Photo courtesy of Kuper Sotheby's International Realty

There are so many great places to live in Austin that it helps to have an expert on your side. The Neighborhood Guide presented by Kuper Sotheby's International Realty gives you insider access from the agents who live and work there, providing in-the-know info about your possible new community.


South Congress — or SoCo, as the locals call it — is "the home and gathering place of artists, entrepreneurs, long-time Austinites, and a diverse mix of newcomers," says real estate agent Carl Shurr.

And Shurr should know. He's lived in Travis Heights, right next to the bustling SoCo scene, for the past decade. The parks, local businesses, and close proximity to Lady Bird Lake, downtown, and the airport drew him to the area.

He's also been working in the SoCo area for about 15 years, calling it "the best place to live and invest in real estate for more than a decade. I love the combination of peaceful outdoors space with a bustling urban corridor along South Congress Avenue. It is the best place in Austin to own a home with a yard and still be walking distance from parks, restaurants, and shops."

Shurr offered up a few more of his personal favorites about life in SoCo. Here's his guide to the area:

Where to eat & drink
If you're looking for great food and atmosphere plus the best patio dining on South Congress, check out Perla's and Aba.

"For lunch, my two favorite spots are June's and Cafe No Se," Shurr says. "Want breakfast at lunchtime? June's serves breakfast until 3 pm on weekdays. Try the omelet, it's amazing."

Looking for fresh sushi in an intimate, relaxed environment? "Neighborhood Sushi is my go-to spot for sushi along South Congress," he says. "Note the semi-hidden backdoor entrance — there is no signage for the restaurant or an actual entryway along Congress. If you can't find it, this is probably too cool for you."

Where to play
Stacy Park and Blunn Creek, a terrific place for a run or workout: "I am constantly surprised by the number of people I meet in the area who have never been there," Shurr says. "I take my dogs, Dude and Rocky, on a beautiful 45-minute walk through the park and along the creek almost every day."

Also nearby are Lady Bird Lake and its hike and bike trail, the "perfect place to run, walk, bike, or paddleboard." The easy access point to the hike and bike trail from Travis Heights is at the intersection of Riverside Drive and Alameda Street, Shurr advises.

Where to live
"The SoCo area has a diverse mix of architecture," Shurr says. "It ranges from modern homes built in recent years to ranch-style and midcentury modern homes built in the '50s and '60s, and Craftsman homes built in the 1920s and '30s."


Carl Shurr works and plays in South Congress. For more information on buying and selling a home in the area, click here, email carl@carlshurr.com, or call 512-944-5977.

Photo courtesy of Kuper Sotheby's International Realty

Barton Creek: Homes for every taste and style, with activities to go with

Your Expert Guide

There are so many great places to live in Austin that it helps to have an expert on your side. The Neighborhood Guide presented by Kuper Sotheby's International Realty gives you insider access from the agents who live and work there, providing in-the-know info about your possible new community.


Sixth-generation native Texan Debbie Lowe has lived in Austin for more than 20 years with her husband Chris, who is a native Austinite. Chris and Debbie, with some other partners, began building spec homes in the Barton Creek neighborhoods in 2013.

But it was when her close friends asked for help in finding their dream home that Lowe realized her true passion lay in real estate — and what better area to concentrate on than her own?

"Living in Barton Creek has made me very knowledgeable of it," the Kuper Sotheby's International Realty agent says. "I love the golf, food, neighbors, and schools nearby. No matter if you are active or want to simply relax, Barton Creek has something for all."

Since becoming a real estate agent, Lowe has continuously been among the top producers within her brokerage and is a former member of the Elite 25 Austin and Luxury League.

She draws from her personal experience with home building and staging to advise her clients on how best to approach their home purchase or sale, while her effective negotiation skills help them get the best possible price.

Lowe, her husband, and their four boys are very active in their Barton Creek neighborhood — "you're sure to run into us here," she says. Besides being involved with Austin Ridge Bible Church and Young Life, they support such Austin charities as Habitat for Humanity, Austin Area Food Bank, and Boys and Girls Clubs.

