Top 10 Accessible Attractions in Austin
By: Danielle Max | Jul 12 2017
It may be “The Live Music Capital of the World,” but Austin has so much more to offer than just great music (though be sure to catch some when you’re in town). There’s art (plenty of it), there’s history (loads of that too) and there’s also plenty of nature close by. So, come and visit and, as the well-known slogan says, “Help Keep Austin Weird.”
Austin Skyline with kayaker
Evening at Texas State Capitol Building
Texas State Capitol Building/Visit Austin
When it was built, the Texas State Capitol was billed as “the Seventh-Largest Building in the World.” It may not hold that distinction anymore (or even come close), but the Capitol is still a beautiful and imposing building (it’s taller than the United States Capitol). Visit on your own or take a free guided tour of the structure. Specialty tours, such as “Women in Texas History” or “Early Texas Artists in the Capitol” are available upon request.
All Capitol, Capitol Extension and Capitol Visitors Center facilities are accessible. A limited number of wheelchairs can be borrowed from the Capitol Information and Guide Service or the Capitol Visitors Center on a first-come, first-served basis (photo ID required).
Guided tours for the Capitol, Capitol Visitors Center and Governor’s Mansion using American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters can be given with one week’s advance notice. Call 512-305-8402.
Publications are available in large print versions and braille for the Capitol, Capitol Visitors Center and Grounds. Brochures may be checked out and returned after use from the Capitol Information and Guide Service.
Parking: Free parking is available for vehicles properly displaying an official disabled parking placard or disabled parking license at parking meter in the Capitol Complex.
Public Transportation: A number of busses including #2, #6, #7, #10, #20, #37 or #485 to 219 11th/San Jacinto stop (1-minute walk).
Find out more here.
Top Tip: Look out for oval-shaped signs on the Capitol Grounds indicating accessible routes to the Capitol Visitors Center or Capitol North Entrance.
Exterior of Bullock Texas State History Museum
Bullock Texas State History Museum/Visit Austin
The Bullock Texas State History Museum tells the story of Texas – and what a story it is. The museum has three floors of interactive exhibits. Don’t miss the “Star of Destiny” showing in The Spirit Theater, which takes viewers on a journey through the epic history of the Lone Star State.
All exhibition and theater lobby areas are accessible by both elevators and stairs. Wheelchairs are available at the information desk and at the ticket counter in the museum's first floor lobby (photo ID required).
Accessible restrooms are located on each floor of the museum. A family restroom is located off the first floor lobby. All restrooms are equipped with changing tables and wheelchair-accessible stalls and sinks.
Accessible water fountains are located throughout the museum near the restrooms.
If you are using a walker, take care in the cattle ranch, Spanish mission and Alamo exhibition spaces. These areas are recreated environments and have textured floor surfaces.
Exhibitions feature open captioning and/or written transcripts. Rear Window and descriptive listening devices are available for all museum-produced films. If you have special needs or requests at any point in your visit, contact a Visitor Services staff member.
Pick up assistive listening devices for the IMAX® Theatre and the Texas Spirit Theater at the visitor information desk and the theater entrance.
An ASL interpreter can be arranged for your visit. Email or call 512-463-7338 or 512-936-4696 TTY at least two weeks in advance. Groups or individuals are welcome to bring an interpreter.
Find out more here.
Parking: Accessible parking spaces are located near the elevators on each level of the museum’s paid garage. Elevators connect the parking garage to the museum's ground floor entrance on the Lone Star Plaza. Doors are push-button activated.
Public Transportation: Bus #103, #110, #142 or #464 1714 Congress/18th stop (1-minute walk)
If you’ve ever wanted to come face-to-face with a Texas Pterosaur (and who hasn’t?), the Texas Memorial Museum is the place for you. The largest flying creature even found in Texas has a massive wingspan of nearly 40 feet and would have been a good match for the 30-foot mosasaur that swam the shallow sea that once covered most of the state (also on display). As well as fossils and prehistoric life, this natural history museum focuses on native Texas wildlife, gems, minerals and meteorites and biological evolution (don’t worry, not everything’s as big and scary as the Pterosaur).
The accessible entrance is located on Trinity Street, just south of the main entrance, and may be reached from the street using the service driveway. The entrance has an automatic door, which is opened remotely by the museum’s security guard once the call button is pressed.
The museum is wheelchair accessible. Accessible restrooms are located on the first and fourth floors. A unisex or companion-assisted restroom is available on the 4th floor. Courtesy wheelchairs are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
There are benches are located throughout the museum.
The cell phone audio tour provides information on selected specimens, and both audio files and printed transcripts are available on the museum website.
Find out more here.
