Austin, Texas, is most famously known for its music scene, which guarantees lively nightlife in the city. It’s a vibrant community of creative people, and although the music should not be missed on any visit to the city, there are lots of other activities to engage residents and tourists alike. From enjoying the historic lighting of the country’s only “Moonlight Towers” to roaming around a modern art museum or taking in a theater performance, there’s plenty of entertainment to be found in Austin.
Outstanding Neighborhoods for Austin Nightlife
Two neighborhoods stand out for anyone without a planned nighttime activity in Austin. Just strolling around, dining at, or taking in the sights in these two areas is sure to provide a great evening’s worth of entertainment.
East Sixth Street (Old Pecan Street) – Occupying the Victorian storefronts in this lively section of Austin are myriad restaurants, nightspots, and stores. Perhaps the most famous district in Austin, East Sixth Street is known not only for its entertainment but as an area in which building after building appears on the National Register of Historic Places. Evenings find this area filled with revelers out for some fun in Austin.
South Congress (SoCo) – For Austin hipsters, there’s no better place to spend an evening than SoCo. This colorful area is famous for its music venues, quirky stores, art galleries, and dining options. A lively area any day of the week, SoCo draws an even bigger crowd on “First Thursdays” (the first Thursday of each month) when area merchants keep their doors open late, and host an array of special events, often with music.
Austin’s antique street lights are a unique feature to the city and its nightlife. They are so much a part of the city today that they have even been celebrated in film (“Dazed and Confused”), where Austin writer and director Richard Linklater enshrined them with the famous line “Party at the moontower.” The towers date from 1895 when many cities across the country used this municipal carbon arc lighting system. Today the 17 remaining 165-feet towers provide a memorable vision that can only be experienced in Austin, Texas.
Capital Cruises of Austin offer sunset bat-watching cruises. Austin’s Ann Richards Congress Avenue Bridge is congregating territory for more than 1.5 million Mexican bats, and watching them take off just before sunset has become a popular tourist (and local) activity during summer months. For those not interested in bat life, there are also other options, including dinner cruises on Lady Bird Lake and Lake Austin.
The city of Austin offers theater goers a wide range of nightlife choices. With a strong creative community, the theater world has something lively on offer most nights of the week. Options include the newly restored Paramount Theater on Congress, which showcases stage plays, musicals, and classic movies. Other well known theaters include Live Oak, One World Theater, and the State Theater. More theater performances can be found at local universities’ performing arts centers, from St. Edward University’s Mary Moody Northern Theater to the University of Texas’s Harry Ransom Performing Arts Center.
Evenings at the Museums
A number of Austin’s museums offer special evening events and extended hours each Thursday. Among those offering fun, educational nighttime events are the Austin Museum of Art – Downtown, the George Washington Carver Museum, and the Blanton Museum of Art at the University of Texas. Most offer special programs and events and allow those working (or otherwise preoccupied during normal daytime museum hours) to enjoy some nightlife at the museum.
Whether seeking a great dining experience, a unique bat watch on a sunset cruise, or enjoying some music in SoCo, Austin has plenty to offer both residents and visitors alike. Whether setting out with theater tickets or an open schedule, there’s a lively nightlife adventure just around the corner in Austin.