Lowe offered up a few of her personal favorites about life in Barton Creek. Here's her guide to the area:

Where to eat & drink
From an elegant meal at Bob's Steak & Chop House or sipping a drink poolside while enjoying the amazing Hill Country views at Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa, Barton Creek has something for every day and every vibe.

Where to play
If you'd rather be active than eat, check out the four golf courses at the Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa along with the tennis facilities and pools. Make time for a massage or facial at the Mokara Spa after.

Of course, you can't overlook the proximity to Lake Travis and Lake Austin and multiple hiking trails that criss-cross the area, providing several breathtaking ways to become one with nature.

"I am a current trustee/board member of Zach Theatre, and enjoy watching the amazing talent on display there," Lowe says.

Where to live
"Barton Creek offers all tastes and styles, from traditional to Spanish to modern," says Lowe. Homes can range from small, one-story dwellings to mansions of 10,000-square-feet or more, with both older, more established buildings and newer construction.

A significant sale of Lowe's — 7609 Escala — is one such jaw-dropping estate, with a backyard that featured incredible Hill Country views.

"We have worked with Debbie for years and have been involved in a number of real estate deals with her," says one client. "She is incredibly insightful about the Austin housing market and knows everything that is happening in Barton Creek, Westlake (Eanes), Regents, and Travis Country. She has found us amazing properties both on and off the market and has worked miracles for us! She’s a smart negotiator and always mindful of helping us make a solid investment decision."

"Debbie is the most wonderful, knowledgeable, and honest real estate professional that you could have in your corner," agrees another client.

"While the housing search can be quite challenging at times due to the competitive market, we have relied on Debbie to be our rock," says a third. "What we love most about her — even more than the fact that she is extensively dialed into the west Austin housing market — is that she is honest and fair in everything that she does. She gives a direct and honest opinion, negotiates deals fairly, is incredibly patient, never uses pressure tactics, and truly has the clients' best interest at heart. I couldn’t recommend Debbie more highly."


Debbie Lowe lives, works, and plays in Barton Creek. For more information on buying and selling a home in the area, click here, email debbie.lowe@kupersir.com, or call 512-289-4167.

Photo courtesy of Kuper Sotheby's International Realty

The Uplands: A Bee Cave enclave that exudes quiet luxury

Your Expert Guide

There are so many great places to live in Austin that it helps to have an expert on your side. The Neighborhood Guide presented by Kuper Sotheby's International Realty gives you insider access from the agents who live and work there, providing in-the-know info about your possible new community.


Drawn to its location, abundance of shopping and restaurants, and the beautiful homes on large-acre lots, real estate agent Beata Burgeson and her family have called The Uplands home for the past four years.

"It's a hidden gem," the Kuper Sotheby's International Realty agent says, "providing a peaceful and quiet lifestyle tucked behind the 4,000-acre Barton Creek Habitat Preserve. It's a quiet little spot that not everyone knows about."

Even though she's a fairly new Uplands resident, Burgeson has been working the area much longer: 15 years.

"My business is mostly referral-based and I work wherever my clientele is," she explains.

Burgeson, who spent the first 20 years of her life in Poland, describes The Uplands as having a luxurious yet neighborly vibe. The Hill Country Galleria is within biking distance, she points out, and there are 20-plus restaurants within walking distance.

Burgeson offered up a few of her personal favorites about life in The Uplands. Here's her guide to the area:

Where to eat & drink
Whether you're looking to walk or bike to a neighborhood favorite or hop in the car for a nearby meal, the options are nearly endless.

Some of Burgeson's favorites are Plate By Dzintra, Baguette et Chocolat, Toss Pizzeria & Pub, Chisos Grill, Ellera, Schmidt Family Barbecue, Mandola's Italian Kitchen, Maudie's Hill Country, Tony C's, Cafe Blue, Buenos Aires Cafe, Tadashi, The League Kitchen & Tavern, Madam Mam's Thai Cuisine, Woody's Tavern & Grill, Amy's Ice Creams, Runaway Luna Coffeehouse, and FoliePop's.

Where to play
The Hill Country Galleria is very close by and includes a Cinemark movie theater.

