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Curbed Austin pocket guide: summer 2017

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When we say Austin is hot, we're not talking about (only) the weather. People have been moving to and visiting our fair city by the zillions quite for quite some time now. They do so for a wide variety of reasons—to launch a startup, go to school, check out the live music or film scene, attend one of our many festivals, and other reasons too numerous to list.

Many also come here for the same reason the first people (that we know of) started settling around the Barton Springs area to begin with: The abundant natural beauty and the relative ease of living those natural conditions provide. Of course, the Austin area now boasts an embarrassment of riches on many fronts, from fantastic and unique public spaces to wildly inventive movie theaters with programming that never fails to surprise. We have a forward-thinking populace, ever-evolving architecture, a sophisticated and hopping restaurant scene, Texas history and traditions, and music everywhere, all swirled together in a beautiful but potentially overwhelming mix.

That is why we have the Curbed Austin Pocket Guide, a seasonal rundown of essential places in the city that everyone should at some point seek out should they want to understand what makes Austin such a lovely, complicated, fascinating place (not to mention a whole lot of fun).

We created our summer guide with a keen awareness that it's going to be ridiculously hot around here for the next few months: Most of the outdoor places here are near water or other places to cool off, and we still advise visiting most of them in the cooler morning hours.

We also included more places to take the kids (places they might enjoy, that is), since it's summer vacation for most of them. Some of the places here are familiar friends and some are recent discoveries, but they all have this in common: They are worth visiting again and again.

We publish these guide maps regularly, updating them with exciting new places and hidden gems. If you feel like something's missing or want to point us toward a new place or project, let us know in the comments or hit us up on the tipline.

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1. Harry Ransom Center (HRC)

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University of Texas at Austin
Austin, TX 78705
(512) 471-8944
Visit Website
Known recently for its aggressive pursuit of writers' archives, the Harry Ransom Center possesses a stunning amount of written work, from an original Gutenberg Bible to David Foster Wallace's heavily annotated self-help collection. (Its latest high-profile acquisition? Oh, just the Mad Men production archives.) Less well-known but equally impressive is its spectacular, wide-ranging collection and preservation of items and documents from the worlds of film, history, theater, and art. Renowned San Antonio-Austin architectural firm Lake|Flato remodeled the 1972 building in the mid-2000s, providing a bigger, more welcoming venue for its museum exhibits. The downstairs museum is open regular hours, but call ahead if you want to see some of the many wonders they keep in upstairs archives.

2. The Blanton Museum of Art

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200 E Martin Luther King Jr Blvd
Austin, TX 78701
(512) 471-7324
Visit Website
The Blanton Museum of Art on the UT campus suffered some notable birth pangs. From 1963 to 2008, the university collection was housed in other buildings around campus. An 1997 donation by Houston Endowment in honor of its chair, oilman Jack S. Blanton, finally made a building for the collection possible. That process was delayed when the UT Regents rejected plans by Swiss-based architectural firm Herzog & de Meuron, causing the dean of UT's architecture school, Lawrence Speck, to resign that post. Kallmann McKinnell & Wood Architects drew up plans more in keeping with the Regents' campus master plan, and the first phase of the building opened in 2007. Today it is one of the largest university art museums in the country. In addition to ongoing exhibits from its permanent collection, the Blanton hosts a roster of inventive, often interactive temporary exhibits as well as arts-oriented social events.

A photo posted by @dishapatel on

3. Broken Spoke

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3201 S Lamar Blvd
Austin, TX 78704
(512) 442-6189
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The longtime Austin country music and two-stepping institution should need no intro, but just in case: It's a bona fide, internationally famous country dance hall and honky tonk where stars including Willie Nelson, George Straight, and Dolly Parton have performed and you can still get your two-step on to live music on a regular basis.

4. Bullock Texas State History Museum

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1800 Congress Ave
Austin, TX 78701
(512) 936-8746
Visit Website
It's hard to believe the Bullock Museum wasn't taken seriously by many locals (and possibly still isn't by some), who thought its depiction of the state's history was too cartoonish and the building too inelegant when it opened in 2001. It didn't help that it was massaged into existence by and named after the legendary and begrudgingly admired Democratic dealmaker Bob Bullock, whose lifetime political career culminated in his service as lieutenant governor of Texas from 1991 to 1999. The museum's gradual acquisition of many recovered artifacts from a shipwrecked 17th-century French boat that was one of the state's most important archeological's discoveries bolstered its reputation, as did exhibits that grew more inclusive of the state's many cultures. It also has an IMAX theater, artwork, and many family-oriented events.

