Everything is bigger in Texas, and the Texas Capitol building in Austin follows suit. It’s the largest by square footage of any state capitol, and is 15 feet (4.6 meters) taller than the US Capitol. Its rosy hue, stunning at sunset, comes from the red granite exterior. Texas Hill Country limestone and granite were used in the building’s construction.
To get a solid understanding of Texas’ past and present, stop by the capitol—zip by for a photo or, better yet, walk in for a guided tour. The building is part of most downtown Austin small-group tours, and some Segway and bike tour guides can explain the history of this important building and its presence in Texas politics throughout the years.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The Texas Capitol is ideal for fans of history and politics.
- Free 30-minute guided tours of the capitol’s interiors are available every 30 to 45 minutes, seven days a week.
- The Capitol Visitors Center, located east of the main capitol building, houses various artifacts and information for visitors, as well as a gift shop.
- All capitol buildings are accessible to wheelchair users.
How to Get There
The Texas Capitol is located on Congress Avenue in downtown Austin, between 11th and 15th streets, just west of I-35. Parking is available at the Capitol Visitors Parking Garage on San Jacinto Street. It’s usually free for the first two hours, but there may be a fee during events.
When to Get There
The capitol is a busy building throughout the year, filled with visitors, constituents, and legislators when in session. Tours are available between 8:30am and 4:30pm Monday through Friday, 9:30am to 3:30pm Saturday, and 12pm to 3:30pm Sunday. Specialty themed tours, such as women in Texas history, heroes of the Texas Revolution, African-American trailblazing Texans, and a Halloween ghost tour, are offered at various times during the year.
The Texas state legislature is in session for only five months every two years, and legislators earn just $7,200 per year. That arrangement began in the 19th century, when Texas lawmakers had a more difficult time traveling from their districts to Austin. Despite modernized transportation, there is little indication that lawmakers will change their biennial schedule.