AUSTIN (KXAN) — Looking for something different to do in town this weekend? Here’s a list of hidden gem attractions in the Austin area.
Most of these things to do are within an hour’s drive of the city.
Mysterious: Austin Ghost Tours
For 30 years, Jeanine Plumer has run walking tours delving into the history of downtown Austin. But what began as walking history tours pivoted into a deep-dive into paranormal activity noted at some of Austin’s most renowned spaces.
And while many residents have heard about the hauntings at The Driskill hotel downtown, you might not know all the details behind the Servant Girl Murders, or the murder and subsequent haunting at the Marshall family ranch in Westlake Hills.
- Where: 303 Red River St., Austin
- Hours: Monday-Saturday, 10:30 a.m.-8:30 p.m.; closed Sunday
- Price: $25 per adult ticket, $10 per child ticket, ages 6-12 years old
- Contact: 512-203-5561
- Website: Find Austin Ghost Tours online here
Spooky: The Gas Station
If you’re a horror movie buff, you probably know you’re way around the 1974 classic, “Texas Chainsaw Massacre.” But did you know it was filmed in Bastrop — and that you can stay on the property?
Roy and Lisa Rose have owned The Gas Station for nine years and have leaned into all the bloody details that have made the film beloved among horror enthusiasts. The Gas Station is part-barbecue joint, part-rental cabin resort and 100% curated to film fans with on-site photo opportunities, regular meet-and-greets and an annual cult horror film convention.
- Where: 1073 State Hwy. 304, Bastrop
- Hours: Tuesday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; closed Monday
- Price: Cabin rentals $129 per night, or $110 per night when staying two or more nights
- Contact: 512-321-7297
- Website: Find The Gas Station online here
Kooky: Museum of the Weird
As a kid, Austin business owner Steve Busti went with his aunt to see “The Creature in Ice,” a traveling display of what appeared to be a preserved frozen caveman. Forty years later, Busti opened the Museum of the Weird in downtown Austin and made it his mission to track down the display, along with other bizarre and unusual finds from around the world.
Among the Museum of the Weird’s collection is the Fiji Mermaid, made famous by P.T. Barnum. The shop also has an alien UFO exhibit from an alleged crash that happened in the late 1890s, as well as Big Foot exhibits.
While the phrase “keep Austin weird” has been uttered for years, Busti said he hopes his shop can help maintain some of the strangeness and absurdity people know the city for — even if his definition of weird includes UFOs and Big Foot.
- Where: 412 E. 6th St., Austin
- Hours: 10 a.m.-7 p.m. daily
- Price: $12 per adult ticket, $8 per child ticket, ages 8 years and younger
- Contact: 512-476-5493
- Website: Find Museum of the Weird online here
Fun: Go on a drive-thru safari
Here are six safari tours or walkable zoos in the Central Texas area. Some require advance reservations.
- Austin Zoo: 10808 Rawhide Trail, Austin
- Capital of Texas Zoo: 376 Jenkins Road, Cedar Creek
- Exotic Resort Zoo: 5 Zoo Trail, Johnson City
- Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch: 6515 Natural Bridge Caverns Road, San Antonio
- Sanctuary Serengeti: 250 Plum Church Road, West Point
- Topsey Exotic Ranch: 945 CR 118, Copperas Cove
Surprising: Visit the “Rhinory”
As a winery with rhinos, the Rhinory serves wine and runs a rhino conservatory in Fredericksburg. Guests can meet Blake, the Southern White Rhino, at the unique winery.
Unique: Sleep next to giraffes and see them up-close
Longneck Manor in Fredericksburg offers daily tours for its rhinos and giraffes and a unique experience to sleep in the giraffe barn. The zoo’s suite is already booked through 2023, so guests should plan their stay starting in 2024.
This story is part of a KXAN series highlighting Central Texas activities — you can see our full list on our “Central Texas Things to Do” page. Do you have an idea of something we should profile? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.