Deep in the heart of this laid-back college town is a love of the offbeat - that also includes bat-watching.
Why it's a great value: Food and clubs have college-student price tags. Many attractions, like the Texas State Capitol (512-463-5495; www.tspb.state.tx.us) and the Lyndon B. Johnson Museum (512-721-0200; www.lbjlib.utexas.edu) are free. Also, fall is a great time to see Austin; school's back in session and the bats are at their peak.
How to get there and around: Southwest Airlines (800-435-9792, www.southwest.com) flies from Boston to Austin; recent fares for October were as low as $200 round trip, though you'll likely have a layover. 'Dillo trolleys (512-389-7400, www.capmetro.org), named for the state mascot, shuttle throughout the city.