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Austin, Texas
Austin, Texas

Known as the “Live Music Capital of the World,” Austin, Texas is a state capital unlike any other, equal parts Tex-Mex, barbecue brisket and honky-tonk. The University of Texas used to define the city’s small-town vibe, but today the city is a tech and business hub, home to an incredible range of entrepreneurs and artists.

“Keep Austin Weird” is more than a bumper sticker slogan in this city, where residents embrace all things quirky and independent, from food trailers to relic shops to colorful public artwork. Visit during the renowned South by Southwest festival and witness the city’s ongoing transformation into a world-class—but still weird—metropolis.

REASONS TO GO:
  • Sixth Street District: Austin has a reputation for live music and a buzzing nightlife scene, and Sixth Street is the epicenter. With venues built before 1880 lining more than a dozen city blocks, Sixth Street draws big name bands as well as local artists.

  • Green Space and Great Weather: From the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and Barton Springs to Lake Travis and the Colorado River, Austin spoils locals and visitors with scenic outdoor attractions. Mild winters make it easy to enjoy them year-round.

  • South by Southwest (SXSW) and Austin City Limits: Held every March, the massively influential SXSW festival is an art explosion of film and music that attracts more than 70,000 visitors a year. Featuring some of the nation’s top performers, the Austin City Limits Music Festival descends onto Zilker Park every September.

  • Texas State Capitol and the LBJ Library: The largest state capitol building in the U.S. has a striking pink hue and was the seventh-largest building in the world when it was built in 1888. Just north of the capitol, the impressive LBJ Presidential Library details the history of native son and 36th U.S. President Lyndon Baines Johnson.

  • Beef Brisket Barbecue: Though some point to neighboring towns like Lockhart and Luling as the top spots for barbecue, Austin collects more than its fair share of accolades for its Texas brisket and ribs. Don’t miss the chance to sample meats tended by pitmasters for up to 18 hours.

  • Tex-Mex: Austin’s version of Mexican-inspired Texan cuisine includes spicy migas, huevos rancheros and seafood tacos featuring Gulf shrimp. Choose patio dining to soak up the sun while savoring authentic chiles rellenos and prickly pear margaritas.

WHEN TO GO:
Alfresco is almost always an option when you’re dining in Austin, though the summer months bring heat and humidity that may tempt you to stay indoors. During the spring and fall, temperatures float in the 70s °F and 80s °F, perfect weather for the pulsating rhythms of South by Southwest and the Austin City Limits Music Festival.

If you’re visiting in March, get a taste of authentic Texas traditions at Rodeo Austin or go fly a kite at Zilker Kite Festival in the city’s famous Zilker Park, just south of the Colorado River.

The Texas Book Festival draws literati from across the country for a celebration of reading every October, but rowdier fun is just around the corner at Halloween. Don a costume to take part in the nearly 100,000-person-strong festivities on Sixth Street.

TRAVEL TIP:
If you’re traveling with kids, don’t miss out on a 20-minute Zilker Zephyr miniature railroad ride, starting near the playground by the Barton Springs Pool in Zilker Park. Time your visit at the top of the hour on weekdays, or stick around on weekends for trains every 30 to 40 minutes.
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