1. Rainey Street: From Dusk till Dawn

Rainey Street bustles with substantial energy as the sun sinks below the horizon, the perfect blend of colorful liveliness and comforting ambiance drawing crowds from far and wide. With its array of bars and food trucks, it’s a must-visit for a laid-back night out in Austin.

  • Banger’s Sausage House & Beer Garden: This extraordinary beer garden and sausage house has built a reputation for its staggering list of over 100 brews on draft and an impressive lineup of house-made sausages. On a busy night, the place radiates with a contagious energy that has visitors laughing, chatting, and clanking their beers together in a toasty Austin evening. Their Sunday Brunch is a must-try, with the ‘Manmosa’ being a crowd favorite – a full bottle of champagne with a splash of freshly squeezed orange juice, served in a sizeable stein. That’s Banger’s for you, an Austin staple that redefines beer garden culture.

  • Craft Pride: Dedicated exclusively to Texan craft beers, Craft Pride is a mecca for beer lovers, boasting a selection of over 50 Texas brews and an impressive display of wooden taps. Their cozy interior and charming patio contribute to the perfect atmosphere where you can while away the hours with good beer and even better company. They host exclusive events including beer releases and ‘meet the brewer’ nights, setting your evening abuzz with warmth and camaraderie.

  • The Alibi: If you’ve got a thing for finely crafted cocktails, then The Alibi is your spot. It’s an intimate lounge bar that excels in curated artisanal drinks and an inviting ambience. With a cocktail list featuring anything from delectable florals to sultry smoky flavors, it promises an immersive journey for your taste buds. Enjoy their cool discounts during the happy hour and get into the rhythm of a mesmerizing Texas night.

Rainey Street also hosts some of Austin’s best food trucks, which means you can hop from one gastronomic delight to another, adding to the charm of your night out.

2. Groove on Sixth Street

Next, we move towards the heart of Austin’s nightlife – Sixth Street, humming with a vibrant mix of sounds and lights. From historic blues clubs to trendy new bars, this street will throb in harmony with your heartbeat!

  • Maggie Mae’s: This multilevel sports bar and live music venue flaunts an airy rooftop bar, a Gibson Guitar Lounge, and old-world English pub vibes. The wide selection of beers on tap, scrumptious pub grub, and live events hosted through the week make it a reliable stop for a good time. Maggie Mae’s isn’t just a bar, it’s an essential piece of Austin’s rich pub history, and your ideal hangout to soak in the city’s electric vibes.

  • Pete’s Dueling Piano Bar: Experience the high-energy, clap-along, song-request supportive atmosphere at Pete’s. At this unique piano bar, talented musicians duel on the ivories, creating an infectious enthusiasm in the crowd. The camaraderie and contagious fun that blanket the place are unlike any other, making for an exciting girls’ night out or a wild celebration.

  • Esther’s Follies: For more than four decades, Esther’s Follies has been serving Austin a blend of music, magic, and comedy injected with a generous serving of political satire. With a rotating schedule brimming with variety shows, musical acts, and magic tricks that warrant gasps from the audience, it’s an arena of delightful entertainment you can’t afford to miss!

3. South Congress Avenue: Unwind and Relax

When you’re seeking a relaxing, music-filled night, the South Congress Avenue beckons. This legendary Austin avenue interweaves iconic music venues, relaxed bars, and trendy boutiques in its vibrant tapestry.

  • Continental Club: Known as “the granddaddy of Austin music venues”, the Continental Club offers a nightly retreat into the world of live music that spans blues, country, rockabilly, swing and more. The glowing neon sign of this club is a beacon beckoning music lovers from all corners of the city.

  • Ego’s Lounge: This dive bar offers strong drinks, a well-curated selection of local drafts and arguably the most entertaining karaoke in town. Ego’s may take a bit of finding – it’s tucked away beneath a parking garage – but once you’re in, the lively atmosphere and cold beer make the hunt worth your while.

  • The Austin Motel: A stop at the funky poolside bar of the Austin Motel will ease you into the chill Austin night. The cocktail menu is extensive and well crafted, and sipping on one while lounging by the pool under the twinkling Austin sky is an experience you just shouldn’t miss.

4. Get Classy on West Sixth Street

West Sixth Street introduces a touch of elegance to Austin’s nightlife scene. With its higher-end clubs and trendy bars, it’s the place to go for a luxurious night on the town.

