Family friendly events in Austin, Texas are an ongoing occurrence. There are always great family friendly places and events to attend!
Jared Ficklin is a partner and the chief creative technologist of the local firm called argo design. He is also a bit of a pragmatic dreamer and has become an evangelist for a mass transportation vision that he co-created. The project is known as Wire Austin and has been creating a steady buzz since 2011 when Ficklin and his colleague Michael McDaniel did a TEDxAustin Talk that received a standing ovation from the audience. If you’ve cursed the traffic gods while sitting parked on I-35 this week, it’s definitely worth a watch.
The gist is this: Imagine a gondola system, similar to what you are used to seeing at a ski resort, that takes riders high above the congestion and capacity woes of Austin’s roadways. Ficklin and his team believe that a climate-controlled urban cable system could not only be the answer to many of our problems, it could be an attraction for tourists, and a pioneering investment in our collective quality of life.
As highway improvement projects stretch on forever, and previously sleepy neighborhood streets become busy routes for drivers avoiding the main arteries, Ficklin thinks we should look to the sky for the next big thing. We wanted to know more … much more! So we called him up.
365: So what is urban cable?
Jared Ficklin: Well urban cable is a kind of mass transit similar to what you would ride at a ski area—cars that ride on a cable, which is hung on towers and they go on a loop. We call them detachable high-speed gondolas. They clamp onto the cables, and when they get to a stop, they are lifted off the cables and go to a platform which is perfectly level, where the passengers get on and off. So you can imagine in a stack of six cars with one coming every 30 seconds from one end, and one leaving every 30 seconds from the other end—the cars are big enough to hold 10 people and some climate-control equipment—so it’s this continuous system. It’s basically aerial ropeways, greatly elevated for application in urban settings. It has the capacity of about 25 buses per hour in each direction. That’s like a bus stopping every 40 seconds.
Where has this been successful?
The case study most people point to is Medellín, Colombia. They deployed a three-line system and they are working on a fourth line to add to it. Their version of the suburbs, places where low-income families live, are very tightly packed and dense. There was no eminent domain to add roads and run busses. If they were going to put in transit, they would have had to tear down a whole bunch of houses. So instead they put in urban cable and they could hop over a lot of people’s houses just using these towers. It revolutionized their system and it functions as a true mass transit system there, three lines that come together at a central hub. Throughout South America it’s been quite popular. It’s also deploying in Europe and Asia. We have some small forms of urban cable in North America, but a true urban cable line that would approximate mass transit really hasn’t been deployed yet.
Why is Austin a good candidate for something like this?
We’re just big enough to feel the problem but not big enough to afford the traditional solutions. We also have river, greenbelts, and freeways in place and all of the eminent domain has been claimed. These are very expensive things to work around when adding mass transit. Urban cable can cross all of these things nearly for free. So it’s a way to add mass transit on the routes that we already use. All it needs is a straight shot. We have a few streets in this city where we could run these. South First is one of those streets. It’s a nice straight shot from Slaughter right into Downtown. You could jog over the river and then ride it right down Guadalupe until you meet the corner of campus. We could build this with a very good cost profile.
Is that the pilot line you have proposed?
Yes, recently we’ve been looking at a pilot line called Wire One. It has the potential to serve basically all of those people who live south of the river. It’s a route we couldn’t achieve any other way. South First is one of our four major north-south arteries. We could add a fifth right above it with urban cable. Because it’s above the street, it doesn’t remove any supply from the street. If you put something like surface rail, you are actually removing supply from the street. People could still leave their house the way they do now—you can build parking garages at certain retail areas—and head into Downtown. A good 30,000 people do that every day. These days the congestion line starts at Ben White, a good 25 minutes from City Hall. On a bad day it could be worse and five years from now it’s going to be way worse. It could be basically the same journey people already take—start at home, park in a garage—with one extra step of getting on urban cable.
Where does the proposal stand right now?
There is a citizens group that is working with city officials to try and get this in action. But ultimately we do need to convince the city to invest in this form of mass transit. We need the citizenry to agree with us, because we all may need to pay for it.
How much would it cost?
Well I can say this about cost: I’m not trying to be competitive here, but we all know what surface rail costs, so I will use it as a comparison. I actually believe that to solve the transportation crisis in Austin, we need to add supply whenever and wherever we can. For each route we want to achieve, we should look for a technology that best matches the need. We shouldn’t think in terms of only roads and only trains. There is no single solution to traffic. But surface rail lays out at about 100 million dollars per mile and I think we could get twice the mileage with urban cable. Some cities have done it for far less than that—some have done it for around 13 million per mile. But I think for the climate in Austin and the commuters we have, we are going to spend for a more luxurious system. We need climate control; we need stops that are civic in nature; we need an up time of 19 hours a day; and we are hoping we’ll need a high capacity for this thing and those attributes will make it more expensive. But the fact that we are only doing construction where there is a stop and a tower, and we are going to cross the freeways and the rivers for free, and the fact that you actually just couldn’t put anything else on South First, means that this is a very sensible thing to do from a cost perspective. And I think when the tourists are in town, there is a certain number who are going to jump on a ride it just for the experience.
