It's no wonder that Austin is one of Texas's most popular destinations. Surrounded by the natural beauty of the Hill Country and fast-growing high-tech suburbs, this welcoming city offers a famous live-music district, a wealth of historic sights and a classic college-town atmosphere.
Austin's downtown is more than just a cluster of tall buildings -- it's also home to the city's entertainment zone. Visitors can tour the state capitol and governor's mansion during the day, then hit Sixth Street's famous live-music clubs at night. If you're visiting between mid-March and November, be sure to head to the Congress Avenue Bridge at sunset to watch the city's flock of bats take off.
This fast-growing suburb mixes some of the oldest Austin history with newfangled high-tech headquarters. Near the banks of Brushy Creek, Round Rock's quaint Old Town includes many historical markers and picturesque buildings dating back to the 1840s. Nowadays, the area is best known for its three lakes, plentiful parks and the home base of Dell Computer, one of many high-tech employers.
A visitor-friendly area, North Austin offers plenty of nighttime entertainment options. You can catch a local band at one of the area's many live-music clubs, including Syndicate, Desperado's and Ginny's Little Longhorn, or see stand-up comics perform at a comedy club. Before the show, you'll find restaurants offering a wide variety of food, and an assortment of small shopping centers.
Located on Austin's northwest side just 4 miles to downtown, you'll find a 95-acre mall with 80 upscale shops, restaurants and a movie theater. The corporate campuses of two high-tech giants -- Hewlett-Packard and Texas Instruments -- are also in the area. (In case you wondered, Mopac is an acronym that refers to the Missouri-Pacific Railroad tracks that run alongside the Loop 1 highway.)
Each March, Austin's South by Southwest -- better known as SXSW -- highlights music, film and interactive arts. See more than 1,300 musical acts on 50+ downtown Austin stages, or catch screenings of close to 200 independent films. The interactive section features panels, parties and other techie fun. Be sure to book your trip early: Hotel rooms are at a premium during this popular event.