5. Mexic-Arte Museum

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419 Congress Ave
Austin, TX 78701
(512) 480-9373
Visit Website
Founded in 1984, Mexic-Arte preserves and exhibits traditional and contemporary Mexican, Latino, and Latin American art and culture in consistently magnificent fashion. The mere fact that it has survived on Congress Avenue all this time is testament enough to its lasting relevance, but the quality of its exhibits and its traditional Dia de los Muertos parade leave no doubt. We like its somewhat traditional but eternally relevant building, but the museum is pursuing a new Fernando-Romero-designed plan on its current site, so its ultimate appearance could change radically.

6. The Contemporary Austin: Laguna Gloria/Mayfield Park

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3809 W 35th St
Austin, TX 78703
(512) 458-8191
Located in a lakeside villa built in 1916 and donated in 1945 by Texas legend Clara Driscoll to be used “as a Museum to bring pleasure in the appreciation of art to the people of Texas,” the Laguna Gloria site of Contemporary Austin (which includes downtown's Jones Center as well) does just that, with its building and setting, indoor exhibitions, its fantastic Betty and Edward Marcus Sculpture Park, and the adjacent Mayfield Park, with its free-range peacocks, among other attractions. An installation by internationally renowned artist Ai WeiWei, Iron Tree, will also be there all summer.

7. The bats!: Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge

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1 Congress Ave
Austin, TX 78701
Austin is the seasonal home for the largest population of Mexican free-tailed bats in North America. They winter in Yucatan, Mexico (and sometimes further inland), then fly north each spring to nestle under the Congress Avenue bridge until late fall. Almost every night at sunset—but especially in April-May and late July/early August, they emerge from under the bridge to form a huge, mammalian cloud, heading east to scout for that night's insect dinner. It is truly an amazing sight, and crowds line up on the east side of the bridge and on a designated watching area just southeast of it, to watch it.

8. Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center

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600 River St
Austin, TX 78701
The MACC fosters an appreciation of Mexican-American, Latino, and indigenous cultures through exhibits, community collaborations, summer camp programs and youth and adult education. In addition to its ongoing, rotating visual art exhibit, the center and its unusual, symbolic design (by CasaBella + Del Campo) is worth a visit—especially because the center is currently looking at expanding the space.

9. Lady Bird Lake Trail

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Lady Bird Lake
Austin, TX 78746
Ten miles of gorgeous, tree-lined path that has the river on one side and the bustling city (north and south versions) on the other, and one that features the iconic Stevie Ray Vaughan statue, wanders past Auditorium Shores, and harbors a special space for bat-viewing is pretty hard to top.

A post shared by Pierce Ingram (@pingzer) on

10. Mount Bonnell

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3800 Mount Bonnell Rd
Austin, TX 78731
(512) 974-6700
Visit Website
For years the highest point in the city, Mount Bonnell is named after George Bonnell, a reporter who mapped and wrote about it. It played a role in the war for Texas' independence, but after that became pretty much what it is today: a sightseeing spot. The adorably tiny peak, reached by a tricky set of steep limestone stairs, is still the place to go for rites of passage, good times, romantic moments, and other occasions that call for sweeping vistas.

11. Toy Joy

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403 W 2nd St
Austin, TX 78701
(512) 320-0090
Visit Website
Formerly located just north of the UT campus, Toy Joy is a venerated (yet iconoclastic!) place where people got their bacon-strip band-aids, boxing-nun puppets, Hello Kitty paraphernalia, and other novelty/fun items for decades—as well as real toys for actual children. Now located in Downtown's West Second Street district, the store is more convenient to grown-ups but just as packed with fascinating and fun novelty items.

A post shared by Chichiger (@chichiger) on

12. South Austin Popular Culture Center

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1516 S Lamar Blvd
Austin, TX 78704
(512) 440-8318
Specializing in exhibits and events focused on the late 20th century Austin music scenes, it's a must for anyone interested in stories behind the rock, roll, country, and punk roots of the city's live music predilections.

