Austin’s twilight-lit purple hills prompted late 19th-century Texans to call it the Violet Crown. A booming music scene in the late 1960s and 1970s earned it the moniker Live Music Capital of the World. And a recent influx of young tech innovators (plus their disposable incomes) has shot it up the ranks in myriad best-places-to-live lists. The truth is, Austin can still claim all of those distinctions. With miles of limestone-studded hiking trails along the gentle Barton Creek, music venues supporting local and touring acts, and an increasingly eclectic foodie culture, there is plenty to love about the city. And yes, along the way, Austin has somehow still managed to keep it weird.
Where to stay
The simplicity of Hotel San José offers a calm retreat from the surrounding bustle, and pops of Southwestern decor provide plenty of eye candy. For grand-scale chic, try the Rainey Street Historic District’s newly opened Kimpton Hotel Van Zandt, which offers sweeping vistas of the city from its rooftop pool.
Where to eat
Smoked brisket in a taco? Yes, please. Sample two of Austin’s must-eat foods at Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ. Dai Due, an intimate restaurant and butcher shop, offers meat-based dishes dreamed up by gourmet hunter-gatherer Jesse Griffiths. Head to Launderette for dessert by whimsical James Beard–nominated pastry chef Laura Sawicki; try her take on Girl Scout cookies.
What to do
Barton Creek Greenbelt is open year-round for climbing, swimming, and hiking. (Start with the Spyglass and Gus Fruh access points.) For a more gentle activity, stroll Laguna Gloria, which includes a 19th-century villa-turned-art museum surrounded by a modernist sculpture park.
Looking for live music? The iconic Continental Club has hosted the likes of Stevie Ray Vaughan and Buck Owens. The subterranean Elephant Room brings jazz acts downtown each night, and the elegant Moody Theater, home to PBS show Austin City Limits, packs in top-billed touring acts.
This article originally appeared in our January 2017 issue.