With Sixth Street and Congress right nearby, Fourth Street is a hidden gem that can be easily overlooked. You'll know you've made it when you spot the colorful crosswalks along Bettie Naylor Street.
Known in particular for its bustling drag and gay nightlife scene, Fourth Street is where you’re most likely to catch a drag queen in her natural habitat. However, the strip is also a hub for fine dining, rooftop views and themed bars off the beaten path.
Home to many gay clubs and bars, Fourth Street is dubbed Austin’s Gay District—but everyone is welcome to enjoy themselves on this strip. In October 2021, rainbow crosswalks were installed at LGBTQ+ advocate Naylor’s intersection, commemorating that everyone deserves to feel at home in Austin.
Here’s what you can find in this bustling district.
☕️ WHERE TO GET A COFFEE
Halcyon | 218 W. 4th St.
This java house by day, bar and lounge by night is meant to give you the feeling of ‘halcyon’: calm, peaceful and happy. Halcyon has a fully-stocked kitchen with breakfast, lunch, pastries, drinks, cigars and sweet treats, including tableside s'mores. People-watch from the outdoor patio, drop in for some live jazz on Monday nights, live music every Wednesday and Thursday and drag brunch on Saturdays.
Houndstooth Coffee | 401 Congress Ave.
Nestled inside the Frost Bank building, Houndstooth Coffee is a hipster hangout with locations here and in Dallas. Using roasts from Tweed Coffee in Dallas, Houndstooth prides itself on being locally-owned and operated. Though you won’t find much to eat at Houndstooth other than a PB&J sandwich or popcorn, Houndstooth offers a full range of gourmet cocktails to go.
Juan Pelota | 400 Nueces St.
Located in a shared building with Mellow Johnny’s Bike Shop, Juan Pelota’s sporty indoors is a welcoming environment for a morning espresso whether or not you’re cycling. Marking the furthest point on the west end of 4th Street, Juan Pelota has been dealing local coffee, pastries and brewskies since 2008. Though it is only open until 5 p.m., or 2 p.m. on Mondays, the cafe starts its daily happy hour at 3 p.m. for $2 off beers and $1 off wines.
🍽 WHERE TO EAT
Group Therapy | 400 Lavaca St.
On the seventh floor of Hotel ZaZa, Group Therapy isn’t what it sounds like but you will leave fuller than you did before. A plush, velvet-lined interior will draw you in for either a classy evening meal or weekend brunch. Catch live music on the weekends, grab a drink at the attached Cabana Bar or watch the sunset over some whipped feta.
RA Sushi Bar | 117 W. 4th St.
Lively music, intricate cocktails and Instagram-worthy sushi rolls await at RA Sushi Bar. Dine-in either the vibrant interior, at the sushi bar or on the rooftop patio with a furry friend. Catch the afternoon and evening happy hour Monday through Saturday!
Péché | 208 W. 4th St.
Named after the French word for “sin,” Péché is Austin’s first absinthe bar, meaning it showcases a cocktail menu full of pre-Prohibition-style drinks and European fare. Bar manager Derek Weiss and executive chef John Lichtenberger aim for visits to be an educational experience, so come with questions in mind. You’ll know you’re there when you see the serpent on its sign tempting you with “sinful cocktails and cuisine.”
🏳️🌈 WHERE TO FIND DRAG
A drag queen is someone, usually male but not always, who uses clothing and makeup to construct an exaggerated female identity for entertainment.
During a show, a queen will typically hold a dramatic performance by lip-synching, singing, dancing, interacting with the audience and doing comedy. Attendees are encouraged to tip the queen during the show.
Coconut Club and Neon Grotto | 310-318 Colorado St.
These two adjoining nightclubs have both joined in on celebrating queer artists and culture but maintain a classic nightclub atmosphere. Both relatively new to the strip, the tropically-themed Coconut Club opened in 2019 from the people behind Cheer Up Charlies, whereas Neon Grotto turned its rainbow lights on in 2021. Check out Coconut Club’s rooftop bar and Gatorade-based drinks, Neon Grotto’s live DJs and lively drag shows at both.
