By Mark Chesnut
Considering that Austin is the Texas state capital as well as a major hub for higher education, it’s no surprise that there is always something new to discover when it comes to dining, entertainment, hotels and meeting venues.
Among the latest venues is Arthouse at the Jones Center, which reopened in late 2010 after a $6 million renovation that includes three galleries, two studios, a screening room and a rooftop space with a large cinema screen. In November of this year, Arthouse merged with Austin Museum of Art, making it easier for meeting planners to consider and compare multiple artsy venues at one time. Still to come is Circuit of the Americas, a Grand Prix track slated to debut in spring 2012.
Visitors to Austin aren’t likely to go hungry. Hot new restaurants include Barley Swine, which offers “social dining” (shared tables) and a menu of locally sourced cuisine, under the watchful eye of Chef Bryce Gilmore, who was named one of the 2011 Food + Wine Magazine Best New Chefs.
Downtown Austin is home to a trio of eateries created by Chef David Bull: Congress, named one of America’s best new restaurants by Bon Appetit and the best new restaurant in Texas by the New York Times, Bar Congress, an artisan cocktail lounge, and Second Bar + Kitchen, which serves casual fare with a bistro-style ambiance.
The Texas capital is also in growth mode when it comes to hotels. In the works are a new Hyatt Place Hotel, and the Seaholm Plaza, a $117 redevelopment of Austin’s Seaholm Power Plant that will include a hotel as well as retail and meeting space.
Top-rated existing hotels include the Hilton Austin, the Sheraton Austin Hotel at the Capitol, the Radisson Hotel & Suites Austin Downtown, the Hyatt Regency Austin and the AT&T Hotel and Conference Center.
Mark Chesnut is a travel writer, editor and publisher of LatinFlyer.com, which focuses on travel to Latin America. He loves Texas barbecue.