20 Things Austin Texas Is Known And Famous For

Please note that some posts may contain affiliate links. We may earn a commission should you choose to purchase using these links but at absolutely no extra cost to you.

Austin Texas is known for its eclectic vibes, booming live music scene, fun-filled festivals, and being a liberal city.

Located in the heart of the “Lone Star State,” Austin, Texas is the capital of Texas. It is one of the biggest cities in Texas, as well as one of the most popular. You’ve likely heard of Austin, with its famous slogan of “Keep Austin Weird,” but there is so much more to what Austin Texas is known for. 

What Is Austin Texas Known For? 

Austin is known for being an off-beat, eclectic city with its famous slogan of “Keep Austin Weird.” It is also the Live Music Capital of the World, since there are hundreds of venues for live music and the city hosts many music festivals throughout the year. Austin is famous for being the “liberal oasis” of Texas, as a liberal center in a traditionally conservative state. 

However, Austin Texas is famous for so much more! You can take some time to appreciate the outdoors culture, as well as the artistic energy in music and visual arts, or go bar-hopping in the “Dirty Sixth” area. No matter what you decide to do, Austin has plenty to keep you entertained! 

History, Culture, And Traditions 

Live Music Capital of the World

Seriously, what is Austin known for if not music? One of many fun facts about Texas is that Austin is deservedly called the Live Music Capital of the World. Starting in 1991, Austin has been recognized as the destination for live music. 

With the highest per capita number of music venues per citizen, Austin is never lacking in live music to appreciate. In addition to this, Austin hosts South by Southwest every year. This is an extremely exciting conference and festival, which encourages creativity and celebrates the connection of technology, music, education, culture, and film. 

Austin City Limits

Another festival that Austin Texas is known for is the Austin City Limits festival. This famous concert series has been running since 1976. It is unique because it hosts artists from every musical genre on live stages. 

Over the years, Austin City Limits has hosted mega artists, such as Elvis Costello, Johnny Cash, Neil Young, and Pearl Jam. Austin PBS records and produces an Austin City Limits Program every year, broadcasting the concert to viewers.

In fact, Austin City Limits is actually the longest-running music series in American television history. Whether you want to watch it on TV or in person, you can thank Austin for this remarkable concert series. 

“Keep Austin Weird” 

If you’ve heard anything about Austin, you’ve likely heard (or seen) the phrase, “keep Austin weird,” and this phrase is certainly part of what Austin is known for!

Red Wassinech, an Austin native, first said “Keep Austin Weird” in 2000. When asked why he was donating to a local radio station, Wassinech answered “because it keeps Austin weird.” 

With that, Wassinech and his wife made bumper stickers with the slogan. As the phrase grew more popular, the Austin Independent Business Alliance took on the phrase to promote small businesses in the city. If you want to be part of the fun, you can always find a souvenir with this slogan on it. 

Silicon Hills

Austin is famous for its start-up culture more than ever, it’s even known as “Silicon Hills.” This has been the nickname for Austin’s start-up culture since the mid-1990’s. The endearing name nods to the famous start-up culture in California’s Silicon Valley, incorporating the hilly geography on Austin’s westside. 

Austin is currently home to thousands of start-ups and continues to attract entrepreneurs and their budding companies. With a strong foundation of successful Austin start-ups, the city is often considered a great place to build a company. 

The increasingly prominent startup hub is also getting popular among digital nomads due to the vibrant tech scene, coworking culture, and exciting events.

Lake Culture

From lakes to rivers, Austin and the surrounding hills are full of waterways. It is so ingrained in the local scene that lake culture is part of what Austin Texas is known for.

Lady Bird Lake, which is right in downtown, offers an escape without motorized boats – perfect for viewing the skyline, kayaking, canoeing, and paddleboarding. 

If you’re willing to get further out of town, you can explore Lake Austin or Lake Travis. Since these lakes are a little outside of Austin, they offer greater opportunities for boating, camping, and exploring. These waterways are a big attraction for locals and tourists alike, so make sure you check them out while you’re in town. 

If you’re more about beach vibes, maybe you can extend your trip and hit other parts of Texas. Texas has wonderful beaches. Check out these best beaches in Texas, if you’re looking for a little more sand and sea. 

Districts And Areas 

Zilker Park

Widely known as “Austin’s most-loved park,” Zilker Metropolitan Park is an unmissable part of downtown Austin. This 351-acre metropolitan park offers an escape from the city, right alongside the Colorado River. The park has been open since 1917 and houses many attractions catering to various interests.

