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Keep Austin Weird: Five eclectic experiences to check out this Summer
Photo courtesy of Camden Rainey Street Apartments
Photo courtesy of Camden Rainey Street Apartments
Mackenzie  Ventura
Saturday, Jun. 1, 2024

Maybe you’ve heard the phrase “Keep Austin Weird” before. It was born over twenty years ago when an Austin local, Red Wassanich, called Austin-based radio station KOOP to donate. When Red was asked for the reason for his donation, he simply replied, “To keep Austin weird,” trying to refer to Austin’s delightfully eccentric happenings.

 This phrase was later adopted into Austin’s cultural zeitgeist after a local bookstore used it to fend off big-box retailers that would have significantly interfered with business. Eventually, other local establishments adopted the phrase to encourage Austin Residents to buy locally owned goods, services, and commodities.

 Since then, the phrase has become the unofficial slogan for the Capital City and can be seen on T-shirts, bumper stickers and even heard aloud amidst the bumbling restaurants and bars that call Austin home. 

While a lot has changed in our city since the evening of KOOP’s broadcast, the phrase “Keep Austin Weird” prevails in all that Austinites do. Specifically, Austin’s quirky side has attracted travelers from all around looking to see just what makes Austin so “weird” after all.

 Let it be known we certainly have some attractions that could be described as “off-the beaten path” with a unique flair that only Austin, Texas can provide.    

  1. Play a Round at Peter Pan Mini Golf

What is more fun than golf? Mini golf, of course (pun intended.) Peter Pan Mini Golf has been a staple of family-friendly fun for Austinites for over 75 years. It is located on Barton Springs Rd, about 10 minutes from Camden Gaines Ranch.

 Donning a giant statue of Peter Pan himself kneeling at the front of the clubhouse, the mini golf course has been owned and operated by the same family since it opened in 1948. The pair of courses feature 36 holes adorned with fantastical figures like clowns, dinosaurs, fairies, and rabbits.

Peter Pan Mini Golf’s policies speak to Austinites’ passion for pets and pints, infamous for being pet-friendly and cooler-friendly. There’s no better place than Peter Pan to split a six pack of local brews with a good group of friends in Sunny Austin Texas. Unfortunately like all good things, the Peter Pan Mini Golf may come to an end as a business as their lease contract is set to end in September of 2024 due to expansions for downtown Austin. Be sure to make your Summer 2024 extra “weird” by visiting this time capsule of Old Austin.    

2. See the Cathedral of Junk 

Nestled quietly behind a single-family home in south Austin, the Cathedral of Junk is just as it sounds.  The structure sits just a 12 minutes’ drive from Camden Shadow Brook and is surprisingly not visible from the street, adding to its reputation of mystique.

When Vince Hanneman began construction on the structure in 1988, it was intended to be a clubhouse. He used only found items, or what some would describe as “junk,” but as the old saying goes, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”

 Vince has steadily worked on the structure over the last 36 years resulting in a hollow metal frame “cathedral-like” building with defunct items like lawnmowers and car bumpers lining the walls. Some repurposed items have even been transformed into furniture. 

 While the Cathedral is something you might need to see to believe, it is truly a marvel of artistry, care, and man-made magic. Visitors have reported feelings of awe and spiritual awakening and even recognized some of the “junk” incorporated into the structure as their own. Visiting the cathedral is donation-based, and you’ll need to make a reservation. But you surely won't regret visiting Hanneman’s 36-year ongoing passion project nestled in the heart of Old South Austin.  

3. Explore the Museum of the Weird  

In the center of downtown Austin, located amongst the infamous bars of Austin’s 6th Street sits the Museum of the Weird. This area is best known for its buzzing nightlife and is a short 15-minute walk from Camden Rainey Street.

This eccentric museum, locally operated by owner Steve Busti, was inspired by the old dime museums of the early 1800s. The museum's exhibits feature separate areas dedicated to the Texas Bigfoot, Chupacabra, and Jackalope, among other cryptids and urban legends.

The exhibit also features a full wax museum dedicated to early Icons of the horror genre like Frankenstein, Count Orlok from Nosferatu, and Bram Stoker’s Dracula. 

Ever wished to encounter a Fee Jee Mermaid? The Museum of the weird has several taxidermy depictions placed around the museum. Other oddities include shrunken heads, a lifelike depiction of the Minnesota Iceman, and a real animatronic from the film ‘Gremlins 2.’ 

The museum is open every day from 10 am to 7 pm, and admission costs $12.99 per person. However, to get more up close and personal with the exhibits, it’s recommended that you attend on a weekday to avoid the crowds.    

photo courtesy of Museum of the Weird via Facebook

Photo courtesy of Museum of the Weird via Facebook

4. Visit Uncommon Objects 

Now that you’re living like a true Austinite, it only makes sense to bring the weirdness home with you! Uncommon Objects is my favorite antique store, specializing in curious and bizarre antique items.  

Uncommon Objects contents can mostly be described as things you may find in an eccentric family member’s attic, and every visit feels like a treasure hunt. The elaborate displays feel just like a museum of nostalgic, fascinating, and sometimes creepy objects for sale.

The store features 24 different vendor booths, each one just as unique as the next filled with vintage dolls, perfume bottles, bad taxidermy, memorabilia and more. The strangest item I have ever found perusing the aisles was a jar of extracted teeth from a Victorian era dentist’s office, and I often make a game of trying to find the strangest items possible when I visit.  

The inventory is constantly rotating, and there is a surprise to be discovered around every corner at Uncommon Objects. The store is open every day from 10 am to 6pm and is located right off US 290, about 10 minutes from Camden Stoneleigh.     

5. Play Chicken Poo Bingo 

The Little Longhorn Saloon is located just a a three minutes’ drive from Camden Lamar Heights and is home to a 40-year-running Sunday tradition of Chicken Poo Bingo. The origins of Chicken Poo Bingo is a bit spotty, but the game is just as it sounds.

Patrons of Little Longhorn Saloon can purchase a number tile on the bingo board for a small cash price to join the game. The board is scattered with chicken feed and the lucky bird is placed into the small coop atop the board. The chicken will graze and eventually- drop his or her business somewhere on the number board, and the lucky person whose number was selected will leave with a heap of cash! 

While Chicken Poo Bingo may not sound like the most sophisticated way to spend a Sunday afternoon, it sure is a lot of fun. Chicken Poo Bingo is hosted every Sunday from 4:00 PM to 8:00 PM, if you’re looking to impress visitors from out of town with an authentic “Keep Austin Weird” moment, Chicken Poo Bingo is the way to go!  


Looking for more fun things to do in Austin? Check out this blog post.  

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