Lifestyle

The 20 Most Instagrammed Places in Austin

The good, the bad, and the ugly-what are Austinites (and all those visiting bachelorette parties) posting right now?

Flickr/Trey Ratcliff
Flickr/Trey Ratcliff
Flickr/Trey Ratcliff

Got a favorite Instagram spot in Austin? No need to tell us because we already know. Combining the most insta-tagged places with what locals tell us they’re seeing all over social, we’ve shortlisted 20 spots that have been posted, reeled, or storied over and over in ATX this year. Some are beautiful and totally deserve the attention, some are cringe and will have you rolling your eyes, and more than one involves large slabs of meat. (Surprise, surprise.) Curious? Scroll down and see what made it to number one.

20. The Long Center

You have to admit, this place looks pretty sweet during the festive seasons.

19. Banger’s Sausage House & Beer Garden

Banger’s serves so much sausage, beer, and cheese-smothered sides, it’s no wonder it made the list (and now it serves brunch!). Patrons go IG crazy, especially after one of its one-liter Man-Mosas.

18. The Escape Game Austin

How did we socialize all summer when it was too hot to go outside? We grouped together in AC’ed escape rooms. The Escape Game downtown offered participants not only an opportunity for teamwork, but also for social media posts. It’s got prime Insta backdrops including eerie cabins, colorful classrooms, and a prison, plus as many props as you can pick up.

17. Fairmont Austin

The Fairmont Austin is colossal. It’s gorgeous. It’s swanky. And when you’re throwing down that kind of coin for a night in a hotel, or dining on tomahawk at Garrison, everybody on Instagram is gonna need to know. #goals.

16. La Barbecue

The level of respect for La Barbecue is so high that even after waiting in line for hours, hungry guests actually take the time to photograph their food before devouring it.

15. Topgolf Austin

Topgolf is a three-story golf complex with a restaurant, bar, and 250 HDTVs showing nothing but sports. It’s like bro heaven, you know… without the whole dying part.

14. Moody Center

Surprisingly, the Moody Center did not make the list due to its sexy, beige and white exterior but for the countless touring musicians who grace us with their talent. Okay, mainly Harry Styles’ mini-residency.

13. Lady Bird Lake

Lady Bird Lake is undeniably beautiful, and we applaud the handful of outdoorsy types we can live vicariously through-as we watch safely from the bridge.

12. The Mohawk Austin

Mohawk is probably our best music venue, with multiple levels to view from and a great booking crew. The taxidermied brown bear near the bar often serves as a popular prop.

11. Mount Bonnell

Staring-out-from-the-top-of-Mt. Bonnell pics are the basic bitches of Austin Instagram. Staring out while wearing a tiger onesie… the new standard.

10. Zilker Park

Zilker Park is always beautiful, but during the holidays, it is lit up like a damn winter wonderland. This brings out the creative photographer in all of us. Let’s not forget a ton of outdoor events happen here-so, you know there are plenty of pics floating around.

9. Austin Convention Center

Thanks to SXSW and all types of gatherings of the sort, Austin Convention Center is a bustling epicenter of activity. Those badge holders sure have a lot of time to kill in between talks too-according to what we’ve seen so on social media.

8. Stubb’s Austin

Where else can you watch your favorite top acts perform and eat the same BBQ that President Obama ate on his visit to Austin? Sure, that was in 2013, but we still haven’t forgotten-and never will.

7. Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium

There is a large community of people in Austin who enjoy watching the UT Longhorns play football. They also may or may not bleed orange.

6. Barton Springs

Barton Springs is a spring-fed pool that remains about the same temperature all year long; it’s also where semi-attractive people go to soak up rays on its grassy knolls-making it an IG hotspot.

5. I Love You So Much Mural

This mural has been posted to death. Locals are sick of it, but the hordes of tourists keep this IG spot well and truly alive.

4. Texas State Capitol

This is where Texas’ (oftentimes questionable) laws are passed. It’s also where people go to pose with statues and Segways like bosses.

3. The University of Texas at Austin

Over 50,000 students attend the University of Texas. Young people are the most active social media users. This is a no brainer.

2. Austin City Limits Music Festival

ACL is part music festival, part fashion show, and part food court. It also costs a pretty penny, so you’ll want to document as much as possible so everyone who follows you knows just how much fun you’re having.

