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 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.