Or you can head outdoors to Bee Cave Park, Commons Ford Park, or the Lone Star Farmers Market.

To get your adrenaline pumping, visit Urban Air and then relax and recharge at milk + honey spa.

What to see
Indulge your artistic side at Bee Cave Sculpture Park, El Dorado Gallery, and Flip'N Art.

Where to live
"The Uplands neighborhood is an amalgam of custom-built and traditional homes with generously sized backyards, established trees, and quiet but welcoming streets," says Burgeson. "There is definitely an elevated quality of homes in this gated and private community, and the majority of homeowners seem to consistently work at enhancing design, landscaping, and other elements as the years pass. This is a neighborhood that has only improved with time."

One of Burgeson's most recent significant sales in The Uplands is 11802 Colleyville Dr., which broke the record for the highest sold property in the neighborhood at the time. The custom build featured an incredible backyard with its own private trail toward the back of the property.

"After working with Beata during fall of 2021, she is now the standard by which we measure all real estate professionals," says one client. "Beata made the process of selling our home as easy as possible for our family — she concisely delineated her marketing strategy and then executed each detail according to the agreed-upon timeframe. Her kind, warm mannerisms complement her business savvy in such an elegant way that it is evident Beata is well respected among her Sotheby’s team, as well as Realtors from competing offices."

"Additionally, Beata has taken the time to cultivate a strong team of support professionals to assist her clients in their real estate transactions," says another. "It is abundantly clear that Beata is successful not only due to her business acumen, but because she strives to surround herself with others who are the best at what they do."


Beata Burgeson lives, works, and plays in The Uplands. For more information on buying and selling a home in the area, click here, email beata@beataburgeson.com, or call 512-795-9900.

Realtor Beata Burgeson

Photo courtesy of Kuper Sotheby's International Realty

Agent Beata Burgeson.

Photo courtesy of Kuper Sotheby's International Realty

Downtown Austin: Where the city's movers and shakers put down roots

Your Expert Guide

There are so many great places to live in Austin that it helps to have an expert on your side. The Neighborhood Guide presented by Kuper Sotheby's International Realty gives you insider access from the agents who live and work there, providing in-the-know info about your possible new community.


If you're considering a move to Austin, real estate agent Carl Shurr says choosing downtown is a sure bet.

"The energy of living downtown is hard to beat," he says. "It is exciting to see the growth that has occurred since 2006, when I moved here from Chicago. I was told then that no one lives downtown — now it's the place to be if you want to be connected to what's happening in Austin."

Shurr himself — along with his two dogs, Dude and Rocky — has called both downtown and Travis Heights home since arriving in Austin. Currently, he's renovating his condo at The Austonian, a true skyline staple as the second-tallest building in Austin.

The renovation process is one he's enjoyed and loves to share his expertise on. He also loves showing condos, and lists the energy, convenience, and people as the main draws to the area, saying it's where the movers and shakers live.

Shurr offered up a few more of his personal favorites about life in downtown Austin. Here's his guide to the area:

Where to eat & drink
"While there are many new and exciting restaurants in downtown Austin, a couple of my classic, go-to favorites include Eddie V's and Truluck's," Shurr says. "They both consistently deliver excellent food and service."

"I'm a big fan of Royal Blue Grocery," he continues. "I was a regular customer when they opened their first store downtown at the 360 Condominiums in 2008 — now they're all over the downtown area."

For the best rooftop patio in town, he heads to Bob's Steak & Chop House, while Comedor is "arguably my favorite restaurant in all of Austin."

Where to play
"Lady Bird Lake and the hike and bike trail around it is my favorite place to be outside in downtown Austin," says Shurr. "It is truly the heartbeat of the city and a beautiful place to exercise."

Another must-see is the Texas Capitol, a massive, three-story granite structure that is the largest capitol building in the United States. As Shurr points out, it is over 100 years old and stands 14 feet higher than the United States Capitol.

Where to live
Homes in downtown Austin are mostly modern in their architecture, with the majority of the condominium developments in the area being less than 10 years old.

