BY CHRISTY WINK / PHOTOS COURTESY OF HERRONSTOCK (below) and UNSPLASH
Daytime in Austin provides no shortage of things to do and places to see, but our nightlife is just as varied and entertaining. It is, in fact, quite a large draw for our visitors both young and old.
Want to check out the newest and hippest part of the city? Head a mile over from downtown across I-35 to East Austin. This recently revitalized neighborhood is host to an active art district, as well as the hottest cafes, taquerias, food trucks, bars, and live music venues. For a slightly slower paced, more sophisticated environment, trek a couple of blocks southwesterly from Sixth Street to the Warehouse District. Spanning parts of Third, Fourth and Fifth Streets, you’ll find a vibrant yet still laid-back selection of cocktail lounges, wine bars and tap houses.
The most popular nighttime attraction for the college-aged crowds has traditionally been Sixth Street, and we would be remiss if we didn’t at least mention it. Every night is a party on Sixth, and the areas between Brazos Street and I-35 are closed to car traffic on weekend evenings and during special events. Entertainment ranges from cozy pubs to raucous nightclubs, with restaurants and food trucks peppering the area. Sixth Street is of course most well-known for its wide selection of live-music venues, and was instrumental in earning Austin the title of “Live Music Capital of the World.™”
Beyond the touristy hot spots,Austin has several other worthy hubs of evening activity. Grab great eats on Barton Springs Road after a day at the park. Find the best new band you’ve never heard of in the Red River District. Check out SoCo, an eightblock strip of South Congress, to foster your funky Austin bohemian spirit (and for some great people-watching). And don’t forget Rainey Street, a hip cluster of old houses-turned-bars and sleek high-rise condos.
Imbued as it is in Austin’s history, you’ll find live music in every corner of this city. Music has left an indelible mark on Austin’s culture—one that bleeds into the streets of the city and hearts of the people. It lives in the landmark performance venues that gave the city and the musicians a name and haunts the nighttime establishments packed throughout downtown. From legendary artists like Willie Nelson, Janis Joplin and Stevie Ray Vaughan, who got their start back in the early Austin scene, to relatively new or up-and-coming musicians, the spirit of music is a continuous presence in all aspects of life here.
(LEFT) Austin City Limits Festival is held on two consecutive weekends every fall and features more than 100 performances across eight stages.
(RIGHT) 6th Street is a spectacle on any weekend, but New Year’s Eve is truly something to
(LEFT) Austin nightlife isn’t all about amps and alcohol. The city offers plenty of places to chill at night.
The entertainment options don’t stop at music, however. Take a look at any Austin events calendar and you’ll understand when we say there is always something to do in Austin. We’ve got marathons, cook-offs, art fairs, biker rallies, pet parades and bizarre celebrations in honor of fictional characters (Eeyore’s Birthday, anyone?). Downtown Austin and all the surrounding neighborhoods are simply bursting with opportunity to take in a show, grab a drink and people watch, enjoy a fabulous dinner or just relax with friends.
Austin’s inherited namesake is supremely invoked during any one of its yearly music festivals, including South by Southwest, Austin City Limits, Austin Urban Festival, Austin Reggae Festival, and Blues on the Green. Lasting anywhere from a couple of days to two weeks, each fest draws in thousands of music makers and lovers who flock to the streets of downtown for nonstop aural stimulation and other forms of revelry. The excitement often lasts long into the night, spilling over into the numerous bars, clubs and lounges of Austin in the form of after-parties and impromptu jam sessions.
Whatever you’re here for, don’t miss the opportunity to take in some authentic Austin entertainment. Consult the calendar pages right here in this book for a listing of fun events. Our advertisers list will get you started in the hunt for a great place to listen to music, eat, drink, dance or chill. If all else fails, just step outside your door. There’s sure to be a great local entertainment spot within a stone’s throw!
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BY SHANNON/PHOTO COURTESY OF HERRONSTOCK
Sixth Street is one of the most bustling and exciting streets in Austin, known nationwide as a music and entertainment hotspot. What many people do not realize is that Sixth Street is a part of one of the most historic districts in Austin as well. Most locals would say the most significant part of this street extends from the celebrated Driskill Hotel and continues six city blocks to I-35. This portion once served as a major thoroughfare. In the mid-19th century, Sixth Street was Pecan Street, and was a stagecoach route for travelers. Edwin Waller, the city’s first mayor, originally named the downtown streets after native trees, but the modern-day downtown grid is numbered.
