©2006 ACVB/The Oasis Restaurant The Oasis, a lakefront restaurant, is a favorite spot for watching the sun go down.

Austin Nightlife & Entertainment

A vibrant nightlife, especially live music and good margaritas, goes hand-in-hand with a work-hard, play-hard attitude that translates into an active social scene. Despite the unfortunate demise of popular live music venues like Steamboat and Liberty Lunch, Austin is still the place for live music, with something going on seven nights a week. The city promotes the music with free noon concerts each Friday, and nearly every restaurant and bar in town has a band playing most nights.

Sixth Street is in a class by itself, with a mix of shot bars, billiards halls, restaurants, and dance clubs that attract students, tourists, and 30-somethings out on the town, while the Fourth Street Warehouse District is a slightly older crowd, enjoying martinis, expensive meals, and plenty of people-watching.

The Second Street area is the newest kid on the entertainment block in Austin. With its mix of high-rise living and young successful professionals, it's attracted a wide range of people who want to relax and enjoy a good glass of wine in an urban setting. South Congress Avenue, at one time known for its street walkers, is now home to such famed live music venues as The Continental Club and the ultra-hip Hotel San Jose.

Insider's Guide: The Best of Nightlife & Entertainment in Austin

Insider's Guide: The Best of Nightlife & Entertainment in Austin

When in Austin, go see live music. It's what locals do every weekend and sometimes seven days a week, if they so choose, since there's somebody playing somewhere every night. Check out the Austin Chronicle, the city's entertainment and alternative news weekly, for club listings.

The city of Austin sponsors a noon concert Fridays in front of Austin City Hall (301 W Second St), which is a great way to start the weekend.

No visit to Austin is complete without partying on Sixth Street, so make that your first priority. Several new bars and clubs have opened, including Barcelona (209 East Sixth), an underground basement bar; Maiko Sushi Lounge (311 West Sixth) with its modern design; and Hi-Lo (301 West Sixth), a cool retro-style hangout.

The Fourth Street Warehouse District is cool with an edge -- the edge of age, that is. Those past the ripe age of 35 tend to gravitate here, and for good reason. The martinis are good at Cedar Street Courtyard (208 West Fourth); the entertainment and live music worth the trip to La Zona Rosa (612 West Fourth); and there's even a celebrity bar, Six (117 West 4th), partially owned by Lance Armstrong.

The Continental Club (1315 S Congress Ave) is a local favorite, as are Antone's (213 West Fifth St) and Stubb's BBQ (801 Red River), where you can enjoy barbecue brisket and chicken as you listen to quality jazz and other tunes.

Beyond the downtown party life, there's plenty to do on the water, with lakeside haunts like Carlos & Charlie's (5923 Hi Line Rd) and one of the area's best live music venues in The Backyard (13101 Highway 71 West), an outdoor amphitheater set smack in the middle of the Hill Country that has hosted the likes of Willie Nelson, Death Cab for Cutie, and Lyle Lovett. The Oasis (6550 Comanche Trail) is a perfect spot to begin your evening. It's located next to Lake Travis, and people flock there to watch the sun go down.

Since Austin's known for live music, there are plenty of free and family-oriented events that don't require a sitter and a cab to Sixth Street. The "Live at the Grove" series of free summer concerts at Shady Grove (1624 Barton Springs), a popular local burger joint near Zilker Park, is very popular and attracts all manner of Austinites.

For those who aren't into the bar scene, check out Esther's Follies (525 East 6th) for a night of laughs and pure entertainment. The show is a hoot, combining magic, vaudeville, and pure Improv comedy. Definitely call ahead for reservations; this is one popular attraction!

There's also Pete's Dueling Piano Bar (421 East 6th), where Texas heritage is celebrated, bawdiness applies, and fun is a requirement.

Or, catch a unique movie at Austin's own Alamo Drafthouse Theater (409 Colorado at 4th St), where you can check out a fun flick and order something to eat and drink while you're watching it from Alamo's fun movie-themed full menu. The Splendor in the Grass vegetarian pizza is great, as is the popular Godfather, with plenty of pepperoni, of course. Don't miss the Fried Pickles -- they are worth every calorie!

