Note: This list is part of a much bigger collection I’ve put together of 101+ Weird and Unique Things To Do In Austin. (Bonus: there’s a google map on that page showing where everything is. It’s really helpful if you are just playing it all by ear.)
You can do most of these Austin activities any time of year. This list is not necessarily in order from best to least best, though I do strongly recommend the first one. (But I’m biased since that’s my own creation. 🙂 )
If you enjoy this list see the end of this post for links to my many other lists things to do in Austin.
East Austin. Contact for location.
It’s hard to explain the Eureka Room but its mission of “charming absurdity” might give you some idea. This immersive experience room might be the weirdest thing in Austin. What happens there? Well, you interact with other people in strange ways inside an 8×8 room filled with 14,000 LEDs. There’s various programs on the menu that you can choose from that last 10 to 20 minutes. Since much of the fun relies on surprises, descriptions are limited to avoid spoilers.
Unlike many immersive experiences, this is not a passive endeavor for visitors. If you like to participate and can embrace some akwardness and a sense of absurdist play, this is for you. If you prefer predictable experiences that you can just watch passively, this is probably not for you.
1808 Singleton Ave
This funky house museum shows of a collection of.. well.. a little of everything. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. And the parts include many strange and curious objects. The mission of the museum is “to preserve endangered modes of collection, offer a venue where the public can share objects and their stories, and contemplate diverse processes of collecting.”
412 E 6th St
It might not look like much from the street, but this place is packed with weird oddities, ghastly things in jars, and wondrous items like The Fiji Mermaid Plus a wax museum and many other surprises. I was very surprised at the collection and the detail of this museum. If this is your sort of thing, I definitely recommend checking it out.
727 E Dean Keeton St
Who would have thought lawyers could be so interesting? The UT Law Library had over 1000 pieces of legal-related art donated to them by Elton M. Hyder, Jr. And there’s some really weird stuff in there. Many of these artifacts are scattered around the Law Library’s many bookshelves and study carrels, making it sort of a treasure hunt for weird lawyer stuff. Be warned: this is a serious library and is pin-drop quiet. If you’re not in the mood to keep your mouth shut, don’t go here – they know how to sue.
300 W 21st St
The main gallery of the HRC isn’t terribly big, but it does contain the world’s first photograph and a Gutenberg bible. Not terribly weird, I know. But the good stuff is upstairs. They have a vast collection of manuscripts, movie costumes and props, and other curious items including Tarot Cards made by Aleister Crowley, and Edgar Allan Poe’s writing desk.
And many, many of the items you can request to see – and often touch – for yourself. (There’s a bit of a registration and training process, but it doesn’t take long).
According to their website, “The collections feature holdings in theatre, dance, music, opera, and popular entertainments, such as the circus, vaudeville, pantomime, minstrel shows, puppetry, and magic. From drafts and promptbooks to designs and box office receipts, the materials in the collection emphasize the creative process from concept and staging to publication and revival.”
#6 Sparky Park
3701 Grooms St
Sparky Park was created on the site of a former City of Austin electrical substation. There’s some cool electrical-themed art there in a small grotto and a renovated building that is used for events. It’s a so-called “pocket park”, which means it’s pretty small and you can see it all in about 10 minutes. It’s charming and interesting though, so if you’re in the neighborhood it’s definitely worth checking out.
#7 Fairy Alley
Next to 1507, Treadwell St
Tucked into an Alley in south Austin, is a tiny fairy land enchantingly detailed and lovingly maintained and updated.
See website for locations.
This somewhat secret society of “urban wanderers and wonderers, artists, philosophers, scientists, nut-gatherers, tree-climbers, and others” is always on the search for strange trees. They have a wonderful map of some of these trees that makes a nice bike ride, long walk, or easy drive.
4422 Lareina Dr
Probably Austin’s most famous weird location, this towering building/pile of junk is explorable and infinitely instagrammable. Plan ahead, though: You will be turned away without a reservation. I recommend you reserve days in advance.
#10 Casa Neverlandia
305 W Milton St
This amazing art house in south Austin features many funky rooms and is a fantastic place to explore on a guided tour. There’s multiple firepoles for getting around. Ok, well. Getting down. Paid tours by reservation only.
1506 East Side Dr
Stefanie DiStefano’s art is found all over Austin (and also all over Smithville, where she moved to from Austin years ago). Larry Monroe was a beloved Austin DJ and is honored with this wonderful memorial. You can also see Stefanie’s work in Patterson Park, near the pool.
3600 Lyons Rd
This is not really a museum, per se, but a multi-disciplinary art space. More often than not that means live performances but they also hold art shows and other events. The performances are wildly popular in certain artistic circles, but don’t expect things like air conditioning and or other high-brow comforts from this edgy venue. The only way to get their schedule is to be on their mailing list.
#13 Collection Rert
2608 Rogers Ave Unit B
An art space in a private residence with frequent shows both inside and in the large backyard. Show openings typically have live music and other interesting and quirky performances. It’s both a very down-to-earth and far out intimate art venue “dedicated to creating uncommon cultural experiences and providing opportunities for artists to experiment”
710 W Cesar Chavez St
On the outside balcony on the roof of the library there is a (thankfully locked) door that opens into the building and directly over a three-story drop into the atrium. But don’t just go for the death door – the library is an interesting place to explore and hang out. The roof feels more like a club than a place for bookworms and there’s many other great places to read as well.