It does seem like this has an appeal beyond just getting from place to place. Most mass transit systems aren’t fun to ride.
This is what our tourism needs. I think it was recently proclaimed that we have a festival economy—people are coming to experience our culture, and traffic and congestion are a threat to that. Urban cable would get people around, and be a real mass transit system, but it goes up in the air and over the river, and there are beautiful views. Everyone is going to take that selfie and a lot of people will pay just to get on it while they are here. It will become the thing to do in Austin. There are a lot of cities considering this and I think there is this feeling of well, who is going to go first? That also makes it pretty exciting.
And other than it just being cool, what are some reasons people might be quick to adopt it?
I think the fact that it isn’t on a schedule and the pilot route is on a route that everyone can imagine using and is growing in popularity. The fact that someone could walk out their door and be downtown in 22 minutes, people are going to start doing that. Another thing that urban cable has is an amazing amount of predictability. In other words, it’s always going to be that same amount of time between gondolas.
What is the biggest challenge about getting this off the ground?
I just got back from the New Cities Summit in Montreal and we were discussing just this: What are the barriers to entry for North America? Familiarity is one. You can’t call up your sister city and say, “Hey! How was implementing this?” There is no lobby because there are only two urban cable companies. And no one is quite sure about the funding yet. The good news is those are all surmountable barriers, but it’s going to happen at the speed of civics. We have a policy of figuring out what’s best for the commuter, rather than figuring out what makes sense for the city.
If people like the idea, what can they do to help?
Right now they could write their city council member and ask them to consider urban cable. If they saw a good show of support from the public, I think it would happen. It’s a good time for folks to rally around something like this.
They should also like Wire Austin’s Facebook page. That’s how they will learn more and hear more in the future. In about a month’s time we’re going to be releasing the vision. Right now we’re just talking about it.
Above: A rendering of the Wire One pilot route. Image courtesy argo design.
Now in its 58th year, Zilker Theatre Productions is proud to bring you Shrek The Musical. This is one of the most anticipated events in Austin every summer. The outdoor venue at Zilker is perfect for an evening under the stars, and once the sun goes down, the weather is much more bearable.
Don’t forget to bring a blanket, a loaded picnic basket, a cooler (no glass), bug spray, and anything else you need for a wonderful evening under the Austin sky. Unfortunately, no pets are allowed.
If you’re worried about rain, call the hotline at 512-479-9491 to get updates on the status of the show.
To learn more check out our tips for getting the most out of your experience.
Parking: $5.00 per car
When: Thursday-Sunday – August 13th
Time: 8:15 p.m.
Zilker Hillside Theatre
2201 Barton Springs Road
Austin, Texas 78704
The only thing cooler than a movie in the park is a movie in the pool! It’s that time of year again, when Deep Eddy brings you Splash Movie Nights. Tonight, gather all your Jedi friends and enjoy an amazing summer activity that will be quintessentially Austin.
Summer Movie Schedule:
June 25: Star Wars – The Force Awakens
July 9: Raiders of the Lost Ark
July 23: Zootopia
Time: Dusk (around 8 p.m.)
Admission fees cover both the movie and pool entry for the day:
FREE Infant (under 12 months)
$1.00 Child 1 to 11 years
$2.00 Junior 12 to 17 years
$3.00 Adult 18 to 61 years
$1.00 Senior 62 years +
And if you are looking for more fun this weekend, check out our Weekend Top Picks!
Deep Eddy Pool
401 Deep Eddy Avenue
Austin, Texas 78703
Shakespeare at Ramsey Park is in full swing! This is the second weekend of The Winter’s Tale, the company’s fifth production of a community-friendly Shakespeare play in the park. It’s performed with minimal props, costumes, and lighting, focusing on storytelling and the rich language of the Bard.
This is a fun experience that the entire family will enjoy. Grab your chairs or a blanket to sit on, pack a little picnic, and come out and enjoy some theater in the park!
When: Thursday – Saturday through June 25th
Time: 8:00 – 10:00 p.m.
4301 Rosedale Ave
Austin, Texas 78756
Photo Credit: Something For Nothing Facebook Page
Quilting is an art form that has seen exciting changes in the last decade, with constantly evolving techniques and contemporary designs. Don’t miss your chance to see award-winning quilts that showcase the outstanding creativity and innovation happening today at the 2016 Capital of Texas Quiltfest. It’s Austin’s largest quilt show and it only comes around once every other year!
