Austin Gay Guide
Oil Can Harry’s and other gay hangouts in downtown Austin’s bustling Warehouse District. Photo by Andrew Collins

Austin Gay Guide – Austin Gay Pride 2018

Just an hour from Houston, Galveston Island delights couples with its alluring mix of old and new, refined and relaxed.

Austin Gay Guide

Famously progressive and fast-fast-growing Austin offers urbane, hipster-approved restaurants, bars, and boutiques and proximity to the picturesque Hill Country. It’s the optimal getaway for fans of indie music clubs, single-origin coffee roasters, and painstakingly curated lifestyle boutiques, but at its historic and still thriving heart, this youthful burg remains fun-loving and easy-going, with endless diversions, from kayaking on downtown’s Lady Bird Lake to food-truck-hopping in East Austin.

Check out the handy website of Visit Austin for more trip-planning advice and details, and also take a look at the organization’s extremely helpful LGBTQ Travel section.

Austin Gay Pride 2018

The hugely popular Austin Gay Pride celebration takes place over 10 days in early to mid-August, with the biggest events taking place the weekend of August 10–12, 2018. These include the L&B Womxn’s Party (at 4th & Congress) and Pride Men’s Party (4th Street) on Friday night, August 10; the Austin Pride Festival (from 11 am to 6 pm) and night-time Austin Pride Parade (from 8 pm to 10 pm) on Saturday, August 11; and a drag brunch at the chic and stylish Kimpton Hotel Van Zandt from noon until 3 pm on Sunday, August 12.

Where to Stay in Gay Austin

Austin Gay Guide
The Kimpton Hotel Van Zandt, near trendy Rainey Street. Photo Hotel Van Zandt

Austin swells with distinctive accommodations, including the local music–themed Kimpton Hotel Van Zandt (hotelvanzandt.com), a chichi, contemporary roost on the edge of downtown and the bustling Rainey Street neighborhood. Also consider the three intimate properties in South Congress designed and operated by the LGBTQ-owned Bunkhouse Group: the Austin Motel, Hotel San José, and Hotel Saint Cecilia. The latter offers the swankiest suites and bungalows—plus a stunning garden-shrouded terrace and lap pool. Downtown has lately witnessed an explosion of sleek hotels, such as the tony W Austin—with its fabulous spa, but the city’s beloved 1886 Driskill Hotel—with its storied history and art-filled individually designed rooms—remains the Austin address for an romantic getaway or fairytale wedding.

Anchoring the swanky Domain retail-residential village on the north side of the city, Archer Austin boasts a nifty pool terrace and a scene-y restaurant, Second Bar + Kitchen, serving eclectic contemporary regional cuisine (don’t pass up the addictive avocado fundido with asadero cheese and chorizo).

Favorite Austin Experiences

Austin Gay Guide
Revelers boating at clothing-optional, gay-popular Hippie Hollow Park, just outside Austin. Photo by Andrew Collins

Experiencing the best of Austin is less about touring formal attractions than exploring the wealth of vibrant retail and entertainment districts around town, with South Congress/South First, East Austin, Rainey Street, and the Warehouse District (home to several hoppin’ queer bars) leading the way. That said, the excellent LBJ Presidential Library is a must for history buffs, and several beautiful parks—including Mount Bonnell for its views of the countryside, Barton Springs Pool for swimming, and Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center for garden tours—beckon outdoor enthusiasts.

 

On weekends, LGTBQ revelers flock to Hippie Hollow Park, where nude sunbathing is permitted on the limestone-terraced shores of 30-square-mile Lake Travis. It’s a lively, flirty spot for sunning and swimming. Finish the afternoon by sipping margaritas and noshing on guac and chips on the Starlight Terrace of the nearby Oasis on Lake Travis, which offers some of the best sunset-viewing in Texas.