Shurr's favorite sale in downtown was at the iconic Austonian, at 200 Congress Ave. Another recent sale at Spring was exciting, he says, as it sold off-market with multiple offers well over the asking price: "We set a new price-per-square-foot record for the development."

A current, three-bedroom condo listing at 300 Bowie St. showcases floor-to-ceiling views and an enviable location that's only a short walk to Whole Foods, Lifetime Fitness, Seaholm Plaza, the lakefront, hike and bike trail, and many of the best restaurants in downtown Austin.


Carl Shurr lives, works, and plays in downtown Austin. For more information on buying and selling a home in the area, click here, email carl@carlshurr.com, or call 512-944-5977.

Photo courtesy of Kuper Sotheby's International Realty

Avery Ranch: A true community just northwest of downtown Austin

Your Expert Guide

There are so many great places to live in Austin that it helps to have an expert on your side. The Neighborhood Guide presented by Kuper Sotheby's International Realty gives you insider access from the agents who live and work there, providing in-the-know info about your possible new community.


Real estate agent Heidi Kadison has lived in the northwest Austin neighborhood of Avery Ranch for the past 12 years, raising here children there while forming close relationships with neighbors who almost feel like family.

"Avery Ranch is the perfect neighborhood for people wanting a community to join," she says. "You'll find parents enjoying adult beverages in the driveways while the kids ride bikes, or Redfish parents getting up at 6 am on Saturdays to cheer their kids to victory in the pool while enjoying breakfast tacos and doughnuts during breaks."

There's also a fireworks display on July 3 each year over the golf course, and neighborhood parties throughout the year.

What else is there to love? According the Kadison, who has been selling homes in the area since she moved here from California more than a decade ago, the schools are fabulous and the convenient location can't be beat.

"We are 15 minutes to The Domian, 10 minutes to Cedar Park shopping and restaurants, and 30 minutes to downtown," she says. "I'm close to everything I need to have a happy life."

Kadison offered up a few more of her personal favorites about life in Avery Ranch. Here's her guide to the area:

Where to eat & drink
There's no shortage of great restaurants here, from Moonshine, Sushi Fever, and Paul Martin's to Uchi, Eddie Vs, Blue Corn Harvest, Tomo, and Santa Caterina.

Get your caffeine fix at Cuppa Austin and Summer Moon, and keep an eye out for the food trucks that occasionally visit the neighborhood.

For happy hour with an elegant twist, check out Uchiko's social hour menu for innovative cocktails, safe, and nigiri sushi.

Where to play
Parks, pools, and trails abound in Avery Ranch, but if shopping is your cardio then The Domain is incredibly close by.

Where to live
Avery Ranch is full of mostly traditional architecture, Kadison says, with spacious lots and upscale finishes.


Heidi Kadison lives, works, and plays in Avery Ranch. For more information on buying and selling a home in the area, click here, email heidi.kadison@kupersir.com, or call 512-638-9847.

Photo by Bryce France

University of Texas alum shines in new season of Stranger Things

Stranger Things

A new addition to the highly anticipated fourth season of the Netflix hit series Stranger Things has close ties to both Texas and Austin. Born in Honolulu, Hawaii, actress Regina Ting Chen grew up in San Antonio and studied at the University of Texas at Austin.

Now residing in Atlanta, Georgia, Chen was a 2016 finalist for CBS's Diversity Drama Initiative Program. She has been featured in the popular USA crime drama Queen of the South, Marvel's The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and HBO's Emmy-winning limited series Watchmen. In the new season of Stranger Things, debuting Friday, May 27, Chen plays a guidance counselor at Hawkins High.

CultureMap connected with Chen for a few questions about her career so far, and about what fans can expect from the next season of Stranger Things.

CultureMap: So you were born in Honolulu, Hawaii. What brought you to Texas originally?
Regina Ting Chen: My dad’s business was not doing well and we had to close shop. We all relocated to San Antonio where my aunt was working and said that it’s a much more affordable place with great education opportunities.

CM: What inspired you to study at the University of Texas at Austin?
RTC: My aunt is a pharmacy professor at UT! She gave me the idea from the get-go, and I wanted to stay close to home as I am extremely close to family.

