Austin's nightlife scene, from its famed live music and beyond

Austin has more than 200 venues that put on multiple live music shows a week. That's a lot to choose from! You can stroll down Sixth Street and just pick something that sounds interesting, or go with the tried and true at one of Austin's longest-running and beloved venues such as Broken Spoke, Cactus Cafe, Stubb's, or the Continental Club. Famed Antone's is moving back to 5th Street downtown, and should be open before SXSW Festival 2016. 

If dancing is your thing, this city won't disappoint; there are perennial favorites where regulars and newcomers pack the floors every night, practicing their swing, salsa or two-step moves. But handcrafted cocktails are also big business here, and several upscale lounges with inventive drinks and expert bartenders made the list. Even seeing a movie is anything but typical here, combined with food and drinks and perhaps some karaoke or dancing afterwards.

Austin is known as a party town, and our 10 Best Nightlife list is meant to give you a good start on the nearly endless options around town.

Congress Avenue


This new downtown spot is a high-end cocktail lounge and performance venue in one. Modern cocktails & elegant small plates are served in a historic space with chic, throwback decor. The Townsend's specialty is serving exceptional cocktails...  Read More

Congress Avenue


Voted Austin's "Best Jazz Bar" for seven years running, Elephant Room is located below street level and features cool jazz in an intimate setting seven nights a week. Local and national acts both take to the stage and the joint is so hip that...  Read More

Red River District


One part restaurant, one part legendary outdoor music venue, Stubb's offers both great BBQ and live music. Its downtown location makes it Austin premiere outdoor venue which attracts big names acts across all genres of music. It also a great...  Read More



The White Horse has quickly gone from being an East Side neighborhood dive bar to one of the most popular bars for live music, dancing, pool and patio hangout in town. With a rockabilly vibe, this unpretentious place still has good prices on...  Read More



Alamo Drafthouse has distinguished itself by the food and drink service offered inside the theater, including an exceptional beer list. In addition to box office hits, they offer occasional unique programming such as silent movies scored by...  Read More



One of Austin's newest addition to the multi-activity lounge concept, The Goodnight opened in The Village on Anderson Lane in November 2012 and bills itself as "absurdly magnificent." Stepping into The Goodnight is like stepping into an adult...  Read More

University Area
Cactus Cafe


The Cactus Café is a live music venue and bar on the campus of The University of Texas at Austin, and one of the city's great acoustic music traditions. The Cactus is an intimate performance venue, and since opening in February 1979 has...  Read More

Warehouse District


Speakeasy opened for business in 1997 in the historic Warehouse District of downtown Austin. Speakeasy has become one of downtown's signature places to sit back, relax and listen to live music with friends. Speakeasy is a nod to our heroes of...  Read More

South Congress Avenue
Continental Club


In a city known for live music, this granddaddy of them all has enjoyed its reputation as the premiere old-school music club since 1957. The likes of Willie Nelson, Tommy Dorsey, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Joe Ely have played here. Roots, country,...  Read More

South Austin
Broken Spoke


The Broken Spoke is Texas' most definitive dance hall and they serve up Texas' best honky-tonk. There is a big dance floor for two-stepping while listening to a Texas legend. Take a self-guided tour of the small museum dubbed "the Tourist Trap,"...  Read More


Meet Shelley Seale

Shelley Seale is a freelance journalist and author in Austin who has written for National Geographic, USA Today, The Guardian and Texas Monthly, among others. She loves yoga, indie movies,...  More About Shelley