6th Street Austin is one of the most renowned entertainment strips in all of Texas, especially when it comes to the seven block stretch between Congress Avenue and Interstate 35. This stretch is where most of the action takes place, and it is commonly referred to as the heart of the Austin Texas Entertainment District. On any given night, you can expect to encounter a decent crowd on 6th Street Austin, though things get especially busy on the weekends and when annual Austin events such as the city's Mardi Gras celebrations are going on. Regardless of the time of day, week, or year, exploring this happening avenue can be a pleasure, especially since it is lined with lovely historic buildings that harken back to Austin's early days.
In the early days, Austin's 6th Street was known as Pecan Street. Numerous homes and commercial buildings were erected along the street in the late 1800s and early 1900s, and the bulk of them remain, giving the area a historical appeal that is undeniable. Part of 6th Street Austin is actually known as the 6th Street Historic District, and visitors might be interested to know that it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The historic atmosphere is a big part of the appeal when it comes to the heart of the Austin Texas Entertainment District, and if nothing else, enjoying a walking tour down 6th Street during the day can be rewarding. A number of shops, galleries, cafes, and restaurants line the strip, providing numerous opportunities to break for a while. It is worth noting that the western portion of 6th Street is more ideal than the eastern portion for shopping. On the western side, antique stores mix with art galleries and specialty stores.
As the sun starts to set over Central Texas, the East 6th Street Austin bars and clubs start to heat up, providing nightlife enthusiasts with numerous options to consider. Austin is known for the abundance of live music that it offers, and you can almost always expect to catch a live gig of some kind when wandering along the eastern portion of 6th Street at night. Country music used to take center stage in the Austin Texas Entertainment District, though all genres are showcased these days. This includes reggae, punk, hip-hop, blues, progressive, jazz, and anything else you can think of.
The 6th Street Austin bars and clubs are often packed, and when pedestrian traffic is expected to be especially heavy, the city blocks off vehicle traffic in the Entertainment District. The busiest times are Friday and Saturday nights and when special events are going on. In addition to the city's Mardi Gras celebration, 6th Street Austin also plays host to an annual Halloween bash, various events that relate to the SXSW Festival, and the bi-annual Pecan Street Festival. The latter is fine arts and crafts festival that is held in both the spring and the fall, and it attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors. As for the Halloween bash, it sees the Austin Entertainment District full of costumed partiers, while SXSW combines a music festival with both a film festival and an interactive media festival.
Whether the 6th Street Austin bars and clubs, the shops, the restaurants, the historic appeal of the street, or the annual events pique your interest, staying close to the action is always an option. There are plenty of enticing Downtown hotels near the heart of the Austin Texas Entertainment District, and they include the landmark Driskill Hotel, which has stood at the crossroads of East 6th and Brazos Street since the 1880's. When big time festivals are going on, the Downtown Austin hotels tend to fill up fast, so booking well in advance is recommended.
Image: ACVB Photo/Denise Chambers