1. Sixth Street

Though it’s been more famous over the years for crime and debauchery-and no self-respecting local over the age of 25 would admit to frequenting its stained streets-Austin just wouldn’t be Austin without Dirty Sixth. Wasted bachelorettes in pink cowboy hats, dudes on party bikes blaring hip hop, and students looking for liquor that’ll destroy their insides, forever keep this place busy, and thus, the number one most ‚Äėgrammed spot in town year upon year.Sign up here for our daily Austin email and be the first to get all the food/drink/fun in town.

James Wongis a contributor for Thrillist.

Lifestyle

The Best New Bookstores in LA are Curated, Specific, and Personal

Discover a new favorite book, join a book club, and maybe even do some karaoke at the new wave of LA bookshops.

Photo by Innis Casey Photography, courtesy of Zibby's Bookshop
Photo by Innis Casey Photography, courtesy of Zibby’s Bookshop
Photo by Innis Casey Photography, courtesy of Zibby’s Bookshop

A couple of years ago, the legendary Powell’s Books in Portland released a perfume designed to evoke the smell of a bookstore. The scent has notes of wood, violet, and the lovely and unusually precise word biblichor, the particular aroma of old books. The reality of the scent is what it is-mostly sweet and floral-but more important is the imagery it conjures. The best bookstores are both cozy and mysterious, familiar and surprising, with endless potential for discovery.

Los Angeles has a wealth of independent book sellers, including beloved legacy shops like The Last Bookstore, The Iliad, and Chevalier’s. But a new wave of bookstores has been growing over the last few years, shops that eschew the traditional one-of-everything mindset to focus on specificity, curation, and point of view. There are bookstores with themes, bookstores that double as event spaces, bookstores that reflect their neighbourhoods, bookstores that take inspiration from a specific person-whether that’s the shop owner, a historical figure, or a little bit of both-and so many more.

Like the niche-ification of the internet and the culture at large, these new and new-ish bookstores provide a space to discover books, ideas, and perspectives led by an expert, the kind of things that you may never have found on your own. They can also be a safe harbour for pure nerdiness, a place to dive deep into your favourite category or cause. To help you on your way, we’ve put together a list of some of the best new bookstores in LA, with a focus on curated shops with their own specific perspectives.

Photo courtesy of Octavia's Bookshelf
Photo courtesy of Octavia’s Bookshelf
Photo courtesy of Octavia’s Bookshelf

Octavia’s Bookshelf

Pasadena
Pasadena is a famously book-friendly city, with bookstore royalty in the form of legendary Vroman’s and its own literary alliance. Now it has one of the most exciting new bookstores too. Octavia’s Bookshelf is owner Nikki High’s tribute to the science fiction master Octavia E. Butler, who was a Pasadena native herself. The name of the shop provides a clue into High’s inspiration, titles she imagines Butler would have had on her shelves, with a focus on BIPOC authors. The storefront is small, but the collection is impeccably curated and the space is cozy and welcoming for readers of all backgrounds.

Photo by Mads Gobbo, courtesy of North Figueroa Bookshop
Photo by Mads Gobbo, courtesy of North Figueroa Bookshop
Photo by Mads Gobbo, courtesy of North Figueroa Bookshop

North Figueroa Bookshop

Highland Park
Vertical integration can be a beautiful thing, especially when it allows independent creators more control over their products. The new North Figueroa Bookshop is a shining example of the concept, a storefront built on a collaboration between two publishers, Rare Bird and Unnamed Press. North Fig features titles from those presses, of course, including lots of striking literary fiction and memoir, but it also features a curated collection of other books. They’ve made it a point of emphasis to serve the needs of the local Highland Park, Glassell Park, Cypress Park, and Eagle Rock community-there’s lots of fiction from fellow independent publishers, other general interest titles with a focus on California history and literature, and plenty of Spanish-language books.

Photo by Karen Cohen Photography, courtesy of Zibby's Bookshop
Photo by Karen Cohen Photography, courtesy of Zibby’s Bookshop
Photo by Karen Cohen Photography, courtesy of Zibby’s Bookshop

Zibby’s Bookshop

Santa Monica
Speaking of vertical integration, there’s another new combined publisher and bookstore on the other side of town. Zibby’s Bookshop is the brainchild of Zibby Owens, Sherri Puzey, and Diana Tramontano, and it’s the physical home of Zibby Books, a literary press that releases one featured book a month. That system is designed so that each book gets the full attention and resources of the press. Owens is an author, podcaster, and book-fluencer, and she has become something of a lit-world mogul with a magazine, podcast network, event business, and an education platform too. The shop has a unique sorting system, built around a feeling for each book-in store many of the shelves are labelled by interest or personality type, like “For the foodie,” or “For the pop culture lover.” On their webshop, you can browse for books that make you cry, escape, laugh, lust, or tremble. There are recommendations from Owens and the staff, sections for local authors, family dramas, and books that have just been optioned. If this all seems a little overwhelming, you should probably avoid the section dedicated to books that make you anxious.

