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Lakes, Austin

Austin , Texas
Concierge.com's insider take:

It's hard to get more landlocked than the interior of Texas, but Austin has three lakes nearby—two essentially within town—that on weekends explode into social scenes.

Lady Bird Lake (renamed from "Town Lake" for Lady Bird Johnson, who recently passed away) isn't actually a lake, but rather the Colorado River. The wide part of the river that runs through downtown is ringed by hiking and biking trails; sculling is also popular, though motorboats are prohibited.

Lake Austin sits between two dams on the western edge of town and is rimmed by million-dollar homes; its usually calm surface is perfect for waterskiing. The Hula Hut has a deck on Lake Austin and is massively popular after work (3825 Lake Austin Blvd.; 512-476-4852; www.hulahut.com)—probably because the cocktails are better than the food. Next door is Mozart's, whose magical lakefront location makes it one of the most romantic coffee shops in Texas—perhaps America (3826 Lake Austin Blvd.; 512-477-2900; www.mozartscoffee.com).

Located 20 minutes outside of town, Lake Travis has more than 270 miles of shoreline. Though there might be fewer cigarette boats spraying rooster tails than in the go-go days of the dot-com boom, the waters are still full of ski boats, and there's as much boat-to-boat socializing as actual waterskiing. A handful of marinas offer day rentals for powerboats, party barges, and wave runners; try Just for Fun (Emerald Point Marina; 5973 Hiline Rd.; 512-266-9710; www.jff.net). Johnny Fins (16405 Clara Van Trail; 512-266-2811; www.johnnyfins.com) and the Lakehouse Café; (512-264-7040; www.lakehousecafe.com; weekends only) are the main options for float-up dining and drinking—but take heed of strict local policies on drinking and boating. There are several beaches, but the curious steer toward Hippie Hollow, the only public clothing-optional park in the state.

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The Spa at Lake Austin

This spa is tucked on Lake Austin but not hidden from spa enthusiasts. It's frequently among the top spas in the country. When I went for a four-day retreat, I... more