From haunted saloons and bizarre museums to junk cathedrals and a strange take on the game of bingo, these attractions help prove that Texas’s lovable capital is just as quirky as the “Keep Austin Weird” slogan makes them seem. Get ready to get weird in Austin!
Little Longhorn Saloon, a modest, steeple-topped shack, is your first stop on your trip across weird Austin. This totally authentic drinkery is one of the few remaining five-star dive bars in the country, and it boasts live music (this is Austin, after all) and a menu of beer, and not much else. If that’s not weird enough for you, then at least stop by for a game of “Chicken Shit Bingo”, which involves letting a chicken loose and waiting to see which number it… well, you know, poops on. Don’t worry, it sounds a little less crazy after a few beers. People come from around the world to experience this insanely quirky local phenomenon. For just $2 you get a ticket with a bingo number, and then Ginny let’s the chicken loose on and the crowd cheers it on waiting for it to poo on a number.
Mueller Sunflowers, a public art installation that is powered by the sun, is an enchanting spot worth checking out, even in a city filled with offbeat art. The flowers, created by Mags Harries and Lajos Héder, feature a powerful combination of energy and sustainability… and they’re just as pretty as they are eco-friendly. The flowers are positioned along a hiking trail, so you can stroll among the metal giants.
The Museum of Natural and Artificial Ephemerata offers fleeting viewings of impermanent collections. The museum has five separate exhibitions dedicated to things such as Celebrities, Naturalia & Artificialia, Urban Phantasmagoria, Snow Globes, and Sleep. The museum allows the public to share both objects and stories, and showcases the importance of collecting. It’s one of the last in-home, family-run museums in the United States. The entrance fee is a voluntary monetary donation; it’s suggested that you contribute anywhere from a dime to $4.00, and the experience is well worth the price.
A down-home, Austin-style version of Ripley’s Believe It or Not, the Museum of the Weird is a great way to spend a rainy afternoon. The museum hosts a variety of old-school sideshows, including a sword swallower, a guy who hammers a nail into his nose, and even a performer who puts his hand in a bear trap! The gift shop is the perfect place to pick up a “Keep Austin Weird” shirt, or simply snap a photo with their giant King Kong statue as a souvenir.
Known as the “mecca of Austin street art,” the HOPE Outdoor Gallery is a must-see in the Texas capital. It’s the only true paint park in the United States, providing a space for muralists, street artists, and community groups to create large-scale artwork and encouraging positive messages. It’s a bit of a hike to climb to the top of the installation, but we can guarantee the view is worth it. To legally enter the park and obtain a paint pass, you have to fill out a brief online application. And don’t forget your spray paint!
The Mean-Eyed Cat Bar is another great stop for music and beer lovers. It’s dedicated to the late, great Johnny Cash, and got its name from his song “Mean Eyed Cat.” The bar features loads of Cash memorabilia, but it boasts an assortment of chainsaws and blades, too: The building was originally the home of a chainsaw repair shop, and the décor pays tribute to its unusual past.
Since 2001, the TXRD Lonestar Rollergirls have been avid proponents of the “Keep Austin Weird” mentality. The Rollergirls were founded by four free-wheelin’ (pun intended) ladies who wanted to shake up the sport of roller derby. The league now consists of a group of women ages 21 to 45, with enough members to make up five teams. Tickets to watch the Rollergirls compete are $15.00 (kids under 12 get in free) and can be purchased on their website. Their adrenaline-pumping events usually take place once a month, but in summertime, there are events twice a month.
Invisible from the street, the Cathedral of Junk is one of Austin’s greatest oddities. Located on a quiet suburban street, the cathedral was founded in 1988 and is now a testament to both creativity and junk. From CD string lights to rooms dedicated to a specific color to the very structure itself, which is three stories and composed entirely of junk, there is something to see in every direction. You must make a reservation ahead of time to visit the cathedral, and be sure to bring the suggested donation of $10.00 to support the artist’s growth.
From “Chicken Shit Bingo” to strange museums and art displays, it’s not hard to add a touch of weird to (or get full-on bizarre on) your next trip to the Lone Star State’s capital!
The secret is out. Everyone who visits Austin leaves with something great to say. They can’t stop talking about our legendary live music, burgeoning restaurant scene and unique culture. And a list of other things that you have to experience for yourself to truly understand what makes Austin so Austin.