CM: What are some of your favorite memories of Austin or UT from that time?
RTC: College was difficult for me, I’m not great at test-taking haha! But it taught me so much about discipline, how to stay organized, and work my butt off. I also worked full-time as a hostess and makeup artist in order to pay my way through college as I had no help. Austin always had the best food options! But more importantly, Austin is such a great place to find all kinds of creative outlets. That’s the only way I got to explore doing different things like makeup and acting to find out what I would like to do, how to network, and just grow as a human! Austin is beautiful and will always be dear to me. It was hard leaving the city.

CM: You earned your degree in Spanish and business. How did you first get into acting?
RTC: When I was a kid, I wasn’t allowed to take drama classes so I would just put on “shows” for my family during the holidays. I would come up with different acts, have my family members partake, build a set, all of it! So I always had the spirit in me. My grandma, being an immigrant, was afraid to venture out much. So I always enjoyed helping her live vicariously through my eyes by reenacting my days, sometimes embellishing basic things as long as it made her smile and laugh. She was my rock. She’s gone now, sadly, but I have all those memories I re-enacted for her and created with her to last me my whole lifetime.

As an adult, I was actually scouted by a local photographer who suggested that I try modeling. It almost sounds like a story that would end with me in trouble. I then did some local photo shoots, and, eventually, it led me to sign with Kim Dawson Agency in Dallas. They suggested acting classes for me and thus began my Meisner journey with Austin Meisner coach Laurel Vouvray.

CM: When did you decide to take the plunge and make it your full-time career?
RTC: In 2016, I had decided I was going to just go full-time corporate and take a break from acting for a few years, as I was burned out and not getting opportunities. Three months later, I realized I was miserable without the life of storytelling in any capacity. That’s when I realized acting is for the rest of my life. And everything else I did from that point forward was done to support that realization.

CM: Can you tell us more about the CBS Diversity Drama Initiative Program?
RTC: Yes! So CBS had a nationwide initiative for diverse talent to submit tapes as an audition for the program. They received over 10,000 tapes! The next step was callbacks, which I did in Austin, and finally, they selected 12 finalists to be flown out to LA for a week-long, paid-for intensive. I learned so much on that trip. I have never been on a real big-budget set before in my life, nor met other actors in different markets across the nation. It truly opened my eyes to see how big that world can really be.

CM: What have been some of your favorite roles until now?
RTC: I loved playing a money laundering banker on Queen of the South. I am such a person of honor that it was fun to play someone who was so deceiving. Plus, working with Alice Braga was amazing! I also enjoyed playing the female lead in a local indie feature (Lion Killer) shot in Houston back in 2018, because the creators gave me a chance to show my talent and believed that I could carry the film before I even knew I could. And ultimately, my role in Stranger Things is by far my favorite, because my character Ms. Kelly is truly me — caring, kind, and quirky. I cannot wait for the world to meet her! I’m also just so proud to represent the Asian community every chance I get.

CM: How did the role in Stranger Things come about?
RTC: Just like any other show, I received an audition from my agent for the role. The script (sides) were different names so that we wouldn’t know who was involved in it. It was great, actually, because that allowed me to just bring myself authentically to the character of how I would be in that world.

CM: Were you already a fan of the show before you signed on for Season 4?
RTC: Yes!!! I’m a big sci-fi nerd and I loved the show prior to even getting the audition. So you KNOW how stoked I was to have gotten a chance to read for the show. It’s so rare!

CM: Can you tell us anything particularly exciting to look forward to in this next season?
RTC: The world is darker and scarier than it ever has been before. It’s impossible. Hang on tight! I’m right there with you because I’m scared of the dark and everything spooky!

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Charming Austin suburb is the fastest-growing city in the country, plus more top stories

hot headlines

Editor’s note: It’s that time again — time to check in with our top stories. From Georgetown to Brenham, and of course inside Austin proper, here are five articles that captured our collective attention over the past seven days.

1. Charming Austin suburb is the fastest-growing city in the country, with neighbors close behind. Georgetown had a 14.4-percent population increase from 2021 to 2022, bringing the city's total population to more than 86,500 residents.

