There’s no shortage of things to do in Austin like hearing fantastic live music, discovering the city’s fun neighborhoods, challenging yourself at an escape room, playing games all night at one of Austin’s many arcades, and seeing the famous bats of Austin.
Here are 23 of the best things to do in Austin at night including the top 10, best music venues, and other fun and games!
Top 10 Things to Do at Night in Austin
1. Hear great live music
Austin’s known as the 'live music capital of the world' and for good reason. With more live music venues per capita than any other city in the nation, there’s a gig somewhere in Austin every night of the week. Plus, you’ll find every genre of music in Austin. As soon as you step off the plane, you are greeted with free live music as some shops and restaurants host live bands! You can get a sense of the music scene on this Austin live music crawl tour.
One of the most famous music series, not just in Austin but around the country thanks to their televised performances, is Austin City Limits at the Moody Theater. ACL hosts a wide range of musical genres from the very top talent, some well-known and others up and coming. It may be hard to get tickets for some shows, but it’s worth trying -- seeing an ACL concert is one of the very best things to do at night in Austin.
2. Play detective for the night
Put your detective cap on and get ready to race the clock to break out of an escape room at The Escape Game Austin. You’ll get 60 minutes to solve challenging puzzles and complicated riddles to find the way out of a uniquely themed ‘locked’ room. Each game has a distinct mission and difficulty level. Unlike other escape games, each game has multiple rooms to explore to find the way out.
One of the most popular games, The Heist, tasks you with stopping a maniacal museum curator from committing the crime of the century. Retrieve a stolen priceless painting from his office or it will be lost forever. Playground, the least difficult game (but still tough!) is a light-hearted take on school assignments. These assignments aren't like anything you have encountered before, and if you don't complete them, you’ll be stuck in school for the summer!
Gold Rush has you rushing to find a hidden stash of gold. Your mission in Classified is to gather critical information to stop a major international attack. In Prison Break, you've got to break out of a 1950s jail cell. Whatever game you choose you’ll have a blast finding the way out!
3. See the famous Austin Bats
One of the must-sees in Austin at night is the departure of the city’s colony of Mexican free-tailed bats flying out from under the Congress Avenue Bridge. The colony is over one million strong, and is the largest urban bat colony in the world! From April through October (when the bats are hunkered down in Austin), the bats head out at dusk in search of food.
Crowds come out to see this famous event and you can be there to see this incredible natural phenomenon. You can stake out a spot at the bat observation area at the southeast corner of Congress Bridge and Lady Bird Lake. Another option is to stand on the bridge itself, though it can be fairly packed. Wherever you go to see the sight of the huge black streak across the Austin skyline, this is one of the best free things to do in Austin at night!
4. Hang out in the Rainey Street Historic District
The Rainey Street Historic District is one of the most chilled-out areas for a night out in Austin. There’s a bit of a hipster atmosphere, but generally, the bars, cafes, pubs, and restaurants are unpretentious and welcoming. Many have big outdoor patios to eat and drink at, which is lovely on a warm Austin night. The area is a lovely place to go for a romantic date night in Austin.
Banger's Sausage House & Beer Garden is a popular spot that serves a creative variety of sausages and serves over 200 taps of beer and cider. If you have a more sophisticated palette, try Emmer & Rye, one of the best restaurants in Austin. It has a menu that changes daily with a focus on seasonal and local cuisine.
For drinks, Lustre Pearl is a casual spot for a beer. Half Step serves creative cocktails and has an outdoor patio with lawn games and live music. Once you are ready to wrap up your might, make a stop to get one of Austin’s best late-night snacks at Little Lucy’s Mini Donuts, open until 2 am every night of the week!
5. Take a haunted walking tour
If you are looking for an unusual night activity in Austin take a 90-minute Ghost Walking Tour and learn about the city’s dark past. Your engaging guide will take you to haunted sites and tell you tales of murder, mystery, and the ghosts who linger on. If you love the macabre then this Austin night ghost tour is for you! It's also an appropriate Austin activity for teens, and mature tweens, but it's not recommnded for young children.