13. Peter Pan Mini Golf

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1207 Barton Springs Rd
Austin, TX 78704
(512) 472-1033
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It's one of the few goofy, storied Austin landmarks left, and it's very cool. Not to mention wayyyy old-school and over the top, even for minigolf courses of its era. Just look for the giant Peter Pan looming over Barton Springs Road at South Lamar.

A post shared by Chiquillo (@rchiquillo) on

14. Downs Mabson Fields

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2816 E. 12th St.
Austin, TX 78702
Downs Field, as it’s usually called, is a significant place in baseball history. It was one the home field of the Austin Black Senators (a team in the professional Negro Leagues of the pre-integration area). Willie Wells was the most famous of the Senators, and you’ll probably see his portrait around town, especially if you go looking for the art of painter/musician Tim Kerr. Other notable players of the time who graced the field were Satchel Paige, Smokey Joe Williams, Willie Mays, and Buck O’Neil. It was also the home ballpark of Samuel Huston College before it combined with Tillotson College in 1952, and the Huston-Tillotson University Rams continue to play there. The field recently received some upgrades, including a mosaic mural that’s a tribute to the many great players of its past.

15. Deep Eddy Park and Pool

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401 Deep Eddy Ave
Austin, TX 78703
We have a whole separate guide map for awesome swimming spots around town, but we're plucking Deep Eddy from the bunch to symbolize all of them here. That's partly because it's the oldest public spring-fed pool in the state and partly because it's just so darned lovely. Deep Eddy Pool is just a little west of Barton Springs, just as historic, fed by the same spring, and much more peaceful.

16. Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas

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1120 S Lamar Blvd
Austin, TX 78704
(512) 861-7040
Visit Website
Originally located in a tiny downtown theater, the Alamo Drafthouse invented the arthouse-fanboy-regular-movie-special-screenings-and-events-plus-food-and-drink mix, not to mention the business model for franchising what it does. And it still does it better than anyone else.

A post shared by Jeremy (@jgflowers88) on

17. Paramount Theatre

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713 Congress Ave
Austin, TX 78701
(512) 472-5470
Visit Website
Opened in 1915, the historic Congress Avenue theater has long been a place for Austinites to see top-notch live performances of all kinds, as well as to marvel at its lovely, lovingly restored historic interior. It's also a great place to see films, especially in the summertime, when the amply air-conditioned theater screens a series of classics.

18. 'Dance of the Cosmos' at Patterson Park

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4200 Brookview Rd.
Austin, TX 78722
Dance of the Cosmos, an interactive installation by prolific local artist Jennifer Chenowith, was inspired by “Robert Putchik’s Theory of Emotions and a Tibetan lotus mandala,” according to the artist’s statement. She also drew on her experience with her own XYZ Atlas, a Hedonic Map of Austin, interactive public art about our collective experiences. The sculpture has a footprint of 20 feet and is 8 feet tall when the flower is closed (the petals open, which is really cool, too). Originally a temporary installation, it received a permanent home at Patterson Park in May.

A post shared by XYZ atlas (@xyzatlas) on

19. Austin Toy Museum

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1108 Cesar Chavez
Austin, TX 78702
A place to ogle vintage toys, action figures, retro toys, classic toys, or console video games of one's (or someone else's) childhood past or present. Though seemingly directed at fanboys/girls, the museum is in fact focused on childhood education and has a lot of hands-on activities (like vintage video games) as well as exhibits.

20. Forever Bicycles at Waller Delta/Waller Creek Boathouse

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74 Trinity St
Austin, TX 78701
In June 2017, two works by internationally renowned artist and activist Ai WeiWei were installed on Austin's landscape. One is Iron Tree, which joins sculptures at The Contemporary—Laguna Gloria. The other is Forever Bicycles, a grand optical illusion that currently sits at the meeting point of the ever-evolving Waller Creek trail and the river. They are both in town for roughly a year and a half.

