A day at the Capitol

photo / Trey Ratcliff, all rights reserved 

Calling all politicos and FY 2007 agriculture appropriations enthusiasts: That Other Paper has organized a Capitol grounds itinerary! If you’re like most Austinites, you’ve passed by the Capitol or Governor’s Mansion practically every day, but you haven’t toured either of them. Although some Capitol tours are offered each weekend, the Governor’s Mansion is only available to the public Monday through Thursday, so beat the Saturday crowds and prepare for a weekday of sensible fun. Don’t forget to lace up your white Reeboks and grab your camera – you just might run into State Representative Corbin Van Arsdale (R-Houston)!

10am | Governor’s Mansion Tour

The Texas Governor’s Mansion is the oldest governor’s mansion west of the Mississippi, serves as the official residence of the governor, and is a great place to check out Rick Perry’s spacious linen closets. Tours run every 20 minutes from 10am to noon, and the last tour begins at 11:40am. Metered parking is available throughout the Capitol area, including along Lavaca St. The Capitol Visitor’s Center parking garage offers free parking for the first two hours and $.75 for each additional half-hour (maximum fee $6). The Capitol grounds and Governor’s Mansion (directly across the street) are a short walk from the garage.

Boring bureaucratic regulations: Because of security concerns, you’ll have to show a valid government-issued photo ID at the security gate, and a reservation must be made at least one day in advance. In addition, no purses or bags may be brought inside, so make sure you lock them in your trunk. Call 512-463-5518 to reserve your tour.

Capitol Visitor Center Parking Garage
1201 San Jacinto • Austin, TX 78701

Texas Governor’s Mansion
1010 Colorado St • Austin, TX 78701

Noon | The Capitol Grill

Walking around Greek Revival estates for 20 minutes can be tiring, so head over to Capitol Extension, room E1.002 (aka The Capitol Grill) for a surprisingly appetizing lunch – and a chance to sit next to your favorite legislative aide! Standard fare includes sandwiches, soups, salads, and some sort of entree.

The Capitol Grill
1400 Congress Ave (North Congress & 15th) • Austin, TX 78701

1pm | Texas Capitol

photo / kinez 

The Texas Capitol was completed in 1888 and is 15 feet taller than the National Capitol in DC – take that, Washington fat-cats! Tours begin in the Treasurer’s Business Office on the first floor of the Capitol. Tours are free and start every 45 minutes from 8:30am to 4:30pm. The tour features Texas history, the Texas legislature, and those neat-o paintings on the ceiling. Self-guided tours are also available.

Texas State Capitol
1100 Congress Ave • Austin, TX 78701

3pm | Capitol Gift Shop

What visit to the state legislative branch is complete without a trip to Capitol Extension, room E1.006? Buy postcards, belt buckles, and assorted trinkets plastered with the state flag. You know you want to.

Capitol Gift Shop
1400 N Congress Ave • Austin, TX 78701