Visitors can check out hundreds of fantastic quilts and fiber art works and shop at more than 65 vendor booths. There will be free demos, door prizes, a silent auction, a grand prize raffle quilt, and educational exhibits for all to enjoy.
When: September 16-18
Friday and Saturday from 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m., Sunday from noon – 5:00 p.m.
Admission: $8 in advance, $10 at the door
Palmer Event Center
900 Barton Springs
Austin, TX 78704
If you’re looking for a fun fitness activity to do with friends and family, nothing beats the Color In Motion 5K. This is unlike any race you have run before: As you sprint, jog, waddle, or stroll along the course, you’ll be splashed with bright colors that transform a group of ordinary runners into a moving rainbow! All ages and experience levels are welcome. If you can’t beat your loved ones in the speed department, see who can come out of the race looking the most vibrant, covered head to toe in color.
How many times have you paid to run a boring 5K with nothing more than a lame T-shirt and warm Gatorade? Why not color outside the lines while being active, social, and a little wacky? CIM5K gives you all these benefits plus unforgettable memories. Best of all, a portion of the proceeds from the race will benefit the Central Texas Food Bank. Come on out and make a splash!
Cost: $25-50 (Use code “365” for a 10% discount!)
When: June 11th, starting at 8 a.m.
Round Rock Premium Outlets
4401 Interstate 35 Frontage Rd.
Round Rock, TX 78664
If you thought the Domain, North Austin’s city-within-a-city couldn’t get any bigger, the highly anticipated entertainment district known as Rock Rose has started to open—bit by bit. With a plethora of restaurants, bars, boutiques, and more already open or set to open in the near future, here are some of the highlights.
Lavaca Street Bar is the northern version of the popular downtown sports bar, only 2,000 square-feet larger. Featuring skee ball, pool, and 40 screens plus a video wall, this is the perfect spot to catch a Rangers or Spurs game while you enjoy a sandwich from Turf n’ Surf Po Boy.
Need a new pair of tan leather boots? A bar of beard soap? Just a cup of coffee or a glass of whiskey neat? Weathered Coalition is part mountain lodge bar and part men’s boutique, featuring rugged yet elegant menswear and accouterments.
The third Austin location of Corepower Yoga is now open. The nationwide chain of studios has a stated mission of “intensity for the body, presence for the mind,” combining the intensity of core workouts with the mindfulness of yoga.
Featuring classic Irish, Scottish, and Welsh food and drink, Jack & Ginger’s is already a prime spot for both lunch and dinner. With more than 50 taps plus a selection of whiskies from across the pond, you can’t go wrong at this locally owned pub.
More than a run-of-the-mill café, Two Hands Coffee prides itself on serving customers only the best, hand-selected coffee beans, the most freshly squeezed juices, and the tastiest craft ales and lagers.
Now taking reservations for June, Viva Day Spa is opening its third location at Rock Rose for spa packages, facials, hair removal, nail care, and services for men, too.
Named one of the “50 Best New Restaurants in America” in Bon Appetit magazine, South Austin’s Sway will soon bring its delicious brand of modern Thai made for sharing to the northern reaches of town at Rose Rose.
Get your thin crust on at Salvation Pizza, a dog-friendly, beer-garden-style parlor on 34th Street set to open its second location at Rock Rose soon.
If you’ve been downtown, heck, if you’ve waited patiently in traffic on South Congress as would-be photographers clog the center of the street, their cameras pointed north at the spectacular view, you’ve seen the Texas State Capitol. It’s the focal point of this beautiful city—an ornate building full of history, symbolism, and maybe a few ghosts. You’ve probably admired the exterior and walked around the grounds, but when was the last time you took an official tour? Here’s a primer for Texans, transplants, and tourists alike.
When the Texas State Capitol was completed in 1888, it was the seventh largest building in the world. Now, of course, knocked way off that list, the home of the Texas Legislature and the Office of the Governor is still the sixth-tallest state capitol in the country, and, at 308-feet-tall, is actually taller than the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C.
In 1983, the 68th Texas Legislature created the State Preservation Board in order to preserve, maintain, and restore the Capitol, which was later designated a National Historic Landmark in 1986. In 1993, the Capitol grounds were expanded north, and from 1995-96 the south grounds were restored. Today, visitors can explore the building for free, seven days a week. A new tour leaves from the South Foyer every 20 minutes.
The best way to tour the Capitol is to allow yourself a couple hours. You can take a guided tour of the actual building, which takes about 30 minutes, walk around the 22-acre Capitol grounds, and stop by the adjacent Bullock Museum, and learn about how Texas became what it is today. Of course, self-guided tours are allowed from 7 a.m.- 10 p.m. Monday-Friday and 9 a.m.- 8 p.m. weekends. Stop in the Capitol Grille for lunch or dinner if you have the time.
