Over the years I’ve had heard a lot about Austin, Texas but had never had a chance to visit until recently.

Sitting between Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio, Austin has been kind of an in-between city that has had to work hard over the last 60 years to compete with its larger siblings.

Austin feels like a hipster’s New Orleans complete with the food, art and music. I realize that Austin has been an art and food destination since the 70’s but until I visited myself I had no idea just how fun Austin could be!

Everything is bigger in Texas.  The Texas State Capitol is a domed building even taller than the National US Capitol (but the dome isn’t as wide).  It’s definitely worth an hour of your time.

Hungry?  On South Congress Avenue you’ll find some amazing restaurants.  From pizza to cupcakes and from gourmet burgers to old fashioned ice cream parlors there is some serious food here.   For decades there has been a huge food truck scene on South Congress.  But, with the development of a new building on South Congress the food trucks have lost their long-standing home.  Apps like ”Nom Nom Finder” (Apple and Android markets) can help you track down these food trucks wherever they’ve wandered.  Even with the food trucks gone, I recommend ordering an appetizer from one restaurant, an entrée from another, walk down the road and have desert at the cupcake food truck (has its own permanent home). After dessert, share a slice of pizza at Home Slice.  I can’t underestimate how surprised I was at the quality of food here in Austin.  It was Urban Exploration at its finest.

Near dark, stop by the Congress Street Bridge.  I regret I wasn’t able to fit this into my schedule… I’ve heard every evening (better in the summer) around dusk millions of bats fly from their home under the bridge.  Apparently this is the largest bat colony in a North American city.  Don’t underestimate these bats.  The city estimates $10 Million in revenue from visitors traveling just to see the bats. Visit www.BatCon.org/Congress for more information.

After dark make sure to travel to 6th Street Austin.  Complete with Pedi cabs, art galleries, unique stores, great food and… most of all…. Live music, Austin’s 6th street reminds me of a mix between Park City and Memphis’ Beal Street. Even during the week quality live music spills out of open bar windows into the nine historic blocks.  I don’t drink, but even stopping in each bar for a glass of soda gets you a front seat to fantastic entertainment.

From Pete’s dueling piano bar to The Chuggin Monkey there’s music for every pallet.  Interested in blues?  Check out Bass Dude.  There are also quite a few dance clubs with long weekend lines. While the weekends can get pretty exciting, the weekday evenings welcome you to a relaxing and more private atmosphere.

Don’t forget to wander into the The Dryskill hotel and enjoy the architecture and artwork.

Austin’s 6th street even has its own website http://6Street.com

Best time to visit Austin?  The Spring or Fall.  Avoid mid-March b/c of the HUGE SXSW film & music festival held in Austin.

The Easy Bake Shop & Beer Garden stays open late and has great breads and cheese platters after 10pm.