Many of us today are too young to remember this, but there was once a time when seeing a movie wasn’t just something you did to pass the time. It was an event.
There was no rushing to seats, dragging along tubs of popcorn, packs of candy, and fountain sodas on their way to spilling over the sides. People didn’t check their phones in the middle of the movie; they laughed and screamed and cried and applauded.
Since 1997, the world-famous Alamo Drafthouse movie theater in Austin, Texas, has undertaken the mission of making a night out at the movies something special once again. Audience members are served dinner and drinks during the show, and the venue regularly holds screenings of classic old films that today’s movie-watchers never had a chance to see on the big screen the first time around. Even better, many of these screenings include Q&As and meet-and-greets with cast and crew members from the films.
As a result, cinephiles from all over the world frequently make pilgrimages to the Lone Star State to get a taste of the Alamo Drafthouse experience. Some film fans do it so often that they’ve begun investing in houses for rent in Austin, TX. Of course, it helps that Austin has a lot to recommend it besides just a truly epic movie theater.
Planning to take in a show at the Alamo Drafthouse sometime soon? Here are a few more local sights and sounds worthy of your time.
An Earful for Music Lovers
Watching a movie is a blast, but sometimes you’re in the mood for live entertainment instead. Fortunately, Austin is known as the Live Music Capital of the World, so there’s no shortage of shows to attend among the region’s 250+ music venues.
With a climate that trends towards the warmer side of the spectrum all-year-round means that the city has no shortage of open-air outdoor venues, like Stubb’s Bar-B-Que, which serves up stellar meat with a side of tunes in its amphitheater.
Also of note is the Cedar Street Courtyard in the Warehouse District, which hosts original and cover bands, and is a major hotspot during the yearly SXSW festival. Antone’s Nightclub, meanwhile, is one of the Austin’s most famous venues, billing itself is the unofficial home of blues music in Texas. B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Eric Clapton, and Stevie Ray Vaughan have all played there, and both established legends and up-and-comers regularly take to the stage to strut their stuff.
An Eyeful for Art Fanatics
If the visual medium of cinema isn’t the only eye-candy you’re after, you’re in luck: Austin is home to some truly world-class museums like the Blanton, which boasts the nation’s largest university-owned collection on permanent display. Or, you can also check out the Harry Ransom Center, which houses such important artifacts as the First Photograph and Gutenberg Bible.
Like your art a little younger and fresher? The non-profit organization Big Medium is a driving force for Austin artists, holding such annual events as the Austin Studio Tour, which gives the public a chance to meet local artists in their creative spaces, the Texas Biennial, a curated statewide survey exhibition of contemporary art in Texas, and the Big Medium Gallery, a dedicated space for innovative and experimental exhibitions
The quirkiest stop you can make, though, is to the Cathedral of Junk, a fixture in the backyard of a small house on the south side of the city. Built by Vince Hannemann, it’s a structure of improvised trusses around and within are things like lawnmower wheels, car bumpers, kitchen utensils, ladders, cables, circuit boards, bicycle parts, and so much more.
A Trip To the Past
The historical legacy of Texas is woven into every part of Austin, from the lovingly preserved vintage buildings to the majestic natural landscape. Visitors can get an overview of that history and culture at the Bullock Museum, which features interactive exhibits and an IMAX Theater. You won’t see anything as unique as the movie they screen at the Alamo Drafthouse, but you’ll definitely learn some interesting factoids about the Lone Star State.
Prefer a more interactive glimpse into the past? The 90-acre Pioneer Farms is a living history park that immerses visitors in the pioneer life, complete with dedicated reenactors garbed in accurate period dress. You can also take a tour of the elegant Texas Governor’s Mansion, which was built in 1856, and boasts some of the most impressive architecture in the entire state.
Of course, visitors shouldn’t forget to make a stop at the Texas State Capitol Building and the visitors center, where a whole host of fun exhibits, family activities, and historical tour opportunities are always on offer, with a specific eye towards showing folks from out-of-state the very best of Texas’ long and illustrious legacy.