The park features a botanical garden, spring-fed pool, theater, and even a sports facility! Nearby this popular green space, you can also visit the Austin Nature & Science Center. No matter what you choose to do in the area, there is plenty to explore in and around Zilker Park. 

Barton Springs

Austin Texas is famous for its waterways, lakes, and rivers, including Barton Springs! Barton Springs is a collection of four natural water springs along Barton Creek, which is located in Zilker Park.

These natural springs supply water to Barton Springs Pool, which is a popular place to spend sunny afternoons in Austin. 

If you want to feel like a local, pull out your swimsuit and sunscreen when you go by Zilker Park! This will allow you to take a quick dip in Barton Springs Pool, like a true Austin native. It’s both a relaxing and cultural experience!

Holly Neighborhood

Just east of downtown Austin, the Holly Neighborhood is regularly ranked as one of Austin’s coolest neighborhoods. This neighborhood offers lots of local coffee shops, bars, restaurants, and parks with an atmosphere that strikes somewhere between urban and suburban. 

Holly is just full of everything Austin is known for. From fun, local restaurants and unique hole-in-the-wall coffee shops, there is plenty to discover. Make sure you carve out some time to wander around this iconic district.

The “Dirty Sixth” 

Visiting the Dirty 6th takes you to the heart of Austin’s original entertainment area!

This party area in Austin is known for open doors, music pouring into the streets, and people milling everywhere. Among the many bars and music spots, you can also find some nice, more laid-back restaurants in this area. 

Whether you want to be part of the party scene or merely want to take in the atmosphere, make sure you check out the Dirty 6th zone. It’s basically a Texas classic! Since Austin is famous for live entertainment and music, this area is one of the famous landmarks in Texas. Don’t miss out on experiencing it! 

University of Texas 

If you ask a sports fan, “what is Austin Texas known for?” They’ll likely respond “the University of Texas and the Texas Longhorn football team.”

The University of Texas holds over 50,000 students, with a main focus on higher education, research, and health care. With such a big footprint in the city, it’s no wonder that the reputable University is such a big part of Austin. 

The University of Texas was founded in 1883. Visiting the historic part of campus is a lovely way to appreciate the architecture and university culture. If you’re feeling collegiate, make sure you carve out some time to wander the original campus, approximately 40 acres, and soak up the atmosphere. 

Hippie Hollow

Hippie Hollow is a section of the basin of Lake Travis, located in northwest Austin. This area is part of what Austin is known for because it is different from the rest of Texas. It is the only legally recognized clothing-optional public space in the state.

In addition to these “natural” sites, Hippie Hollow has a rocky shoreline, beautiful views, and access to Lake Travis itself. 

South Congress (SOCO)

Known as SOCO, South Congress is a popular neighborhood Austin is famous for on the south side of the city. It is a great place to wander in and out of beautiful boutiques and restaurants. You can easily spend time shopping and eating your way around the area.

This neighborhood also offers lots of different lodging options for travelers looking for somewhere to stay, outside of the classic downtown hotels. 

SOCO is home to several other Austin landmarks, such as the Cathedral of Junk and the Congress Avenue Bridge! Make sure that you don’t miss this iconic neighborhood in South Congress. 

Landmarks And Architecture 

Wall Of Welcome 

If you’re looking for the perfect social media shot in Austin, you should put the Wall of Welcome on your list of places to visit! This artistic and interesting wall stretches 120 feet, with public art mosaics welcoming visitors to Austin, specifically the Brentwood and Crestview neighborhoods. 

The Wall of Welcome documents some of the history of the neighborhoods, while also creating a fun way to see little pieces of what Austin is known for. If you’re passing through this area, it’s definitely worth a visit! 

Congress Avenue Bridge (& Bats!)

You might be surprised to learn Austin is famous for housing the largest urban bat colony in the world. A colony of approximately 1.5 million bats lives under the Congress Avenue Bridge, which became the ideal urban bat habitat when it was renovated in 1980. 

From March through early autumn, the Mexican Free-Tailed bats live under this bridge. Every evening, around sunset, the bats start to wake up and go out for the evening.

If you hang out long enough, you can witness a large swell of bats, leaving the bridge to feed; it can take up to 45 minutes for all the bats to get out for the evening, so it makes for quite a show! 

