Although spending a day exploring Austin is the best way to soak up the sun, the Texas capital doesn’t truly come alive until the sun goes down.
Sure, when you come to Austin, one of your first thoughts is that you should hit the legendary bar scene and check out 6th Street at night. However, there are many other exciting (and less expensive) options for going out in the evening, and some of them are far more fun than getting your shoes sticky in a bar. Here are seven great things to do at night in Austin.
Showing both old and new movies, including indie and arthouse films, childhood favorites and pop culture hits, this drive-in even offers a s’mores kit for roasting over a fire pit on-site. Popular screenings include The Breakfast Club, Rent, Clueless, Ghostbusters, and Star Trek (50th anniversary edition). Space is limited, so booking ahead of time is essential.
Show off your putting game at an old Austin original. The giant Peter Pan and T-Rex at Peter Pan Mini Golf have stood guard over the intersection of Barton Springs and South Lamar since 1948 – longer than most native Austinites can remember. The company is family-owned and perfectly captures the city’s laid-back attitude. Several new fixtures were added in the last few years, and the whole course was recently renovated with bright, new colors. For adults, Peter Pan is BYOB friendly, so expect to see a few coolers being dragged along with golf clubs as groups play their nine holes.
Deep Eddy Pool takes outdoor movie night to a new level. Here, guests can watch new blockbusters and flashback favorites while swimming in the historic Deep Eddy Pool, originally built during the Great Depression.
Austinites everywhere recognized Barton Springs when it was featured in Terrence Malick’s Tree of Life (2011), and this outdoor swimming pool located on the grounds of Zilker Park is filled entirely with water from nearby natural springs, which help it maintain a refreshing average temperature of 68F–70F (20C–21C). Yet, even better is Barton Springs at night. If it’s a full moon, you can hop into this natural pool and howl at the moon until your lungs give out with your fellow Austinites. Since this event only takes place once a month, there is an entry fee and space is limited to avoid overcrowding, so plan ahead and get there early!
Just off 6th Street, Austin’s liveliest stretch of nightlife, is the very affordable Firehouse Hostel, which took over a firehouse originally built in 1885. The best part here, however, is not the hostel but the lounge. Hidden behind a bookcase, complete with a secret latch, is a speakeasy with deep colors, loud music and craft drinks. If you make it in, be ready to sit back and relax in a completely different decade.
Explore the wild and wacky at the Museum of the Weird
This wonderfully odd museum is open until midnight for your viewing pleasure or puzzlement. Featuring a small collection, which includes the supposed body of a yeti, it’s the wild and wacky stories you hear from the employees that are half the fun of going here. Another fun fact: the apartment adjacent to the museum used to be the home ofJohnny Depp. I f you love the weird and wonderful, you’ll also enjoy our guides to the most unique experiences in Austin and our tour of Austin’s weirdest homes.
Calling Austin home for more than 35 years, Esther’s Follies started out as a small bar on 6th Street, transforming into a performance space for improvisational dance, comedy and song soon thereafter. A stage was built with the back facing 6th Street, creating a unique opportunity for interaction with passers-by on the street outside. Combining music, political satire and the 6th Street public encounters, Esther’s Follies makes for a fun night out. If you love live music, be sure to check out our guide to the best live music venues in Austin as well.