The other name for Austin is the Southern Capital of Weird – a title Austinites wear with pride. “Keep Austin Weird” is the theme of many events and festivals around town, as well as the inspiration for local brands and restaurants. It’s a movement that has sparked tons of artwork, music, and even food. This slogan has established its own culture and developed a life of its own. It helps promote small businesses and instills a special sense of community around Austin. While you’re in town, it’s only right to respect the culture and keep it weird yourself – get started with these five insider tips.
Visit the Cathedral of Junk
To understand just how literally Austinites take this slogan, start your adventure with a trip to the self-proclaimed Cathedral of Junk. This masterpiece (of sorts) lies in the backyard of a small home in suburban Austin, completely invisible from the road. Its creator, Vince Hannemann, started building in 1988.
It now contains an estimated 60 tons of junk, including ladders, car bumpers, machinery parts, circuit boards, bottles, and anything else Hannemann saw fit to add in the last three decades. You can walk through the doorways and passages of the Cathedral, which Hannemann built to “withstand Texas storms,” if Vince is around. This is a truly weird experience you can’t miss while you’re in Austin.
View this post on Instagram
The cathedral of junk stands in the back garden of a small house in Austin, Texas, the owner of the house, vince, started building the cathedral back in 1988 'just for fun' and has been adding to it ever since. The Cathedral seems small, at least from the outside, once you enter, however, it magically expands. Perhaps it's the stairways and multiple levels, or the vaulted ceilings, or the observation platforms, or the "Throne Room," whose chair, made of god-knows-what, sits at the Cathedral's heart and on which Vince sits and answers our annoying questions. Whatever the reason, the effect is impressive. #Cathedralofjunk #exploretexas #MrTrash #peopleareawesome
Play Chicken S*** Bingo
An activity that’s surprisingly much more appealing than it sounds is the Chicken S*** Bingo game at The Little Longhorn Saloon. Arrive during Honky Tonk Happy Hour and pay just $2 to join the game, which centers on a live chicken in a coop, directly inside the bar. You’ll receive a number that corresponds with a square on the inside of the coop. If the chicken does its business on your number, you win a cash prize! The Saloon does four rounds every Sunday, between 4 and 8 p.m.
Go to the Museum of the Weird
A person on the hunt for a bit of Austin’s weirdness would be remiss not to enter the Museum of the Weird, a tribute to all things weird, wacky, and wonderful. Shop the store for free and find a great souvenir to bring home or tour the museum’s halls to see the very best of the bizarre right in downtown Austin. The Museum boasts shrunken heads, the infamous Fiji mermaid, freaks of nature, and many other must-see oddities.
Attend the Keep Austin Weird Fest
If you happen to be in town during the Keep Austin Weird Fest (usually in June), you’re in for a rare treat. This festival has a costume contest, plenty of strange food and drinks, and a 5K with fun stops. You’ll see the very best of inner Austin’s oddness, as people tend to go all out for the Fest. Bring the whole family for day of very unusual fun.
Celebrate Christmas All Year at Lala’s
Lala’s is a bar in Austin that boasts Christmas decorations year-round — something you won’t realize you’ve been missing in your life until you sip a cold margarita next to the leg lamp from A Christmas Story in the middle of July. Lala’s unique décor sets the tone in this fun, slightly offbeat dive bar, where patrons can enjoy local craft beers and spiked hot chocolate.
This is an editorial contribution from Flashback Data, the nation’s leading data recovery lab based in the heart of South Austin, Texas.
Featured photo by Flickr user Megan Ann, Creative Commons licensed