In 1969, Howard Barnett drove past Town Lake and immediately became enamored with its idyllic, tree-lined banks. With the image of the lake’s picturesque scenery still in his mind, the avid outdoorsman decided to open a nearby canoe-rental shop, finding a spot hidden from the road and only steps away from a creek that fed into the lake. With full support from his family, Howard manned the shop in between his shifts for the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department. Today, the Barnetts continue to run Zilker Park Boat Rentals, and Town Lake has since been renamed Lady Bird Lake. The shop now harbors more than 100 rental canoes and kayaks, as well as Ocean Kayak standup paddleboards. While renters embark on outings, their vessels glide them under pendulant branches, the bridge at Barton Springs Road, and past turtles racing to beat their best time for the 100-meter dash.
New sailors cut their teeth aboard Austin Sailboat Rentals' fleet of dinghy boats. It doesn't take long for the company's instructors to explain the operation of these lightweight vessels, which consist of only a single sail. Their ease of navigation lets fledgling captains and passengers focus on sailing's more enjoyable aspects: the wind in their hair as they take the view of downtown Austin from Lady Bird Lake. And unlike Mr. Peanut, Austin Sailboat Rentals isn’t defined by its name; the company also rents out other recreational vessels including seacycles, kayaks, larger day sailors, stand-up paddle boards, canoes, and bikes.
When Ken Bradley, Cathy Grant, and Damian Gillen created The Company Theatre in 1993, they had one mission: to offer an live entertainment alternative to television or movies. Their lively adaptations of classic literature and popular stories have toured to theatres, schools, and churches all over Texas. No staging is too unconventional for the The Company Theatre: the troupe presents a condensed version of the complete works of Shakespeare with three fast-talking actors, and performs their production of “Charlotte’s Web” at an operating farm.
SUP LT floats water wranglers out to the waves, where they can enjoy a relaxing and watery excursion. Standing aboard a fresh new fleet of paddleboards, which resemble large surfboards, lake-bound wayfarers navigate Lake Travis using hand paddles and their own inner GPS systems. Paddlers of all ages and ability levels are welcome to ride SUP LT's buoyant vessels, which glide around Lake Travis' glassy, scenic surface for two hours before returning safely home. Veteran instructors are also on-hand to help beginners learn the basic navigation and balance skills necessary to have a fun and safe ride and to avoid purse-snatching trout.
Steve Busti wasn't like the other children in his classroom. While his peers were playing tag and collecting baseball cards, Steve was poring over books on Bermuda Triangle theories and UFOs. He frequented dime museums and sideshow carnivals, fascinated by the strange creatures and characters therein. As Steve grew older, he began to build a collection of oddities—trinkets he picked up from sideshows, props from movie sets, and curiosities he stumbled upon. So when he realized there was plenty of extra room in the back of the novelty shop he owned with his wife, Steve was inspired to open a museum—a shrine to all things odd, unnatural, and eerie.
Today, the Museum of the Weird is a treasure trove of peculiar exhibits, lauded by reporters from The Austin Chronicle as "a remarkable collision of genre film ephemera." Steve's giant pet lizards scuttle about the space, surprising guests who are busy examining bigfoot exhibits or trying to shake an uncomfortable feeling that they recognize one of the shrunken heads. The entire scene is watched over by lifelike wax figures of Dracula and The Wolf Man, as well as a glowering bust of King Kong. After visits, guests pop into Steve and his wife Veronica's shop—Lucky Lizards Curios & Gifts—to peruse an equally unusual collection of action figures, vintage items, and locally made wares.
A comprehensive guide to attractions and things to do.