If you'd rather relax and unwind while visiting Austin, outdoor activities are your best bet. Three lakes grace this city, and it's home to some of the nation's best hiking trails. The city also offers several fine spas from which to choose. On the next page, we outline some of the best options for relaxing and unwinding in Austin. A vibrant nightlife, especially live music and good margaritas, goes hand-in-hand with a work-hard, play-hard attitude that translates into an active social scene. Despite the unfortunate demise of popular live music venues like Steamboat and Liberty Lunch, Austin is still the place for live music, with something going on seven nights a week. The city promotes the music with free noon concerts each Friday, and nearly every restaurant and bar in town has a band playing most nights.

Sixth Street is in a class by itself, with a mix of shot bars, billiards halls, restaurants, and dance clubs that attract students, tourists, and 30-somethings out on the town, while the Fourth Street Warehouse District is a slightly older crowd, enjoying martinis, expensive meals, and plenty of people-watching.

The Second Street area is the newest kid on the entertainment block in Austin. With its mix of high-rise living and young successful professionals, it's attracted a wide range of people who want to relax and enjoy a good glass of wine in an urban setting. South Congress Avenue, at one time known for its street walkers, is now home to such famed live music venues as The Continental Club and the ultra-hip Hotel San Jose.

Insider's Guide: The Best of Nightlife & Entertainment in Austin

Insider's Guide: The Best of Nightlife & Entertainment in Austin

©2006 ACVB/The Oasis Restaurant The Oasis, a lakefront restaurant, is a favorite spot for watching the sun go down.

When in Austin, go see live music. It's what locals do every weekend and sometimes seven days a week, if they so choose, since there's somebody playing somewhere every night. Check out the Austin Chronicle, the city's entertainment and alternative news weekly, for club listings.

The city of Austin sponsors a noon concert Fridays in front of Austin City Hall (301 W Second St), which is a great way to start the weekend.

No visit to Austin is complete without partying on Sixth Street, so make that your first priority. Several new bars and clubs have opened, including Barcelona (209 East Sixth), an underground basement bar; Maiko Sushi Lounge (311 West Sixth) with its modern design; and Hi-Lo (301 West Sixth), a cool retro-style hangout.

The Fourth Street Warehouse District is cool with an edge -- the edge of age, that is. Those past the ripe age of 35 tend to gravitate here, and for good reason. The martinis are good at Cedar Street Courtyard (208 West Fourth); the entertainment and live music worth the trip to La Zona Rosa (612 West Fourth); and there's even a celebrity bar, Six (117 West 4th), partially owned by Lance Armstrong.

The Continental Club (1315 S Congress Ave) is a local favorite, as are Antone's (213 West Fifth St) and Stubb's BBQ (801 Red River), where you can enjoy barbecue brisket and chicken as you listen to quality jazz and other tunes.

Beyond the downtown party life, there's plenty to do on the water, with lakeside haunts like Carlos & Charlie's (5923 Hi Line Rd) and one of the area's best live music venues in The Backyard (13101 Highway 71 West), an outdoor amphitheater set smack in the middle of the Hill Country that has hosted the likes of Willie Nelson, Death Cab for Cutie, and Lyle Lovett. The Oasis (6550 Comanche Trail) is a perfect spot to begin your evening. It's located next to Lake Travis, and people flock there to watch the sun go down.

Since Austin's known for live music, there are plenty of free and family-oriented events that don't require a sitter and a cab to Sixth Street. The "Live at the Grove" series of free summer concerts at Shady Grove (1624 Barton Springs), a popular local burger joint near Zilker Park, is very popular and attracts all manner of Austinites.

For those who aren't into the bar scene, check out Esther's Follies (525 East 6th) for a night of laughs and pure entertainment. The show is a hoot, combining magic, vaudeville, and pure Improv comedy. Definitely call ahead for reservations; this is one popular attraction!

There's also Pete's Dueling Piano Bar (421 East 6th), where Texas heritage is celebrated, bawdiness applies, and fun is a requirement.

Or, catch a unique movie at Austin's own Alamo Drafthouse Theater (409 Colorado at 4th St), where you can check out a fun flick and order something to eat and drink while you're watching it from Alamo's fun movie-themed full menu. The Splendor in the Grass vegetarian pizza is great, as is the popular Godfather, with plenty of pepperoni, of course. Don't miss the Fried Pickles -- they are worth every calorie!

If you'd rather relax and unwind while visiting Austin, outdoor activities are your best bet. Three lakes grace this city, and it's home to some of the nation's best hiking trails. The city also offers several fine spas from which to choose. On the next page, we outline some of the best options for relaxing and unwinding in Austin.