Austin, the capital of Texas, was named the number one place to live in the U.S. in 2017 and 2018 by U.S. News & World Report. The city, which contains numerous lakes, rivers, and waterways, including Lady Bird Lake, Barton Springs, McKinney Falls, the Colorado River, Lake Travis, and Lake Walter E. Long, was settled in 1835. Today, Austin is a major cultural and economic hub, known as The Live Music Capital of the World, due to the many live music venues in the city. Austin is also home to Barton Creek Greenbelt, a hiking area minutes from downtown, the Roy G. Guerrero Colorado River Metropolitan Park, which includes a disc golf course, baseball and softball fields, and a trail leading to the Colorado River, and Zilker Park with extensive trails, picnic areas, and botanical gardens.


Franklin Barbecue

Franklin Barbecue in East Austin is one of the city’s top BBQ spots. No small feat in a city nearly synonymous with barbecue. Franklin, which only serves lunch until it runs out, is as much an outdoor party as it is an eatery. Most patrons arrive early, at around nine or ten, to get in line and have a few drinks and mingle while they wait. Owned by James Beard Foundation Award Winner Aaron Franklin, regarded as one of the best pitmasters in the country, the restaurant has been recognized by Texas Monthly as the Best Barbecue Joint in Texas, and by Bon Appétit as the Best Barbecue Joint in America. The most popular dish is the brisket, which is seasoned only with salt and pepper and cooked for roughly 15 hours. All barbecue, including the brisket, ribs, pulled pork, turkey and sausage, is served by the pound. Sides include potato salad, coleslaw and pinto beans. Franklin also serves desserts, such as, bourbon banana, pecan, key lime and lemon chess, and features an extensive drink selection, which includes Lone Star, Live Oak, Hops & Grain and Blue Owl beers, Austin East Ciders Dry Cider, and Underwood Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris.

Austin Live Music Crawl

With over 270 live music venues, Austin is a music lover’s paradise. The Live Music Crawl, a three hour tour of two or three of the best live music clubs, is led by a local musician who will chauffeur guests in a Mercedes Sprinter van. The tour provides an overview of Austin’s music history, the city and a variety of live music performances. The venues, which rotate nightly, include legendary spots like Threadgill’s World Headquarters, which features music, memorabilia and artifacts, and the Saxon Pub, an iconic music hall that has hosted more than 20,000 live shows since opening in 1990. Theadgill's is named after bootlegger and country music lover Kenneth Threadgill, who opened a Gulf filling station just north of the Austin city limits in 1933. The station, which had a beer license, became a favorite stop for traveling musicians looking to have a drink after a gig. Participants in the Live Music Crawl must be 21 or older. The tour pickup is at the Starbucks in the lobby of the Hilton Hotel, which is located at 500 E. 4th Street.

Barley Swine

Barley Swine, an American restaurant in Market District, Clarksville and North Austin, owned by Bryce Gilmore, opened in 2010. A creative take on farm-to-table cuisine, the restaurant features seasonal shared plate and tasting menu options, and is a favorite among local food and drink lovers. A distinctly rustic space with wood tables, a ten seat chef's counter and patio seating, Barley Swine has a cozy yet modern feel. The tasting menu includes distinct selections, such as squid slaw, smoked pork loin, pickled mackerel, corn and crab bisque, crawfish hand pie, dry aged Akaushi ribeye, chamomile pavlova, and chevre cheesecake, basil, each customized by Gilmore with a variety of unexpected flavors. Barley Swine's Swine Time, the eatery's happy hour, features daily food and drink specials with 25% off bottles of wine and half-off large format beers.

RELATED: Airport Hangar In Houston Collapses Under Severe Weather And Winds

Aside from its incomparable live music selection, Austin also displays a wealth of art. The Mexic-Arte Museum showcases traditional and contemporary Mexican and Latino art, The Blanton Museum of Art houses European paintings with an emphasis on Renaissance and Baroque art, modern American and Latin American Art, and contemporary art, The Harry Ransom Center holds more than 36 million manuscripts, including works by Lord Byron, Isaac Bashevis Singer, David Mamet and Robert De Niro, and the AMOA-Arthouse at the Jones Center displays contemporary art, as well as over 1,000 works by up-and-coming artists. Also, the Umlauf Sculpture Garden & Museum, an outdoor space, exhibits works by 20th-century sculptor and long-time Austin resident Charles Umlauf. For sports lovers, Austin is home to the University of Texas Longhorns, the 2005-06 National Football Champions, as well as the Austin Aztex of the United Soccer League, the Austin Toros of the National Basketball Development League, and the Texas Stars AHL hockey team. Let us know how your trip to Austin goes and feel free to share your own recommendations.