A post shared by Rachel Kay (@rachelkayapplebox) on

21. Green & White Grocery

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1201 E 7th St
Austin, TX 78702
(512) 472-0675
Green & White grocery has served as a welcoming center and shop for the spiritually inclined or cosmically curious from its East Austin neighborhood and elsewhere for decades. Curandero John Cazares, who owns and runs the shop, is helpful and straightforward, and he stocks items many find essential for conducting their spiritual business, including votive candles, herbs, icons, and much more from many traditions including Santeria, vodun, and Christianity, with some New Age-ism in the mix. The shop sometimes hosts drummers, and it has an amazing shop dog/wolfhound as well as a classic Federico mural on the side.

A post shared by @laurette33 on

22. George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center

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1165 Angelina St
Austin, TX 78702
(512) 974-4926
Visit Website
The Carver is both Austin's first library and an emblem of its segregated past, and it’s especially significant on Juneteenth. It has for years had a permanent exhibit on the subject (as well as many other rotating shows), and recently became home to a moving outdoor sculpture and monument on the 150th anniversary of that important day.

A post shared by Rosalind L Bryant (@rozdiva) on

23. Brush Square Museums

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Neches and E 4th
Austin, TX 78701
The small downtown civic space called Brush Square is also the location of three historic museums, all must-sees for Austin aficionados. The Joseph and Susanna Dickinson Hannig Museum is located in the former home of Dickinson, the only Anglo survivor of the Battle of the Alamo. The O. Henry Museum looks at the life of William Sidney Porter, who changed his pen name after a stint in prison and became one of the country's most well-known short-story writers (and the namesake of a biannual "Pun-Off" that has become quite popular). The Austin Fire Museum is quite cute and operates out of a still-functional firehouse (Austin's busiest), built in 1938.

24. ColdTowne Theater

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4803 Airport Blvd
Austin, TX 78751
(512) 524-2807
Visit Website
Established by two Katrina evacuees from New Orleans in 2005, ColdTowne has become a local comedy institution and earned its rep for great improv (as well as a school that offers Chicago-style training), every night of the week.

25. Pinballz Arcade

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8940 Research Blvd Ste 100
Austin, TX 78758
(512) 420-8458
Visit Website
If overstimulation and marathon game-playing are your thing, Pinballz Arcade is probably your game. It's full of pinball machines, of course, as well as old-school video games and a bunch of other fun stuff. This is the original location, and it's still a local fave.

A post shared by Chloe DeRouen (@chloederouen) on

26. Carousel Lounge

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1110 E 52nd St
Austin, TX 78723
(512) 452-6790
Oh, how we love The Carousel, with its ... carousel. And its circus theme in general, including murals and a sort of makeshift big top. And its live music, warm beer, long history, and perfectly seedy-but-keeping-it-together mien. Just the thing for sultry nights and summer day drinking.
Carousel Lounge Carousel Lounge/Facebook

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1. Harry Ransom Center (HRC)

University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78705
Known recently for its aggressive pursuit of writers' archives, the Harry Ransom Center possesses a stunning amount of written work, from an original Gutenberg Bible to David Foster Wallace's heavily annotated self-help collection. (Its latest high-profile acquisition? Oh, just the Mad Men production archives.) Less well-known but equally impressive is its spectacular, wide-ranging collection and preservation of items and documents from the worlds of film, history, theater, and art. Renowned San Antonio-Austin architectural firm Lake|Flato remodeled the 1972 building in the mid-2000s, providing a bigger, more welcoming venue for its museum exhibits. The downstairs museum is open regular hours, but call ahead if you want to see some of the many wonders they keep in upstairs archives.
University of Texas at Austin
Austin, TX 78705

2. The Blanton Museum of Art

200 E Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Austin, TX 78701
The Blanton Museum of Art on the UT campus suffered some notable birth pangs. From 1963 to 2008, the university collection was housed in other buildings around campus. An 1997 donation by Houston Endowment in honor of its chair, oilman Jack S. Blanton, finally made a building for the collection possible. That process was delayed when the UT Regents rejected plans by Swiss-based architectural firm Herzog & de Meuron, causing the dean of UT's architecture school, Lawrence Speck, to resign that post. Kallmann McKinnell & Wood Architects drew up plans more in keeping with the Regents' campus master plan, and the first phase of the building opened in 2007. Today it is one of the largest university art museums in the country. In addition to ongoing exhibits from its permanent collection, the Blanton hosts a roster of inventive, often interactive temporary exhibits as well as arts-oriented social events.

