The Best Places to Take Photos in Austin
Are you looking for the best places to take photos in Austin? Do you love history and architecture? Do you love beautiful rivers and waterfalls? Wide-open vistas, nature and gardens? What about cityscapes and skylines? How about the funky sort of stuff, like Airstream trailers and cool signs? Well Austin has it all, so read on!
Austin is a wonderful town to live, work, and play in and it just so happens that it is also a wonderful town to take photographs in. Having spent the last year or so getting more serious about my photography, I have spent countless hours cruising around town looking for cool and interesting things and places to photograph. This list is clearly not exhaustive, and surely some of you will come up with additional great spots around here that I left off the list. There are so many to choose from! Suffice it to say that these are my favorite spots that I have photographed - so far - and I am sure many more will make it onto the list in the future. Some of these will be fairly obvious, such as The Capitol, but hopefully some will be a little less well-known and provide you with some inspiration to get out there with the camera and get busy! And if you find some good ones that I forgot to include, just add them to the comments section below!
Oh, and don't forget that on my blog you can sort by category, so if you want to just look at Austin photos, you can find them here: http://www.nomadicpursuits.com/blog/category/austin
So, here it goes...(and by the way, these are in no particular order):
1.) The Texas State Capitol
The Capitol building is a massive structure made of pink granite and stands 14’ taller than the US Capitol. It is very well-known and often-photographed. I have been there several times and I enjoy it immensely. You can also get into the House and Senate Chambers for some cool shots, if they aren’t in session, that is. It is worth a visit and the nice thing is that they don’t mind if you are toting around a tripod. There is also a great area on the lower level that you can reach through an elevator - fun to explore and photograph!
2.) The University of Texas campus
The UT campus is huge and therefore offers so many great spots to photograph. There is Memorial Stadium, where my beloved Longhorns play football, there is Littlefield Fountain which is a real beauty, and there is the UT Tower which seems to stand guard over it all. There are also countless nooks and crannies that are great fun to explore with a camera! This is a great spot for architecture shots!
3.) The Austin skyline
I love the skyline of Austin, even with the continual changes it seems to be undergoing. I find it very pleasing to look at. I think the best place to photograph it is from the Lamar Street Bridge, not the pedestrian bridge but from the bridge the cars ride on. It is a little tight but you can stand there with your tripod and get quite the photo of the skyline with the river running next to it. Come at night for an extra cool shot with all the towns lights twinkling and reflecting in the water.
4.) The Lamar Street Bridge
This is the same bridge I mentioned in #3, but instead of standing on it, go under it or go over to the pedestrian bridge I mentioned and shoot back to this one, so you can capture all the arches. (The pedestrian bridge is next to the car bridge.) It has some beautiful symmetry to it and if you can catch it in the morning light it is really something special.
5.) The Pennybacker Bridge, aka Loop 360 Bridge
This bridge sits about 20 minutes or so West of downtown and is a beautiful structure. It is one of the few iconic symbols of Austin and seems to only get prettier every time I see it. There is a well-known area next to the bridge where you can climb up the rocks to get a nice birds-eye view of it, but I also recommend parking and walking down below the south side of it for some interesting angles.
6.) Hamilton Pool
This wonderful place is about a 30-40 minute drive from Austin but it is well worth it. It is a natural pool that was created when the dome of an underground river collapsed due to erosion thousands of years ago. The main highlight is the 45 foot waterfall that cascades over the rim from above, crashing into the pool below. It’s gorgeous. I’m fired up just typing this. Go there now.
7.) Zilker Botanical Gardens
This is a 30 acre park which is tucked away inside the larger and more well-known Zilker Park - Austin’s 350 acre version of NYC’s Central Park (sort of). It has several different sections, including a rose garden and a Japanese Garden, but for me the highlight is all the flowers you can find there, especially in the springtime. Oh, and don't miss the waterfall!
8.) Pedernales Falls State Park
This park lies outside of Austin about 30 minutes or so, and is great fun to visit. There are ample hiking opportunities as well as general photography fun to be had. The Pedernales River runs through the park and there are so many boulders and rock formations that you may never tire of looking at all the ways the river can move through the rock. It is interesting, fun, good exercise and great photography - all in one.
9.) McKinney Falls State Park
I was surprised at how beautiful this place is when I first visited with camera in hand. It is actually in Austin, just a 15-20 minute from downtown, and if you can get there in the spring you will be rewarded with wonderful waterfalls with a lot of water flowing through them. It’s really beautiful!
10.) The Driskill Hotel
This is the Grand Dame of Austin Hotels. It was built in 1886 as the showplace of cattle baron Jesse Driskill and sits on 6th Street in the middle of the entertainment district in downtown Austin. It is iconic, historic, and beautiful. Walk around the lobby, go upstairs, visit the bar, and get a shot of the horse-drawn carriages out front too!
Other places of interest:
- South Congress Avenue - Airstream trailer restaurants, funky stores and cool places
- Warehouse District - a few square blocks on 4th Street with lots of nightlife
- 6th Street - the famous entertainment area - lots of people watching too
- The Long Center - a massive performing arts complex - some great angles here
- The Broken Spoke - you just have to photograph the old broken, rusted bus!
- The Texas State History Museum - that big bronze star is fabulous!
- Stevie Ray Vaughan statue - another iconic symbol of Austin
Hope you have a good time out there taking photos, and let me know your thoughts on the list! Feel free to make additions by way of the comments field!