2. Austin dethroned from top spot in new ranking of top summer travel destinations for 2023. Some Austinites are happy to hear the summer will be less crowded, but tourist revenue may suffer.

3. Lengendary Texas ranch resort makes waves on the market with $15 million price tag. It's a stretch to call it rustic, but this resort for sale includes horse stables, wildflowers, and an organic farm.

4. This is how big Austin apartments get for $1,500 a month. Unsurprisingly, it's not as much square footage as you can get elsewhere in Texas, but it's still not even close to Manhattan.

5. Here are the top 7 things to do in Austin this holiday weekend. The Memorial Day weekend brings chances to try great barbecue, take a walk with faeries, and hear lots of live music.

Dip your toes into these 7 Austin pools with passes, snacks, and summer events

Wet Hot Austin Summer

Memorial Day is here, which means so are the days of sitting in a lounge chair and sweating while looking unreasonably fabulous. Whether it's to beat the summer heat or to show off a new swimsuit, Austinites may have more options than they think to take a swim at the many pools around town. Even if you haven't committed to an overnight stay, most hotels offer day passes, and some even offer other deals or poolside programming.

One great way to find passes not just to pools around town, but also to spas and other hotel amenities, is to browse ResortPass. (Not sponsored, just cool.) There are 26 Austin options on the site right now.

But we wanted to let you know what's going on beyond the pass — who will set you up for a great meal, who lets you drink out of a coconut, and whose views (or lack thereof) provide the best ambiance for your day off. Some of our choices aren't even on the platform.

Go grab your sandals, and save us a towel.

Greater Austin YMCA
Let's start with the less glamorous before we break out the poolside fashion. The YMCA is a family staple for a reason, and if your goal is just to get in the water regularly throughout the summer, especially with kids, it's a great place to start. There are "interactive hours" at the outdoor pools (more fun than swimming laps) at the East Communities, Hays Communities, Northwest Family, Southwest Family, and Springs Family YMCAs, as well as the YMCA at Camp Moody. The Y is semi-affordable; It would probably be cheaper to visit a hotel pool once or twice, but a Y membership includes a month of access, guest passes, and much more, and may replace your gym membership for the summer. $69 per month, with age and household discounts. austinymca.org

Hotel Van Zandt
If your pool visit doesn't include spritz and giggles, why are you even there? Hotel Van Zandt is opening up its stylish rooftop pool for the "Spritz & Giggles Poolside Happy Hour & Sunset Swim" event series. Every Monday through Thursday, visitors can enjoy $8 frozen Aperol spritzes, $8 specialty cocktails, and a special pool menu with items like a refreshing green salad, pork belly al pastor tacos, and a spicy fried chicken sandwich. Geraldine's, the main restaurant, is right inside for even better drinks, expanded bites, and sometimes live music. Starting at $48 per day for adults, $15 for kids. hotelvanzandt.com

Carpenter Hotel
If one day at the Carpenter Hotel pool is just not enough, the hotel has now added monthly passes. In addition to unlimited access to the secluded pool in the Zilker neighborhood, a pass gets a $30 discount for the new monthly BBQ Pool Parties (bringing attendance down to $25). That will include a great spread of less commonly seen barbecue items like grilled bay scallops, mushroom skewers, elotes, deviled potato salad, and more. Monthly pass holders also get to bring one child under 8 for free. $40 daily, $200 monthly. Both Monday through Thursday. carpenterhotel.com

South Congress Hotel
The South Congress Hotel is right in the middle of where many Austinites want to be on a summer day, if it weren't so dang hot. This rooftop pool solves that problem in style, with daily pool passes every day of the week, as well as cabana rentals. Café No Sé supplies poolside drinks and snacks, and downstairs, Austin's Best New Restaurant Maie Day offers a hearty meal after a day of napping in the sun. Cabanas can be rented for four people and include self-parking, bottled water, and a bottle of champagne or bucket of High Noon. Days for $40 and cabanas for $300 on weekdays; days for $75 and cabanas for $400 on weekends. southcongresshotel.com