Before the U.S. Civil War, Sixth Street bustled with stores, saloons, and hotels. You can see evidence of this early history by visiting the Missouri House, erected in 1861 and still standing at the corner of Brazos.
Sixth Strt: and Sixth. It was Austin’s first boarding home for travelers on their way to the Wild West. Today, you can enjoy a cold beer and a round of pool. After the Civil War, the area welcomed the railroad and the area boomed – inviting fashion retail, offices, showrooms, and warehouses that catered to travelers and locals. One of these retailers, Scarbrough and Hicks department store, is responsible for erecting the Scarbrough Building in 1910, Austin’s first skyscraper at eight stories tall, and is to this day a beautiful example of the Commercial style of the early 20th century. Just down the street, stop in at IRON CACTUS to enjoy table side guacamole and an icy margarita. Take in the epic views of Sixth Street from their rooftop.
In the summertime, their rooftops misters will refresh you after a long day of exploring.Be sure to make a stop at the original PETE’S PIANO BAR. Sixth Street was the birthplace of what is now a multi-city franchise.
Approaching the three-decade mark in Austin history, it all started with a one-man show, spearheaded by Steve Green. In 1998, Pete’s introduced multiple pianos and four pianists to a single stage and history, as we know it now, was made. The dueling stage is collaborative, exciting, and a local favorite.
During the day, celebrate the history and present-day fun of Sixth Street by attending the biannual Pecan Street Festival—every weekend in May and the last wheeled in September. Soon to be in its fortieth year of celebration, the festivities represent so much of what makes Austin unforgettable: multiple stages for live music, art and dance performances, craft booths populated with local artisans and street food vendors, and lots of fun for the kids at the petting zoo.
There are countless hidden treasures along this wonderful corridor that make up the heart of Austin!
Business is Brewing: The Austin Craft Beer Scene
by CHRISTY WINK/PHOTO COURTESY OF TOM QUANDT ON UNSPLASH
The rabid locavore culture of Austin has glommed on to the city’s rapidly expanding craft beer scene, and droves of thirsty beer drinkers seek out the breweries, brewpubs and craft beer bars that pepper the city and surrounding areas. Brewers are taking full advantage of this beer renaissance, blending their skill and knowledge with their creativity and attention to quality on a quest to deliver fresh, ever-evolving ale incarnations to the eager masses.
Craft beer has become a staple across the country and can be found in just about every neighborhood or town in Austin and the Hill Country. We’ve been leading the game in growing the Texas craft beer market, with no less than 60 existing micro-breweries and brewpubs in current operation and dozens more slated to open within the next 12 months.
Our breweries range from nano-breweries, which produce as little as 500 barrels in a year and sell everything they make either in their own tasting rooms or to bars no more than a couple miles from their facilities, to full-scale production breweries that showcase their tall, gleaming fermentation tanks and slickly designed tasting rooms to starry-eyed beer enthusiasts. No matter the size, they all have one thing in common: a love for and drive to produce good beer.
In Texas, the distinction between brewery and brewpub has several implications to visitors. Breweries almost always have tasting rooms in which you can purchase a glass of beer to drink on premise, but you can’t purchase any beer to go. And unless the brewery has arranged for a guest food truck to sell in their parking lot, they won’t offer food. Brewpubs have smaller brewing operations (Texas law caps the number of barrels a brewpub can produce in a year) and will often include a food offering of some kind. Brewpubs can sell not only their own beer both to go and on premise, but also outside brands of beer.
The beer bar, while in and of itself is not a new concept, has taken on new life with the emergence of the craft industry. Austin has a large handful of bars dedicated 100% to selling craft beer, with as few as 10 to as many as 150 draft selections. While most of these bars offer products from across the U.S., the recent surge in Texas craft has inspired a few establishments to offer only those brews made in the Lone Star State. If you find yourself in the far North Austin area, be sure to check out THE DIG PUB in Cedar Park. The Dig features 36 carefully selected taps of some of the best craft brews found in Texas and the U.S., as well as a selection of boutique wines by the glass and a pub-inspired food menu.
If you’re spending time in Austin, be sure to carve out a few moments to indulge in the local beer scene. Visit www.craftbeeraustin.com or www.austinbeerguide.com for comprehensive listings in the Austin and surrounding areas. If you happen to visit a craft-beer-friendly establishment, be on the lookout near the front door for a free print copy of the latest edition of the Austin Beer Guide. Whatever you do, don’t miss a chance to try some of Austin’s most refreshing libations!