Texas has a reputation for barbecue, wide-open spaces and thriving cities, but Texas is best known for its size.

Indeed, the largest state in the continental U.S. not only trumps others in land mass, but it is also No. 2 in the nation when it comes to population and population growth. And in the biggest state, growth is happening in the biggest cities.

In a state overflowing with pride, the question of a “best city” is an area of debate. Looking at a variety of data sources, this is our ranking of the top 5 cities in Texas on quality-of-life indicators to determine the best places to live.

1. Houston: Big City, Cozy Getaway
Houston? Cozy? It certainly feels that way at several boutique hotels. Hotel Indigo Houston at The Galleria changes its artwork, music, and flowers to match the season. Hotel ICON renovated the classic 1911 First Union National Bank Building. Sports fans love the Inn at the Ballpark, a block from Minute Maid Park. At hip, contemporary Hotel Derek, the staff leaves Texas-made candies on your pillow. The more expansive but secluded Houstonian Hotel, Club & Spa rises as an urban woodland retreat. Visit www.visithoustontexas.com.

2. Austin: A Texas Crossroads and More
With approximately 800,000 citizens, the Texas’ capital city, Austin, is the state’s fourth largest. Situated in Travis County and known as “The Live Music Capital of the World,” Austin has more than 200 live music venues where you will hear country, rock, rap or alternative music. Experiencing 300 days of sunshine each year, locals and visitors can spend the day on the banks of Lady Bird Lake or in one of the 200 parks. Visit www.austintexas.org.

3. San Antonio: Sip and Sample a City
San Antonio and the surrounding Texas Hill Country share a much-deserved reputation as the most romantic part of Texas. San Antonio abounds with out-of-the-way places to take romantic walks, share a kiss or disappear from the world for a few hours. Less than an hour away, the inspirational landscapes and charming towns of the Texas Hill Country—along with stellar wineries and treasure-filled antique stores—set the scene for a quiet retreat.

4. Dallas: Wonders of West Village
The city of Dallas has something for everyone. Whether you visit on business or pleasure, Dallas is a city that offers a unique blend of Southwestern warmth, cosmopolitan flair, old west charm and modern sophistication. Throughout Dallas, you’ll find an amazing blend of artistic expressions that reflect the multicultural dynamics of the city’s heritage. Dallas, Texas offers visitors a unique combination of attractions, accommodations, dining, nightlife, sightseeing, shopping and hospitality not found anywhere else. Come see for yourself.

5. Fort Worth: Sundance, Moon Glow
Fun in Fort Worth goes on all day into late night. In downtown’s Sundance Square, you can shop and dine and then see the stars at Bass Performance Hall. August’s bill features Kenny Rankin and Tony Bennett. If Bass Hall is too tame, get rowdy at Billy Bob’s Texas, the world’s largest honky-tonk down in the Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District. While in the area, treat yourself at Lonesome Dove Western Bistro, where chef/owner Tim Love cooks in his cowboy hat. Save an afternoon for the museums in the Fort Worth Cultural District. Note: the Amon Carter Museum is closed through summer for renovations. Visit www.fortworth.com.