Travel Attractions – Best Hidden & Unusual Places In Austin, Texas
The state capital of Texas, Austin, is a diverse inland city bordering the Hill Country. Austin embraces its strangeness and is charming enough to be one of the top places in Texas to visit.
Austin has many attractions, including famous live music venues and vast urban parks. Austin offers something for everyone, whether you are looking for a night out with your friends or a place where you can spend time with your young children.
Take a look at some Austin attractions to see why it is a popular destination in Texas.
It will be surprising at the number of events that take place in Austin throughout the year. We will explore the top parks and venues in Austin to discover festivals, concerts, cultural events, as well as other activities.
Let’s take you to some of the most cool and unusual places in Austin that you will love to visit.
# 1 Museum of the Weird
The Museum of the Weird, Austin’s most unusual attraction, is known for its bright colors and mind-bending oddities. This is the only spot in the city that you can find shrunken head next to huge statues of movie monsters.
The museum is located in the Lucky Lizard curio store. The bright yellow walls are decorated in vintage-style posters. There you will find strange antiques, psychic trinkets as well as taxidermy animals and deformed skulls.
This is the type of place you can leave the building and look out into the sun, wondering what just happened.
Steve Busti, the owner, created the collection and store with his wife Veronica. This is a reflection of his lifelong fascination for the bizarre. (Steve also owned Austin’s SFanthor wax museum which closed and is now part the Weird Museum).
The Museum of the Weird delivers a dose of quirkiness to the curious on Austin’s main tourist drag.
The museum began as a gift shop, which featured odd items for sale and displays. People were keen to see the strange items sold, but Steve didn’t want them all to go. They would leave without buying anything, then return with their friends to check it out, but they wouldn’t buy anything.
# 2 Curia Arcanum
This is Austin’s curiosity shop which offers all things unusual and strange.
The shop has everything a curious wanderer needs, from original artwork to a taxidermized specimen the mythical wolpertinger. A small collection of books, mystical and other strange items spans the globe obscura can be found in the shop.
Curia Arcanum shares this property with The Glass Coffin Vampire Parlour. This makes it a double tribute to Austin’s weirder side.
Note: Hours are: Thursday – Saturday 1 p.m. to 7 p.m., Sundays 2 p.m.-6 p.m.
# 3 The Sometimes Islands
The Sometimes Islands look serene and deserted, as they are not invitingly rocky or bushy. They also don’t appeal to the less adventurous and curious. It is a sometimes peninsula that extends 3/4 mile into the southern bend in Lake Travis. At present, you can reach it by foot from Mansfield Dam Park.
They have been exposed so long that Saltcedar shrubs are starting to colonize them. There appear to be remnants of a road before the Mansfield Dam was constructed (an elegant Art Deco hydroelectric facility built in 1941).
This spot is very popular with kayakers, regardless of whether they are just above the waterline or connected to the land. The narrow channel that separates them from the land dried up in 2009, so the Sometimes Islands are not a peninsula. Locals from the past will tell you this was once cattle grazing land, before the flooding.
Although it is uncertain how long the Sometimes Islands will remain, it is likely that they will disappear below Lake Travis’s waters for a while.
# 4 Uncommon Objects
Uncommon objects has evolved over the years to become the unique emporium for transcendent junk you see before your eyes. This authentic and sometimes bizarre slice of American culture and history has been brought to you by 24 hardworking antique sellers.
Every type of random find is available at the shop, including cases of costume jewelry, wall-mounted antlers and rustic furniture, as well as boxes of old photos, signs, and pinball machines.
# 5 Congress Bridge Bats
The Austin landmark Congress Avenue Bridge is a symbol of Austin. It’s also the home to the largest bat colony, the largest in Texas. Ever seen a cloud of dark bats flitting through the air, like something from a horror film?
You have the chance to be one of them! Estimates of 1.5 million Brazilian freetail bats live in the colony. The bats come out of the bridge every night at dusk, covering the sky as they forage for food. This is one of the most unusual and spectacular tourist attractions in Texas.
These are a stunning sight, especially if they rise from the pedestrian section of the bridge. You can’t miss Congress Avenue Bridge at sunset if you want to find fun things to do around Austin.
It is a sight to behold to believe that bat migration occurs.
# 6 Barton Springs
Nothing is more beautiful than this marvel of mother nature with its unique features, traditions, and history. Barton Springs is a natural spring system in Austin’s Zilker Park. It is a valuable space for both humans and animals.
The history of the springs is long and rich. Barton Springs water comes from the Edwards Aquifer. It is approximately 100 million years old. It is made of limestone from the Cretaceous Period.
Barton Springs is composed of four springs: Parthenia, Eliza Spring and Old Mill Spring. Parthenia, which discharges an average 31 million gallons per day, is the largest. It supplies the Barton Springs Pool which is a recreational outdoor pool, built in 1920.
