Of the many things Austin is known for — including live music, great barbecue and innovative technology — the most interesting is the city’s proud culture of weirdness. The Keep Austin Weird slogan is splattered all over the place from bumper stickers to t-shirts, and provides endless topics of discussion for both residents and visitors alike.
While many of the original weird landmarks have disappeared or evolved over the years, there are plenty of weird places to be found in Austin. Here are some of our favorites:
1. The Cathedral of Junk
Perhaps the most well known monument to weirdness is nestled in a private backyard in South Austin. For almost 30 years, Vince Hannemann has worked on his masterpiece and welcomes visitors to marvel at, climb, and take photos of this ever-changing work of art. Deemed safe by the city’s engineers, the structure towers over the neighborhood and has served as a venue for weddings, creative events, and just a fun place to take the kids.
4422 Lareina Drive 78745
Call for hours. There’s no fee to get in, but donations are accepted.
2. HOPE Outdoor Gallery
The Helping Other People Everywhere (HOPE) Outdoor Gallery is a public art space that was created with the help of Shepard Fairey to give artists a canvas for large-scale pieces. Whether your skill level is professional artist or spray can rookie, everyone is welcome to contribute and add to the beauty. And as new art is being added everyday you’ll never see the same thing twice.
The gallery has become a popular place for wedding and prom photos, and photo shoots of all sorts. A quick climb to the top affords one of best views of downtown Austin, unobstructed by high rises.
1101 Baylor Street, Austin, TX 78703
No official hours, but come when there’s daylight.
3. The Little Longhorn Saloon
Also known as Ginny’s, The Little Longhorn Saloon has live music, as well as food and drink specials every day. But Sundays are when the crowds come to take part in the weirdest event of the week: Chicken Shit Bingo. It’s exactly what it sounds like. Patrons enjoy a lively game of bingo, where a chicken calls out the game with its droppings. Cheap beer and complimentary hotdogs round out the experience.
5434 Burnet Road, Austin, TX 78756
Bingo every Sunday at 4 pm
4. Weird Homes Tour
The Weird Homes Tour offers a glimpse into the lives of people who are so committed to Austin that their very homes are shrines to the weirdness. Ticket holders tour the city’s most unique homes and yards, meeting the creative people behind the magic and maybe even picking up a few weird decorating tips along the way.
5. Blue Cat Café
A recent addition to our weird culture is a dream come true for cat lovers. Austin is famous for its love of animals. Residents seek out the many dog-friendly patios, parks, and even workplaces so that they can keep their loyal best friends by their sides. But what about the cats?
Blue Cat Café has given cat owners their rightful due, providing a public place to snuggle with felines while dining on coffeehouse fare, working, or listening to live music. The best part? The cats are from the Austin Humane Society and up for adoption. Each cat stays at the café for about a week before being taken to a forever home. Doesn’t that make you want to purr?
1400 E. Cesar Chavez Street, Austin, TX 78702
Hours listed online
6. Vulcan Video
In the age of streaming, the very presence of a video store qualifies it as weird. But Vulcan Video is so much more than your average movie lender. This family-owned, independent store specializes in foreign, cult, and classic films, treating customers to titles that are otherwise hard to find.
While popping in a tape or DVD may feel a bit retro to some, their low key website offers a fully searchable database and regularly updated blog announcing new releases. So you can still pick browse titles from the comfort of your smartphone on the way to the store.
South location: 112 W. Elizabeth Street, Austin, TX 78704
North location: 100 North Loop Blvd, Austin, TX 78751
Hours listed online
7. Carousel Lounge
The Carousel Lounge has been one of Austin’s favorite dives since 1963. The almost sinister circus décor provides a weird backdrop to nightly live music. The Carousel is one of the only set-ups bars you’ll find in town, where you bring your own hard liquor and they’ll provide the cups, mixers, and garnishes. They have a selection of beer and wine, too.
1110 E. 52nd Street, Austin, TX 78723
Check online for upcoming shows
Have you been to all of these weird (but amazing) Austin spots? What weird places have we missed?