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Your Kind of Town: Austin, Texas
Are you an urban adventurer or a small-town dreamer? Do you crave culture or live for the beach? Find your spot in these 31 action-packed locales.  
Text by Dan Koeppel   Photograph by Kevin Vandivier

Photo: Austin, Texas
IMMERSE YOURSELF:  Plunging into Austin's Lake Travis

Cultural Hubs:

Austin, TX  |  Ann Arbor, MI  |  Flagstaff, AZ  |  Knoxville, TN 

 Provo-Orem, UT 
Tuscaloosa, AL 

Austin, Texas: Satisfy Your Artistic Side

AUSTIN
BY THE NUMBERS:

Population: 681,840

Elevation: 597 feet
(182 meters)

Median Home Price: $172,200

Your Hangout: Broken Spoke honky-tonk

Main Industries
: Education (University of Texas), manufacturing, and technology (Del)

There are possibly better places to do any of the things Austin offers. But if you're hoping to ride singletrack in the morning, eat a Mexico City–grade corn tamale for lunch, and actually go out at night—catch the latest indie flicks and bands at the South by Southwest festival, for example—the Texas capital is unbeatable.

Austin has the rolling hills, clear lakes, and granite ravines to compete with more mountainous towns, but its real draw is its distinctive hipster-meets-cowpoke scene. "There's no place that combines so much culture and so much outdoor activity," says Hill Abell, owner of Austin's Bicycle Sport Shop.

Moving here is a popular thing to do these days—the city is one of the fastest growing in the United States—but so far, Austin isn't crammed or financially out of reach. The cost of living is lower than it is in nearly every other comparably sized metro area in the nation, jobs are plentiful (especially in high tech and education), and homes are affordable. The downside? Surging population. As Austin grows flush with new arrivals, beware of gridlock, sprawl, and vanishing bargains.

Austin doesn't guard its outdoors secrets the same way other locales do. The six-mile Emma Long loop in City Park is a challenging favorite of mountain bikers (www.austinridgeriders.com), and the Austin Rock Gym guides half-day climbs ($150; www.austinrockgym.com) of nearby Reimer's Ranch, the local spot for rock. Outside of town, it's an hour's drive to the Hill Country, where meandering rivers cut through uplifted limestone and where Lance Armstrong trained for his Tour de France wins. The town's best kept secret, though, is a counterintuitive one: During September's Austin City Limits festival (this
year with Ben Harper, Willie Nelson, Tom Petty, and dozens of other acts; www.aclfestival.com), smart concertgoers skip a day of performances to enjoy the empty trails.


SCOUTING TRIP:

Getting There: Austin-Bergstrom International Airport is served by major U.S. airlines.

Where to Sleep: Hotel San José ($99; www.sanjosehotel.com) is in the heart of the SoCo (South Congress) music district.

Where to Eat: Chef Kevin Williamson's crispy fried oysters at Ranch 616 (+1 512 479 7616) are always perfectly crunchy.

Moving There: Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce (www.austinchamber.org). Check www.austintexashomes.com for housing options.

30 More Places to Live and Play:

Boise or Bust!

Outdoor Meccas  |  Adventure Cities  |  Small Towns

Cultural Hubs  |  Beach Towns  


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Cover: Adventure magazine


Adventure's September 2006 issue features 31 amazing adventure towns; chaos at the top of Mount Everest; an inside look at surfing California's Lost Coast; 11 fall weekend getaways near you; the best high-tech footwear, world class adventure travel; hiking the Alps, and more!









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