In addition to the normal tours, groups of 10 or more can take specialty tours, including Women in Texas History, The Texas Revolution, Texas Veterans Tour, and Rest in Peace, a tour centered around the urban myths and ghost stories of the Capitol offered around Halloween.
If you haven’t been inside since elementary school, it’s time for a field trip.
Being the hip hippie town that it is, Austin boasts a plethora of farmers markets within the city limits—so many, in fact, that picking just one to visit on a weekend can be daunting. If you’re on a quest to eat better and fresher, here is a list of five markets where you’ll never go wrong:
Sundays, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
4550 Mueller Blvd.
Listed by the Austin Chronicle as the top farmers market in Austin the last two years, Texas Farmers Market features dozens of local favorites. You can find everything you need to throw a legendary dinner party here. Grab a baguette from Easy Tiger, dried pasta from Gourmet Texas Pasta, olive oil from Texas Hill Country Olive Company, some Texas Gulf shrimp from K&S Seafood, and get those dull knives sharpened by Assured Sharp. It’s a one-stop shop.
755 Springdale Rd.
Wednesdays and Saturdays 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Formed in 2009, this family operated farm in East Austin grows more than 75 vegetables. The indoor farm stand is currently featuring chicken and duck eggs, fennel, and collared greens, plus handmade spa products, like soap, body butter, and scrubs, made right on the farm.
3414 Lyons Rd.
Wednesday thru Saturday, 8 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Opened in 1992, Boggy Creek is the first urban farm in East Austin. The market stand, in addition to featuring farm-fresh pink beauty radishes, sugar snap peas, and French sorrel, also sells one-of-a-kind products like fermented cowboy kimchi, wild mustang green grape jam, and smoke-dried tomato bean dip, all from Larry’s Commercial Kitchen.
Tuesdays, 3 p.m. – 7 p.m.
2921 East 17th St.
The main draw of this farmers market is Johnson’s Backyard Garden, a 1,000-member community supported agriculture (CSA) operation. On Tuesdays, you can pick from some of the freshest vegetables you’ll ever eat, from bok choy and rainbow chard to golden beets and daikon radishes. JBG even has an extensive veggie guide, with storage and culinary tips for every product.
8310 Canoga Avenue
Tuesdays, 3 p.m. – 6 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays, 10 am. – 2 p.m.
Sustainability is key at Green Gate Farms, they have a farm stand built entirely from found items in and around an old shed in East Austin. Located in what is considered a food desert, Green Gate Farms provides some of the only organic food in the neighborhood, including seasonal vegetables like heirloom tomatoes and a wide variety of meat, from chicken and beef to bison and mutton.
Photos: Jason Neff
Deep Eddy began as a simple swimming hole in the Colorado River, but has evolved into one of the most important landmarks in Austin. The concrete pool we know today was built in 1915 when A.J. Eilers bought the land surrounding what is now known as Deep Eddy. It became a swim resort in the 1920s, and was bought by the city of Austin in 1935, becoming a public swimming pool the next year. Spend a day at the pool and in the surrounding neighborhood and you’ll see why this area is one of Austin’s oldest treasures.
Start your day across the street from the pool with breakfast at Magnolia on Lake Austin Boulevard. Get a big plate of the Love Migas—essentially your normal, everyday migas, except smothered in creamy queso. Since you’ll want to wait the requisite 30 minutes before your swim, order another cup of coffee before heading down to the pool.
Change in the historic bathhouses, built during the Great Depression and reconstructed after a mudslide in 1935. Here you’ll start to get a sense of the iconic Austin atmosphere of Deep Eddy, which is the oldest swimming pool in the state of Texas.
Walk on down to the pool. If you have kids in tow, you’ll want to park your blankets over on the right side, where the kiddie pool is easily accessible. If you want to take a dip in the deep end, head left. Here’s where you’ll find college kids sunbathing and old Austin hippies playing acoustic guitars. If aquatic exercise is your thing, the swim lanes at Deep Eddy are immensely popular. Show up early enough to get in a couple laps before the line forms.
Once you’re ready to head out, take a quick detour at the top of the steps for a snack at Jim-Jims. Grab a soft pretzel, or if it’s hot out (it’s always hot out) try a cherry water ice to cool down. You’ll be so glad you did.
Finally, no trip to Deep Eddy is complete without a stop at the adjacent watering hole named for the pool: Deep Eddy Cabaret. Until recently it was a cash-only, beer-only joint, but new ownership has brought the bar into the 21st century, adding payment by plastic and booze, while retaining its idiosyncratic classic Austin charm. Cap off your day with an ice cold Lone Star, or perhaps a Deep Eddy vodka cocktail, as you flip through the old jukebox still filled with country classics from Waylon, Willie, and Merle—God rest his soul.
Here is one of our favorite Real Estate listings in the neighborhood.
For more information on Downtown Austin real estate contact Greg Walling of Moreland Properties
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