Austin is a visual town. Colorful, vibrant, and full of art, there’s always something interesting around the next turn.
It’s also a town that’s struggled with some growing pains. Parts of town straddle the fence between old and new, crumbling and up and coming, hippie and modern. But this push and pull is a lot of what makes Austin Austin.
One of my favorite visual things about this town is the multitude of unique, offbeat signs and murals that jump out at you, especially in Central and South Austin. Here are a few of my favorite iconic signs that have that Austin flair we all fell in love with.
The original. I’ve lived here for over 15 years, and I’ve always felt a buzz when I enter the city limits from a road trip. It’s home.
A postcard on a wall, the Greetings from Austin sign is a sought after photo destination for young couples and families alike. I’d love to drag my kids there and have them not smile for a photo op someday.
For those of you who have an Alamo Draft House in your town, you’re welcome. I mean, I’m not DIRECTLY related to the growth and spread of this awesome movie theater chain, but I can take SOME credit since I pretty much see movies here exclusively. There have been a lot of knock offs, but nothing beats the original. I love the old movie theater feel of this sign.
Not only is the Austin Motel an Austin icon, it’s sign looks like a…well…you know.
The “I love you so much” graffiti on the side of Jo’s Hot Coffee on South Congress is a fairly new Austin icon. Story is the owner, Liz Lambert, was having a bad day, so her girlfriend, musician Amy Cook, spray painted the phrase on the side of the building. After the sign was vandalized in 2011, the wall was repainted green and the words eventually recreated by Cook and Lambert. It has remained untouched. This is Austin, y’all.
You’ve seen Dazed and Confused, right? You knew it was filmed here in Austin, right? (You also knew I was in a show with one of the cast members, right???) I can’t drive past this place without signing “Slow Ride.”
Can you tell murals are a thing here? You may have seen this character on Kurt Cobain back in the day. The “Hi, How Are You frog,” also known as Jeremiah the Innocent, was an illustration on musician Daniel Johnson’s 1983 album “Hi, How Are You: The Unfinished Album.” Local record shop Sound Exchange commissioned Johnson to paint the image on their exterior wall in 1993, where it has remained since. Sound Exchange is no longer there, and when a restaurant moved into the building and tried to have the wall removed, neighborhood residents banded together and convinced the owners to leave the mural intact.
Exiting Mopac and pulling onto 5th Street is one of my favorite drives, thanks to El Arroyo and their ever changing sign. Other fave phrases: “Be yourself. Unless you can be Batman. Then be Batman,” “Rhinos are just fat unicorns,” and “Dumbledore dies. We just saved you $25.” They also have a reputation for political and social commentary that can be a bit tacky, but most of the time they give me a good laugh.
Finally, we have classic Austin. A road sign was hacked one morning warning traffic of an incoming nazi zombie apocalypse. Zombies are bad enough, but nazi zombies? The whole town got a good laugh out of this one before it was inevitably restored. What can I say? We embrace the weird.
Does your town have any iconic or historic signs that you would hate to see go?
This post is sponsored by my new sponsor Signazon.com. Visit them for signs, banners, car magnets, decals, and more. As usual, all opinions and words and things are my own.