By USA TODAY 10Best
Austin, the capital of Texas, is a big city with a small town vibe, where locals strive to keep things weird with zealous support of local businesses and live music.
In just 200 years, Austin has gone from a village of fewer than 1,000 residents to one of the fastest growing cities in the nation.
Despite being one of the nation’s fastest growing cities, Austin makes it easy to get outside with abundant green spaces, like the 7.8-mile Barton Creek Greenbelt.
Scenic Lady Bird Lake sits beneath the shadow of the downtown skyline, giving Austinites an easy way to enjoy the city’s 300 days of sunshine each year.
Each evening at dusk between March and October, some 1.5 million migrating Mexican free-tailed bats emerge from beneath the Congress Avenue Bridge over Lady Bird Lake.
The 3-acre Barton Springs Pool is fed from underground springs, and the water temperature hovers between 68 and 70 degrees throughout the year.
While Barton Springs is Austin’s most popular swimming hole, Hamilton Pool makes a case for being the most beautiful.
The Texas State Capitol in Austin, the largest in the nation, is and stands 14 feet taller than the U.S. Capitol building in Washington.
Austin’s collection of more than 250 live music venues, along with many more bars, nightclubs and Texas dance halls, have elevated its nightlife scenes to one of the best in the nation.
Nowhere is this more true than along Sixth Street, a stretch of downtown road closed to traffic Thursday through Saturday nights.
Austin has a well-earned reputation as the "Live Music Capital of the World," in part due to the annual Austin City Limits Music Festival.
South Congress Avenue (SoCo) is one of Austin’s quirkiest neighborhoods, complete with eclectic shops, cool bars, art galleries and restaurants.
Austin was a city peppered with mosaics and murals long before street art exploded in popularity. You’ll find bits of public art all over the city.
Austin frequently finds itself listed among the best craft beer cities in the United States, with countless breweries, beer bars, brewpubs and bottle shops.
Each March, hundreds of colorful kites take to the skies during Kite Fest, one of Austin’s longest running festivals. Awards are given for fastest, strongest and weirdest kites.
Lupinus texensis, also known as the Texas bluebonnet, has become a symbol of the state in spring. You can see them along just about any local highway.
A favorite spot among lovebirds and photographers is the hill overlooking the Austin 360 Bridge (Pennybacker Bridge) over the Colorado River.
For more incredible views, head to the top of Mount Bonnell, located inside Covert Park and considered the highest point in Austin at 775 feet.
Lake Travis is more than 63 miles long with 271 miles of shoreline and ranks as the most visited freshwater lake in the state.