Disclaimer: We don’t actually think any of this stuff is really all that weird…
But then, we live here. So we’re accustomed to watching shrieking bats fly overhead, admiring the architecture of tiny faerie homes, and attending children shows that involve a loose interpretation of The Wizard of Oz performed by rescue dogs. It’s all part of the cultural fabric that makes Austin, Austin. They say “From the outside looking in you can never understand it, and from the inside looking out you can never explain it,” but we’ll give it a try anyway. Here are some of the weirdest places to visit and weirdest things to do in Austin…
— Cathedral of Junk
This one’s an Austin original. The Cathedral of Junk is exactly what it sounds like – a cathedral made of junk. That doesn’t make it any less impressive, though. Scraps of all conceivable origin have been painstakingly assembled into what is probably the most astounding collection of bric-a-brac ever. Read about our experience visiting the Cathedral of Junk with our kids.
— Fairy Alley
In a small alleyway situated next to the residential home at 1507 Treadwell Street, you’ll find colorful murals and an assortment of tiny fairy house and other whimsical bric-a-brac. According to the Fairy Alley Facebook page, “No one remembers exactly when the Fairies started nesting in the alley. It has been some time now. Each year their presence seems to get a little stronger.”
— HOPE Outdoor Gallery
Take one look at the HOPE Outdoor Gallery and your first reaction is probably going to be “WHAT IS THAT?” It’s big, bright, and incredibly colorful. When you get to exploring the art a little closer, it’s weirdness reveals itself to you. There’s all manner of creative spray painted creatures, messages, and more on its layered walls. You could spend multiple hours and still miss tons of details. HOPE Outdoor Gallery will be relocated to Carson Creek Ranch, so if you’ve never visited the original – you might want to do it sooner rather than later. Read more here…
— Bats at Congress Avenue Bridge
The Mexican free-tailed bats are so ingrained into the Austin psyche that it’s easy to forget that they’re a strange attraction in the first place. But for the vast majority of people that visit Austin, they’re one of the most easily accessible phenomena available. If you’ve lived here for a while, you may have even forgotten how disorientingly awesome it is to observe them flying out in great droves from under the Congress Avenue Bridge and into through the crimson sky. Read our Guide to Seeing the Bats.
— Goat Yoga
Can little goats help you find your zen? Might not be unique to Austin, but it is a little bit out there. GOGA Goat Yoga hosts Vinyasa classes with several baby Pygmy Nigerian Dwarf goats loving on you throughout your practice — because nothing brings inner peace quite like baby goat kisses. You can also check out goat yoga classes from ATX Goat Yoga as well as classes on the Ball Farm.
— Circus Chickendog
Self described as the “The Family-Friendly Circus That is Making Austin Weirder”, these stageshows feature five rescue dogs, a scarlet macaw, puppets, juggling, unicyclng, bubbles and more. Great for kids of all ages and notably toddler-friendly, annual productions include The Wizard of Dogz as well as The Mutt-Cracker (Sweet!). You can also book Circus Chickendog for birthday parties. Get all the details on their website.
— Austin Bubble Soccer
Living in a bubble typically gets a bad rap. But how about playing soccer in one? Austin Bubble Soccer has turned that notion into a full-blown mission, and we can happily report that the activity is safe, silly, and super fun — probably all in equal measure. The game basically mirrors the mechanics of actual soccer, except you’re in, you guessed it, a giant bubble. This allows for fun things like front and back flips, as well as high speed, bouncy-but-painless collisions with other players.
— Peter Pan Mini-Golf
Keeping it weird since 1946, Peter Pan Mini Golf’s looming T-Rex statue invites kids of all ages to come on in and play. The course has a ton of wacky sculptures with painted faces to keep you company on your family’s round of miniature golf. Read about why we love this classic Austin activity.
— Chicken Shit Bingo
Pardon our French, but yes, Chicken Shit Bingo is a real thing around here. In fact, on Sunday’s at Ginny’s Little Longhorn Saloon, you’ll find that kids get first priority when it’s time to line up for tickets to play. As you can expect, the bird’s choice of where to poop determines the winner of the game.
— Eeyore’s Birthday
You can find a varied crowd of awesome weirdos at Eeyore’s Birthday Party in Pease Park. It’s a gathering of all ages and all manner of folk who come to attend this unique tradition. It’s held annually on the last Saturday of April, some might say it’s a local rite of Spring.
— Rodeo Austin
Their slogan says it all — Where Weird Meets Western. This rodeo experience includes an eclectic lineup of music concerts, the livestock show, traditional rodeo events, and a big wonderfully weird fair that includes a wide variety of rides and odd carnival fried foods. Always a favorite family event in March, you can learn more about it on their website.
— Jo’s Coffee Pet Parade
Expect some extreme cuteness when costumed pups parade down South Congress every spring during Joe’s Coffee’s annual Pet Parade and Costume Contest that benefits Austin Pets Alive. Like their Facebook page to stay abreast of the dates of this annual family-friendly event.
— HONK! TX
While the music itself may not be weird, there’s something quite amazing about the spectacle and musical mayhem that comes with the annual spring HONK! TX experience. It’s a citywide takeover of street bands performing free high-energy concerts in locations throughout the city. Stay tuned to the HONK!TX website for dates and details.
— Woodland Faerie Trail
Want to see a collection of faerie and gnome homes in the woods? Who wouldn’t? This annual exhibit in the Zilker Botanical Garden features faerie homes created by Austin area gardeners, architects, artisans, businesses, clubs, families and school groups. These intricate, whimsical little abodes are crafted with natural materials such as twigs, bark, shells, rocks, etc. Keep an eye on the Zilker Botanical Garden website for next year’s trail dates.
— Barrel O’Fun
Housed within the lower level of the Alamo Drafthouse Mueller location, you’ll find this circus-themed bar/restaurant/entertainment venue. By day, it’s a family-friendly space with a vintage Coney Island vibe that serves up a selection of old-fashioned soda fountain classics and kid-favorite menu items. You’ll find a big stack of board games to use at any time, but they also have plenty of fun events on their monthly calendar, like Sparkle and Song Parties.
— Museum Of The Weird
Last, but certainly not least is the Museum of the Weird. A walk through the museum features terrifying props from mostly forgotten B-Horror movies, pirate skeletons, Fiji mermaids, medical oddities of varying sizes encased in glass boxes or entombed in formaldehyde, shrunken heads, an assortment of wax figures, a photo-ready King Kong replica and the exclusive privilege of getting to view what is perhaps the holy grail of cryptozoological artifacts, The Minnesota Iceman. Visit their website for hours and admission prices.
Are we missing your favorite weird thing to do in Austin?
Let us know in comments below.
Note, this post was adapted for families from this original article on Do512.com.
If you’re looking for more weird things for grown-ups (like secret underground wrestling leagues & our favorite year-round Christmas bar), click here!