WHAT'S HOT IN: AUSTIN, TEXAS
High-tech hub? Hotbed of musical talent? The ultimate college town? Any trendspotter worth her salt knows she needs to keep an eye on the Lone Star State's capital. Don't have the time to personally check out the Bush girls' former stomping grounds? Let American Demographics fill you in on the scene.
UP-AND-COMING NEIGHBORHOOD: SOCO
Located just south of downtown, within view of the state capitol, South Congress Avenue (known affectionately to locals as â€œSoCoâ€?) has the highest hipness cachet in town. Among the most recent Austin neighborhoods to undergo gentrification, the SoCo area is teeming with galleries, vintage clothing and antique furniture stores, salons and restaurants that draw those-in-the-know from near and far.
PLACE TO EAT: LAMBERT'S AMERICAN KITCHEN
Serving dinners of upscale American regional dishes, such as pecan-cured salmon and homemade goat pÃ¢tÃ©, Austin's hottest restaurant plays host to the well-dressed and well-coiffed. The minimalist designed eatery is a quick study in the law of supply and demand. With just 14 tables and seating for 40, anyone who wants a seat better call first.
PLACE TO STAY: SAN JOSE MOTEL
This Spanish-style motel is said to be the place to stay for visiting Hollywood dignitaries. (Hi, Julia.) For those not spending the night, there's the motel's Zen-like outdoor lounge, where the very stylish, under-35 crowd can be found kicking back with a beer or a glass of fine wine. Sorry, no hard liquor allowed.
WEEKEND/EVENING ACTIVITY: BAT WATCHING
Break out your turtlenecks: One of the main attractions for Austin residents and visitors alike is the area's 1.5 million Mexican free-tail bats, which live under the Congress Avenue Bridge. Bats can be observed emerging from their lair every evening at sunset between mid-March and November. And if you think bat watching is a little too pedestrian, think again. Both the Four Seasons Hotel and the nearby four-star Hyatt boast about their restaurants' spectacular views â€¦ of bat nightlife.