If you are looking for something darker, the Austin Murder Walk is sure to satisfy. The Murder Walk tour is 1 hour and 45 minutes and centers around America’s first serial killer who stalked the streets and alleys of Austin by night. In 1885, over the course of a year, eight women were systematically hacked to death using an axe.
The killer was nicknamed the “midnight assassin”. He was never caught and his identity remains a mystery, though, on this tour, you’ll learn about the fascinating theories on who this killer may have been. The tour covers 2 miles of historic Austin including West 6th street, Guy Town, the Warehouse District, and a stop at the iconic Driskill Hotel for a drink.
6. Catch a flick
Seeing a movie is an easy choice for things to do at night and Austin is an awesome place to do so. The city has loads of movie theaters and even a few drive-ins! The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema is where to go if you want to have a meal with your movie. They serve food from their award-winning multi-course menu and it's delivered right to your seat. The Alamo also serves beers from local microbreweries and artisanal cocktails. Movie screenings include current blockbusters, indie films, foreign films, and cinema classics.
Texas loves its drive-in theaters and Austin is no exception. From the comfort of your own car, take in a movie and munch on popcorn. Blue Starlite Mini Drive-in has three locations and shows mainstream movies, both old and new, as well as cult classics and arthouse. If you like classic movies from every genre, check out Doc’s which has movies six nights a week! Plus it’s known as a place for its family-oriented environment, making a trip to doc’s one of the best family-friendly things to do in Austin at night.
8. Immerse yourself in light
Wonderspaces is an incredible ongoing exhibit of immersive and interactive artworks from a line-up of exciting contemporary artists from around the globe. Dazzling light shows and virtual reality films will captivate and inspire you.
Arc is an audiovisual installation inspired by the artist’s experience riding the subway as a child. Into the Breath is a Chinese dragon made of teabags that visitors enter into a calm, meditative environment. Submergence is an immersive installation made up of 8,064 points of light. As visitors walk through, the lights change colors in response.
Wonderspaces is fascinating for people of all ages, so this is one of the best kid-friendly things to do in Austin at night. It is open Sundays through Fridays until 10 pm and Saturdays until 11 pm.
9. Party on 6th Street
Located within Downtown Austin, this stretch of Old 6th Street (between Congress Avenue to the West and I-35 to the East) is known fondly by locals as the “Dirty 6th”. You may be able to guess from the name what this area is all about…partying hard. It’s been compared to Bourbon Street in New Orleans and is one of those “love it or hate it” neighborhoods.
The Dirty 6th is where locals go to party and there are plenty of places to get loud and rowdy. There are plenty of music venues, dance clubs, bars, microbreweries, and a scene that overflows into the streets. It's a popular place for a Girls' Night Out for those who want to dance the night away!
If you are into the bizarre, check out the Museum of the Weird on 6th Street. This small Ripley’s Believe It or Not-type museum shows off oddities like shrunken heads and taxidermy animals. It’s a kooky place but a really fun thing to do after a night out at the bars. It's open until midnight.
10. Fun for the family at Austin’s Park
Just a 30-minute drive from Austin is the incredible Austin’s Park, Central Texas’ largest family entertainment center. It’s 23 acres of fun rides and attractions. For the family, there’s an indoor roller coaster, a tower drop ride, virtual reality rides, arcade games, rock climbing walls, go-karts, batting cages, bumper boats, and a carousel for the little ones. You can bowl, play laser tag, and enjoy a round of miniature golf. When the gang gets hungry you can dine on Tex-Mex cuisine and artisanal pizzas.
For adults looking for things to do in Austin, there's the REVL Social Club, part of the complex. It’s a bar and restaurant with several big-screen TVs to watch sports, plus billiards, darts, ping pong, and street curling lanes. You name it, Austin’s Park has got it!
Austin’s Best Live Music Venues
11. Scoot Inn
The historic Scoot Inn is believed to be the oldest bar in central Texas, having opened in 1871! This landmark began hosting live music shows in 1955, making it one of Austin’s first venues. Hosting performers across genres most nights of the week, the Scoot Inn is a must-visit when in Austin.
