25, 2019

The 20 Best Michigan State Parks

Two peninsulas, four Great Lakes and innumerable natural highlights elevate Michigan's state parks.

Zach WatsonApril 18, 2019