Spring has sprung, and it's time to get out and enjoy Texas' most famous flower: the bluebonnet. Getting your photos with Central Texas' beloved bluebonnets, also known as Buffalo Clovers and Wolf Flowers, is one of those golden activities that even COVID-19 can't touch.
These blooming beauties are so loved by Texans we made them the state flower, but they only last from mid-March to mid-April. The countdown is ticking, so get out and see them while you still can. Here are some of the most picture-perfect places to pose in and around Austin.
Best Scenery: Capitol of Texas Highway
It may be one of the most popular spots for photos in Texas, but the bluebonnets will give you the excuse to post all the 360 bridge photos your heart desires. Nestled in the heart of the rolling Hill Country, this area is the perfect blend of city and countryside to give you that "outdoorsy" look, and the location's height and range will also give you stunning depth of field while you shoot. Don't forget to take in the views while you're there, even if you've seen them 100 times before.
Best backdrop: Lady Bird Lake
Getting your photos in front of the skyline and surrounded by the state flower is about as Austin as it gets, and a true Austinite will take every chance they can get to spend the day at Lady Bird Lake. With a long trail to walk along, there are angles galore to explore. This spot juxtaposes flourishing nature with the big, bustling city at once-showcasing Austin's versatility. When you're done snapping, you can hop in the lake to escape that blistering heat.
Most secluded: Old Settlers Park
You'll have to get out of town for this photo spot, but it will be worth it. With patches of bluebonnets across the sprawling greenery, making the drive out to Old Settlers Park is a great way to make an event of the annual growth. Grab your loved ones and furry friends for a picnic and spend the day in the sun. Your final photos will reflect the fun and you'll thank yourself for it!
Most variety: Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
At the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, the bluebonnets are in full bloom and share the spotlight with myriad other wildflowers and native trees of Texas. Get your yearly bluebonnet photos captured while enjoying all the beautiful flowers that the workers at the center maintain year-round. This spot will give you more variety in your photos and you might learn something as well while you're there.
Most Texan: Texas Capitol
Want everyone to know you're from Texas? Head to the Texas Capitol building's massive lawn and send the message that you love the Lone Star State to everyone on your friend list. The historic dome, luscious surrounding trees, statues and architecture will add an interesting element to your snaps instead of just posing in a field. As a bonus, head over in the early morning while the dew still glistens on the grass or during golden hour for the best effects.
What are you waiting for? The bluebonnets only stick around for a little while!
In May, Circuit of the Americas chairman Bobby Epstein looked back on 10 years of Formula 1's U.S. Grand Prix at COTA confident that the race would be here to stay in Texas. But sources tell Austonia that securing another contract may be in jeopardy.
Some insiders worry that COTA's 2021 Grand Prix race might be its last.
The multi-day fest from Oct. 22-24 will include a 56-lap race over the 3.3-mile track, food and musical performances from two acts, including Billy Joel at COTA's 1,500-acre facility in Southeast Austin. But after this year, the U.S.' first F1-specific track could lose its headline event.
The facility's inability to secure a contract thus far comes down to the Texas Legislature, a new threat in Miami, and, most importantly, money.
The first F 1 race will take place in Miami next year. (Hard Rock Stadium)
Every year, Formula 1 receives roughly $25 million from Texas' Major Events Reimbursement Program, a taxpayer-funded initiative that helps bring big sporting events like 2017's Houston Super Bowl to the state. A 2019 report by the Reimbursements Program on that year's race said the "data is inconclusive" on if the event has a positive or negative economic impact on the state with the resources given. In 2018, the Austin-American Statesman reported that COTA had brought back a total of $75.7 million between 2015 and 2017 for hosting the U.S. Grand Prix.
Legal issues have also barred Epstein and Co. from securing another 10-year contract earlier: in 2018, the company lost its yearly $25 million bid after failing to submit a human trafficking prevention plan as part of its yearly application.
That same year, F1 managing director of commercial operations Sean Bratches told the Associated Press that the organization hopes to stay at COTA "for many years to come."
However, in May, the racing league announced that it had secured a 10-year contract to hold the Miami Grand Prix as American interest in the sport soared following the three-season "Drive to Survive" documentary, which gives behind-the-scenes looks at drivers and races of the Formula One World Championship.
Epstein is optimistic about the new U.S. location and told Autoweek in May that "more race in our time zones are good for the sport."
"I think we're getting double the impact this way," Epstein said. "Miami should sell out huge the first year and maybe the second year and then after that, I think we'd be spitting audience if we were around the same time on the calendar. So the spread is fantastic."
Bobby Epstein recognizes the 1 millionth customer of COTA in 2013. (COTA/Facebook)
The new F1 venture may impact COTA's contract, however: in an opinion piece for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, writer Mac Engel said Texas is unlikely to fork over taxpayer money if the facility is no longer the only F1 track in the U.S.
According to Engel, the Major Events Reimbursements Program agrees to provide funding only "if Austin holds the only F1 race in the country."
Epstein hasn't addressed such claims; by contrast, he feels as though there's room for a third race in the U.S. as ticket sales rebound after COVID.
"In the first week, we sold pretty much all the tickets we put up for sale and we plan to break the 2019 attendance record," Epstein told Autoweek. "Texas was the first place to lift COVID-19 restrictions (in the U.S.) and put on sporting events, and we're full. We're at 100% capacity.
Despite ventures to diversify revenue at COTA—Epstein's USL soccer team Austin Bold has seen its own share of troubles, and the facility plans to develop into a multi-faceted entertainment arena complete with music venues, a waterpark, condominiums and an 11-story hotel—a loss of its primary event could be devastating for the $300 million complex.
F1 has rarely lasted more than a decade at venues in the U.S. over the last century; let's hope Austin breaks that curse.
COTA's media relations team did not immediately get back to Austonia for comment.
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Houston? Dallas? San Antonio? No, it has to be Austin.
We know Californians love Texas, but a recent string of posts on neighborhood platform Nextdoor in Santa Barbara, California, displays what the craze to move to Austin looks like.
When one user posted, "Hi neighbors, I want to buy a house in Houston, Texas any recommendations?" the responses flooded in displaying what the admiration for Austin looks like from the West Coast. Users mostly advised against a move to Houston; one person even wrote, "Austin is the ONLY place to consider!!"
While some defended H-town, saying, "Awesome place to live," one person wrote, "WORST PLACE TO LIVE." Reasons to not move to Houston from Californians' perspective included:
- "Foul air from refineries"
- "horrible flooding due to the flat Gulf coastal shelf"
- "crazy zoning"
- "racial prejudice"
- "super high humidity"
- "very conservative"
The comments were shifted to Austin's lush greenery, weather and acceptance of gay people.
Over the last five years, Austin has seen more migrants from California than any other state, according to an Austin Chamber of Commerce report. The Austin appeal from residents living in more congested places like California became more prevalent during the pandemic when stay-at-home orders were issued and people sought more space.
It wasn't just Austin though; lots of other Sunbelt cities saw an influx in their housing market as a result of people working from home and looking for a lower cost of living. And that included Texas in general, with people flooding to various Texas cities.
But it hasn't come with resistance. The "Don't California my Texas" pleas are still alive and well, as Californians are blamed for raising the cost of living by outpricing current residents. The housing market has reached record numbers in the median home price year-over-year since the beginning of the pandemic. Austin was even predicted to be the most expensive city outside of California by the end of the year.
Still, Californians and even New Yorkers can't stay away. Companies and celebrities have followed, leading Texas transplant Elon Musk to label Austin's future as "the biggest boomtown that America has seen in half a century."