950 Springdale Rd
This free park is filled with sculptures large and small created by various artists. It’s not a huge place and you could see in all in 15 minutes. Or you could hang out and have a curious picnic as part of a Springdale Rd crawl – there’s breweries and other interesting things on this mishmashed semi-arty street.
#16 Kempelen’s Owls
600 W 2nd St
A stone’s throw from the library, these giant owl statues have glowing eyes looking down on you from 20 feet in the air. They will turn their heads – if you can discover how to trigger them.
1604 Fortview Rd
A geodesic dome covered with a fake rock surface is the home for this fish and pond store. I lived in Austin for 20 years and hadn’t heard of this place. Unless you live in the neighborhood you probably haven’t either.
602 Copeland St
This curious and unusual store/museum/carotmancery specializes in rare and strange items, the occult, cartomancy and dark arts oddities. The couple that owns it holds events and are also in a band.
Student Activities Center, 2201 Speedway
Artist James Turrell’s works explore light, color, and perspective. The University of Texas has one of his works on the roof of the student center. It’s basically a dome you sit inside. At the top is an oculus (a hole) that you can see the sky. At dusk they do showings where you sit inside the dome as different colored lights appear and make the changing color of the sky appear to change even more. I’ve never been here when it rains, but it probably sucks.
While not in Austin, you might want to check out Turrell’s other works, including the not-quite-ready Roden Crater, a huge former volcano he’s hollowed out. If you haven’t heard about it yet, you will.
#20 Terry Parks’ Art
608 San Gabriel Ranch Rd, Liberty Hill, TX
I met Terry Parks (aka Terry Tunes) at an Austin Chronicle “Best of Austin” party. He’s what might be called a “yardist” and makes amazing sculpture collages out in Liberty Hill. Both he and his art are weird, colorful, and wonderfully friendly. You can see his art by appointment. Contact details and more can be found here.
#21 Smut Putt Heaven
509 Gate Tree Lane
Scott Stevens is a yardist extraordinaire. His yard has a few different themes: baby doll heads, some colorful snake type creations, and Alice Cooper. Scott is a huge Alice Cooper fan. You can contact him here to see if you can visit.
4117 Commercial Center Dr
This museum and private collection is open two days each month. This isn’t just “classic cars”, there’s all kinds of strange and unusual vehicles here plus a few famous ones from the movies.
Three locations. See website.
There’s drive-in movie theaters and then there is the Blue Starlight. This theater is one-of-a-kind because it has been lovingly homemade by its founder, Josh Frank. “Mini” is not a joke. The original version had room for about six cars and three of them had their view obstructed by the other four. It’s way better now and you can bring chairs and bikes to enjoy the films as well. Much of the speakers and operational equipment has been salvaged from theaters of yesteryear, which gives it a fantastic vintage feel. Due to demand caused by the pandemic they have quickly expanded to multiple locations.
#24 Weird Wednesdays
1120 S Lamar Blvd
According to its inventor, The Alamo Drafthouse movie theater, Weird Wednesday is a “weekly celebration of genre movies that are too outrageous for prime time. This is a one-way ticket to the fringes of the unknown, where imagination and ambition dance on the graves of logic and reality.” I don’t think I could say it much better than that. I’ve got a few times and seen some insanely bad and bizarre stuff. You never know what they’re going to find.
#25 Me Mer Mo
1500 E. 6th Street (Volstead Lounge)
Austin’s long-time weekly show for indescribable musical weirdness and related performance art. You are absolutely guaranteed to see some really strange and unique stuff at Me Mer Mo Monday.
The first place in Austin to do this (and perhaps the first place anywhere, but I doubt it) was Ginny’s Little Longhorn, now called The Little Longhorn Saloon. They put a sheet of plywood on a pool table, marked off a bunch of numbered squares, covered in a mesh cage of chicken wire to keep the star attraction from flying out and pooping all over the bar. Players (gamblers, really, but since gambling isn’t legal in Texas I’m calling them “players”) purchase numbered tickets for a couple bucks each. Then the chicken is placed onto the board and fed a generous amounts of chicken feed. For the next 1-20 minutes eager tourists stare at the chickens arsehole hoping to see the winning excrement appear and drop on their number.
There’s loads of murals, mosaics, and other street art around town. They could easily fill up their own site. The most famous and oldest ones are Jeremiah the Frog and I Love You So Much, but there’s loads more I’ve shared a good link above, but you might want to google around – they change often!
Most “Weird Austin” sites mention the Mueller Sunflowers. Few mention the Mueller Spider and Dragon, and none that I know of mention the Mueller Octopus. Mueller is a large neighborhood filled with interesting things to see. It’s a decent walk between these things or a nice bike ride or a trivial car ride.
501-531 Campbell St.
Possibly the best marquee in the whole world, this sign is updated daily with humorous plays on words and puns. There’s not much to do there but you can take your photo by it. Oh wait! They have a Tex-Mex restaurant, too. Almost forgot about the whole reason the sign is there.
Want more weird, unique, and unusual stuff to do in Austin?
There was too much to write about on one page so split it up into related categories to help you find what you need faster:
- Weird Austin Events. These are events or things that happen sporadically. Plan ahead!
- Weird / Unique Austin Bars and Restaurants.
- Unique Austin Things To Do. Unique to Austin but not necessarily weird.
- Unusual Austin Things To Do. Unusual but not unique to Austin and really not that weird (but still cool).
- Overrated / Closed / Illegal Austin Attractions.
Too many lists for you? See a summary of all 101+ Austin Things To Do here!