The Continental Club is another historic music venue that opened its doors in 1955 as a private supper club but grew into one of the best sports for live music in Austin and is known worldwide for its amazing line-ups over the decades. Music of every kind can be found here every night of the week.
The Moody Theater is home to Austin City Limits, a live music television program that helped make Austin known as the "Live Music Capital of the World". The show was created in 1974 and has been going strong ever since, hosting some of the most important performers of our time and introducing new ones to the world.
14. The Moody Center
Not to be confused with the Moody Theater, the Moody Center is where the biggest performers play. The center has a seating capacity of 15,000 that fills up easily when bands like the Arctic Monkeys and Beck play. Popular bands from the 1980s and 90s stop off here as well. Most notably the Moody Center is home to the CMT Awards every year.
Showcasing some of the best local performers and touring bands as well, music is played across two indoor stages, an outdoor stage, and a roof deck! Hear great tunes while taking in the view of Austin’s skyline.
This world-famous venue is known as “Austin’s home of the blues”. Opened in 1975, this iconic venue has seen the likes of B.B. King, Muddy Waters, James Brown, Ray Charles, and so many others.
17. Stubb's Bar-B-Q
Beer, brisket, and song! While Stubb’s is known for its out-of-this-world barbeque, it’s also known as a hotspot for sizzling music and a renowned Sunday gospel brunch. Watch music on a large outdoor amphitheater while chowing down on great food!
18. Emo's Austin
Emo's has its origins in the punk rock scene of the late 1980s and early 1990s. Today you can hear edgy, progressive music on Emo's two stages, one inside and one outside. There’s a beer garden and bar for those 21 and older. Fortunately for Austin’s youth, Emo’s has an 18+ entry policy, making this one of the best things to do at night in Austin for the under-21 crowd.
Yet another Moody venue, this outdoor amphitheater pits on year-round concerts, dance performances, and community programs like the Movies in the Park series.
Fun and Games For a Fun Night Out in Austin
Pinstack is one of Austin’s most popular places for a night out. You can do it all here at Pinstack’s 45-square-foot entertainment center. Bowl on state-of-the-art lanes, play laser tag on a two-level arena, climb a 24-foot rock indoor climbing wall, ride bumper cars, and do a high-ropes course suspended 20 feet above the arcade with over 100 arcade games! Pinstack is also a perfect place to throw a work party in Austin!
Among the many family things to do in Austin at night, a round of mini-golf at Peter Pan’s is one of the most fun! Austin’s families have been coming to Peter Pan Mini-Golf since it opened in 1946. The two 18-hole courses are decorated with whimsical statues like the characters from Peter Pan like Tinkerbell and Captain Hook. Play putt-putt around a T. Rex, a giant Converse sneaker, a clown, and a cast of other characters!
There are lots of arcades in Austin, but none are like Cidercade. The name is a combination of “cider” and “arcade” and Cidercade has plenty of both! There are more than 150 arcade games including classics like Super Pac-Man, Super Mario Bros, Asteroids, Donkey Kong, and more!
In addition to all the great games, Cidercade serves 14 hand-crafted homemade hard ciders by Bishop Inc. as well as hard seltzers. Have a bite before going there, as they don't serve food, though you are allowed to BYOF (bring your own food) or order in delivery. Food trucks serving delicious fare are just outside as well.
On Wednesday and Thursday nights until 10 pm, Austin offers you the chance to race go-karts on a Formula One and Nascar racetrack! It’s the only Formula 1 track in the United States. At the Circuit of the Americas (COTA), experience the thrill of racing on a track with wide turns, S-turns, and harrowing hairpin turns at speeds up to 55 miles per hour.
For an indoor go-kart experience, K1 Speed is the top place in Austin and is open every night of the week. On Friday nights, K1 takes on a disco-like atmosphere as the LED lighting along the track turns bright neon colors and pop and rock music is played. It is open Sunday to Thursday until 10 pm, Friday and Saturday until midnight.
There are plenty of things to do at night in Austin, so get out there and explore!
Find out more things to do in Austin here.
For suggestions on how to spend your time in Austin, see our Austin 2-day itinerary!