A photo posted by @dishapatel on

200 E Martin Luther King Jr Blvd
Austin, TX 78701

3. Broken Spoke

3201 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78704
The longtime Austin country music and two-stepping institution should need no intro, but just in case: It's a bona fide, internationally famous country dance hall and honky tonk where stars including Willie Nelson, George Straight, and Dolly Parton have performed and you can still get your two-step on to live music on a regular basis.
3201 S Lamar Blvd
Austin, TX 78704

4. Bullock Texas State History Museum

1800 Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78701
It's hard to believe the Bullock Museum wasn't taken seriously by many locals (and possibly still isn't by some), who thought its depiction of the state's history was too cartoonish and the building too inelegant when it opened in 2001. It didn't help that it was massaged into existence by and named after the legendary and begrudgingly admired Democratic dealmaker Bob Bullock, whose lifetime political career culminated in his service as lieutenant governor of Texas from 1991 to 1999. The museum's gradual acquisition of many recovered artifacts from a shipwrecked 17th-century French boat that was one of the state's most important archeological's discoveries bolstered its reputation, as did exhibits that grew more inclusive of the state's many cultures. It also has an IMAX theater, artwork, and many family-oriented events.
1800 Congress Ave
Austin, TX 78701

5. Mexic-Arte Museum

419 Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78701
Founded in 1984, Mexic-Arte preserves and exhibits traditional and contemporary Mexican, Latino, and Latin American art and culture in consistently magnificent fashion. The mere fact that it has survived on Congress Avenue all this time is testament enough to its lasting relevance, but the quality of its exhibits and its traditional Dia de los Muertos parade leave no doubt. We like its somewhat traditional but eternally relevant building, but the museum is pursuing a new Fernando-Romero-designed plan on its current site, so its ultimate appearance could change radically.
419 Congress Ave
Austin, TX 78701

6. The Contemporary Austin: Laguna Gloria/Mayfield Park

3809 W 35th St, Austin, TX 78703
Located in a lakeside villa built in 1916 and donated in 1945 by Texas legend Clara Driscoll to be used “as a Museum to bring pleasure in the appreciation of art to the people of Texas,” the Laguna Gloria site of Contemporary Austin (which includes downtown's Jones Center as well) does just that, with its building and setting, indoor exhibitions, its fantastic Betty and Edward Marcus Sculpture Park, and the adjacent Mayfield Park, with its free-range peacocks, among other attractions. An installation by internationally renowned artist Ai WeiWei, Iron Tree, will also be there all summer.
3809 W 35th St
Austin, TX 78703

7. The bats!: Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge

1 Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78701
Austin is the seasonal home for the largest population of Mexican free-tailed bats in North America. They winter in Yucatan, Mexico (and sometimes further inland), then fly north each spring to nestle under the Congress Avenue bridge until late fall. Almost every night at sunset—but especially in April-May and late July/early August, they emerge from under the bridge to form a huge, mammalian cloud, heading east to scout for that night's insect dinner. It is truly an amazing sight, and crowds line up on the east side of the bridge and on a designated watching area just southeast of it, to watch it.
1 Congress Ave
Austin, TX 78701

8. Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center

600 River St, Austin, TX 78701
The MACC fosters an appreciation of Mexican-American, Latino, and indigenous cultures through exhibits, community collaborations, summer camp programs and youth and adult education. In addition to its ongoing, rotating visual art exhibit, the center and its unusual, symbolic design (by CasaBella + Del Campo) is worth a visit—especially because the center is currently looking at expanding the space.
600 River St
Austin, TX 78701

9. Lady Bird Lake Trail

Lady Bird Lake, Austin, TX 78746
Ten miles of gorgeous, tree-lined path that has the river on one side and the bustling city (north and south versions) on the other, and one that features the iconic Stevie Ray Vaughan statue, wanders past Auditorium Shores, and harbors a special space for bat-viewing is pretty hard to top.

