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Old Austin vs. New Austin: Choose your own adventure

(Laura Figi/Austonia)

It's no secret that Austin's changing.

But as Austin changes, there can sometimes be two types of people: those who want a taste of what the city was like when it was all about "keeping it weird" in the '70s and '80s, and those who can't wait to try out the newest place on offer.


Either way, we've got you covered. If you've heard rumors about Austin's iconic spots but never experienced them, check out our guide to "Old Austin." Prefer the hottest new thing? Check out our "New Austin" itinerary.

Selfie spot:

Old Austin

If you want to snap a classic Austin shot that's instantly recognizable, don't miss a mural tour of downtown. From Daniel Johnston's iconic "Hi, How Are You" frog mural at 21st and Guadalupe streets to Federico Archuleta's colorful "Lover/Fighter" at 1209 E. Cesar Chavez St., there's something to fit every mood and situation. Want to dive even deeper into the mural scene? Check out the Dougherty Arts Center's driving tour.

New Austin

To experience Austin's latest "it" installation, book tickets to the Museum of Ice Cream, which scooped its way to the popular Domain entertainment district this summer. Expect to find a host of Instagram-worthy experiences, ranging from rideable animal crackers to banana-split swings to an epic sprinkle pool. Expect lots of free treats, including cotton candy and, yes, ice cream, as well as cocktails and mocktails. Tickets start at $39.

And if you still want more, the Domain also has the Selfie Galleries with tickets starting at $20.

Swim spot:

Old Austin

Austin has no shortage of places to swim, and if you're looking for an old-school alternative to Barton Springs, look no further than Deep Eddy Pool, the oldest swimming pool in Texas. This beloved pool started as a swimming hole in the Colorado River before transitioning into a resort in the 1920s. These days, it's operated by the City of Austin. Its location near the Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail and Boardwalk makes it ideally situated for a post-splash workout.

New Austin

Clocking in as the country's largest indoor water park, Kalahari Resorts opened in Round Rock in November 2020 with 223,000 square feet of slides, pools and water features. The property also includes three acres of outdoor pools, 975 guest rooms and 20 on-site dining options. The Dell Diamond, home of the Round Rock Express Minor League Baseball Team, is located across the street, should you want to hit the ballpark before or after you take a dip.

Live music:

Old Austin

As the "live music capital of the world," it's no secret that Austin is home to copious concert venues. For example, Stubb's, which has been serving music since 1968 at its original location before moving to Red River Street in the 90s, some of the biggest and best bands in the world choose to take the stage. Upcoming acts include Machine Gun Kelly, Modest Mouse and Phoebe Bridgers. Can't make an evening show? Stop by for famous barbecue or snag a reservation for the venue's Gospel Brunch, held every Sunday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Additional can't-miss Austin venues include the Continental Club on South Congress Avenue, the Saxon Pub and the Broken Spoke on South Lamar, and the Nutty Brown Amphitheatre, which will move from its current spot in far South Austin to Round Rock later this year.

New Austin

PHOTOS: Gary Clark Jr., Blackillac play Moody Amphitheater grand opening to sold-out crowd

Yes, we've got lots of classic venues, but we've got some new ones, too. For an expansive outdoor concert experience that features both assigned and lawn seating, consider the Moody Amphitheatre at Waterloo Park, which opened in August and has already hosted acts ranging from Gary Clark Jr. to Counting Crows to 311. Parking is ample at nearby garages. There's also a number of newer live music venues along Menchaca Road, such as Armadillo Den and Lustre Pearl South.

Hotel:

Old Austin

For a taste of Austin's laid-back yet quirky past, book a night or two at the Austin Motel, a former motor court where the motto is "so close, yet so far out." Expect fun wallpaper, upscale amenities and a sparkling, retro-themed pool that's ideal for taking a dip in on a 100-degree day. You can also just get a pool day pass. Because this property by Austin's Bunkhouse Group is in the heart of South Congress, it's also an excellent home base for shopping and sightseeing.

