Antone’s is integral to Austin’s history, playing a key role in making it known as the “Live Music Capital of the World.” Though it has changed physical locations multiple times, it has consistently played host and incubator to the best R&B and blues musicians from around the country, including Stevie Ray Vaughn, James Brown, and Ray Charles. It’s now partially owned by Gary Clark Jr., an Austin-bred blues player who is known to pop in for an occasional secret set.
Antone’s, 305 E 5th St, Austin, TX, USA, +1 512 814 0361
RIO is the go-to for both an upscale night on the town and luxury day drinking and pool session. The wood-paneled 15,000-square-foot venue in downtown Austin delivers an alluring experience, with three levels of high-end ambience. Have a chat on one of the rich leather couches at the sports bar on the second floor, or you can snag a comfy spot in one of the rooftop cabanas.
RIO, 601 Rio Grande St, Austin, TX, USA, +1 512 436 8464
V Austin invites a college crowd with its Beyoncé-themed parties, $.50 well Thursdays, and touring DJs. The ambience, lights, and state-of-the-art sound system brings most occupants to the dance floor, though the patio with downtown Austin views is a nice place to cool down and sip a cocktail, too.
V Austin, 409 Colorado St B, Austin, TX, USA, +1 512 472 8882
Summit Rooftop Lounge
With its LED walls, plush rooftop area, sultry servers, and an ever-present high energy, Summit Rooftop Lounge is the perfect place to impress someone or host a bachelor party. Enjoy bottle service with amazing views of downtown Austin, dance to live DJ sets from local and touring acts, or host a luxurious private event.
Summit Rooftop Lounge, 120 W 5th St, Austin, TX, USA, +1 512 394 7347
What Barbarella lacks in swank, it makes up for in sweaty fun. It gets packed, but that’s simply an ode to how beloved this spot is, known as the best dance floor in town. Barbarella usually has two different vibes going on each night and two types of music played inside and outside. Popular nights include ’80s night on Fridays, TuesGayz, and Jimmy Eat Wednesday.
Barbarella, 615 Red River St, Austin, TX, USA, +1 512 476 7766
Kingdom brings many of the world’s top EDM DJs to this small, intimate club. It has a booming sound system and top-notch lighting, and the resident go-go dancers, the Go Go Gadgettes, top off the ambience. Recent acts who brought packed crowds to Kingdom include Hudson Mohawke, What So Not, Mat Zo, and The Gaslamp Killer.
Kingdom, 103 E. 5th Street B, Austin, TX, USA, +1 512 522 0116
Highland Lounge is Austin’s premier gay bar with an enormous dance floor, no cover, and an open air outdoor area. The club spans three levels with plenty of small spots to chill and take a break from dancing as well as bottle service options. The club hosts numerous events every week, from bingo and drag shows to Texas Hold ‘Em and Latin nights.
Highland Lounge, 404 Colorado St, Austin, TX, USA, +1 512 649 1212