Mexic-Arte Museum

Austin is known for its appreciation for arts and culture; which definitely stretches to the Mexic-Arte Museum. The museum opened in 1983, with the mission of educating the local community and supporting Latino and Mexican art and culture. It is one of the most prominent art museums in the area and is no doubt worth a visit! 

There is normally a lively exhibition around the Mexican celebration of the Day of the Dead, so if you’re in the area around October, don’t miss this occasion! Plus, if you decide to visit on a weekend, the museum is free on Sundays (though donations are always encouraged)! 

Cathedral Of Junk

What is Austin known for, if not its quirky spirit? That whimsical, eclectic spirit is alive and well at the Cathedral of Junk in SOCO.

This Austin landmark is tucked into the backyard of a normal street. It is rather well hidden so you’ll need to be looking for it to find it – but it’s worth the hunt! 

The Cathedral of Junk is a constantly changing structure, with multiple levels, constructed with over 60 tons of used furniture, home goods, and other discarded objects. First built by Vince Hanneman in 1988, the structure continues to grow and evolve. 

Famous Food In Austin Texas

Breakfast Tacos

If there’s one food that represents what Austin Texas is famous for, it would probably be breakfast tacos! Texas residents will argue about whether breakfast tacos originated in San Antonio or Austin, but either way, it is a classic Austin food.

While there are lots of options to have tacos from a stand or food truck, there are great restaurants serving them too, such as Granny’s Tacos or Papalote Taco House. 


Without a doubt, barbeque is some of the most famous food in Texas. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that Austin is also known for its barbeque as well.

Franklin Barbecue is the most notable barbeque place in Austin, with James Beard Award winner, Aaron Franklin ensuring all the smoky flavors are realized to perfection. If you want to get the full experience, make sure you order the classics: smoked brisket, BBQ ribs, and pulled pork. 

Austin even hosts the BBQ Austin contest every year, as part of Rodeo Austin. This event brings together master barbeque cooks from around the city and state. If you’re a barbeque fan, make sure you don’t miss this event! 


Famous People From Austin Texas

Dakota Johnson 

Tapping on her Fifty Shades movie fame, Dakota Johnson is a well-known actress Austin is known for. She started her career early, with a minor role in the 1999 film Crazy in Alabama. After graduating high school, she began auditioning in Los Angeles and got a small part in The Social Network

Dakota Johnson rose to prominence with the beginning of the Fifty Shades franchise, in 2015. She has received many nominations and awards for her work, such as a People’s Choice Award. 

Tom Ford

Of all the famous people from Austin, Tom Ford is undoubtedly one of the most well-known. Tom Ford is a filmmaker and fashion designer. Before launching his own brand “Tom Ford,” the designer worked on Yves Saint Laurent and Gucci as a creative director. 

Tom Ford has directed a few movies, such as A Single Man and Nocturnal Animals, both of which were nominated for several awards. He has also published two monographs, detailing his experiences at Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent, as well as his experiences on his own fashion label and in film. 

Discovering More Things Austin Texas Is Known For 

Featuring the state capital, the nightlife of the Dirty 6th, and the Cathedral of Junk, Austin is famous for many things. It’s no wonder why it is one of the most popular cities in Texas for tourists!

However, beyond these classic landmarks, there is a lot more to learn about Austin. While we could go on about all the amazing attractions, restaurants, museums, and other places you can explore here, we’ll leave it up to you to discover more things Austin Texas is known for.

Plan a trip to Austin, preferably during one of the exciting festivals, and have fun exploring what makes this eclectic town special!



Book Your Flight

I usually use a combination of 2-3 of the following search engines to find cheap flights: Skyscanner, Momondo, Google Flights

Find Your Accommodation

Booking.com is my usual platform for finding accommodation options as they have one of the largest selections. Hostelworld is great for booking hostels. For more private or long term accommodation, Airbnb is my go-to platform.

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is important for to protect yourself against unforeseen circumstances. I usually look at a few insurance companies depending on my travel needs.
  • SafetyWings for Travel Health Insurance
  • IMG Global for added Insurance when doing activities outside of usual coverage
Packing for your trip? Check out the packing list for ideas on what to bring

For more travel resources, check out my resources page for best platforms and companies to use when you travel.

More Adventures


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Welcome To NomadsUnveiled
This is Rax. For over a decade, I have traveled to over 60 countries - from a budget backpacker to a business traveler, expat and then a digital nomad. You can find insights and perspectives from myself and other world travelers that will inspire your journey of discovery.


other stories