Austin is a magnet for creatives, drawing a mix of artists, actors and musicians who make up the city’s ever-growing indie arts scene. Check out these venues and events for the inside scoop on where to find some of Austin’s best independent art exhibits, theatrical performances and live music shows.
Art Studios & GalleriesBack to Top of List
Art for the People
Nestled in a colorfully painted former cottage in South Austin, this funky gallery and boutique sells the works of more than 120 Austin artisans. Here you’ll find everything from paintings and sculptures to jewelry and home decor. Art for the People regularly hosts art openings and classes.
Austin Art Garage
Invest in unique pieces from local emerging artists at Austin Art Garage. The shop prides itself on featuring works from individuals of all backgrounds, for individuals of all backgrounds no matter their budget.
This creative community houses 45 artists’ studios, a coffee shop and a beautiful gallery space for Big Medium, Austin’s premier arts organization.
This artist-run nonprofit organization provides exhibition space for local artists to display cutting-edge contemporary works (including video and film), installation pieces and performance art.
Flatbed Press and Gallery
Flatbed Press and Gallery is a nationally recognized gallery and studio that exhibits contemporary artists’ works on paper. The space also produces and sells the works created in its printmaking studio, including lithographs and relief prints that have been collected by several major museums.
A vital member of the local arts scene, MASS Gallery is a flexible gallery and performance space that allows for outdoor programming.
Old Bakery & Emporium
Visitors to the Old Bakery & Emporium will find an art gallery and artisan shop featuring handmade works from local artists all within the historic Old Bakery building. The gallery features Austin artists 50+ years old and rotates to celebrate the city's rich heritage and cultural diversity.
Women & Their Work
Women & Their Work is a performance arts space curated specifically for contemporary art created by women living in and working in Texas. The venue regularly hosts art installations, performances, educational performances and more.
Independent BookstoresBack to Top of List
Austin Books & Comics
One of Central Texas’ biggest and oldest comic stores, Austin Books & Comics has a vast selection of classic comics, new book releases, board games and more.
Black Pearl Books
This Black-women-owned bookstore focuses on promoting diversity, inclusion and representation in literature.
Visit Texas’ largest independently owned bookstore located in Downtown Austin. The two-story shop boasts a wide selection of book genres to browse as well as regular author events, children’s storytimes and happy hours.
A local favorite, BookWoman is a feminist bookstore that features women-written titles and feminist literature. Visitors will also find a selection of gifts and clothing as well as regular events.
First Light Books
Tucked away in the historic Hyde Park neighborhood, this brand new independent bookshop serves up good reads, coffee, wine and bites in a warm, yet modern space.
Stop by Monkeywrench Books and support your local anarchist bookstore. At this fully volunteer-run shop you’ll find works related to climate change, social representation, politics and more.
Resistencia Books, Casa de Red Salmon Arts, specializes in indigenous, Native American, Latin, African American and queer literature.
South Congress Books
No longer located on South Congress Avenue, the bookshop retained the name after their move to Central Austin. Here you’ll find a cute, intimate shop with a variety of book genres.
Austin's Indie Music SceneBack to Top of List
Hole in the Wall
Hole in the Wall has been a fixture right off the University of Texas campus since 1974. The stage has hosted everyone from bands like Spoon to Don Henley of the Eagles. Stop in on Monday nights for Unplug This, featuring local songwriters.
Located in the heart of the East Sixth Street entertainment district, Hotel Vegas features a variety of live music and DJs. Catch local Austin favorites and up-and-coming artists. Shows are presented nearly every night of the week. Be sure to check out their neighboring sister bar, Volstead Lounge, which also features music acts.
This unique indoor/outdoor multilevel space is built and run by a dedicated team of locals. A part of the Red River Cultural District, you’ll find showcases of emerging talent from Austin and beyond nearly every night of the week.
The Saxon Pub
The Saxon Pub has been a haven for singer-songwriters since 1990. See a free weekday happy hour show, a weekend matinee or a late-night performance.
Waterloo Records is an independently owned records store that regularly features in-store performances by emerging local musicians. Afterward, spend some time flipping through the shop’s extensive selection of vinyl.
