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Austin: Frommer's Favorite Experiences

  • Splashing around Barton Springs Pool: The bracing waters of this natural pool have been drawing Austinites to its banks for more than 100 years. If there's one thing that everyone in town can agree on, it's that there's no better plunge pond on a hot day than this one.

  • Joining the Healthy Hordes on Austin's Hike & Bike Trails: Head over to the shores of Town Lake to see why Walking magazine chose Austin as America's "Most Fit" city. Walkers and runners share the path with cyclists and strollers. You get good vistas of the city and the lake and see quite a bit of local society, too.

  • Sipping a Margarita While Watching the Sun Set over Lake Travis: Relax at the Oasis on one of the many decks that stretch across a hillside high above Lake Travis, order a large margarita, and begin congratulating yourself on living the highlife. Laid out before you are miles of watery landscape. If conditions are right, a soft redness will tint the view and create a warm, fuzzy feeling of oneness with the world (or it might just be the effect of that margarita).

  • Attending a Taping of Austin City Limits: This will be a matter of luck, but if you come to town at the right time, and the show that will be taped happens to be music you like, then there's nothing better than getting tickets to be part of the show. And then, sometime later, when the show airs, you can relive the experience.

  • Checking Out Who is Playing at the Continental Club: While you're in town, there will be some act playing at the Continental Club that you positively can't miss. It might be a happy hour show; it might be an evening show; it might be somebody you haven't even heard of yet. But take my word for it, with the variety and quality of acts that perform at this famous little club on South Congress Avenue, there's no better place to expand your musical tastes.

    The Best Ways to Spend One Free Hour

  • Enjoying a Massage: With a little planning ahead for that idle hour, you can change the whole complexion of the rest of your day. This is a very much a common practice here, and when in Rome (er, Austin) . . . Most independent hotels can arrange an appointment with a massage therapist.

  • Strolling up South Congress: You never know what you're going to find when walking along this row of shops, eateries, and galleries. It's the best window shopping in Austin. You'll be hard pressed to keep it to just an hour.

  • Browsing through Tesoros: This store is one of a kind, but, as it deals in imports, has nothing in the way of local goods. Still, visitors and locals are fascinated by the variety of crafts and folk art for sale. There's plenty to capture the eye across a wide range of prices.

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