Keep Austin Weird!
Boots and bandits, crooners and cruisers: Austin, Texas, is about as eclectic a town as you can find, especially in the vast Western expanse of the biggest state in the Lower 48. The city has newly won a four-way bid against Chicago, Detroit and Charlotte, N.C., to host the X Games in 2014, replacing Los Angeles, which is retiring from the action this August after 11 years of hosting the event.
Hold Your Honey Close
Austin has numerous traditional country-western themed bars at which you dance the night away to some real boot-scootin' honky tonk. Here, a couple two-steps to the city's very own Dale Watson at Strange Brew in South Austin.
Barton Springs is the perfect way to cool off in the Texas heat and is one of Austin's coolest summer spring-fed pools, literally: It maintains a 68-71.6 F temperature year round. Its spillway (pictured here) is a dog-friendly paradise for man's best friend, too.
To The Bat Cave!
The Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue bridge in downtown Austin is the warm-weather roost for something in the neighborhood of a million bats -- the largest urban bat colony in North America. Like clockwork, the bats depart the bridge every evening in an ominous-looking swarm to feed on thousands of pounds of bugs.
Austin's Blue Lapis Light, a modern aerial dance-specific troupe, comes alive on the grounds of The Long Center with its breathtaking choreographed performance of "Heaven/Earth/One."
Hawk Takes Flight
Local pro and X Games competitor Chase Hawk, born and bred in Austin, sails a 360 tabletop during the finals of the Texas Toast Jam, an annual BMX contest put on by Odyssey BMX.
Austin food-cart culture has exploded in the past couple of years in every parking lot north and south of the Colorado River, with every type of food imaginable. Here, we have the G'raj Mahal, an organic Indian food cart in the popular Rainey Street district with the Austin Bike Zoo Rattlesnake parked alongside outdoor seating.
Where else -- at any given time and unannounced -- can you can find Jack White playing an acoustic set on the streets to a handful of fans (and media) but the South by Southwest (SXSW) music showcase? Austin's biggest festival pulls in 250,000 music fans every year.
Downtown's got plenty of citified pastimes to partake of, but if Texas is known for anything, it's wide-open spaces. Railing a singletrack turn through the wildflowers is one way to get the full Austin experience.
Hip-hop upstarts Odd Future spark a mosh pit during their SXSW Thrasher Magazine performance at the Scoot Inn. Tyler the Creator, pictured, wouldn't be out of place at X Games Austin: He braved unfamiliar weather conditions -- i.e., snow -- in Aspen, Colo., this January to play a show at the Belly Up presented by X Games MUSIC.
Austin's newest skatepark, House Park, located five minutes from downtown, is home to new talent and old legends on every kind of wheel. Shred it up, whether you ride BMX, skateboard or keep it '70s style on a pair of roller skates.
Bigger In Texas
X Games closed the curtain on Los Angeles in 2013, but opened the door to Austin, Texas. The Lone Star State's capital city signed on to host X Games for the next three years beginning in 2014. Boots and bandits, crooners and cruisers: Austin is about as eclectic a town as you can find, especially in the vast Western expanse of the biggest state in the Lower 48.
What better way to see the city as the sun sets than with a riverboat ride on Lady Bird Lake? The 10-mile Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail loops the reservoir and helps make this a popular recreation (and relaxation) area in Austin.
Austin's art scene thrives in contemporary art galleries like the University of Texas Visual Arts Center. Here, students and the public gather 'round an immense installation by contemporary artist Diana Al-Hadid during reception night for her exhibit, "Suspended After Image," in early 2012.
The Red-Headed Stranger
Austin icon Willie Nelson plays to his fans during the unveiling of his statue on a street also named after him: Willie Nelson Blvd. One of the originators of "outlaw country," Nelson's gifted voice, distinctive strumming and sharp sense of humor have kept him a favorite of all kinds of music lovers for generations, but there's just something about playing for your hometown crowd.