Austin is in the midst of a reinvention. High-tech industries and freelance Web pros have migrated to the area, making it Texas’s answer to Silicon Valley. For the moment, Austin retains its small-town atmosphere — but a quick scan of the downtown skyline, dotted with cranes and the skeletons of future hotels, high-rise condos, and cultural centers, will tell you that its days as a sleepy college town are long gone.
Here are some of the top reasons we love Austin. More Lone Star State highlights can be found in Fodor’s Texas, 1st edition, available July 29th.
Great Live Music
Recommended Fodor’s Video
Whether it’s country, rock, country-rock, folk, punk, jazz, classical, Celtic, or bluegrass music you’re after, Austin’s got the musicians and bands to suit your fancy—and the venue could be in an old-time dance hall, grimy hole-in-the-wall, or large, modern performance space. Music festivals happen year-round, with marquee names performing during SXSW in March and the Austin City Limits Music Festival in September, but also local affairs like the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar (December) and the Old Pecan Street Arts Festivals occurring in the spring and fall.
Nightlife Best Bets:
World-class BBQ & Ethnic Food
Austinites are passionate seekers of, and arguers about, great restaurants and food, not only of the old standbys (barbecue joints and authentic Mexican and Tex-Mex eateries), but a wide spectrum of world cuisines, for all tastes and budgets.
Dining Best Bets:
City of the Future
Austin isn’t only one of the best cities in the U.S. for free wireless Internet access (practically every hotel lobby has it), it’s forward-looking in such areas as sustainability (green buildings, parkland), revitalizing its downtown through encouraging mixed-use residential and retail space, and promoting free and low-cost public transit. As a result, Austin’s downtown is a hip, happening place.
The Star of Texas Fair & Rodeo in March is a prime opportunity to immerse yourself and your family in a classic rodeo-and-cattle atmosphere, complete with cook-offs, comedy, concerts, and other wholesome entertainment. Your kids will never forget it, and the odds are you won’t, either. And if you’d like to bring home some genuine cowboy boots, those are easy to find around here.
The Great Outdoors
Austinites take full advantage of their city’s mostly mild, sunny climate and abundant green space. When they’re not working, they’re likely running or riding on the hike-and-bike trails along Lady Bird Lake, swimming at Barton Springs or Deep Eddy Pool, golfing at a public course like Lions Municipal, or boating on Lake Travis.
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Planning a trip to Texas? Check out our online guides to these top destinations: