During this time, the health and well-being of our local community and our visitors is vital. Travelers to Austin – and all destinations – should continue to observe the health recommendations of national, state and local public health officials, as they plan to travel, when they travel and when they are visiting any destination.
For the latest updates about the status of each featured location, please check each business's website. To learn more about local restrictions and closures, click here.
Austin is one of the most LGBTQ-friendly cities in the country, with a perfect score of 100 on the Human Rights Campaign's Municipal Equality Index. But you won’t find just one “gayborhood” here. The community is integrated throughout this inclusive town, which means that LGBTQ visitors will find a warm welcome wherever they wander.
Check out our two-day itinerary that will direct you to some of the most popular shopping districts, restaurants, nightclubs and gay-owned businesses in Austin.
Radio Coffee & Beer.
Fuel up for the day with an espresso from at Radio Coffee & Beer in South Austin. Then grab a hearty breakfast from patio food truck Veracuz All Natural, where authentic Mexican tacos are made with all natural and fresh ingredients. Also on site is Dee Dee, serving up authentic Northern Thai street-food for lunch and dinner.
Austin is all about the outdoors, so why not join fellow joggers on the 10-mile Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail at Lady Bird Lake, which winds along shimmering waters and has picturesque views of Austin’s skyline. Or, get out on the water with a stand-up paddleboard or kayak rented from Congress Avenue Kayaks or another local rental company.
Also check out Zilker Park, a 360-acre dog-friendly oasis in the heart of downtown that’s the site of festivals like Austin City Limits and free performances at Zilker Hillside Theater. Plus, it’s home to the Zilker Botanical Garden (advance ticket purchase is required), Umlauf Sculpture Garden & Museum (purchase of advance admission available) and Barton Springs Pool (advance reservations required), a historic spring-fed swimming spot that’s also great for people watching.
The Contemporary Austin Jones Center. Courtesy of The Contemporary Austin.
Grab a quick lunch in East Austin at local favorites like vegan-friendly cafe Counter Culture (open for curbside take-out and delivery). Or, head down the block for quality slow-smoked meats from LGBT-owned la Barbecue, located inside neighborhood market and eatery Quickie Pickie. Enjoy your 'cue on the outdoor patio (fans + misters included), or stop in to Quickie Pickie for locally roasted coffee, 24 taps and fresh, house-made meals from morning to night.
Next, make your way downtown to Mexic-Arte Museum to view traditional and contemporary Mexican and Latin American art and in a renovated historic building. Make sure to get a snap of the nearby "With Liberty and Justice for All (A Work in Progress)" exhibition by Jim Hodges on the rooftop of The Contemporary Austin at the Jones Center. Before leaving downtown, stop by for a picture in front of the tallest piece of public artwork in Austin, the 103-foot rainbow mural "Tau Ceti" by Josef Kristofoletti.
Or, head to the shady hamlet of Hyde Park, where you’ll find the Elisabet Ney Museum (temporarily closed). Housed in what was once the German-born sculptress’ home and studio, the museum displays the largest collection of Ney’s work in the world, including portrait sculptures of notable 19th-century Texans.
For dinner, savor the Texas farm-to-table fare at Odd Duck (reservations currently required). This striking modern restaurant seamlessly melds contemporary architecture with a focus on the greenery and patio living that is so prevalent in Austin. During the summer, start with a refreshing frozen hurricane (made with Jamaican rum, Flor de Cana, strawberry shrub and lime) then dive in to fresh, seasonal eats and be sure to order enough for everyone at the table to share!
After dinner, get ready to hit the clubs. There are several gay bars centered in the Downtown Warehouse District, each operating with social distancing guidelines and additional sanitization practices in place to keep guests safe. Don't miss Highland Lounge, Oilcan Harry’s (a drag queen destination for more than 25 years), the upscale Rain on 4th and The Iron Bear for a Tito's cocktail, cold beer, drag shows and dancing to live DJs.
Austin Motel. Credit Nick Simonite.
Start your day with brunch on the colorful patio at Joann's Fine Foods. Start with the Michoacán Michelada, paired with the Bodega Sando, an English muffin with smoked turkey, fried egg, cheese, bacon, sprouts, avocado and veggie black beans. Or, enjoy the classic huevos rancheros with refried black beans, hashbrowns & fresh flour tortillas. Be sure to stop into the hotel shop and snap a pic with the ever-changing, love-focused neon sign at the historic Austin Motel before you go!
Then take a shopping stroll along South Congress Avenue, known for its funky stores and chic boutiques. Check out the leather-lined shelves at Allens Boots, one-of-a-kind gifts and clothing by local artisans at Parts & Labour, moto-inspired gear at Revival Cycles, unique titles and antique books at South Congress Books, modern menswear at Stag and colorful costumes at Lucy in Disguise With Diamonds.
Keep caffeinated with an iced Turbo from the see-and-be-seen Jo's Coffee and snap a souvenir selfie in front of the “I love you so much” mural painted on the coffee bar’s wall. For a mid-day treat, stop in to the gay-owned Hotel San José and enjoy a refreshing frosé or michelada in the leafy garden courtyard lounge.
Revival Cycles. Courtesy of South Congress Hotel.
Art lovers will want to explore the colorful South Austin neighborhood galleries, with contemporary prints at ART on 5th, local artisans on display at Art for the People Gallery, Mexican and Latin American folk art at Mi Casa Gallery and vintage posters and live music ephemera at the South Austin Popular Culture Center. Then order take-out from Bouldin Creek Cafe for a hearty vegetarian or vegan lunch and enjoy a decadent picnic at Zilker Park. Later, cool off with a cone from the gay-owned Lick Honest Ice Creams, known for its seasonal confections (with flavor combos like strawberry jalapeño or elderberry mojito) made with locally sourced ingredients.
Continue your shopping spree in the trendy West Sixth District, where you can wander the bookshelves at BookPeople (order online for pick-up), spend hours with the rare vinyl at Waterloo Records (offering curbside pick-up) and stop in for a healthy snack or glass of wine at the Whole Foods Market flagship store.
Cheer Up Charlies. Credit Nick Simonite.
In the evening, head to the Red River Cultural District for a live show or a themed dance party at Cheer Up Charlies (re-opening in July), a lesbian-owned bar and music venue that showcases a diverse range of acts. Kick back in the charming backyard sheltered by a pink parachute canopy and sip a Kombucha served on tap. If it's Tuesday, don't miss virtual TuezGayz from The Glitoris - a local LGBTQ tradition featuring hours of dance tunes that takes place every week. Check Barbarella's website for re-opening details and in-person Tuezgayz, coming soon.
After the show, head back to East Austin for live music, dives, mezcal bars and plenty of late night eats. Dress it up for dinner at the sultry Justine's Brasserie (reservations required) or enjoy upscale ranch-to-table fare at gay-owned Jacoby's. Then hop down the road for drinks on the patios at Lustre Pearl East, Violet Crown Social Club and The Grackle (temporarily closed) or have a locally brewed beer on the patio at Zilker Brewing Company.