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Austin, TX (University of Texas)

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Texas’s retro-stylish capital prides itself on turning out offbeat characters—Willie Nelson and Matthew McConaughey, for starters. But for something truly batty, check out the Ann Richards/Congress Avenue Bridge, where 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats hang out—quite literally. At dusk, from March through October, they flap off to chase insects. Viewed from a lawn below next to Lady Bird Lake, the swarm will blot out the sunset. Austin, the so-called live music capital of the world, turns into a music fanatic’s dream each March during the SXSW festival.

Local Taste: Sip alfresco drinks and take in the sunset at Oasis, where tiered decks jut out from a 450-foot-high cliff over Lake Travis.

America's Coolest College Towns

Austin, TX (University of Texas)

Texas’s retro-stylish capital prides itself on turning out offbeat characters—Willie Nelson and Matthew McConaughey, for starters. But for something truly batty, check out the Ann Richards/Congress Avenue Bridge, where 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats hang out—quite literally. At dusk, from March through October, they flap off to chase insects. Viewed from a lawn below next to Lady Bird Lake, the swarm will blot out the sunset. Austin, the so-called live music capital of the world, turns into a music fanatic’s dream each March during the SXSW festival.

Local Taste: Sip alfresco drinks and take in the sunset at Oasis, where tiered decks jut out from a 450-foot-high cliff over Lake Travis.

Elvele Images Ltd/Alamy

America's Coolest College Towns

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