Austin, Texas

VISITED: APRIL 2015

One thing I truly appreciated about Austin was its dedication to preserving pathways/walkways for runners, walkers, and dog lovers. These pathways act as the veins of the city for those who enjoy experiencing the city on foot. I was lucky enough to book at the Hyatt Regency which had a walkway out back that would lead its guests east towards the Congress Avenue Bridge or west towards the Pfluger Pedestrian Bridge.

The close proximity to the Congress Avenue Bridge proved to be a great benefit as it afforded me the luxury of a short walk to watch 'the show.' Each evening a large group of people gather along the south bank of the Colorado River on a patch of grass adjacent to the Congress Avenue Bridge. The purpose of this gathering is to watch a show that delights children and adults: the Austin bats. As the sun sets and the last rays of light fade, the bats come out from their home under the bridge and soar into the night sky above. What starts as a trickle, then becomes a heavy pour of hundreds of bats taking off for their nightly ritual of finding their food.

The Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail provide photographers the best vantage point for photographing Austin's bridges that run along the Colorado River. Such notable bridges include (running east to west):

- Congress Avenue Bridge

- 1st Street Bridge

- Lamar Street Bridge

- Pfluger Pedestrian Bridge

Another notable bridge is found a 15-20min drive away outside of Austin's city limits. The 360 Bridge has an overlook that provides onlookers with an ideal vantage point of the bridge and river below.

If you are looking for something other than bridges to photograph then there are a plethora of other locations that may be of interest. During my trip to Austin I was not able to enjoy all of these locations as many of my shots did not turn out as planned due to torrential downpours from large thunderstorms. Despite my misfortune, I was still able to visit these locations and experience them firsthand to know they are great locations to take photographs:

The Driskill Hotel - This is the oldest operating hotel in Austin and it lives up to its reputation with its extravagant exterior. The hotel is a Romanesque-style building and although it is captivating by day, it is truly stunning to behold at night when it is fully illuminated.

The Austin Graffiti Wall - Also known as the Baylor Street Art Wall, the Austin Graffiti Wall is a colorful collection of various artist's masterpieces. The difference of styles and colors makes this location a must-see for any photographer.

Mount Bonnell - The highest spot in Austin and provides many photographic opportunities from this vantage point. It is a short .3-mile hike to get to the top, but you will have to work for it. In the end, it is worth the small amount of effort.

Zilker Botanical Gardens - Found in downtown Austin and provides visitors views of varying flowers and plants with a view of the city.

Hamilton Pool Nature Preserve - For a small fee, you may enter the preserve and walk around the Hamilton Pool. The pool sits below a rock shelf and has a water overflow that provides a phenomenal photo opportunity.

Austin Capitol Building - A special location to photograph architecture, infrastructure, and the surrounding area of the Capitol. My favorite is looking up at the main dome as the sun illuminates the interior.

McKinney Falls State Park – McKinney Falls State Park is a getaway from city life that provides an opportunity for hiking, swimming, and fishing, just to name a few activities. The star of this state park is truly the rushing water over the wide expanse of rocks. Although it may not be tall, the McKinney Falls is quite photogenic and a great location for sunsets.

Bull Creek Greenbelt – The Bull Creek Greenbelt is a vibrant and lush tract of land that provides different photography opportunities. Whether you enjoy macro photography of insects and plants, long exposure photography of rushing water or just landscapes of the rock formations, Bull Creek Greenbelt can satisfy it all.

Now comes the time for my sunrise and sunset recommendations, but this time I am going to add another category: blue hour:

SUNRISE - Top level of the Hyatt Regency parking garage - This provides a great view of downtown Austin and the Congress Avenue Bridge and makes for a wonderful composition.

SUNSET - Mount Bonnell - An ideal location to watch the sun set as it lights up the sky and the vibrant colors are reflected below.

BLUE HOUR - The Driskill Hotel - The deep blue of the sky along with the lights of the hotel makes for a beautiful composition and photograph.

I will end this post as I ended my previous post - with some foodie recommendations. Believe me, Austin has an ever growing list of hot spots, but these were some that rose to the top for me:

*Hopdoddy Burgers - Delicious burgers and fries that left me speechless at the efficiency and effectiveness of how this business is run.

*Franklin Barbecue - The best barbecue in Austin, but line up early! We arrived at 8:30am and didn't eat until 12:30pm with the line already going around the block.

*Gourdough's Donuts - Never has a burger on a donut tasted so good. Plus, they have a wide variety of dessert donuts that are sure to make your mouth water

*The Salt Lick BBQ - Another barbecue joint, but this one is found outside of Texas and is a fair drive away. The barbecue is great and the establishment is spacious and welcoming. Whether you eat inside or in their patio area, it gives a communal feel while eating great food.

*Round Rock Doughnuts - Again, this is found outside of Austin and is a decent drive to get to, but the doughnuts are delicious. This place proves that everything truly is bigger in Texas when you get the Texas Doughnut!

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