A post shared by Pierce Ingram (@pingzer) on

Lady Bird Lake
Austin, TX 78746

10. Mount Bonnell

3800 Mount Bonnell Rd, Austin, TX 78731
For years the highest point in the city, Mount Bonnell is named after George Bonnell, a reporter who mapped and wrote about it. It played a role in the war for Texas' independence, but after that became pretty much what it is today: a sightseeing spot. The adorably tiny peak, reached by a tricky set of steep limestone stairs, is still the place to go for rites of passage, good times, romantic moments, and other occasions that call for sweeping vistas.
3800 Mount Bonnell Rd
Austin, TX 78731

11. Toy Joy

403 W 2nd St, Austin, TX 78701
Formerly located just north of the UT campus, Toy Joy is a venerated (yet iconoclastic!) place where people got their bacon-strip band-aids, boxing-nun puppets, Hello Kitty paraphernalia, and other novelty/fun items for decades—as well as real toys for actual children. Now located in Downtown's West Second Street district, the store is more convenient to grown-ups but just as packed with fascinating and fun novelty items.

A post shared by Chichiger (@chichiger) on

403 W 2nd St
Austin, TX 78701

12. South Austin Popular Culture Center

1516 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78704
Specializing in exhibits and events focused on the late 20th century Austin music scenes, it's a must for anyone interested in stories behind the rock, roll, country, and punk roots of the city's live music predilections.
1516 S Lamar Blvd
Austin, TX 78704

13. Peter Pan Mini Golf

1207 Barton Springs Rd, Austin, TX 78704
It's one of the few goofy, storied Austin landmarks left, and it's very cool. Not to mention wayyyy old-school and over the top, even for minigolf courses of its era. Just look for the giant Peter Pan looming over Barton Springs Road at South Lamar.

A post shared by Chiquillo (@rchiquillo) on

1207 Barton Springs Rd
Austin, TX 78704

14. Downs Mabson Fields

2816 E. 12th St., Austin, TX 78702
Downs Field, as it’s usually called, is a significant place in baseball history. It was one the home field of the Austin Black Senators (a team in the professional Negro Leagues of the pre-integration area). Willie Wells was the most famous of the Senators, and you’ll probably see his portrait around town, especially if you go looking for the art of painter/musician Tim Kerr. Other notable players of the time who graced the field were Satchel Paige, Smokey Joe Williams, Willie Mays, and Buck O’Neil. It was also the home ballpark of Samuel Huston College before it combined with Tillotson College in 1952, and the Huston-Tillotson University Rams continue to play there. The field recently received some upgrades, including a mosaic mural that’s a tribute to the many great players of its past.
2816 E. 12th St.
Austin, TX 78702

15. Deep Eddy Park and Pool

401 Deep Eddy Ave, Austin, TX 78703
We have a whole separate guide map for awesome swimming spots around town, but we're plucking Deep Eddy from the bunch to symbolize all of them here. That's partly because it's the oldest public spring-fed pool in the state and partly because it's just so darned lovely. Deep Eddy Pool is just a little west of Barton Springs, just as historic, fed by the same spring, and much more peaceful.
401 Deep Eddy Ave
Austin, TX 78703

16. Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas

1120 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78704
Originally located in a tiny downtown theater, the Alamo Drafthouse invented the arthouse-fanboy-regular-movie-special-screenings-and-events-plus-food-and-drink mix, not to mention the business model for franchising what it does. And it still does it better than anyone else.

A post shared by Jeremy (@jgflowers88) on

1120 S Lamar Blvd
Austin, TX 78704

17. Paramount Theatre

713 Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78701
Opened in 1915, the historic Congress Avenue theater has long been a place for Austinites to see top-notch live performances of all kinds, as well as to marvel at its lovely, lovingly restored historic interior. It's also a great place to see films, especially in the summertime, when the amply air-conditioned theater screens a series of classics.
713 Congress Ave
Austin, TX 78701

18. 'Dance of the Cosmos' at Patterson Park

4200 Brookview Rd., Austin, TX 78722
Dance of the Cosmos, an interactive installation by prolific local artist Jennifer Chenowith, was inspired by “Robert Putchik’s Theory of Emotions and a Tibetan lotus mandala,” according to the artist’s statement. She also drew on her experience with her own XYZ Atlas, a Hedonic Map of Austin, interactive public art about our collective experiences. The sculpture has a footprint of 20 feet and is 8 feet tall when the flower is closed (the petals open, which is really cool, too). Originally a temporary installation, it received a permanent home at Patterson Park in May.

