Tame by day and a bit raucous by night (especially on weekends), 6th Street should go on all party-goers’ lists of authentically Austin must-have experiences, especially if you’re visiting for the first time. Go during the day as part of a guided city tour and learn more about the area’s history. Then return at night to swig a Lone Star beer, listen to live music on any given night, and enjoy the laid-back vibe of this cool Texas town.
Things to Know Before You Go
While 6th Street is sleepy during the day, it’s not appropriate for young kids in the evening, when the bar crowds fill the streets.
The scene skews heavily toward college students and 20-somethings, with shot bars and honky-tonks that cater to that demographic.
A portion of 6th Street is closed to traffic on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights, so parking can be difficult to find.
How to Get There
“Dirty Sixth” refers to about a 7-block stretch of 6th Street between I-35 and Congress Avenue in downtown Austin. You can get there by taking either of the main freeways, I-35 or TX-1 (Mopac), into downtown. Austin also has a small train line and a bus service operated by Capital Metro, and in the evenings you can usually find a pedicab to hire for a night of revelry so you don’t have to drive.
When to Get There
Thursday through Saturday nights, 6th Street is reliably jumping from about 10pm into the wee hours. If you don’t like huge crowds, you’d be wise to avoid visiting during festival weekends, such as South by Southwest (SXSW) and the Austin City Limits (ACL) Music Festival.
Have a Laugh
If you are looking for entertainment beyond the bars on 6th Street, buy tickets for a show at Esther’s Follies. This variety show will have you doubled over with laughter as it pokes fun at life in Austin and Texas in general, with a frequently updated take on current events, plus feats of magic. The theater fronts 6th Street and often uses passersby as unknowing participants in the show.