For decades, ATX’s social epicenter has been made up of 6th Street, South Congress, Auditorium Shores and Zilker Park, and all the Central Austin streets, restaurants, and shops in between. Lately, however, as noobs relocate to Austin in waves, we’ve seen a major shift in that sort of thinking. Instead, we’re beginning to appreciate the different areas of Austin for what they are — integral parts of our weird and wonderful microcosm.

South Austin is still as quirky as always, but West Austin has been steadily setting itself apart, and even North Austin is transforming its reputation for being boring into a new flavor of Austin weirdness. But it’s East Austin — long overlooked due to a great many troubling social issues, both present and past — that is starting to represent many of Austin’s core values even more than our typical centers of Weird.

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East Austin offers lower-priced housing than many areas of town, a creative community atmosphere, and a major emphasis on supporting local business and living sustainably. There’s also much more cultural and ethnic diversity in this area of Austin. For all of these reasons and more, if you consider yourself to be a true Austinite, you need to spend time east of I-35. If nothing else, embrace these 10 perfect East Austin experiences that prove our circle of weirdness is definitely expanding…

1) Meet the Blue Starlite, the world’s first and only miniature urban drive-in theater.

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Blue Starlite’s film lineup features indie flicks, beloved classics, cult hits, and more. Photo: Flickr user Tracy Hunter, CC licensed.

If you’ve been to your fair share of drive-in theaters, you will probably agree that aside from screen and sound quality and parking space, most drive-ins provide exactly the same experience: a fun movie, popcorn and sodas, starry nights. But East Austin’s Blue Starlite Theatre is not your average drive-in. Seeing a film at the Blue Starlite feels like ordering deliciousness from one of Austin’s kazillion epic food trailers — like you’ve just discovered some rare hidden treasure that not many people know about. As a mini urban drive-in, Blue Starlite is only big enough for 45 cars and 100 pedestrians. It’s quirky, intimate, and it’s the very first of its kind.

And we’re not the only ones singing Blue Starlite’s praises. Our little drive-in has even caught Condé Nast Traveler’s attention; the popular international travel magazine included the Blue Starlite in its list of top 5 drive-in movie theaters in the world that are unquestionably worth visiting.

1901 E 51st St. Enter directly under water tower. 512-850-6127. Schedule & tickets. Website.



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