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Austin see + do

Austin is an outdoorsy city, and many of its residents spend a good deal of their time swimming in Barton Springs, jogging along Lady Bird Lake (the inexplicable local name for the Colorado River), or hiking in Hill Country. It's also a city for strolling, whether it's to watch the crazy bat colony fly under the South Congress bridge at dusk (in warmer months only) or to amble along the "Drag" at the University of West Texas (the stretch of Guadalupe Street that runs along the west edge of campus).

But nothing attracts tourists to Austin more than its two world-famous festivals, the Austin City Limits music extravaganza (known locally only as "ACL") and the South by Southwest ("SXSW") film and music festival. Unless you're a music nut and are charmed by crowding into a dusty sweat bowl, the end-of-September ACL scene is the absolute worst time to visit the city; on the other hand, SXSW's underrated screenings in March often feature some of the world's leading documentary filmmakers. In both cases, you'll have to book months in advance to get a hotel room. If you opt to avoid the festival crowds, it's still easy to get a taste of the Austin's underground music culture at bars like the Continental Club and the Hi-Lo.

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South by Southwest, Austin

Every March the big daddy of music events sweeps into town, bringing groups from as far away as Iran and Sierra Leone playing everything from jazz to metal. The...more

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Lakes, Austin

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...more

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Hill Country

The Hill Country may not be as dramatic as Big Bend or the Piney Woods, but many Texans say it's the most beautiful region in the state. In the spring, when...more

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Barton Springs Pool, Austin

This spring-fed public pool, framed by sunbather-friendly green spaces and the canopies of ancient pecan trees, is idyllic on a sunny summer day. The water is...more

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Austin City Limits, Austin

For more than 30 years, the weekly PBS show Austin City Limits has been a window into the city's incomparable music scene, featuring artists from Willie Nelson...more

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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