Photograph by Don Klumpp, Getty Images
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Austin, Texas, sits on the banks of Lady Bird Lake.

Photograph by Don Klumpp, Getty Images

Discover the Best of Austin

Keep it weird with these top 10 tips.

With more than 300 days of sunshine, 200 live music venues, and a new breakfast taco created every almost every day, Austin is inviting you in.

Wildlife

Whether you choose to stand on top of the Congress Bridge or paddle underneath with your kayak, the nightly bat flight is definitely a spectacle worth sticking around for. Austin is home to one of the largest colonies of bats in the world; 1.5 million bats take flight each night around sunset.

Natural Wonder

Without leaving Austin’s city limits, you can marvel at McKinney Falls or rock climb at Barton Creek Greenbelt. These natural wonders show the diverse landscapes of Texas Hill Country. A little farther away, dive into Jacob’s Well, the second largest fully submerged cave in Texas, or camp and swim at Pedernales Falls State Park, where you can slide down the smooth rocks.

UNESCO Site

In 2015, Austin was awarded a City of Media Arts distinction from UNESCO, the first and only city in the United States to receive such an award. The organization applauds Austin’s innovation and leadership in cultural industries such as music, film, and other digital experiences.

Cultural Experience

While visiting the live music capital of the world, you can’t say you’ve fully experienced Austin without seeing a show at the Broken Spoke, one of Austin’s oldest honky tonks and music venues. Order the chicken fried steak, groove to a country music act, and even learn to line dance during their nightly dance lessons. Garth Brooks, Willie Nelson, and George Strait have all performed on the same stage.

Best Day Trip

Reserve your ticket in advance and head to Hamilton Pool, about an hour's drive from downtown Austin, to swim in one of the world’s most beautiful natural pools. Formed from an underwater river system that caved in thousands of years ago, the dripping waterfall opens up to a private swimming hole, perfect for cooling off on one of Austin’s hot summer days.

Off the Beaten Path

While some travelers wait hours at Franklin’s BBQ, you can be chowing down into your third BBQ rib or brisket sandwich at La Barbeque in East Austin. Once a famed food truck, La Barbeque now has a permanent home inside the Quickie Pickie. Insider tip: If you want to have your food ready when you arrive, call your order in ahead of time. You’ll be in and out, washing down your BBQ with a pint of local beer, before the others have sauced their buns.

Most Iconic Attraction

Located within Zilker Park’s 358 acres lies Barton Springs Pool, a three-acre, spring-fed pool that averages 70 degrees year-round. The pool is lined by two grassy fields for sunbathers to soak up the sun before cooling off in the water. The pool is the crown jewel of Austin and pretty busy March through October.

Late Night

If you want a nonstop party where you can slip out of one live music venue and into another quicker than you could do the two step, Sixth Street is where all the action lies and a destination all your friends at home have probably heard of before, too. To feel more local, visit Rainey Street, where you’ll bar hop from one old-house-turned-cool-cocktail-bar after another. South Congress has the iconic Continental Club, where the music brings a full house night after night.

Historic Site

The Texas State Capitol building was completed in 1888, almost 50 years after Texas won its independence from Mexico and became its own country. Inside you can learn the beginnings of what makes Texas, Texas. The building stands tall in downtown (it’s 14 feet taller than the U.S. Capitol Building) and can be seen from almost every building thanks to a law that prevents obstructing the view.

Local Quirk

They don’t have the slogan Keep Austin Weird for no reason, and nothing is weirder or perhaps more thought provoking than the Cathedral of Junk. Artist and homeowner Vince Hannemann has created a masterpiece of trashed and found objects, creating towers and tunnels in his own backyard. It brings new meaning to the phrase “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”