  • Ranch 616: This Tex-Mex and Southwest cuisine serving restaurant and bar, Ranch 616, creates a perfectly casual cowboy chic aesthetic, shining with quirky decorations and a lively spirit. The bartenders mix whimsical, desert-themed cocktails that taste as spectacular as they look.

  • Star Bar: This downtown bar exemplifies Austin’s laid-back attitude with its eclectic beer selection and walls adorned with sports memorabilia. The lounge-type setting inside is matched by their outdoor patio, complete with a mini bar and weekly events.

  • Key Bar: A prime dance-centric destination, Key Bar boasts a groovy ambiance accentuated by deep house and DJ-spun tunes. Sip on a variety of cocktails from the well-rounded menu, groove to the beats, and get ready to dance the night away.

5. East Austin’s Nightlife: Dive Deep

East Austin, brimming with character and flavorsome cuisine served at trendy restaurants, is the alternative soul of Austin. It’s a vibrant, evolving neighborhood that houses some of Austin’s best nightlife spots.

  • Whisler’s: This rustic, two-story bar is a beacon for craft cocktail lovers. There’s something for everybody on their cocktail menu, from the mezcal lovers to the old-fashioned purists. Whisler’s exclusive, upstairs mezcal tasting room, Mezcaleria Tobalá, is a must-visit.

  • The White Horse: This honky-tonk promises a fantastic time with live Texan music, room for dancing, and an audience that loves to have a good time. From whiskey drinker to two-step dancer, The White Horse pulls in all kinds of Austinites and tourists alike.

  • Stay Gold: Stay Gold personifies the charm of East Austin with a cozy interior, inviting patio, and a drink list full of unique cocktails. Whether you want to sip your drink inside enjoying the live music or outside under the beautiful string lights, you’re in for a lovely night here.

6. Red River Cultural District: Oasis of Music

The Red River Cultural District offers an immersive dive into Austin’s vaunted live music scene. With venues accommodating diverse musical tastes, it’s the heart of Austin’s vibrant live music culture.

  • Cheer Up Charlies: This queer-friendly, artsy venue is perfect for those looking for an industrial-chic aesthetic, iconic bands, and different nightly theme parties. There’s always something exciting happening at Cheer Up Charlies, be it indie performances, dance parties, or DJ sets.

  • Mohawk: This multi-level indoor-outdoor venue draws an eclectic crowd with its variety of music genre spread from indie rock to hip-hop. Mohawk sits proudly on the motto of “all are welcome,” providing all who enter with its generous offerings of music, culture, and counterculture.

  • The Side Bar: Austin’s punk rock haven, Side Bar, offers stiff drinks, a grungy setting, and blasting punk rock music. Known for its cheap cover and friendly bartenders, it’s a must-visit for fans of the genre.

7. Warehouse District: Up the Ante

The Warehouse District presents an upscale night filled with sophisticated clubs, impressive bars, and swank lounges.

  • Oilcan Harry’s: This legendary gay club and bar, in operation for over 30 years, remains a centerpiece of Austin’s LGBTQ+ nightlife. With drag shows, DJ nights, and high-energy dance parties, it’s a place where everyone can let their hair down and paint the town red.

  • Antone’s Nightclub: Known as the ‘Home of the Blues,’ Antone’s is an Austin institution that has welcomed countless blues legends since its inception in 1975. It’s a must-visit for music enthusiasts who get a thrill out of live performances.

  • The Roosevelt Room: This award-winning cocktail bar elevates your drinking experience with a long list of creative cocktails. Their extensive menu boasts 53 house cocktails, each representing a different era of cocktail history.

Austin is a city that promises a night of fun, vibrancy, and memorable adventures. With more bars per capita than anywhere else in the nation, an incredible night out in Austin is never far away! So, lace up those dancing boots, open yourself up to some Austin-style eccentricities, and get ready to explore the city’s buzzing nightlife, like a local.

Lauren Critzer

I was born in Charlottesville, Virginia and after college, I moved to San Francisco to explore new opportunities and broaden my horizons. I fell in love with the city's vibrant culture and unique atmosphere, but eventually, I moved again, this time to Austin, Texas.

As much as I loved living in different parts of the country, having a baby boy brought me back to my hometown in Charlottesville, where I now live with my husband, our little one, and two furry friends. I enjoy going to wineries, taking my pups everywhere, and spending quality time with my family.

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