When Austin is mentioned in casual conversation, all eyes light up. Those who have been to Austin can’t help but chime in with enthusiasm, and those who have never been have heard only amazing things about this alluring city in the heart of Texas. What makes Austin so memorable and so liked? Austin is perhaps the most diverse city in Texas, and probably all of the American South. It is the land where John Wayne meets Andy Warhol. Here cowboys drive pickup trucks with abstract murals painted on the side, Christmas lights are on year-round, bizarre landmark art is everywhere, and hip youngsters and old country folk two-step together in honky-tonks.

The capitol building is visible between skyscrapers in Austin, Texas.

Austin city skyline at twilight. Photo © Wasin Pummarin/123rf.

Absolutely anyone can come here and feel right at home. The closet cowboys can safely pretend they are real cowboys without fear of looking out of place. Messy-haired hipsters can stagger down urban streets lined with clubs, diners, and music stores, while fans of folk art and Americana pillage countless boutiques and curiosity shops. The voices of passionate politicos boom throughout grand halls, while sports fans hoot ’n’ holler at UT Longhorn games in jam-packed stadiums. Music lovers of all genres fall in love with countless musicians and venues in a wildly eclectic music scene that never shuts off its amps.

Given half a chance, Austin, San Antonio, and the Hill Country are guaranteed to suck you in and take you for a spin…The capital city dances to the beat of many tunes, but the fun doesn’t stop at the Austin city limits. This colorful town is the porch overlooking the gorgeous Texas Hill Country. This lush region at the center of the state is lined with vast rolling hills spotted with fields of wildflowers, grazing cattle, and little historic towns founded by German pioneers who brought accordions and schnitzels to the Wild West. Folks from all over come to the region’s sleepy hamlets to hunt for antiques, ride horses, explore caves, go wine-tasting, and hide out in bed-and-breakfasts.

At the southern reaches of the Hill Country is the Graceland of Texas history—San Antonio. Here pilgrims from all over venerate the legendary Alamo, stroll down the beautiful and romantic River Walk, and spend the day at massive theme parks and world-class museums.

Given half a chance, Austin, San Antonio, and the Hill Country are guaranteed to suck you in and take you for a spin, like a cow in a twister on the plains. Where else can you see Willie Nelson perform, go wine-tasting, explore underground caves, visit the Alamo, see ancient dinosaur bones, dance to German polka music, and catch a Mexican rodeo—all in one weekend? Nowhere else but deep in the heart of Texas.

Travel map of Austin and the Hill Country in Texas

Austin and the Hill Country

Excerpted from the Fourth Edition of Moon Austin, San Antonio and the Hill Country.