Oilcan Harry's | 211 W. 4th St.
Claiming to be the oldest LGBTQ+ bar in Austin, Oilcan Harry’s opened its doors in 1990 as a safe haven for people of all walks of life. The bar has a little something for everyone: OCH is famous for its drag shows but also has a sports bar, hosts live DJs, and an outdoor patio to lounge on. OCH holds a drag show or two every single night, frequently alongside karaoke or competitions, on top of special appearances and RuPaul’s Drag Race watch parties. The bar is open to those 18 and older on Thursdays, so everyone gets to partake in the fun.
Rain | 217 W. 4th St.
Right next door to OCH, Rain will give you your fill of drag shows while offering some sexier content compared to its neighbor. Catch go-go boy dancers from every Thursday through Saturday, Thursday night amateur strip contests, Sunday happy hour from 5-7 p.m. and plenty of no-cover local drag queen performances on the weekends.
🍹 WHERE TO GET A COCKTAIL
DuMont’s Down Low | 214 W. 4th St.
Self-proclaimed “most unique new venue” in Austin, DuMont’s Down Low is located in a cozy basement lined with whiskey barrels from local distillers. Exposed brick and large furniture gives the bar a warm and inviting feeling. Try the seasonal clarified punch or the flowery Lavender Bee cocktail.
Driftwood Downtown | 319 Colorado St.
From real estate developer Discovery Land Company, Driftwood Downtown is a private club with three floors for lounging, coworking, meeting and entertaining. The club includes a taproom with a golf simulator, a mezzanine perfect for enjoying a drink and private rooftop overlooking downtown ensure you’ll never be bored at the club. Driftwood Downtown is open daily for members but can accommodate reservations for private events.
Hen House Basement | 117 W. 4th St.
You may have to do some searching to find this hidden bar, which is also known as the Lost Lei, but you’ll find a tropical paradise when you do. Tucked in an underground basement, Hen House is full of tropical decorations and fruity, festive cocktails. This is a great place for photo opportunities as drinks come in tiki glasses.
🥱 WHERE TO STAY
Hotel ZaZa | 400 Lavaca St.
Overlooking Republic Square, Hotel ZaZa puts you right in the center of downtown and surrounds guests with luxury amenities. With 159 guestrooms, Concept Suites and Magnificent Seven Suites, ZaZa has a range of opulent options. Hotel guests have access to the ZaSpa, seventh floor Cabana Bar and pool, and two different restaurants: Group Therapy and its “relaxed little sister” Perfect Strangers, which offers breakfast and lunch on the Fourth Street patio.
Prices fluctuate based on time of year, room and length of stay, but expect to pay at least $250 per night at this upscale hotel.
Onyx Hotel | 301 E. 4th St.
Inside the Grand Austin Hotel suite. (Onyx Hotel)
Marking the Eastern end of 4th Street, Onyx Hotel offers the Austin experience through themed suites for parties of all sizes. Ranging from $149-$399 per night, many of the suites feature multiple bedrooms. Check out the spiral staircases inside the Rock Royalty suite, complete with decor inspired by the many musicians that have passed through Austin, or the desert-esque Marfa suite. All suites come with a kitchen and gated parking.
🚗 WHERE TO PARK
Like Most places downtown, parking is going to be a challenge. Your cheapest options are likely going to be street parking or off 4th Street.
LAZ Parking | 400 Congress Ave.
Open 24/7, this parking lot is very central but charges upwards of $25 per hour.
SPACES Parking | 301 Congress Garage
Right across from the Frost Bank Tower, this garage will run you at least $15 per hour.
405 Colorado Street
One of the cheaper options, you can park in this garage from about $12 for two hours.
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A presumptive case of monkeypox has been detected in Travis County and is awaiting test results from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Austin Public Health said Friday.
APH, the CDC and the Texas Department of State Health Services are involved in an ongoing investigation into the case. The resident who is presumed positive is isolating at home and did not need hospitalization. APD said it is conducting contact tracing and reaching out to people who were in close contact with the resident.
