Looking for a trending new city to explore? Consider Austin, Texas, one of the fastest growing large cities in the country and U.S. News & World Report's #1 place to live in the U.S. for the past two years running.
The self-proclaimed "Live Music Capital of the World" is home to many students, artists and musicians, along with a booming tech industry and a classic Texas barbecue and Tex-Mex food scene. Despite its growth, Austin seeks to maintain its eccentric local vibe, with plenty of independent businesses and a strong commitment to the local environment. Austin hosts numerous festivals throughout the year and boasts more music venues per capita than any other city in the U.S. The list of local attractions also includes extensive theaters, museums and outdoor spaces like parks, lakes and waterways.
Thankfully, there are plenty of regular, relatively inexpensive flights between Chicago and Austin. We pulled from travel site Skyscanner to provide you with a short list of flights and hotels handpicked with the trendy adventurer in mind. (Prices and availability are current as of publication and subject to change.)
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Cheapest Austin flights
The cheapest flights between Chicago and Austin are if you leave on Dec. 10 and return from Texas on Dec. 14. Frontier Airlines currently has roundtrip, nonstop tickets for $111.
There are also deals to be had in January. If you fly out of Chicago on Jan. 7 and return from Austin on Jan. 11, Spirit Airlines can get you there and back for $116 roundtrip.
Top Austin hotels
Regarding where to stay, here are some of Austin's top-rated hotels that were selected from Skyscanner's listings, based on price and customer satisfaction.
The Driskill, Unbound Collection by Hyatt (604 Brazos St.)
For an all-around top recommendation, consider The Driskill, Unbound Collection by Hyatt. The hotel has a 4.5-star rating on Skyscanner, and rooms are currently available for $129/night.
A landmark in downtown Austin, this legendary hotel has become synonymous with traditional Texas hospitality. Guests can enjoy convenient access to the best of Austin, from the Texas State Capitol and Austin Convention Center to the city’s world-famous Sixth Street nightlife scene.
AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center (1900 University Ave.)
There's also the 4.8-star rated AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center, which has rooms currently set at $129/night.
Located on the south side of the University of Texas at Austin campus, the AT&T Education and Conference Center offers luxury hotel amenities and full conference center facilities. Guest benefits include access to the UT pool and gym facilities, in addition to the fitness room and swimming pool on-site.
The Hotel Ella (1900 Rio Grande)
A pricer alternative is The Hotel Ella. This 4.8-star hotel has rooms for $199/night.
"Hotel Ella is the perfect quintessential Austin vibe. Upscale luxury with laid-back personality," wrote visitor Alice.
Top picks for dining and drinking
If you're looking for a quality spot to grab a bite, Austin has plenty of excellent eateries to choose from. Here are a few options from Skyscanner's listings to help you get started.
Uchi (801 S. Lamar Blvd.)
For a local favorite, head to Uchi, which has an average of 4.9 stars out of 104 reviews on Skyscanner.
Uchi's culinary philosophy combines local, seasonal ingredients with an infinite spectrum of seafood from around the globe, inviting diners to explore their gastronomic boundaries by pairing traditional Japanese offerings with new flavors and textures.
"Amazing sushi," wrote visitor Katie. "It's up there against anything you'll have in San Francisco, NYC or elsewhere."
Franklin Barbecue (900 E. 11th)
Another popular dining destination is Franklin Barbecue, with 4.9 stars from 100 reviews.
"Amazing barbecue! Brisket and pork ribs are my favorites," wrote reviewer Terry. "It’s an Austin experience to be embraced."
Hopdoddy Burger Bar (1400 S. Congress Ave.)
Also worth considering is Hopdoddy Burger Bar.
"Favorite burger place in town! There's a line out the door at dinnertime for a reason," wrote Jenna. "Amazing drinks, milkshakes, fries [and] burgers. A must-visit place."
Featured Austin attractions
Not sure how to spend your time in Austin, besides eat and drink? Here are a few activity recommendations, provided by Skyscanner.
Barton Springs Pool (2201 Barton Springs Road)
First up is Barton Springs Pool.
Known as one of Austin's finest attractions, Barton Springs Pool is the perfect outing for those hot Texas days — or even the cool ones. Maintaining a comfortable 68 degrees Fahrenheit year-round, visitors can enjoy a 100% natural swimming experience with no chlorine.
Zilker Metropolitan Park (2100 Barton Springs Road)
Then, there's Zilker Metropolitan Park.
Patrons can enjoy a huge variety of activities at Zilker Park, including hiking and biking trails, picnic facilities, Zilker Botanical Garden, canoe rentals, soccer fields, sand volleyball courts, riverboat rides on Town Lake, concerts, festivals and even a miniature train.
"A great place to take a break from the bustling downtown," wrote visitor Tyson. "Large open space makes this a great place to play soccer or frisbee."
Lady Bird Lake Hike-and-Bike Trail (Lady Bird Lake)
Lastly, consider checking out Lady Bird Lake Hike-and-Bike Trail.
"A wonderful body of water in the center of the city," wrote visitor Nici. "I highly suggest biking around Lady Bird Lake. ... There are solid trails, and on either side of the lake, there are additional areas you can ride through for a longer, more scenic ride of Austin."
This story was created automatically using flight, hotel, and local attractions data, then reviewed by an editor. Click here for more about what we're doing. Got thoughts? Go here to share your feedback.