What constitutes a landmark in Austin is open to interpretation. There’s historical landmarks like the Texas State Capitol and Driskill Hotel, but then you have not-to-be missed local flavor that are attractions in their own right: the “I Love You So Much” mural on South Congress, the Bat Bridge, the Austin Motel’s neon sign notorious for its iconic shape, and of course no trip to Austin is complete without two-stepping at the fabled Broken Spoke.
Pennybacker Bridge – Recommended by The Sword
Pennybacker bridge, aka 360 Bridge, first opened in 1982 and has grown more popular every year since. The toll free through-arch bridge goes across Lake Austin connecting the northern and southern parts of the 360 highway. Not only is the bridge itself beautiful, but the surrounding views are some of the best the city has to offer. Locals recommend parking on the north side where the trail begins. The short, and somewhat steep, trail takes you to the top of the hills overlooking the bridge, the river, downtown, and the rest of Austin. If you’re stuck in traffic on the 360, this would be a great way to kill some time! Is is beautiful during the day and night.
“You can climb up the ridge and get a fantastic view!” – The Sword
Castle Hill – Recommended by Particle Kid
This has to be one of the most unique landmarks in all the country, let alone the Austin. At Castle Hill, visitors can walk up and down rows and rows of graffiti street art. Sometimes you can even catch a new mural in the works. Not only is the graffiti unique and fresh, but it makes for a great Instagram backdrop for locals and tourists alike! For the artistically inclined visitors, vendors and artists often set up shop with gear for sale. You can buy your own spray paint and create your own section of art while there. When you’re finished, the view at the top is worth hiking to. The spot is never too busy and offers a unique interactive experience. It’s like visiting an art museum, taking a painting class, and hiking all in one!
“It’s the result of a failed building development in the 80s. I guess it’s not really underrated anymore though, now it’s like a tourist graffiti park or something. But I used to go up there as a teenager with friends and smoke weed and graffiti and look out at the Austin skyline (back when the Frost Bank tower was like the tallest building) and then sometimes the cops would show up and we’d hide from them. This was before it was a tourist attraction.” – Micah Nelson
Waterloo Records – Recommended by Nina Diaz
This independent record store, which formed in 1982, is often listed among the best in the US. Waterloo, named after the original name of the capital city, offers a wide array of affordable CDs, vinyl records, cassettes, and DVDs. In addition, they sell (and repair)turntables, concert tickets and tees, and other music related gear. They may as well be marketed as a music library since you can find just about anything you’re looking for here. Every genre of music and every obscure album is housed in this huge collection. The music literate staff can help you navigate your way through their massive A-Z arrangement. Seriously, every worker could teach music history courses if they wanted to. They often put out lists of staff picks that are fun and informative. Customers can even listen to any album before purchasing it. Customers can also trade in older vinyls for cash or another album they have their eye (err ear) on. One of the most enticing aspects of the store is their frequent live performances. They have hosted some incredible artists such as Willie Nelson and Nirvana.
“Waterloo Records supports local artists and is a great place to catch an in-store performance or just shop for some vinyl.” – Nina Diaz
Mount Bonnell – Recommended by MISSIO
Mount Bonnell, like Pennybacker Bridge, offers great scenic views of Austin. Although the hike is on the tougher side, it will get you to one of the highest points in all of Austin. Mount Bonnell, also known as Covert Park, gives great views of the Lake Austin section of the Colorado River. In addition, the trail itself is beautiful with shady sections, seating areas, gardens full of colorful florae, and the occasional peacock. The peaceful lookout is a perfect place to have a picnic or catch the sunset.
“Only place I’ve found in ATX that’s silent.” – MISSIO
These recs are from our latest vinyl and city guide package, The Sights and Sounds of Austin, presented by Boost Mobile. Check out the digital version of the guide below or head on over to our interactive Austin city guide!