Theater & FilmBack to Top of List
AFS Cinema, home to the Austin Film Society, is an art house theater that presents independent and international movies. The society was founded in 1985 by filmmaker Richard Linklater (director of hit flicks Dazed and Confused and Boyhood) and supports the work of Texas filmmakers through its Austin Studios, a 20-acre production facility featuring sound stages used for training and collaboration.
Blue Lapis Light
Large-scale productions are held in local warehouses, abandoned structures, power plants and other obscure locales. Get ready to be amazed as performances "explore movement through the air: extending boundaries, defying edges, and suspending graceful athleticism for the risk of igniting ephemeral beauty." Wow.
The City Theatre
This award-winning performing arts venue features Austin performers, directors and designers. Show tickets are value-priced in order to keep the theater-going experience accessible to everyone. The City Theatre Company has been presenting plays and musicals for more than 10 years.
Catch some of the funniest comedians in Central Texas performing improv, stand-up, sketch, film and much more. ColdTowne hosts live alternative comedy seven nights a week.
Owned and operated 100% by comedians, Fallout Theater provides a safe haven for artists and fellow comedians to experiment. The intimate theater presents sketch, stand-up and improv comedy shows by new and seasoned comedians, in addition to comedy festivals. Tickets are typically free or inexpensive for Fallout Theater shows.
The Hideout Theatre
Improv theater, a.k.a. live performances made up on the spot, is a hilarious time. The Hideout hosts shows Thursday through Sunday that range from comedy, plays and sketches to family-friendly and competition-based acts.
Hyde Park Theatre
This local theater is dedicated to developing the talents of Austin actors, writers, directors and designers. It presents plays by both new and established voices from the alternative theater scene. Hyde Park Theatre has received dozens of Critic’s Table Award nominations.
Salvage Vanguard Theater
As they say at Salvage Vanguard Theater, prepare for impact. This nationally renowned Austin artist hub produces new plays, musicals and operas by some of America's most daring playwrights and composers.
Scottish Rite Theater
Erected in 1871, the same year Austin became the capitol, the Scottish Rite Community and Children's Theater is a former German opera house turned nonprofit theater. Shows for all ages shine here, including live world music and multimedia children's programming.
An artist-owned theater in East Austin, here you’ll find innovative performances of everything from musicals to ritual theater. The award-winning VORTEX is recognized internationally for its alternative performances and non-traditional casting.
Zilker Hillside Theatre
Grab some friends, a big blanket and a picnic basket and head to Austin's beloved and beautiful Zilker Park for Shakespeare, family films, jazz and musicals.
Austin Arts EventsBack to Top of List
Austin Film Festival
Recognized as one of the top film festivals in the country, the Austin Film Festival takes place each winter screening indie and top-billed films.
Produced by the Hyde Park Theater, FronteraFest is a five-week, citywide fringe theater festival featuring more than 800 local and national artists.
This five-day fusion arts festival celebrates everything from theater and film to music.
A queer international arts festival showcasing theater, music, video and film from a diverse mix of artists.
Moontower Just For Laughs Comedy Festival
Presented by the Paramount Theatre, the nearly two-week-long Moontower Just for Laughs Comedy Festival features local Austin comedians, as well as national headliners.
Pecan Street Festival
The Pecan Street Festival is held in the spring and fall, and is the oldest and largest art festival in Central Texas, featuring local musicians, artists and craftspeople who turn Sixth Street (historically called Pecan Street) into a lively family street fair.
Not So Indie, But Just As UniqueBack to Top of List
Let Austin's acclaimed professional ballet company and its glorious dancers grace you with classics like "Swan Lake" or stunning contemporary works such as "One/the body's grace." Drop in for a dance class and get instruction from the professionals.
Long Center for the Performing Arts
The Austin Symphony Orchestra, Austin Lyric Opera and Ballet Austin perform at this state-of-the-art venue. You'll also find tap dancing, children's theater, outdoor concerts and touring acts, along with a slew of homegrown Austin talent.
The ZACH is Austin's premier intimate theater-going experience. Dramatic, musical and comedic productions are produced in-house and are built to elevate and inspire.