Hotel Viata
Hotel Viata is a bit of a sleeper hotel among Austin boutiques, as it's located a little beyond West Lake Hills. Still, if you want a taste of Italy, the drive to this retreat will be worth it. Not to mention, with the extra room these downtown hotels can't offer, a pool pass includes access to a hot tub, fire pits, and great views of the hills around the city. Pool passes are available, but if you want to see it for free before you spend, wait for June 10; The hotel invites guests 21 and up to check out the pool for free at the "Summer Festa in Piscina" party, with a "Taste of Italy" add-on ($55) for Aperol Spritz, limoncello lemon drops, and negronis all day. $45 per day for adults, $25 for children. resortpass.com

Wax Myrtle's
This rooftop bar and pool is known for its never-ending events calendar, and of course that energy extends to poolside entertainment. There will be live music on the weekends, plus live DJ sets on Saturday nights, alongside whatever other programming happens to be going on inside. Even if it's a do-nothing day, these large, over-the-top drinks will give you a delicious challenge. The "Boot Scootin Fruity" mixes rum, an aperitivo, hibiscus, and lime in a cowboy hat punch bowl ($90); the luxe "Mojito 75" combines Moët & Chandon with rum and mojito must-haves in a disco ball ($230); and an unnamed cocktail is worth trying just to enjoy it from a real coconut. Starting at $15 for adults, $10 for children, and more for daybeds and cabanas. waxmyrtles.com

Austin Motel
Perhaps one of the best known pools in Austin for its retro vibes, fun events, and accessibility to on-foot wanderers is the Austin Motel. This is a great, less expensive choice that's probably more fun for casual pool revelers who would feel a little put out by having to dress up and behave in a more luxe hotel setting. There are also frequent poolside events at this motel, like the free "Bounce Motel" series with live DJs, or the body-positive "Chunky Dunk." The pool is offers daily passes every day, even when there's nothing on the calendar. $25 on weekdays, $45 on weekends, or $600 in three-and-a-half-month "waves." austinmotel.com

Carpenter Hotel pool

Photo by Andrea Calo

Austinites don't need to stay at a hotel to be invited to the pool. (Pictured: The Carpenter Hotel)

6 Austin museums are offering free admission for military families all summer long

spread the museum love

Half a dozen Austin museums are honoring active-duty military personnel and their families with free admission through the Blue Star Museums initiative, May 20 through September 4, 2023.

Established by the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families, and the U.S. Department of Defense, the Blue Star Museums program annually provides military families free access to 2,000 museums nationwide throughout the summer. The program begins yearly on Armed Forces Day in May and ends on Labor Day.

Free admission is extended to personnel currently serving in the U.S Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard (including those in the Reserve), and all National Guardsman. Members of the U.S. Public Health Commissioned Corps and NOAA Commissioned Corps are also included in the program.

Those who qualify can use their military ID to bring up to five family members – including relatives of those currently deployed. More information about qualifications can be found here.

There is no limit on the number of participating museums that qualifying families may visit. Admission for non-active military veterans, however, is not included.

According to the National Endowment for the Arts website, the initiative was created to help "improve the quality of life for active duty military families" with a specific focus on children. The site states two million have had a parent deployed since 2001.

"Blue Star Museums was created to show support for military families who have faced multiple deployments and the challenges of reintegration," the website says. "This program offers these families a chance to visit museums this summer when many will have limited resources and limited time to be together."

Among Austin's participating museums, the Blanton Museum of Art recently held its grand opening celebration to debut their new grounds, complete with a new large mural by Cuban-American artist Carmen Herrera.

“As a museum that has long been at the forefront of collecting work by artists of Latin American descent, as well as the place where Ellsworth Kelly realized his last great work of art, entering the collection at this moment marks a high point in my long career," Herrera said.

Here's a look at all the museums in Austin that participate in the Blue Star Museums initiative.

For those looking to take a drive around Central Texas, the Temple Railroad and Heritage Museum and Taylor's Moody Museum are also participants in the Blue Star Museums initiative.

More information about Blue Star Museums and a full list of participants can be found on arts.gov.