One of the new music capitals of the world, this Texas city also has a great presidential library, handsome Capitol building and pretty parks.
The city of Austin is the home of South by Southwest (SXSW), a huge festival of music, film and other performances by new and established talents. Come for the weeklong festival in March or explore the city’s attractions at any time of year.
Zilker Park is a large public space just west of Downtown Austin. During Austin’s warm spring to fall seasons, swim here in Barton Springs. The stream travels through the city, with a 900-foot (270-meter) long pool created between limestone sides before Barton Creek empties into the Colorado River. The pool itself is a massive 3-acre (1.2-hectare) expanse of water, surrounded by grassy areas for sunbathing and picnicking. Watch closely along the shoreline for several species of endangered salamander.
Visit Austin’s varied museums. The French Legation Museum, an 1841 wooden structure, was once a diplomatic residence. Show your kids your favorite childhood playthings at the Austin Toy Museum, with more than 20,000 pieces from the 1900s onward. Let them have hands-on fun at the Texas Museum of Science and Technology, which features a planetarium and a T. rex skull, among other attractions. Learn about Texas history at the Texas Memorial Museum and the free Brush Square Museums.
Tour the beautiful red-granite, domed Texas State Capitol building. The LBJ Presidential Library reveals the life and times of the 36th president, Lyndon Baines Johnson. A portion of the Colorado River is named Lady Bird Lake, honoring LBJ’s wife. Follow the Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail for 10 miles (16 kilometers) along the lake.
While SXSW is one of the city’s biggest musical events, Austin earns its title of Live Music Capital of the World with more than 250 live music venues and 1,900 music acts. Enjoy everything from ballet to blues, rock, Latino, jazz, country, handbell, Gilbert & Sullivan and Indian classical music.
Fly to the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport or drive here in just 2.5 hours from Houston or 1.5 hours from San Antonio.