Exploring Austin's Must See Murals

Austin is nothing if not a visual town. The town itself is a feast for the eyes. It's got natural wonders like Lady Bird Lake and the Barton Creek greenbelt, and it has a variety of architectural delights like the Texas Capitol building, Frost Bank Tower and the University of Texas clock tower, to name just few. Adding to the visual buffet in Austin are many amazing instances of street art. And while street art in Austin includes things like sticker slaps, wood signs and good ole' graffiti I wanted to point out some of the more famous, and interesting murals that you will want to see (and likely snap a photo or two in front of) as you explore the town. 

I'll run through the spots I recommend that you visit in a sec but I also want to make a very clear disclaimer. This post is not intended to be a comprehensive guide to murals/street art in Austin. There are so many pieces around town and the landscape changes so frequently that maintaining a comprehensive guide could end up as a robust part-time job. Unfortunately that's not a job for me! But I do promise to whet your whistle by sharing a few of the most famous murals in Austin in addition to some that probably were not even on your radar. If you want to enjoy the latest and greatest in Austin street art I also recommend that you follow me, @knowatx, on Instagram. With that stated, please enjoy the following.

For starters I'm going to point out that if you want to see the latest and greatest murals painted in Austin that you can't go wrong by heading over to Castle Hill (aka HOPE Outdoor Gallery) located at 10th and Baylor Street just one block west of North Lamar Blvd. I have written about Castle Hill previously and if you haven't read that post there are two things I'll tell you about it. First, on any given day you could see something amazing on the walls there. Second, on any given day the walls of Castle Hill can look like a total mess because just about anyone can paint over a mural there if they want to. So it's a hit and miss kind of thing. One other thing I can say is that if you go to Castle Hill on a weekend or holiday you are likely to run into an artist or two creating a fresh piece of wonderful art.

 Visitors posing on the ground level at Castle Hill (aka HOPE Outdoor Gallery).

Visitors posing on the ground level at Castle Hill (aka HOPE Outdoor Gallery).

Beyond Castle Hill there are a few spots that I will categorize as sure things, or at least as sure as anything can be, as far as experiencing a great Austin mural. The first one I will highlight is an incredibly simple, but very famous mural by an artist named Daniel Johnston. The mural is called Jeremiah the Innocent. It's located at the corner of 21st St. and Guadalupe, just west of the University of Texas (UT) campus. The story goes that the mural was made famous due to Kurt Cobain wearing a t-shirt that depicted the mural.

 Jeremiah The Innocent

Jeremiah The Innocent

The next one I'll point out is almost as famous but not actually a mural. It's really a graffiti scrawl but one that has achieved a pretty legendary status over the years. It simply says, I love you so much. I can't tell you how many times people have asked me, "So where is that I love you so much graffiti?" I'm always happy to tell them that it's at the corner of South Congress Ave. and West James St. on the wall of Jo's Coffee. It's a popular spot. Sometimes street performers will set up adjacent to the wall and with all the people taking photos it's a real scene, but one you probably don't want to miss.

 So simple, yet so powerful.

So simple, yet so powerful.

As long as you're on South Congress if you keep walking south from Jo's Coffee you will also be able to find a number of other murals including a couple of nice one's in the parking area of Home Slice Pizza. I love this one of good old Mr. Rogers by Niz.

 Won't you be my neighbor?

Won't you be my neighbor?

Once you've perused the street art on South Congress you may want to walk (yes it's walkable) a few blocks west to South 1st Street. There you'll find, on the corner of South 1st and West Annie Streets, the very popular Greetings From Austin postcard mural. The mural is on the side of a the Roadhouse Relics neon art gallery building. The gallery doesn't have regular hours that I know of but it has plenty of window that show off some very cool neon art.

 The Greetings From Austin mural as seen from the opposite corner on South 1st St.

The Greetings From Austin mural as seen from the opposite corner on South 1st St.

The South 1st area is very funky and offers a number of other opportunities to view street art, including the work of Jonny Stranger (aka @rabbitsnakestuff) who decorates telephone poles in the area. Check the photos below for clues of what to look for.

 Telephone pole decorated by Rabbitsnake Stuff.

Telephone pole decorated by Rabbitsnake Stuff.

 Mural created by  Color Cartel  for Steve Adler's mayoral campaign.

Mural created by Color Cartel for Steve Adler's mayoral campaign.

 Giant octopus painted on the side of the seafood restaurant  Alcomar .

Giant octopus painted on the side of the seafood restaurant Alcomar.

 Very colorful mural behind the  Bouldin Creek Cafe .

Very colorful mural behind the Bouldin Creek Cafe.

