The capital of Texas may be geographically central in the state, but it’s culturally a bit eccentric. The city prides itself on an independent, artsy ethos that is somewhat at odds with the more conservative bent of other Lone Star locales. Austin’s official slogan is “The Live Music Capital of the World” — in the 1970s it became a draw for alt-country pioneers, and today it hosts several renowned arts and music gatherings, including the Austin City Limits festival each September, a three-day gathering of rock stars and up-and-comers, and the South by Southwest film and music festivals held in March. In addition to these funkier gatherings, Austin has a solid foundation of more traditional cultural institutions that are worth visiting, including the LBJ presidential library, the granite-clad state Capitol and the newly renovated George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center. Save time to sample the city’s diverse cuisine, including the numerous authentic Texas barbecue joints, and to explore Austin’s outdoor charms, like the hiking and biking trails of Zilker Metropolitan Park or the massive natural springs at its Barton Springs Pool. Summer temperatures can be sweltering — spring and fall offer a more moderate climate.

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