Want to see the side of Austin that few visitors know about? Though these attractions are not always publicized, they’re unique and special in their own way and contribute to the quirkiness and fun that is Austin, Texas. Check out a few of these hidden gems!

Words by  Talia Johnson-Watkins

The Writing Barn

1020 Womack Rd.

The Writing Barn is a hidden retreat-style spot dedicated to writers and bookworms. Owned by Austin author Bethany Hegedus, the Writing Barn is a quaint and quiet place for writers to enjoy a change of pace and write freely and peacefully. The spot has primarily been home to different writer’s workshops, art classes, and overnight retreats, but quite often the Writing Barn holds events of their own. Their Write Away Day Event, which is held twice a month, invites anyone  to join that is looking for a peaceful place to write for the day. Afterwards writers are given the option to collaborate or get feedback from each other. Check out the Writing Barn’s website to rent their space or to get a list of their upcoming events.

Violet Crown Cinema

434 W 2nd St.

Movie buffs will love this spot! Violet Crown Cinema is a locally owned cinema dedicated to showing documentary, independent, international, and studio films. This sleekly designed theater features four screening auditoriums, a bar, a café, and reserved seating. Not being just your average cinema, Violet Crown also offers rentals of the auditoriums for business presentations and private screenings.  If you’re looking for a different type of cinema experience, this is the place to go.

Castle Hill

1008 Baylor St.

Also known as the HOPE Outdoor Gallery, Castle Hill is a graffiti park consisting of broken walls and concrete foundations that are covered in graffiti. If you’ve heard of the spot and haven’t had the time to visit yet, now is the time to go! This Austin classic is a cool place to let out some artistic expression, take a couple pictures, or even buy some local art. The HOPE Outdoor Gallery was launched in 2011 as an educational project that was intended to give muralists and street artists a space to display their inspirational and educational art pieces. In order to participate in painting on the wall you must first register because the gallery is considered private property. However, even if you don’t plan on painting, Castle Hill and the outdoor gallery is a nice spot to check out and is open to the public to visit.

Hippie Hollow Park

7000 Comanche Trail

Located on the shore of Lake Travis, Hippie Hollow Park is the only legally recognized clothing-optional public park in Texas. Many know the park as a myth, but it does in fact actually exist. The park features a designated swimming area, a nature hiking trail, and several picnic tables. Keep in  mind that this is a nudist park, which means that anyone under the age of 18 is strictly prohibited from entering. Although the park is not necessarily family friendly, Hippie Hollow Park is an interesting and odd place to visit while in the Austin area.

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