While there are many interesting murals to see south of the lake the downtown Austin area is no slouch when it comes to spotting murals and street art. If you happen to find yourself walking from south to north consider taking the Pfluger Pedestrian and Bicycle Bridge (just east of Lamar Blvd.) to cross over Lady Bird Lake. The bridge overs great views of downtown and the lake in addition to some major graffiti on the railroad bridge just to the east.

 Downtown railroad bridge graffiti. Just to the right of this, but not pictured, is Pac Man themed graffiti.

Downtown railroad bridge graffiti. Just to the right of this, but not pictured, is Pac Man themed graffiti.

If you walk north from the railroad bridge to West Sixth Street there are a number of interesting murals that you can see as you walk through that area (many are behind buildings) including the ones below.

 Mural by  Lucas Aoki  behind  Wahoo's Fish Taco  on Rio Grande near West Sixth Street. 

Mural by Lucas Aoki behind Wahoo's Fish Taco on Rio Grande near West Sixth Street. 

 Collaboration between  BLVD  and  ZuZu  in the alley next to the mural above.

Collaboration between BLVD and ZuZu in the alley next to the mural above.

 80s video game themed mural on the side of  Kung Fu Saloon .

80s video game themed mural on the side of Kung Fu Saloon.

If you walk a couple of blocks north to West Eight Street and then go east towards Congress Ave. you will run into a few murals that are part of the Eighth Street Mural Project. The one you see below is on the west side of Congress Ave. but there is also a nice one on the east side of Congress as well.

 Moon Tower mural on Eighth Street near Congress Avenue.

Moon Tower mural on Eighth Street near Congress Avenue.

The central downtown area is home to a bunch of murals but some of the more interesting ones can be found while cruising the narrow (and sometimes stinky) alleys in the area. If you head down an alley in between sixth and seventh streets near Red River you'll see the works below. The first is a mural created by Lucas Aoki, who I mentioned earlier, and the second is a large mural created by a group of SprATX (a local street artist collective) affiliated artists. 

 Fantastic work by Lucas Aoki just steps of the street at Red River between Sixth and Seventh.

Fantastic work by Lucas Aoki just steps of the street at Red River between Sixth and Seventh.

 This mural is a recent collaboration amongst a group of some of Austin's most creative mural and street artists.

This mural is a recent collaboration amongst a group of some of Austin's most creative mural and street artists.

If you head south along Red River and go a block west to Trinity towards the Austin Convention Center I can point you to two additional murals that are definitely worth checking out. Directly across from the convention center at 2nd Street and Trinity you can see the pair of murals in the first image below. And who doesn't love butterflies, right? The one below that is just a couple of blocks south near Cesar Chavez Blvd and 2nd St. The second one commemorates the Austin Formula One (F1) race that has been held at the Circuit of the Americas since 2013.

By now I have shown you quite a bit but there's more. Heck, in Austin there's always more! And this blog post would not be complete without pointing you to the East Side, which in the case of Austin means east of I-35. The east side is where Austin gets funkier, more artistic and harkens back its roots. I'll point out a few murals over there but I also recommend just strolling and looking around as you'll see a lot more than I can show you.

If you turn east at Fourth Street and cross under I-35 the first thing you'll notice is the huge mural seen below at the Corner of Fourth Street and the I-35N service road. It's one of the largest and most colorful murals that you see around Austin.

One thing that you'll realize about East Austin is that it's kind of mecca for murals. So my best advice is to explore east of I-35 near downtown and you will see a variety of interesting works. I've posted a few of them below to give you a taste of what you'll find.

 This Mike "Truth" Johnston piece is one of a number of murals you'll find in the front and back at Vintage Heart Coffee on East 7th St.

This Mike "Truth" Johnston piece is one of a number of murals you'll find in the front and back at Vintage Heart Coffee on East 7th St.

 Find this piece by Levi Ponce and Sarah Ackerley behind Cenote on East Cesar Chavez.

Find this piece by Levi Ponce and Sarah Ackerley behind Cenote on East Cesar Chavez.

 This mural located at the corner of East 7th St and Navasota depicts the shadow that falls on the wall at night.

This mural located at the corner of East 7th St and Navasota depicts the shadow that falls on the wall at night.

 Mural on the side of the George Washington Carver branch of the Austin Public Library on Angelina St (near E. 11th) in East Austin.

Mural on the side of the George Washington Carver branch of the Austin Public Library on Angelina St (near E. 11th) in East Austin.

Before I finish up (soon, I promise) I'd be remiss if I didn't point out the series of great murals to be found on the walls of Jerry's Artarama on the north side of town. A few of my favorites from there can be found below.

That's all I have to offer for now. If you recall what I stated at the very beginning you'll know that there is so much more to see in the way of murals and street art in Austin. In fact, the landscape has changed a bit even since I started putting together this post. So if you want to see the latest of what I'm seeing don't forget to follow me on Instagram at @knowatx