The Salt Eaters Bookshop

Inglewood
Inglewood native Asha Grant opened The Salt Eaters Bookshop in 2021 with a mission in mind-to centre stories with protagonists who are Black girls, women, femme, and/or gender-nonconforming people. Over the last year and change that it’s been open, it has also become a community hub, a place for Inglewood locals and people from across town to drop in, to see what’s new and to discover incredible works in the Black feminist tradition. They also host regular events like readings, discussions, and parties.

Lost Books

Montrose
Thankfully, legendary downtown bookshop The Last Bookstore’s name is hyperbole, and owners Josh and Jenna Spencer have even gone so far as to open a second shop, Lost Books in Montrose. Instead of the technicolour whimsy of the book tunnel at The Last Bookstore, Lost Books has a tunnel of plants that welcomes you into the shop, which opened in the summer of 2021. They sell those plants in addition to books, and coffee and vinyl too, which makes Lost Books a lovely destination and a fun little surprise in the quaint foothill town just off the 2 freeway.

Photo by Claudia Colodro, courtesy of Stories Books & Cafe
Photo by Claudia Colodro, courtesy of Stories Books & Cafe
Photo by Claudia Colodro, courtesy of Stories Books & Cafe

Stories Books & Cafe

Echo Park
Ok, this one is fudging the criteria a little-Stories has been open for almost 15 years. But over those years the shop has become a pillar of Echo Park community life, hosting readings, discussions, and events, and their cafe tables function as a de facto office for about half of the neighbourhood on any given afternoon. After the tragic recent passing of co-owner and Echo Park fixture Alex Maslansky it seemed like the shop’s future was in doubt, but thankfully after a brief hiatus co-owner and co-founder Claudia Colodro and the staff were able to band together to reopen and keep the beloved cafe and bookstore going strong.

Page Against the Machine

Long Beach
The name alone makes it clear what you’re getting at Page Against the Machine-revolutionary progressive books, with a collection centred on activist literature, socially conscious writing, and a whole lot of political history. The shop itself is small but the ideas are grand, with fiction by writers like Richard Wright, Colson Whitehead, and Albert Camus next to zines about gentrification and compendia of mushroom varieties. They also host regular readings and discussions.

Photo by Viva Padilla, courtesy of Re/Arte
Photo by Viva Padilla, courtesy of Re/Arte
Photo by Viva Padilla, courtesy of Re/Arte

Re/Arte Centro Literario

Boyle Heights
Boyle Heights has its own small but mighty combined bookstore, art gallery, gathering space, and small press in Viva Padilla’s Re/Arte. Padilla is a poet, translator, editor, and curator, and as a South Central LA native and the child of Mexican immigrants, she’s focused on Chicanx and Latinx art, literature, and social criticism. Re/Arte’s collection has a wide range of books, from classic Latin American literature to modern essays and everything in between. Re/Arte is also now the headquarters for sin cesar, a literary journal that publishes poetry, fiction, and essays from Black and Brown writers. There are always community-focused events happening too, from regular open mics and zine workshops to film screenings and more.

The Book Jewel

Westchester
Most bookshops host events, but few host them with the regularity of The Book Jewel, the two- year-old independent bookstore in Westchester. Their calendar is so full with readings, several different book clubs, signings, and meet and greets that there are sometimes multiple events on the same day. The shop also hosts a ton of family-focused readings, with regular storytime on Sunday mornings often followed by a talk with the author. It’s a great fit for the relatively low-key (but not exactly quiet) suburban neighbourhood, and it’s no coincidence that storytime lines up with the Westchester Farmers Market, which takes place right out front.

Reparations Club

West Adams
Most bookstores lean into coziness, aiming to be a hideaway for some quiet contemplation or maybe a quick sotto voce chat-not so at Reparations Club, the exuberant and stylish concept bookshop and art space on Jefferson. Owner and founder Jazzi McGilbert and her staff have built a beautiful and vibrant shop full of art from Black artists, including books but also records, candles, incense, clothing, and all sorts of fun things to discover. There’s a perfect seating area to sit and hang out for a while, and they host a range of wild and fun events from readings to happy hours, panel discussions to karaoke nights and more.

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Ben Mesirow is a Staff Writer at Thrillist.

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