Photograph by Esther Havens
GPS: 30°16'0"N 97°44'34"W
Austin pretty much has it all—except for an off-season. The riverside college town is home to more than 200 jazz, blues, country, and rock venues—not to mention two of the country’s most hot-ticket annual music fests, South by Southwest in March and Austin City Limits in October—and endless road cycling in the surrounding Hill Country. Even in the dead of January, average temperatures are 50 degrees (10 degrees Celsius) and the rivers are still warm enough for a post-bike ride dip.
Head to Town Lake Kayak & Bike Rentals and rent some wheels ($10 per hour or $35 per day; +1 512 495 9250) and pick up a free map of downtown Austin and the Austin Town Lake Hike and Bike trails. Explore the city by street and trail, then head over to Town Lake and see it from the water; Rowing Dock rents kayaks (from $10 an hour; www.rowingdock.com).
Stubb’s Bar-B-Q is square one of all things Austin: live music and BBQ (www.stubbsaustin.com). Outside city limits, there’s no better place to get your meat on (vegetarians, be warned: your options will be limited here) than at Cooper's Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que, in nearby Llano, an hour and a half northwest of Austin (www.coopersbbq.com).
The Kimber Modern (doubles from $250; www.kimbermodern.com) has a sleek, minimal design and optimal spot in the SoCo district, where handcraft vendors set up a street fair and music venues, restaurants, and bars expand their hours on the “First Thursday” of every month.