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Top Austin Music Venues

Country Band Onstage

Austin, Texas has been steadily growing as a top vacation rental destination for travelers, and with good reason. The food, the locals, the weather, and especially the live music are major draws. Music lovers can spend an entire month hopping from venue to venue, seeing famous bands or ones who are about to vault to stardom. Austin has more than 250 live music venues, with tens of annual music festivals and events to plan a trip around. Plus, you’ll never know when a street-side jam session might break out. No matter what music you like (though if it is country, you’re in the right place) you’ll find a location and band to suit your tastes. We’ve created a list of the top Austin music venues to see on your next visit. Although it can be a bit subjective to choose the best ones, these choices below are known for having raucous crowds, the hottest bands, fantastic locations, ideal sight lines to the stage, rich history, and acoustics that are unparalleled. Many are found in the city’s Warehouse District, but others are spread throughout the entire area. It is the “Live Music Capital of the World” after all!

Top Austin Music Venues

The White Horse (500 Comal Street)

A honky tonk on the east side of Austin, The White Horse hosts live music, dancing, and quite an impressive taco menu seven days per week. It attracts all different types – from older couples to young singles to square dancing country fans. It attracts such an eclectic crowd because the music being performed is varied – from country, Cajun, bluegrass, and more. Established bands, newcomers, and the favorite house bands play all week long at this dark, super fun venue. No matter who is on the bright red stage, the dance floor is always rockin’, so get ready to work up a sweat. If you’re looking to improve your moves, sign up for a dance class here. Cheap beers, friendly bartenders, livestock running around (sometimes) and just a general jovial atmosphere make The White Horse one of the top music venues in Austin.

Sahara Lounge (1413 Webberville Road)

Sahara Lounge has been around for a long time, under the guise of many names, but always with the same passion for live music and for a great night out in Austin. The owners are from Austin, Houston, Nigeria and all over – so you can understand why the acts they book are international as well. Indoors, the area is spacious and looks like your classic Texas juke joint, while outdoors, the slightly worn building does not let on what a raucous party is happening inside. It is another east side gem that offers live music nightly, from rock to punk to blues to country. Sip a Lone Star beer, eat some BBQ, chill on the new back patio, and play some pool while you’re at it. Be sure to stop in for one of the more unique Austin evenings at Africa Night!

Elephant Room (315 Congress Avenue)

For a wonderful, classic jazz night make your way to the speakeasy-style Elephant Room. You can’t miss the knee-height neon sign on Congress Avenue, beckoning you down to the underground club. For a city without much jazz, Elephant Room more than makes up for that in spades. The brick interior and low lighting makes for an intimate setting. Sit up front to really feel part of the action. It is constantly winning “Best Jazz Bar” in Austin (seven years in a row now) and has jazz performances seven nights per week. The weekday sets are free with weekends having a small cover charge. Elephant Room has the cozy atmosphere you’re looking for in Austin that you won’t find aboveground.

Ginny’s Little Longhorn Saloon (5434 Burnet Road)

How can a place well known for its Sunday bingo be one of the best music venues in Austin? It starts with Ginny, the octogenarian owner who has been as welcoming as the city itself for past two decades. It also starts with a chicken coop over a pool table, but that’s another story for another time. This tiny, steeple-topped bar in North Austin hosts live music often, with classic country artist Dale Watson as a returning performer. Regulars like to sip on their Lone Star outside, away from the crowds but still within earshot of the music.

The Continental Club (1313A South Congress Avenue)

The colorful entrance of the popular Continental Club, famous for hosting reknowned musical performers, located on South Congress Avenue near downtown.

The colorful entrance of the popular Continental Club, famous for hosting reknowned musical performers, located on South Congress Avenue near downtown.

The famed Continental Club on Congress Avenue is probably a familiar name to most – this was one of the original rock-music clubs in Austin. The Continental Club has had quite an interesting history, as a supper club in the late 50s, a burlesque house in the 60s, and a haven to alt rockers in the 70s. This hot spot hosts the best local talent and secret shows for national bands in the entire city. Now, the hottest country and swing bands in the city come by to play for lively, dancing crowds on the main floor. Upstairs, in what’s known as the Gallery, viewers have a cozier experience listening to jazz where it feels more like a gathering of friends in a living room. Come by seven nights a week for your taste of blues, rock, country, swing and more.

Parish (214 East 6th Street)

If you’re looking for a night out and live music unlike any other in Austin, you should come to Parish. On famed 6th Street, Parish’s packed club hosts oddballs and rising stars for unforgettable sets of music. The intimate atmosphere (only 450 capacity) started the careers of Spoon, Shakey Graves, and many more. Music legends like Pete Townshend and Thom Yorke have performed here, as well as newcomers like Alt-J. Indie, EDM, hip hop, funk, and many other genres get their due at Parish. They also have comedy shows and other live events here.

