Hotel at a Glance: Omni Barton Creek Resort and Spa
The AAA Four Diamond Omni Barton Creek Resort and Spa is set on rolling wooded hills peppered with fine-dining restaurants and a tranquil spa. Of all its luxurious amenities, perhaps the best known are its four golf courses, one of which was designed by golf legend Arnold Palmer. Red oaks and sycamores line award-winning Fazio Canyons’ last hole, a sinuous par 5 leading to a ranch-style clubhouse.
- Included perk: a $50 credit per stay that you can use toward golf or spa services
- Onsite dining options: a lounge, a poolside cabana, a wine bar, and a fine-dining restaurant
- Stylish rooms nod to Texan culture with plaid and floral linens, cowhide chairs, and ink prints from native artists.
- Things to do: Hit the half-mile nature trail, play tennis, or relax by the indoor or outdoor pools.
- Sustainable practices: Some electricity here is generated by wind turbines, and the resort conserves water using a computerized irrigation system.
- Pick up gifts at the many onsite boutiques, where you can find tennis equipment, bath products, and apparel from designers such as Lilly Pulitzer and Hunter Bell.
- Accolades: The resort is ranked the No. 13 hotel in Austin by U.S. News & World Report, and the onsite Hill Country Dining Room has had AAA Four Diamond status since 2005.
Austin, Texas: Proudly Offbeat State Capital and Live-Music Capital of the World
Built in 1888, the pink-granite Texas Capitol building in Austin is the largest state capitol in the country and even taller than the US Capitol in Washington, DC—proof that everything is, indeed, bigger in Texas. Yet Austin stands apart from the rest of the state politically and culturally, a fact that locals seem to revel in. “Keep Austin Weird” is a popular motto here, appearing on bumper stickers and T-shirts. The weirdness manifests itself all over town, where you’ll find a death-metal-themed pizza place, a cathedral made of garbage, and the Museum of Natural & Artificial Ephemerata, which displays an 1893 World’s Fair stereograph and one of Marilyn Monroe’s cigarette butts. Even nature plays along: each night at dusk (from mid-March to November), an estimated 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats emerge from underneath the Congress Avenue Bridge to go hunting for food.
Austin has been dubbed the Live Music Capital of the World thanks to the city’s nearly 200 venues, where bands play everything from blues to punk rock. In fact, Travel + Leisure magazine named Austin one of America’s Best Music Cities, calling it the “mother ship for indie rock and alternative-country types.” Stubb’s Bar-B-Q books some of the bigger acts that come to town, including the White Stripes, Johnny Cash, and Snoop Dogg. In addition to the live entertainment taking place on a nightly basis, two massively popular music festivals—South by Southwest and Austin City Limits—draw in huge crowds each year.
The University of Texas brings its share of cultural attractions to the city as well. For starters, the sprawling campus is home to the Blanton Museum of Art, which boasts one of the country’s most impressive private collections of old-master paintings. UT-Austin is also where you’ll find the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library, dedicated to preserving and exhibiting artifacts related to the 36th president.