December 13, 2019

Austin, Texas

Interior of the Texas State Capitol dome
Interior of the Texas State Capitol dome

Austin is a fascinating mix of tradition, nature, growth and quirkiness. With more music venues per capita than any other U.S. city, almost 40 microbreweries within the city limits, amazing restaurants, and dozens of museums (including many with free admission), Austin offers a myriad of possibilities for exploring between your SutureStar workshop sessions.

If you’d like to delve into tradition, consider visiting the Texas State Capitol, the LBJ Presidential Library, the George Washington Carver Museum, or any one of the historical homes-transformed-into-museums that offer a glimpse into the Austin of yesteryear.

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, also known as the Texas State Botanical Garden and Arboretum (it’s part of the University of Texas), offers 284 acres of gardens featuring all-native Texas species. A national leader in conservation and research about plants, the center offers exhibits and workshops all year round. It’s about a half an hour drive from our workshop hotel, or 20 minutes from downtown Austin.

Coneflowers at the entrance to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
Coneflowers at the entrance to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Looking for some outdoor recreation? Locals swear by the Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail around Lady Bird Lake, a river-like reservoir located downtown. The 10-mile trail meanders along the water’s edge and passes by skyscrapers, neighborhoods, ball fields and more. You can also rent a paddle-board, kayak or canoe at the lake.

Closer to home base —in fact, step outside the workshop hotel and you’re there—is the Arboretum, an open-air retail mall that includes open park spaces, a large playground and some of the best shopping in Austin. Oh, and a cow sculpture garden.

Did we mention that one of the city’s slogans is “Keep Austin Weird”? That’s because the town is one of the fastest-growing large cities in the U.S., and it has the strip malls, residential development and rampant commercialization to show it. The slogan honors the city’s independent merchants and its eccentric side.

Cow sculpture and trees at the Arboretum open-air shopping mall
Cow sculpture and trees at the Arboretum open-air shopping mall

Like visiting the Congress Ave. Bridge between March and October, when 1 million Mexican free-tailed bats—the world’s largest urban bat colony—fly out in the evening to eat mosquitoes. Line up on the bridge to watch, or observe from the restaurant at the Line Hotel while sipping margaritas.

Throughout the year there’s a dizzying variety of arts, music, food and film festivals (yes, there’s a Bat Festival with music, vendors, and bat costume contests) as well as a vibrant theatre scene.

Austinites are passionate about their barbecue. With good reason, they wait in line for hours at nationally famous Franklin’s on E. 11th Avenue, and you may want to make a pilgrimage there yourself. Or, for easier seating and delicious meats, try Cooper’s Old-Time Pit Barbecue on Congress Avenue.

Call 800-922-7747 for availability and register today! Note: SutureStar Workshops fill up fast (specialty workshops, such as CV and OB, are even more limited).
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