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Austin

Austin is known for its artistic culture, sunny climate, and general livability. The population, mostly young, is about 650,000. Centrally located in the state, it is about a 3 to 3.5 hour drive from either Houston or the Dallas/Ft. Worth areas, and a 1.5 hour's drive from San Antonio.

Locally known as "The Live Music Capitol of the World," it is easy to find twenty to thirty live music performances on any given night of the week. Music truly dominates the cultural scene during major...

Austin is known for its artistic culture, sunny climate, and general livability. The population, mostly young, is about 650,000. Centrally located in the state, it is about a 3 to 3.5 hour drive from either Houston or the Dallas/Ft. Worth areas, and a 1.5 hour's drive from San Antonio.

Locally known as "The Live Music Capitol of the World," it is easy to find twenty to thirty live music performances on any given night of the week. Music truly dominates the cultural scene during major annual festivals such as South by Southwest SXSW every March, and the Austin City Limits Music Festival in Sept./October. SXSW brings tens of thousands of out-of-town visitors to Austin's vibrant downtown and the South Congress entertainment district. ACL, with its 70,000 or so attendees, is held in Zilker Park, a conveniently located urban oasis with giant fields, kids' playscape, outdoor theater and Barton Springs swimming pool.

The University of Texas at Austin is one of the finest public universities in the nation. Located just north of downtown, the campus and its environs are home to 50,000 students. Staff and faculty number another 16,500. The beloved icon of the campus, the UT Tower, is illuminated at night by various colored light schemes depending on the campus sentiment of that day. The highest joy is burnt orange, the school's team color.

Austin has wonderful weather for eight months out of the year. The other four months are hot, which can be just as wonderful if you know what to do. That usually means: stay in the air conditioning during the day, sip a cold drink at happy hour, and head for outdoor recreation options or dining al fresco as the sun is going down. The summer magic of Barton Springs is legendary: here you'll find a natural spring-fed pool, beautifully landscaped and lit, with cool water at a constant 68 degrees. The Barton Springs Full Moon Parties, with swimming, live music and howling-at-the-moon, are part of what rightfully earns Austin the motto "Keep Austin Weird." The pool has a small admission fee, but a few hours are open for free admission daily.

Austin residents engage in outdoor activities year-round. Walking, biking or jogging on the Town Lake Hike & Bike Trail, boating on Lady Bird Town Lake or Lake Austin, biking on the new Lance Armstrong Bikeway, or swimming in one of the many public neighborhood swimming pools -- Austin's recreational outdoors brings people from all walks of life together in public spaces, and the resulting sense of community spirit is palpable. This may also explain why the dress-code in Austin is fairly relaxed: once you've hung out with strangers in your bathing suit, it's hard to stand on ceremony.

Austin is also a very "wired" city with over 9,000 annual attendees for the SXSW Interactive Conference, a place where past and future celebrities of the internet hold seminars by day, drink beer by night, and hatch out their next great business schemes. And when it comes to film, the city is blessed to have art cinemas like the Alamo Ritz Drafthouse, the Dobbie Theater, and the Arbor Cinema at Great Hills. Prominent film festivals are the Austin Film Festival and the SXSW Film Festival every March.

A short list for visiting Austin would be to see the State Capitol and Visitors Center, the Bob Bullock Texas History Museum, the Harry Ransom Center, and Barton Springs Pool. A longer visit would include both the city and university art museums, a stroll along the shopping, dining and music district of South Congress Ave., and an evening spent discovering live music downtown along 6th Street and the Colorado Street areas. Dallas-style boutique shopping can be found downtown in the 2nd Street revitalization district near the iconic Austin City Hall. Austin is also the national headquarters of the Whole Foods Market -- and their flagship store on Lamar Blvd. is a truly remarkable resource to the downtown area.

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