Recs for quirky things to do in Austin Texas
March 12, 2017 12:36 PM   Subscribe

Hi! I'm gonna be in Austin, TX in mid-April and I was looking for some quirky things to do! Like, really quirky. More details inside.

I will be in the Travis Heights area, but also can travel. So I am a big fan of bookstores. Used or new, I like them. I like in particular bookstores that are "curated", that is, small boutique bookstores that seem like every book was chosen specially.

I also like "theme bars", that is, bars that are unusual in some particular way. For instance, in Toronto, we have board game bars, and cat cafes, a ping-pong bar, and I once visited a Twin Peaks bar in Vancouver. Stuff like that.

I am also interested in very weird things. Like, I once visited a tapas place where their main claim to fame was that in their bathroom, there was a big red button on the wall and if you pressed it, the lights would go off and a spotlight would shine on the mirrorball in a corner and disco music would blare, and it would last like 10 seconds. Or if Austin has an unusual museum.

I am also a huge videogame fan. I hear that Austin has a large videogame developer workforce, but I am not a developer myself. Just someone who likes to play games. But I was wondering if there was any kind of videogame thing that is accessible to the public in Austin.

I also like hipster activities. For instance, in Montreal we have an axe-throwing facility, where 20something hipsters go to throw axes at targets. I also like strange events - like live readings of musicals, or where a band live-improvs the score for a movie that plays on the wall, or strip karaoke, or hipster jello-wrestling for prizes. I like activities with a twist. Does Austin have weird things like that?

Thanks in advance!
posted by Sully to Travel & Transportation around Austin, TX (12 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
There's Lala's Christmas Bar, though it's under new ownership.
posted by dysh at 12:42 PM on March 12, 2017 [2 favorites]

Chicken shit bingo at Ginny's Little Longhorn is a pretty classic activity.

A reservation at Midnight Cowboy is fun.

If you also like arcade games then Pinballz is a good place to spend some money.
posted by Saminal at 1:22 PM on March 12, 2017 [3 favorites]

Some friends-of-friends of mine are involved with an independent video game developer collective Juegos Rancheros. Their events are usually open to the public.

My favorite patio in Austin is at Spiderhouse Cafe (not themed, per se, but quirky, and with a great poetry slam on Tuesday nights).

You can do knife or axe-throwing lessons at Knife Sharpist.

Eeyore's Birthday is a festival every April and is OG Austin quirky, but may be after you leave.

And Western dancing at the Broken Spoke. Duh.
posted by pantarei70 at 1:25 PM on March 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

Fifth Dimension books is a like a food truck but full of sci-fi/fantasy books. I picked up a paperback signed by the author (Modesitt) for $10. It's a little close in there but a wide selection and the staff is happy to talk shop and recommend things.

Catch them by Quack's bakery on an early evening and you can wander around a park or enjoy various treats from nearby businesses: gelato, champagne, fancy cheese, coffee, pastry etc. I'm sure most places they park are cool but that's the only place I've caught them.

There's a cat cafe (Blue Cat) but I've never been so can't comment.
posted by SaltySalticid at 1:44 PM on March 12, 2017

The Museum of the Weird is just what it sounds like. It has olde-timey carnivaleque artifacts, with a live performance...
posted by ambilevous at 1:47 PM on March 12, 2017

There's always the bat bridge.
posted by mudpuppie at 2:57 PM on March 12, 2017

If it's warm enough, swimming at Barton Springs was really fun for my wife and I when we went to Austin last year. It's like a giant municipal pool that's built into a natural spring. There are extremely rare salamanders in it. People do giant cannonballs and flips and stuff off a diving board. Good times.
posted by Mid at 4:13 PM on March 12, 2017

Definitely go to Barton Springs and bring goggles so you can really appreciate it! If you go in the evening during a full moon there a sort of unofficial "howl at the moon" party. Usually people just start randomly howling.

Note: I used to work there (and despised the people that came in and did this but were a day or so off from an actual full moon.)
posted by raccoon409 at 5:47 PM on March 12, 2017

Southpop and MNAE should fit the bill
posted by lalochezia at 5:56 PM on March 12, 2017

While searching for the name of a neat bookstore I wanted to recommend -- which doesn't seem to exist anymore -- I ran across this article. Probably some stuff you'd like there.
posted by liet at 10:07 PM on March 12, 2017

Vigilante is a new board game bar that has some cool designs in it. I prefer Emerald Tavern for my board gaming times because it's cheaper and more casual, but the place gets zero for design and comfort.

There's a huge improv scene in Austin. It's not that unusual, but there are several theaters in town specifically focused on improv if you're into that.

Cathedral of Junk

Depending on its schedule, you might be able to see Hamilton Pool.

Book Woman is a local feminist book shop. Monkeywrench Books is an anarchist book shop/meeting space. Monkeywrench is also located on a street that has a small pocket of cool shops and the coolest neighborhood bar, Workhorse.

White Horse is the hipster honky tonk bar where you go for whiskey and two step. Lots of hipster bars around the east sixth area.

Not reaaally videogames, but Pinballz is a slightly trashy arcade where you can BYOB.

Oh, and The Vortex/Butterfly Bar is a really great spot. There's an amazing pasta food truck there. You can catch a performance at the theater, but if you catch the right night, sometimes they have live performances and the actors will get in character and interact with the patrons. Real Austin.
posted by monologish at 7:53 AM on March 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

Do you geocache? There's a form of street lighting called Moon Towers in Austin, which aren't found anywhere else anymore.
posted by The corpse in the library at 12:00 PM on March 13, 2017 [2 favorites]

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