Monkeypox, a rare disease caused by infection in the smallpox family, has been under close watch by the CDC after a world outbreak this year. If positive, the case would be the first of its kind in Travis County. At least five monkeypox cases have been confirmed in Texas, while the CDC is investigating 173 cases nationwide.
As of Monday, APH did not have a timeline on how long testing could take.
Symptoms of monkeypox include fever and chills, headache, muscle aches, fatigue, swollen lymph nodes and a distinctive pimple-like rash that can appear on the face, inside the mouth, or on other areas of the body. The rash can take several weeks to heal.
While monkeypox can have symptoms that resemble COVID, the virus does not transfer as easily as COVID and its variants.
APH said the virus can spread through:
- direct contact with the infectious rash, scabs, or body fluids
- respiratory secretions during prolonged, face-to-face contact, or during intimate physical contact, such as kissing, cuddling, or sex
- touching items (such as clothing or linens) that previously touched the infectious rash or body fluids
- pregnant people can spread the virus to their fetus through the placenta
To limit the spread of monkeypox, APH said to minimize skin-to-skin contact, especially with someone who has been exposed to the virus and/or is showing symptoms. APH recommends avoiding contact with anything that has been in contact with monkeypox and continuing to practice good hygiene."While the threat of monkeypox remains low, we recommend that all Travis County residents be aware and seek medical care if you believe you have symptoms of the virus,” Austin-Travis County Health Authority Dr. Desmar Walkes said.
Paxton Smith’s 2021 valedictory speech at Lake Highlands High School in Dallas wasn’t the same speech she had previously shared with school administrators. She dropped the approved speech and made a case for women’s reproductive rights after lawmakers passed the Texas "Heartbeat Bill.”
Her advocacy made news on NPR, YouTubeTV and in The Guardian. Just over a year later, the “war on (women’s) rights” she forewarned has come to a head as the U.S. Supreme Court voted Friday morning to overturn Roe v. Wade, ending constitutional protection for abortion access.
“It is up to the people to show up and show the courts and the politicians that we won’t sit back and let this happen,” Smith told Austonia Friday morning. “We will show up, we will fight back. Before, we were scared of them, now they should be scared of us.”
Now a University of Texas sophomore and abortion rights activist, 19-year-old Smith said she wanted to give the same speech in the “the most public way possible” to reach “as many people as possible who don't agree that I deserve this right.”
However, she says the response was “actually overwhelmingly positive” and supportive of her cause. According to a recent UT poll, 78% of Texas voters support abortion access in most cases.
The speech opened up further opportunities for activism: she advocated for reproductive rights at the International Forum on Human Rights in Geneva, interviewed with Variety magazine and spoke to tens of thousands at Austin’s Bans Off Our Bodies protest at the Texas Capitol in May.
Smith also serves on the board of directors for the Women’s Reproductive Rights Assistance Project, a national nonprofit organization that helps fund abortions or medication abortion—like Plan C pills—in all 50 states. Most recently, Smith has been attending protests in Washington, D.C. leading up to the ruling.
“This is land of the free. This is where you get to choose how you live your life,” Smith said. “Overturning Roe v. Wade violates everything that we have come to believe about what it means to live in this country. I think a lot of people aren't willing to accept that this is a human right that is most likely just going to be gone for over half of the country within the next couple of weeks.”
Bracing for the next steps, Smith gave some tips for supporters:
- Find a protest to attend.
- “I would say invite somebody to go to those protests with you, invite a couple of friends, invite people into the movement,” Smith said.
- Talk about the issue on social media—use the platform you have.
- “Have these kinds of conversations where people can just talk about their fears and then find ways to go and advocate for yourself,” Smith said.
- Volunteer at a nonprofit near you.
“I feel like a lot of the reason things have gotten as bad as they have within the abortion rights world is that people are not making a scene, not protesting, not putting the effort into ensuring that the government doesn't take away this right,” Smith said. “I want to emphasize that if you're not doing anything, don't expect the best scenario, expect the worst because that's the direction that we're going in.”
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