A post shared by XYZ atlas (@xyzatlas) on

4200 Brookview Rd.
Austin, TX 78722

19. Austin Toy Museum

1108 Cesar Chavez, Austin, TX 78702
A place to ogle vintage toys, action figures, retro toys, classic toys, or console video games of one's (or someone else's) childhood past or present. Though seemingly directed at fanboys/girls, the museum is in fact focused on childhood education and has a lot of hands-on activities (like vintage video games) as well as exhibits.
1108 Cesar Chavez
Austin, TX 78702

20. Forever Bicycles at Waller Delta/Waller Creek Boathouse

74 Trinity St, Austin, TX 78701
In June 2017, two works by internationally renowned artist and activist Ai WeiWei were installed on Austin's landscape. One is Iron Tree, which joins sculptures at The Contemporary—Laguna Gloria. The other is Forever Bicycles, a grand optical illusion that currently sits at the meeting point of the ever-evolving Waller Creek trail and the river. They are both in town for roughly a year and a half.

A post shared by Rachel Kay (@rachelkayapplebox) on

74 Trinity St
Austin, TX 78701

21. Green & White Grocery

1201 E 7th St, Austin, TX 78702
Green & White grocery has served as a welcoming center and shop for the spiritually inclined or cosmically curious from its East Austin neighborhood and elsewhere for decades. Curandero John Cazares, who owns and runs the shop, is helpful and straightforward, and he stocks items many find essential for conducting their spiritual business, including votive candles, herbs, icons, and much more from many traditions including Santeria, vodun, and Christianity, with some New Age-ism in the mix. The shop sometimes hosts drummers, and it has an amazing shop dog/wolfhound as well as a classic Federico mural on the side.

A post shared by @laurette33 on

1201 E 7th St
Austin, TX 78702

22. George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center

1165 Angelina St, Austin, TX 78702
The Carver is both Austin's first library and an emblem of its segregated past, and it’s especially significant on Juneteenth. It has for years had a permanent exhibit on the subject (as well as many other rotating shows), and recently became home to a moving outdoor sculpture and monument on the 150th anniversary of that important day.

A post shared by Rosalind L Bryant (@rozdiva) on

1165 Angelina St
Austin, TX 78702

23. Brush Square Museums

Neches and E 4th, Austin, TX 78701
The small downtown civic space called Brush Square is also the location of three historic museums, all must-sees for Austin aficionados. The Joseph and Susanna Dickinson Hannig Museum is located in the former home of Dickinson, the only Anglo survivor of the Battle of the Alamo. The O. Henry Museum looks at the life of William Sidney Porter, who changed his pen name after a stint in prison and became one of the country's most well-known short-story writers (and the namesake of a biannual "Pun-Off" that has become quite popular). The Austin Fire Museum is quite cute and operates out of a still-functional firehouse (Austin's busiest), built in 1938.
Neches and E 4th
Austin, TX 78701

24. ColdTowne Theater

4803 Airport Blvd, Austin, TX 78751
Established by two Katrina evacuees from New Orleans in 2005, ColdTowne has become a local comedy institution and earned its rep for great improv (as well as a school that offers Chicago-style training), every night of the week.
4803 Airport Blvd
Austin, TX 78751

25. Pinballz Arcade

8940 Research Blvd Ste 100, Austin, TX 78758
If overstimulation and marathon game-playing are your thing, Pinballz Arcade is probably your game. It's full of pinball machines, of course, as well as old-school video games and a bunch of other fun stuff. This is the original location, and it's still a local fave.

A post shared by Chloe DeRouen (@chloederouen) on

8940 Research Blvd Ste 100
Austin, TX 78758

26. Carousel Lounge

1110 E 52nd St, Austin, TX 78723
Carousel Lounge Carousel Lounge/Facebook
Oh, how we love The Carousel, with its ... carousel. And its circus theme in general, including murals and a sort of makeshift big top. And its live music, warm beer, long history, and perfectly seedy-but-keeping-it-together mien. Just the thing for sultry nights and summer day drinking.
1110 E 52nd St
Austin, TX 78723