Saxon Pub (1320 South Lamar Boulevard)

Fans of all ages flock to the Saxon Pub when they visit Austin as this music haven presents a mix of roots rock and country – and has been since 1990 (that’s over 22,000 performances!). One of Austin’s top choices for live music, there are weekday happy hour shows, weekend matinees, and late night performances too. The chill atmosphere feels like playing for a group of friends at a house party, say many musicians. Films have been set here, as well as countless live recordings. Celebrity sightings are the norm, rather than the exception at Saxon Pub.

Moody Theater (310 Willie Nelson Boulevard)

The Moody Theater is acoustically perfect, probably why so many famous acts have been through here over the years – and why Austin City Limits Live, the music television showcase chooses to host and film its episodes here. Tickets can get pricey, so if you’re looking to save some cash this won’t be your choice, but if you decide to splurge then you’re in for a treat. 2750 people can find a seat here, with wonderful sight lines and 12 bars all around. More than 100 annual shows are held here including visits from Lionel Richie, Rob Thomas, and Jill Scott.

Mohawk (912 Red River Street)

Travelers and locals love this medium-sized venue on Red River Street. It is one of the only in the city that has both indoor and outdoor stages. They have everything from rap to heavy metal, and even a BYO vinyl record night. Mohawk really branches out with drunken spelling bees and wrestling, but their bread and butter is of course, live music. Listeners love the layout where you can stand on a number of terraces and enjoy the music without feeling too crowded.

Cactus Cafe (2247 Guadalupe Street)

At the University of Texas, the Cactus Cafe is an easy-to-miss venue that really sneaks up on you. It is inside the Texas Union building on Guadalupe Street and the talent that plays there is unbelievable. Stop in to see up-and-comers before they hit it big, people like The Dixie Chicks, Lyle Lovett, and Ani DeFranco have all graced the stage here. During the day it is a great place for coffee, snacks, and pizza – but it transforms at night into one of the top Austin music venues.

Hole in the Wall (2538 Guadalupe Street)

A little ways down Guadalupe Street you’ll find arguably the best college bar in Austin, Hole in the Wall is what the name suggests. It has been around since the mid-70s offers “cheap music, fast drinks, live women” as per the sign outside. Stevie Ray Vaughn and Lucinda Williams have played here, so it definitely books top talent. It also has an arcade inside so it is a heck of a lot of fun for all ages. It has maintained its salt-of-the-earth feel while so many other venues have updated and/or flamed out over the years. Have a blast here any night of the week until 2am, but just be wary of the college students also looking for a wild time.

Beerland (711 Red River)

Their website claims “Beer, music, liquor, beer, music. Not necessarily in that order.” If that sounds like a blast to you then Beerland is your place. It is a former furniture barn turned rowdy venue, in Austin’s Red River music district. Garage bands, punk, metal, and more have played here for over 10 years. Snag as many cheap beers as you can carry and enjoy the noisiest, wildest experience in Austin. Mostly local bands with some touring acts mixed in, the music here is always loud and full of energy. They also have karaoke on Mondays, arcade games, and an outdoor patio.

The Carousel Lounge (1110 East 52nd Street)

If you’re looking for something truly wacky on your trip to Austin, don’t miss The Carousel Lounge. The out-of-the-way location and bizarre circus theme (complete with elephants and lion tamer murals) might be jarring at first, but it is a one-of-a-kind place to party and listen to music in Austin. The single story building is noticeable right away with the circus motif painted outside as well with acrobats and tigers adorn the walls. The craziest part (no, we haven’t got to it yet) is the massive pink papier mache elephant that looms over the stage. Don’t miss the actual carousel behind the bar, too!

Emo’s (2015 East Riverside Drive)

A rough-around-the-edges, high energy, punk rock venue, Emo’s has been at the top of its game for years. This 1,700 capacity hall has welcomed past performers like Smashing Pumpkins and Beck, and you can hear the hard rock tones blasting through the walls most nights of the week. The club books a mix of up-and-coming bands and major touring acts which you can watch on two stages and an outdoor patio. If you’re into music that is underground and all-out high energy, Emo’s has it.

Cedar Street Courtyard (208 West Fourth Street)

An open-air, tree-lined sunken grassy area placed between two buildings, Cedar Street Courtyard is the most laid-back venue on our list. With inventive cocktails, delicious tapas, and nightly live music you’ll really dig the vibe on Cedar Street. An intimate setting for music, bands range from jazz groups with a full horn section to celebrated artists to a wide array of cover bands. It is a major stop during SXSW and has hosted some of the most famous acts of all time. The VIP Veranda offers a perfect bird’s eye view of the action.