So, what’s the most popular Austin slogan? Keep Austin Weird. That’s right — weird. The locals are proud of their city’s funky quirkiness, and you can find the slogan on everything from T-shirts to souvenir beer steins and coffee mugs in shops all over the city.
As the state capital and the famed “Live Music Capital of the World,” the city attracts more than 25 million visitors every year, and the friendly locals are happy to share their weirdness with you. While everyone else is crowding into Barton Springs or the Blanton Museum of Art, take some time to explore some of the offbeat attractions that call this city home. There’s a reason they want to keep Austin weird. Check it out for yourself at these six unique attractions.
Meander Through the Cathedral of Junk
You know that saying, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure?” This sunique Austin attraction takes that idea very much to heart. Located in a quiet South Austin neighborhood, the Cathedral of Junk has continued to grow for more than 20 years. You can even donate your own stuff to add to the stacks of junk. Now that’s weird, right?
Light Up the Night at Mueller SunFlowers
Austin’s largest public art display is probably one of its least known attractions. That’s actually kind of odd, because you really can’t miss it. This crazy piece of public art is made up of solar panels — 15 flower-shaped solar panels to be exact. During the day, the panels soak up sunlight to have enough juice to light up the sky at night. The gorgeous blue LED lights are an amazing sight — with no drain on Austin’s power grid.
Channel Your Inner Graffiti Artist
Hang out to admire the art, or add your own tag or design when visiting the three-story graffiti art park at HOPE Outdoor Gallery. It’s the largest gallery of its kind, and you might even bump into a famous artist or celeb onsite leaving their own mark on things. Word of caution: Take your own paint, and make sure you wear gloves. There aren’t any restrooms onsite to wash your hands after finishing your masterpiece.
Take a Walk Through a Sculpture Forest
Austin has its very own forest — it’s just filled with sculptures. Weird? Sure, but it’s also fascinating. The Umlauf Sculpture Garden has a collection of more than 168 sculptures created by Charles Umlauf. It also has galleries devoted to the artists, making it the perfect spot to wander around and explore if you’re into sculptural masterpieces.
Beat the Heat
Austin really heats up during the summer, and those in-the-know head to Hamilton Pool Reserve, a gorgeous out of the way grotto-turned-swimming hole. The park is home to a waterfall, plenty of wildlife, guided tours, and nearby hiking trails.
Get a Taste of Austin
While everyone else is noshing on the giant pancakes at Magnolia Café or the brisket at Franklin Barbecue — worth the wait if you’re really craving BBQ — dodge the touristy hot spots, and head over to one of the city’s hidden dining gems:
- Torchy’s Tacos is a serious taco joint with multiple spots around the city, including the original Trailer Park and Eatery. Be sure to check out the secret menu, and don’t forget to order some queso.
- Troy is a teeny tiny eatery that serves up Turkish fare that can’t be beat. It might not be the first food you think of when you think of Austin, but all it takes is one bite of the Beef Iskender to hook you for life. Bonus points for live music on Thursdays.
- Southern Hospitality serves up true southern comfort food, complete with chicken fried steak, mac and cheese, collard greens, and corn bread. The buffet-style experience is sure to leave you stuffed, happy, and ready for a nap.
Looking for more local inspiration for your next trip? Tag us on Twitter and let us know where you’re heading next so we can share even more travel tips with you.