New Austin

And nearby on South Congress, you can check out Hotel Magdelena. This stunning hotel, also by Austin's Bunkhouse Group, opened in 2020 and was inspired by the city's lake house culture, incorporating color themes of green, blue, red and yellow across the property. It also houses its own restaurant, Summer House on Music Lane, which was inspired by "the casual sophistication that defines a lake house weekend." The property is surrounded by a new shopping and entertainment district, Music Lane, that includes Lululemon and Madewell storefronts.

Sports:

Old Austin

Longhorns plan for 100% stadium capacity in 2021 season

Before Verde and Black were a thing in Austin, the whole town bled burnt orange, especially because it felt like most of the town were University of Texas alumni. But even with a new team in town, the Longhorns haven't gone anywhere. Head to Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium on most Saturdays this season for the full Texas football experience.

New Austin

Austin FC fans chanted with members of Black Pumas as Austin FC took on the Seattle Sounders. (Austin FC/Twitter)

Austin FC is all the craze this year as it kicked off its inaugural season as the first major league team in town. While it's not exactly a standout team yet, you can catch the Q2 Stadium at full capacity every game with people cheering and lots of local eats to choose from. You don't need to know the game of soccer to have a good time with the fan band and nonstop action.

For more on Austin changing:

5 small towns to get a taste of old Austin life

Popular

Tito's releases (not so?) ugly sweater line for the holidays, profits to charity

Tito's Handmade Vodka

Show your love for Tito's and for the community this year with a wide selection of not that ugly, uglyish, ugly, uglier, and ugliest holiday sweaters.

There's lots choose from, and plenty of accessories like scarves and socks, plus gear for your dog, too.

All of the items can be purchased online or at the Love, Tito’s Retail Store in Austin, TX. 100% of all net proceeds from online or in-store purchases go to one of the nonprofits we’ve teamed up with.

Click here to see the entire collection in the Tito's store.

Mac and Cheese Fest and Free Art Exhibit
Waterloo Greenway, Good Vibrations Installation


🗓 All weekend

🎨 Creek Show Art Exhibit

Check out this highly anticipated art exhibition with illuminated art along Waller Creek. Tickets are free and the event includes food vendors, dazzling lights, live music, and hands-on activities

All weekend 6 p.m - 10 p.m | 📍Waterloo Park

✨ Mozart's Light Show

This iconic holiday tradition lights up for the first time this holiday season starting this weekend! Reserve your spot for an enchanting light and sound performance, delicious hot cocoa, sweet treats, and some overall fun with your friends or family. The show runs till January 6th.

6 p.m and 9 p.m | 📍Mozart's Coffee Roasters - 3825 Lake Austin Blvd, Austin, TX 78703

🗓 Saturday

🥊 Kickboxing in the Park

This fitness event is free and open to the public. Get your morning started right with a "Fitness in the park" class for kickboxing! The class will be led by certified instructors and is a great way to get a cardio workout in while also honing your self-defense skills.

10 a.m - 11 a.m | 📍 Metz Park

🛍 The Front Market

Support local LBGTQ+ and female artists at this outdoor market with over 150 vendors. Get your holiday shopping out of the way at this event, with vendors for food trucks, handmade goods, raffles, hands on workshops and activities, and more.

11 a.m - 5 p.m | 📍Ani's Day and Night - 7107 E Riverside Drive, Austin, TX 78741

🗓 Sunday

🧀 Mac and Cheese Fest

Did someone say cheese?! If you're like me and always willing to get your hands on a bowl of mac and cheese, then this event is for you. Check out the Mac and Cheese festival happening this weekend to decide which vendor has. the best mac and cheese for yourself, and enjoy the bar with creative cocktails while you're at it. Tickets start at $45.

11 a.m - 3 p.m | 📍Lantana Place - 7415 Southwest Parkway