The catchphrase "Keep Austin Weird" has been blazed on t-shirts, city walls, and bumper stickers all over the city, but what it really means is "Embrace your inner Hipster." With a vibe that’s distinctly eclectic and artsy, its contrarian residents reject anything that's mainstream while in turn creating something that’s well, popular. Ah the paradox of hipsters. Without them though, Austin wouldn’t be nearly as quirky or unique as it is today.
If you feel like embracing your inner Austin-ite, grab a PBR, your favorite skinny jeans, and head out on the town.
Catch a movie at Alamo Drafthouse or Blue Starlite Mini Urban Drive-In
Dazed and Confused in Austin? Grease at the Drive-In? Yep. Although the Alamo Drafthouse has been moving away from it’s homegrown roots as of late, they still offer a truly unique movie-watching experience: the ActionPack. A series of sing along, quote along theatrical dance parties to classics like Rocky Horror Picture Show, Littleshop of Horrors, Grease, and Ghostbusters, they offer great themed events and host some of the best Q&As in the country. While the food’s not great, a ridiculous Super Troopers style syrup-chug off may keep you from going hungry. Another great venue, Blue Starlite Mini Urban Drive-In is a throwback to the 1970s. With vintage speakers, this place maintains the true hipster vibe of Austin. Cram your friends in the car, bring your own beer, and enjoy cult classics under the big Texas sky. I’m feeling nostalgic just thinking about it.
Watch the Sunset at Butler Park
There’s no better place in Austin to contemplate the futility of existence than at Butler Park. Climb Doug Sahm Hill for stunning views of the skyline at night and the Liz Carpenter fountain, a water experience for children of all ages. Located next to the Long Center for Performing Arts, the area is full of great trails and paths you can peruse in solitude, including Auditorium Shores across the street. When you’re ready to grab a bite, run over to Sandy's Burgers on the corner next to the Long Center. Delicious.
Grab a drink with friends on Rainey Street
While everyone else flocks to the ultra-hip 6th street, you can find our bearded friends at Rainey Street. This once sleepy residential neighborhood has transformed into small bars set in former homes and beer gardens. Covered in huge trees and low lighting, Rainey is the perfect place to kick back and complain about anything even remotely capitalist. Since 2009, this street has welcomed anyone trying to escape the throngs of tourist and college kids, and although it's become more popular, still clings to the last throngs of downtown "localness." If you’re looking for a good watering hole, we recommend Banger’s Sausage House and Beer Garden. They have a cool outdoor area with a dog park.
Shop and people watch at the South Congress First Thursday
No trip to Austin is complete without a stop to see the local artisans. And let's be honest, we all need some hoop earrings or tie dye shirts in our life. South Congress is one of the last "real Austin" areas left. While developers and yuppies have overtaken other hotspots, South Congress maintains authentic charm. On the first Thursday of each month, the street turns into a giant open-air party. Running from Barton Springs Road to Elizabeth Street, stores and restaurants open their doors until about 10 pm to welcome any and all. Make sure to check out the artists in the parking lot next to Enoteca Vespaio, across from the food trucks. You'll find some great deals on jewelry, clothes, and art.
Visit the Harry Ransom Center on the UT-Austin Campus
The Harry Ransom Center is a must for anyone who is artistically inclined. A pop culture shrine before there was pop culture, this unique museum features an amazing collection of books, film, photographs, paintings, and props, earning international acclaim. Be sure to check out their rotating schedule of exhibits or just pop in to see the permanent displays. Some include the Gutenberg Bible and the First Photograph, produced by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce in 1826. It’s where it all began, folks.
Have a Lone Star beer at Spider House Cafe and Ballroom
If there is one watering hole for hipster spotting it's the Spider House Café, which is actually less a cafe and more a bar/music venue. Spider House's ballroom hosts live music seven nights a week and regularly features local bands, film screenings, comedy shows, and dance parties. As the #1 Lone Star bar in the world, we'd recommend wetting your whistle with a pitcher full of the brew that's become a favorite of many locals. Although some have labeled Lone Star as merely "beer-flavored water" the cheap price tag makes it a doable purchase and you can always turn to the well curated array of popular local brews on tap if it isn't your style.
Get your late night java fix at Epoch
An idea for the next great American novel came to you at 3 am? Epoch cafe is where you’ll find dozens of other late-night coffee fiends and cohorts. Popping pretty much all night long with budding writers and stressed out students, Epoch never closes so you can get your java fix 24/7. They also have a pretty decent food menu and drinks are all pretty much under $5. Who needs Starbucks? Corporations.
Shop vintage at Stag, Goodwill, or Buffalo Exchange
Long before Macklemore made it cool, Austin was dominating the Thrift Shop game so if you aspire to look like an unemployed photographer/poet/barista, we have you covered. Stag is a newer brand designed to look like old clothes. Goodwill is just like yours back home, but bigger and better. Buffalo Exchange is where you can find pretty much anything with plenty of brand names unknowingly making their way onto the shelves. There are great values to be had so show up early and do some damage to the credit card. I've spent many Saturday mornings running around trying to find my size and can’t speak highly enough about these stores.
Austin has gone through quite a few changes over the last few years, including a huge popularity surge, but it still maintains just enough charm and weirdness to distinguish it from most other major cities. Definitely check it out, as we like to say, welcome to Austin, please don't move here!”