An invigorating energy wrangles each corner here. Austin's greatest appeal lies in its ability to balance its trendy scene with an inclusive attitude. The cowboy, the politician, the punk rocker, and the soccer mom all groove at the same music clubs and palm tortillas at the same Tex-Mex joints. No matter who you are, you'll fit in. Snugly.
Set yourself on Austin's pace by booking a room at the Austin Motel (rates $75-$158) down on South Congress Avenue, aka SoCo. There's not a more unique property in the whole city. Decorated with colorful wallpaper and 1960s and 1970s furniture, it reminds us more of a mom-and-pop lodge we'd find off Route 66. As an alternate choice, you can't beat the location and chain-like consistency of the Embassy Suites (rates start at $179) just south of the Congress Avenue bridge.
left: Some of the best features of the Austin Motel's pool are the retro chairs from the 1950s.