Your Guide to Austin Nightlife
Can you hear the call of the “Live Music Capital of the World?” Visitors from all over the world come to experience a laidback blend of great food, live music, and Southern hospitality. As a rapidly expanding city with a rich history of “keeping it weird,” Austin is home to a growing number of unique nightlife experiences.
We’re here to help you map out some of the best bars in Austin from 6th Street to Rainey Street and beyond. Whether you’re ready to dance the night away or chill with a craft beer out on the patio, this city has something for everyone. Get ready to turn up the heat and discover the best nightlife in Austin, Texas.
Downtown Austin Bars
After taking in the iconic Austin skyline on a kayak tour, it’s time to get a closer look at the best downtown Austin bars and nightclubs. The area just north of Lady Bird Lake is a playground full of local favorites that are easy to explore by foot or moped à la Macklemore. Below are a few spots we think should be at the top of your list for a truly unique Austin experience.
Referred to affectionately as “Barbs” by locals, Barbarella’s is the place to cut a rug. Who doesn’t love a good theme night? Barbs regulars enjoy a weekly ‘80s dance night, emo night, and Tuezgayz. There are often two different DJs spinning inside and on the back patio — so get dancing!
Referred to by the Austin Chronicle as the “fun, gay uncle of the Red River bar and live music scene,” Cheer Up Charlie’s is inviting to all. The outdoor stage is covered by a colorful parachute and drinks are categorized by colors. Enjoy some kombucha on tap and stop by for a dance night, storytelling hour, and other fun local events.
When you’re looking to step away from the hustle of downtown, Firehouse Lounge provides a sweet escape. The speakeasy set-up is nestled behind a secret doorway disguised as a decadent bookshelf. The craft cocktails and live music and comedy on select nights are the perfect vibe for ending the night after exploring the clubs in Austin.
6th Street Bars
The first thing you need to know about Austin’s 6th Street bars is that there are two different districts: West 6th and Dirty 6th.
Dirty 6th is closed to through traffic Thursday through Sunday evenings, making it an ideal place to bar hop. During peak celebrations, such as Halloween, the street is known to be completely packed with party-goers.
West 6th, on the other hand, tends to attract a 25+ young professional crowd who prefer more curated drink selections and an upscale vibe. Below are what we consider to be the best 6th Street bars in both areas.
Can you really visit Austin without relishing a good marg and Tex-Mex? Chupacabra is located in the heart of Dirty 6th, which makes it the perfect place to gather and dine before hitting up the rest of the blocked-off street. Like the other stops along the strip of bars, there’s music for dancing and the tequila flows until 2:00 a.m.
Buford’s is one of the best Austin bars with games! The giant backyard hosts multiple screens for watching sports as well as Giant Jenga, Mario Kart, Skee-Ball, and two pool tables. Choose from over 50 beers on draft and order some famous Texas barbecue for a truly down south experience on West 6th.
Make sure to notify the planner in your group for this speciality speakeasy! A reservation is required because of the limited seating, but don’t let that stop you from enjoying a classy cocktail. This spot’s colorful history and prohibition-style decor make it a classic Dirty 6th stop to write home about.
Rainey Street Bars
Torn between staying home and going out and enjoying a good beer? Rainey Street bars provide the best of both worlds as many are homes converted into casual hangouts. Imagine walking from house party to house party complete with some of the best live music in Austin, craft beers, and cocktails. You can find our top hangouts below!
Located in the heart of Rainey Street, Icenhuauer’s boasts a modern interior with the perfect amount of backyard space for dancing! Stop in for live karaoke on Wednesdays or really any night of the week to see who’s playing. Their infused vodka, bourbon, and gin drinks are great for sippin’ on while you appreciate this Austin live music bar.
Once you’ve had your fair share of music and dancing, Lucille is a low-key spot for chilling in a hammock, playing corn hole, and exploring local Texas beers. The dim lighting and vintage decor make you feel right at home and set the scene for conversations with new friends and casual hangouts.
East Side Bars
Just east of Interstate 35, you’ll find Austin’s up-and-coming East Side. Known for hosting some of the best restaurants in the city, the East Side is full of local charm and unique ways to experience Austin’s character. Check out these East Side classics for a good time!
No matter what the current year is, you can easily step back into the ‘70s with Hotel Vegas’s retro vibes. You’ll also see locals sporting bell bottoms and aviators, especially when a Fleetwood Mac cover band is playing. Volstead is connected through a shared backyard and has a DJ spinning all the hits for a night of dancing and live music in Austin.
Local flavor is baked right into this community favorite. Easy Tiger is a bakery and beer garden with a large outdoor patio known for its tasty loaves and chill vibes. It’s a great place to either begin or end the night with one of their signature pretzels and local beer. You can even purchase a bread loaf for the road or to share with friends back home.