Texas is full of history, but Austin, in particular, is rich in history. When you take a waltz through our streets, you’ll be able to get a glimpse of all of the years and experiences coating the avenues like a thick coat of paint. From the folks rushing west and settling in Texas, to the Native Americans’ presence, to the folks that ran from the conquered Confederate states to Texas to start fresh. Thus, it’s no surprise that Austin would be a bustling tourist attraction in its own right, especially with its food reputation known far and wide for some of the best cuisine available in the West. From natural pools to old hotels to interesting little shops, there’s plenty to see and do in Austin — even if you’re a native to the region.
The Austin Bats
Trying to find something to do on a Monday night, or are you just interested in some things that earned us the term “Weird Austin”? Come to check out our bats — we promise you won’t have to try and venture into any dark attics to glimpse the flying creatures that own the night like Dracula. According to bat experts, Austin successfully houses one of the largest communities of bats in North America. The bridge on Congress Avenue houses 1.5 million bats. They took over the bridge and made it their home after a renovation in 1980 that created plenty of little crevices that the bats use to take refuge in little mini caves. In the summer, you can see them emerging from their home beneath the bridge by the thousands at sunset to go and patrol the night for bugs and other critters. The mass exodus of little black specks sprawling across the sky is probably something you’ll never see again, so it’s worth a glance.
It’s like a walk through a museum of oddities. Let’s face it, people from the past were weird: From entirely plastic furniture to elaborate cigar cutters. There’s a whole slew of odd objects, or “uncommon” if you will, that have saturated the everyday lives of our forebearers. Where did all of these exceedingly strange little items go? To Uncommon Objects, an storefront antique market on the streets of Austin. See the weirder pieces of history put on display next to even stranger objects that both intrigue and maybe even set on edge, like the various taxidermy Texas critters that are mounted on the wall or the beautifully intricate set of European heirloom trunks. You can pick your antique poison and find plenty of thought-provoking items that will certainly enhance your Austin experience while you’re there.
The Driskill Hotel
Alongside all of the pieces of the old west you’ll find down in Austin, you can also catch a glimpse of the seedlings of the Texas grandeur we all know and love. You can spot where Texas started getting big and beautiful at the Driskill Hotel. It’s stately and elegant, but still filled with Texas culture, like the lone star flag in the room and cow skin backings on all of the barroom chairs. It’s terribly charming and stunningly beautiful with a grand entryway filled with towering pillars and huge portraits. The old west-inspired art — like huge pistols, long-horned steers with their heads mounted on the walls and bronze castings of running horses — tie the aesthetic together to turn the hotel into a time warp that can’t be missed.
The Cathedral of Junk
If you’re really looking to find something weird in Austin, you should turn your attention to the Cathedral of Junk. We promise it’s exactly as strange as it sounds. It’s not so much a pile of junk as it is a towering structure of oddities and, well, junk. We’d go so far as to wager that it’d be difficult to find anything even similar to this sculpture of junk. It’s a living sculpture that is ever-changing and constantly adapting. You can find it in the creator’s backyard, but don’t be fooled, it’s a towering mass that is a true cathedral shaped conglomerate. Within you’ll find rows of steps, lofty rooms dripping with wind chimes, and chain link fence handrails that guide up steps and concrete walls with whole glass beer bottles stacking inside. Feel free to take a seat so you can attempt to absorb all of it in some of the little benches and seats that are woven carefully into the structure.
Some might press that fried chicken and grits are Texas cuisine, but they’d be wrong. Tex Mex was born and bred within the borders of Texas and went through pains to earn its name. It’s as closely associated with Texas pride as the Lone Star and the Alamo. When you visit Austin, one of the best places to find authentic Tex Mex is at Maudie’s. Catch the great taste of our nachos and lean greens for the more health-conscious folks in your group. Austin has forged its creative character from the Texas dirt and every part of the city is bursting with flavor and culture — but not as much as our food is. If you want to experience Austin, you’ll have to try some tacos and our margaritas before you can say you’ve seen all there is in Austin.