Parking: There are two accessible parking spaces near the accessible entrance of the museum. Visitors with state-issued disability placards or license plates may park in surface parking lot “D” spaces (see map) by obtaining a temporary University “TD” Permit at any entry control station/ kiosk between 7.30am and 4.00pm weekdays.
Additional spaces are available in the San Jacinto Garage, located next to the museum. Van clearance in the San Jacinto Garage is limited to 6’11’’. Taller vans can be parked in Manor Garage on the southeast corner of Robert Dedman Dr. and Clyde Littlefield Dr., which has a van clearance of 8’ when entering on level 2.
If you park in San Jacinto Garage, exit from Level 3 and follow the sidewalk south along Trinity Street to the accessible entrance.
Public Transportation: Buses #10, #20, #37, #653, #671, #672, #680 to 501 23rd/Trinity stop (3-minute walk) or #7 #103 #110 #111 #127 or #171 to 2400 San Jacinto/24th (4-minute walk via “Dinosaur Footprint Trail”).
Top Tip: Visit The University of Texas’ main website for an accessibility map of the area surrounding Texas Memorial Museum.
Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum
Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum/Visit Austin
Unlike most other museums, the UMLAUF Sculpture Garden & Museum allows visitors not only to see art and experience it from a distance, but to get up close and actually touch it. The museum exhibits the work of Charles Umlauf and other contemporary sculptors in a natural setting, and provides educational experiences that encourage the understanding and appreciation of sculpture.
The UMLAUF has the largest accessible sculpture collection in Texas and offers touch tours for visitors with vision disabilities. The outdoor collection has been washed and waxed for such tours for visitors who are blind and other kinesthetic learners, allowing guests to touch the artworks.
The UMLAUF orientation video, featuring Charles Umlauf discussing his work and gift to the people of the City of Austin, is available with closed captions.
Parking: Limited parking is available on the UMLAUF property. There is a larger parking area in the field directly across the street from the UMLAUF Sculpture Garden & Museum.
Public Transportation: Bus #30 to Barton Springs/Barton stop (5-minute walk)
Top Tip: Avoid getting into trouble – don’t touch the works inside the gallery, only the outdoor sculptures can be touched.
The French Legation Museum is housed in the oldest building in Austin, which was built around 1841. It started off life as an early diplomatic and was built for the French chargé d’affaires to the Republic of Texas, Alphonse Dubois, after the French monarch officially recognized the Republic of Texas as a sovereign nation. These days, the house is owned by the Daughters of the Republic of Texas (DRT), who opened the museum to the public back in 1956, and it’s très intéressant.
The historic house, kitchen, and carriage house gift shop are all accessible. Primary buildings are wheelchair accessible. Secondary buildings have entry steps. All walkways are hard surfaced.
Contact the museum in advance to make arrangements for visitors who are Deaf, blind or have low vision.
Parking: Use the parking lot located at the intersection of East 9th Street and Embassy Drive for wheelchair access to the brick paths.
Public Transportation: Bus #4 to 7th/San Marco stop (2-minute walk).
Top Tip: The French Legation Museum Park includes two and a half acres of lush grass, native trees and formal gardens. The park is open for public use during museum hours, so bring a picnic and spend an afternoon on the lawn.
LBJ Library Oval Office
Photo: Lauren Gerson/Visit Austin
You can go all the way with a visit to the LBJ Presidential Library (we aren’t being saucy that was LBJ’s campaign slogan in 1964). Discover the impact President Johnson had on America (think voting rights, civil rights, seat belts and even PBS). Find out more about the man who was never meant to be president and uncover the impact on the Vietnam War on Johnson – and Johnson on the Vietnam War. Housed in a 10-story building, the library houses 45 million pages of historical documents, 650,000 photos and 5,000 hours of recordings from President Johnson's political career, including about 643 hours of his recorded telephone conversations while the museum contains more than fifty-four thousand objects donated by the President and Mrs. Johnson, their family, close friends, associates, and the American people.
The museum is accessible, with elevators in the central lobby with access to all exhibit floors and the lower floor restrooms.
Transcripts for deaf and hard-of-hearing, braille booklets, and wheelchairs are available at the lobby information desk.
Video presentations are closed captioned in English and Spanish.
Parking: Free parking in the designated parking lot 38. Lot 38 features an entrance flanked by brightly colored LBJ Library banners.
Public Transportation: Bus #10, #20 and #37 to Robert Deadman/23rd stop (2-minute walk).
Top Tip: To ensure President Johnson's wish that the Library be available to all, free admission is offered on Martin Luther King Day, Presidents Day, Explore UT, Memorial Day, The Fourth of July, August 27 (LBJ's birthday), Veterans Day and Austin Museum Day.
