If you are ever in Austin, there are a couple of places in downtown Austin that are definitely worth visiting. Actually, there are LOT of places but for my family our favorite places are the Bullock Museum and the Texas State Capital Building. Unlike Austin’s famous tagline “Keep Austin Weird”, these place aren’t weird but fantastic! There so much to see, do, and learn during your visit and you’ll also get quite the workout. And yes, that’s a crane in the background of the star……Austin is boomin’!!! Let’s explore….
Bullock Museum (Texas State History Museum)
Named after Robert (Bob) Bullock Sr., the 38th Lieutenant Govenor of Texas, this museum displays Texas’ history from early indian settlers to the Texas Revolutionary War to the oil boom. Bob Bullock was famous for saying “In order to know where your going, you have to know where you been”; he was the driving force in creating and funding the Texas State history museum. It was named in his honor and the second floor features a 7ft tall bronze statue of him holding a gavel.
There are 3 floors (don’t forget your Fitbit!) in the Bob Bullock museum…..Texas has a lot of history to tell! But before you head to each floor, check out movie schedule at the IMAX theatre. Yes-there is an IMAX theatre inside the museum-talk about perks!!!! They show award winning new release films and documentaries and the 3D effect makes it totally worth while. The for Each floor’s theme is related to a particular period in Texas history. The 1st floor is related to early Indian civilizations and European and French colonial trade and exploration routes. The best part of this floor is what remains of the 300 year old French La Belle ship, a failed expedition to try to colonize the gulf coast. Our kids loved this and couldn’t believe they were seeing a real ship from 1684! Fun fact: Did you know the first European settlers called their settlement in Texas Waterloo? This city was incorporated under than name and but was replaced with Austin.
The theme for the second floor represent the personal history of Texas natives pre- and post Civil War and the Great Depression. On display are first hand accounts of life in Texas during those time periods through personal letters, home artifacts, photographs and fashion. There’s no story untold, from politics to farm living to African-American life in Texas. There is even a section dedicated to the Texas revolutionary war where Texas gained its independence from Mexico-its a BIG deal!! The third floor and final floor takes a look at industrious nature of Texas from oil boom to space exploration (hello NASA) to aviation. It proves there is so much more to Texas than just farms and cattle.
Texas State Capital Building
The Texas State Capital building is located on a hilltop overlooking downtown Austin. It is the sixth-tallest state capital building (there’s that Fitbit again!) and is taller than the United States Capital building. With 22 acres of grounds surrounding it, don’t be surprised to see people lounging, having lunch/picnics or children playing around. There is plenty of space for everyone to enjoy their day and lots of additional monuments that give a deeper look into Texas’ history. When not in session, the House of Representatives room and Texas Senate room are open to visitors. There are a TON of photo opportunities inside these rooms and so many historical desks to see. Who doesn’t want their kid to take a photo in from of the state seal or from a seat in the House of Representatives??….for future use of course! And speaking of photography, the painted self portraits of former governors and battle scenes from Texas history are magnificent. Don’t be surprised if you see a famous face or two…..in real life. Members of the house and senate are known to walk about the capital building on weekends….giving family tours of course!
Surviving Chaos Tips
- FREE Admission: The Bob Bullock Museum is FREE!! This is perfect for when you looking for something to do on school holidays, the weekend or a short trip in Austin
- If your hungry, check out the cafe on the second floor-they great kid friendly options
- The museum is open on most holidays (yay!!)
- IMAX Theatre: Be sure to check out the movie schedule, they show movies all day long!!
- The documentaries are only 45 minutes (short and sweet) and are family friendly
- Showtimes are mid-morning or early afternoon….so kids won’t miss their nap time
- FREE Tours: There are free 30 minute tours of the Texas State Capital building. Its definitely worth doing as they pack a whole of of history in 30 minutes.
- Again!….perfect for school holidays, the weekend or a short trips in Austin
- If your wanting some independence (yes-pun intended) you do a self guided tour using one of their pamphlets.