Human activity has been documented for at least 10,000 years. Evidence suggests that the springs were sacred to the Tonkawa Native American tribe, who would gather there to perform purification rituals.
Barton Springs is crowded with sunbathers and summer camp kids during the day, but nighttime brings a whole new world. Locals meet once a month for the Full Moon Party. Here, swimmers sing in unison under the moonlight and celebrate.
It is home to several threatened and endangered species of salamander. Two of these, the Barton Springs salamander or the Austin blind salamander can only be found within its confines.
Note: Barton Springs can be accessed all year, except Thursday. The pool is available from 5 a.m. until 10 p.m. with a small entrance fee. Lifeguards are present from 8 to 9 p.m. Both entrances are accessible for wheelchairs.
# 7 Snake Island
While most people in Austin, Texas know about Lady Bird Lake (aka Town Lake), not many people have heard of Snake Island. It is a mysterious island that lies just a few minutes from downtown at the East End.
It is located near the HI Hostel, Riverside Drive. The island is accessible only by foot or via a bridge. To get to the island, you must use a non-powered boat.
It is against the law to swim in the lake. Lady Bird Lake is home to many canoe, SUP, and kayak rentals.
The island is covered in trees and at various times has featured a tree swing, trapeze, rope swing, fire pit, and picnic tables (apparently brought by an agile and ingenious kayaker). Squiggles, a dog who lived on the island, has a grave that is well kept.
Are there snakes? You will have to see for yourself.
Note: The easiest way to get onto the island is from the east, but you can port on the west side if you wish to climb up a six-foot dirt drop.
# 8 Air Conditioned Village
This North Austin neighborhood was designed to test the new idea of home air conditioners.
Many modern-day Americans wouldn’t be capable of surviving a summer without central air conditioning systems. These systems are largely due to the existence of a small group of 20 homes in Allandale’s North Austin neighborhood.
Air conditioning was an expensive luxury in the early 20th century. It was usually only available in commercial settings. The 1950s saw a shift in attitudes when the National Association of Homebuilders introduced the idea of air conditioning equipment being used in residential settings.
Austin, Texas was chosen to host a housing development that would be the first to test this idea. These homes, along with their families, were subject to a year-long series construction method and air conditioning installation testing.
Social experiments were conducted by many of the nation’s top air conditioning builders and social scientists.
The Austin Air Conditioned Village houses still stand today in a peaceful neighborhood in North Austin. Due to Allandale’s strict policies regarding new development, very few homes have been renovated or demolished. This preserves Austin’s unique history.
Note: Air Conditioned Village homes still function as residences. Be mindful of those living there when you visit. These houses are located in the block that is formed by Twin Oaks Drive and Daugherty Street.
# 9 Mueller SunFlowers
The ferrous leaves, officially called “SunFlowers-an Electric Garden”, have been producing over 380,000 kilowatts of energy since monitoring began. This is enough to offset more that 565,000 miles of carbon dioxide emissions from an average American car.
In 2009, 15 photovoltaic panels in the shape of flowers were constructed. The panels were designed to collect sunlight during the day and return it to the city’s electricity grid. At night, they would also power complex blue LED lights.
An enormous grove of man-made flowers, designed to capture the sun’s rays.
The Mueller SunFlowers in Austin are the largest public art installation. Visitors can follow a trail through their towering stems. These industrial flowers communicate the Texas city’s uniqueness and dedication to energy conservation.
# 10 Cathedral of Junk
This unique structure is made entirely from castaways of other people in suburban Austin. This is Vince Hannemann’s majestic Cathedral of Junk.
The structure’s skeleton and decorations are made up of 60 tons of used items, including many bicycles. Hannemann was just 20 years old when the construction of the Cathedral began.
He collected junk for a while, but it soon became unnecessary because people started to provide him with unwanted goods.
The Cathedral of Junk is still in development. Hannemann thought he was done with his long-term project when he saw a tower that stood three stories high at the back of the Cathedral.
The Cathedral can be seen from the front, although it appears to be hidden. Residents of the nearby townhome complex filed complaints against the city. Officials then had to inspect the complaint.
Although several city engineers tried to locate weak points in the structure, it was ultimately found structurally sound and safe.
FAQs About Austin
What is Austin Texas most known for?
Austin is known for being the capital of live music, and The Continental Club is Austin’s live music capital. This iconic venue, located on South Congress Avenue, was opened in 1955. It has hosted legends such as Robert Plant and Wanda Jackson.
Why is Austin Texas so popular?
It is home to many great parks, rivers, bike and hiking trails, great food and great music. There is also a warm, welcoming tech culture. Austin is home to a large and highly educated workforce thanks to the University of Texas, as well as other local universities.