The Texas capitol has no end of attractions: the apex of our state government, our largest, most burnt orange university, and a vibrant live music scene, for starters. According to my coworker—a UT Austin grad—Austin is still weird, but not as weird as it used to be. Think of it as “Hippie Silicon Valley.” Weird or not, from the everyday Austin life to special events like Blues on the Green, there are always more reasons to go back.
Blues on the Green is an Austin institution, the longest running free concert series in the city. Every summer, tourists and locals alike gather in Zilker Park to hear more than just blues, but country, rock, singer-songwriters, Americana, Latin music, and more. It’s Austin, in a nutshell. Zilker Park is also home to Barton Springs Pool, a vast outdoor swimming pool filled entirely with water from nearby natural springs.
Relax poolside and take epic photos at one of the many rooftop pools the city offers, from the newly opened Fairmont Hotel, to the Azul Rooftop Bar at the Westin or RIO on West 6th Street.
Foodies, or just regular hungry people, should dine at the many trendy eateries of Austin like the Instagram-able Irene’s or the chef-driven Caroline Restaurant. Nobody brunches better than Austinites, so do yourself a favor and get the shrimp and grits with a Bloody Mary at Stella San Jac.
To work off all that food, tourists can paddle board at Lake Travis, in the heart of the city, or hike the Barton Creek Greenbelt, 12 glorious miles of nature trails dotted with swimming holes. It’s among the best hiking Texas has to offer. Start your walk at Spyglass Access, where you’ll find the most conveniently located Tacodeli in the world.
- Drive time: 4 hours
- Population: 947,890
- Best time to go: April for SXSW
- Must see: Texas State Capitol
- Be sure to pack: Swimsuit
- Avg. cost per night: $200