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - Color Garden and Silo
Wildflower Center/Visit Austin
Former First Lady Bird Johnson once said native plants, “give us a sense of where we are in the great land of ours.” The wildlife center named for Johnson displays 650 native Texas plant species in gardens, meadows and nature trails giving visitors a great sense of the fauna of the state. But there’s more to the center than “just” flowers. It’s an ideal place for kids, with a butterfly garden, bug-searching opportunities and turtle and fish finding in the Wetland Pond. The center also runs art exhibits and is an ideal place for budding artists to get inspiration.
The center’s grounds and buildings are wheelchair accessible, excluding the Observation Tower and the Woodland and the Savanna Meadow Trails. Wheelchair-accessible trails are marked on the center’s map.
There is a general audio tour available as a podcast that can be downloaded onto personal devices.
Parking: Accessible on-site parking near the front entrance.
Public Transportation: None available.
Top Tip: The museum is closed on Mondays.
The Contemporary Austin is one museum with two distinct but complementary locations. The Jones Center offers a vibrant downtown experience where visitors can investigate and experience contemporary art in a recently renovated historic building while Laguna Gloria offers a unique experience of history, art, and nature. Visitors may tour the Betty and Edward Marcus Sculpture Park's works on view and special exhibitions as well as the 1916 Italianate-style Driscoll Villa and historic gardens and grounds.
The Jones Center galleries and most of the Betty and Edward Marcus Sculpture Park at Laguna Gloria are stroller friendly and wheelchair accessible.
Staff at the Betty and Edward Marcus Sculpture Park at Laguna Gloria are available to assist with golf carts and wheelchairs for touring the grounds.
The Interactive Loft, located at the back of the second-floor gallery at the Jones Center, is a hands-on space to dig deeper into the exhibitions on view.
Contact 512-458-8191 with any questions about accessibility.
Parking: Jones Center – paid meter parking / Laguna Gloria – on-site parking.
Public Transportation: Jones Center bus #17 to 104 8th/congress stop (3-minute walk) / Laguna Gloria – none available.
Top Tip: Admission covers entrance to both locations on the same day.
Photo: Thinkery/Visit Austin
The Thinkery is more than just a children’s museum, it’s an interactive adventure for the littles (and the bigs who accompany them). Opened in 2013, the museum is housed in an iconic 40,000-square-foot red building offering a hands-on learning experience with an emphasis on STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and math) with a lot of art thrown in (STEAM). The Thinkery is aimed at kids from six months up to 11 years old. If you aren’t travelling with kids, check out Thinkery21, evening events when the museum is closed to kids and opened up for adults to play. There’s a cash bar, nibbles from Austin’s food trucks, music, science and a whole lot of adult fun.
The Thinkery is wheelchair accessible at the main entrance and group tour entrance. Elevator access is available on both floors.
Parking: Free parking available at the Mueller Town Center Garage, a short walk from the museum.
Public Transportation: Bus #37, #135 or #350 to 4300 Airport/Aldrich stop (6-minute walk).
Top Tip: Buy tickets online before you come. Tickets allow you into the museum in 30-minute intervals. You can stay as long as you want and you can even leave and come back that same day with a receipt. Even if you didn’t plan ahead, there should be some walk-up spots available.
Exhibit at Blanton Museum of Art
Blanton Museum of Art/Visit Austin
For art lovers, the Blanton Museum of Art at The University of Texas at Austin is a must see. The museum has the largest and most comprehensive collection of art in Central Texas. The Blanton’s permanent collection of more than 17,000 works is recognized for its European paintings, an encyclopedic collection of prints and drawings and modern and contemporary American and Latin American art.
All public areas of the museum are wheelchair accessible. Wheelchairs are available in the main lobby on a first-come, first-served basis.
Sign-language interpretation can be scheduled for all programs and tours. Please contact the museum at least five business days in advance to request an interpreter accommodation.
For more information about the Blanton’s accessibility, email or call the visitor services office at 512-232-7736.
Find out more here.
Parking: There are four accessible spaces located close to the museum’s front door on the north side of the building on Jester Circle. There is also accessible parking on each floor of the Brazos Garage, located next door to the museum. The garage has a number of accessible spaces on each level. After parking, just follow the signs and sidewalk to the museum front door. The Brazos Garage can also accommodate vans.
Public Transportation: Bus #103, #110, #142 or #464 to 1714 Congress/18th stop (3-minute walk).
Top Tip: An accessible drop-off ramp is located close to the museum’s front entrance on the north side of the building. To get to the drop-off from Brazos Street turn left onto Jester Circle. The accessible drop-off is on the left. Call the Visitor Services Desk at 512-471-5482 if you need assistance.