I love exploring new places. I think the best thing you can do with your family is taking field trips. As you may know, I’m home-schooled, and one of our favorite ways to learn is by visiting historical sites, museums, and cultural sites. Recently, I went to explore Austin at The Capitol with my family. We had lots of fun and I’ve decided to share with you the best ways you can take advantage of your trip to The Capitol, whether you live in Austin or are a few hours away (like me!).
This beautiful, 4-story, castle-like building was completed in 1888 after 6 years of hard work. It has a pinkish color from the Texas pink granite used to build it. Pink granite is an abundant pink stone/mineral found in Texas.
Tours are provided every 20 minutes by the Capitol Information and Guide Service, on the first floor of the Capitol. But, if you like to go at your own pace (whether that’s faster or slower), you can use a self-guided tour brochure.
The Capitol dome resembles the Nation’s Capitol in Washington. The Texas star is in the center of the dome and it’s actually eight feet in diameter and is 266 feet above the 1st floor. The word “Texas” surrounds the star. If you clap your hands or speak normally while standing in the middle, you can experience the echo that the domed ceiling makes.
Throughout the entire Capitol building, you can learn interesting facts about Texas history, plus see interesting galleries like the gallery of state representatives, the governor’s office, the supreme court, and more.
Another awesome place you should visit is the Capitol Visitors Center, where you can learn about the Texas Revolution, the construction and blueprints of the Capitol, explore digital stations telling you about the history of the Capitol, discover Texas ranching, dress up as a pioneer or cowboy and take pictures, and even get a closer look at the Goddess of Liberty through a telescope.
The Goddess of Liberty is one of the most famous Texas statues. The original statue was placed on top of the Dome in 1888, made from zinc, painted white, and ended up weighing almost 3,000 pounds. She holds a sword in her right hand and a star in her left which she holds up to the sky. The Goddess stands 15 feet, 7 1/2 inches tall, (it’s said that the Goddess of Liberty makes the Texas Capitol taller than the U.S. Capitol).
Unfortunately, in 1986, a replica of the statue made of aluminum replaced the original. But, the original statue was restored and placed on display in the Bullock State History Museum – I really want to go there next!
In 1990, the Capitol went through a restoration and preservation project. Now the Capitol has several new features, including larger offices, security cameras, and, among other exciting changes, it also has an Extension (with a bookstore!!!) that is completely underground!
I think it’s amazing everything we can learn about history by visiting museums and historical sites, and I hope that this will encourage you to explore Austin and explore your hometown with your family. Remember that, as Theodore Roosevelt said, “The more you know about the past, the better prepared you are for the future.”
I also wanted to take this opportunity to share a few facts about Texas you might not know about.
The Symbol of Texas is the Texas Lone Star Flag
The State Flower is the Bluebonnet
The State Insect is the Monarch Butterfly
The State Small Mammal is the Armadillo
The State Fruit is the Red Grapefruit
The State Dish is Chili (Yummmmm… my mom makes the best vegan chili in the world!)
The State Large Mammal is the Longhorn
The State Pepper is the Jalapeño
The State Flying Mammal is the Mexican Free-Tailed Bat
The State Vegetable is the 1015 Onion (Eat your veggies, they’re good for you!)
I hope you’ve learned a lot about the Capitol and that you will visit with your family. Tell your mom and dad about how you can explore Austin! And make sure to share your pictures of the Capitol on Instagram and tag your photo with #TrueAustin, the official hashtag. What is your favorite part of the Texas Capitol? What have you learned?