Trip Date 05/11/2020
Posted On 05/22/2020 14:30:00
Destinations | Texas | East Austin | Murals | Street Art | Driving Tour | Instagram Shots | Cesar Chavez Street | Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Dreaming . . . It's seems like everyone who loves to travel has been doing a lot of dreaming lately. For some it is dreaming about rescheduling cancelled plans and others are dreaming about when it will be safe to go on holiday in the future. The good news is that, in many areas, shelter-in-place orders have been lifted. Although it's not advisable to plan international travel quite yet, taking a day trip can help to alleviate the stay at home blues!
Austin, Texas is a destination on so many people's bucket list. We both have lived in the city and now live in one of Austin's suburbs. (This general area has been my home for almost 40 years!) Unfortunately, like many others, we don't always take advantage of what's in our own backyard.
For years, we've talked about planning a driving tour to see all of Austin's murals. We've seen plenty of lists of the "best" murals for Instagram Shots all around the city. What we didn't know was how much street art can actually be found in Austin!
What we thought would be one day of driving around the city has multiplied. We spent our first day south of the river and more recently spent a day finding our favorite art in East Austin. Between Cesar Chavez St. in the south and Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. in the north, the number of murals east of IH-35 was significantly more than we expected.
If you have plans to spend some time in Texas' capital city, be sure to set aside some time to hunt for murals. This guide will give you the perfect starting point with more than 45 of our favorites - all in the fairly compact part of the city known as East Austin.
Where is East Austin?The center point of East Austin is only about 2 1/2 miles away from the center of Downtown Austin. Austin's major north-south thoroughfare, Interstate 35, is generally considered the western boundary of East Austin. The eastern boundary is typically referred to as Springdale Road. The most commonly recognized north and south boundaries of East Austin are Manor Road and Lady Bird Lake.
The itinerary in this article begins at the intersection of IH-35 and East Cesar Chavez Street, the southeast corner of the route. Turn-by-turn instructions are provided to 45 of the most magnificent murals in the area. The route's ending point is at the intersection of Alamo St. and E. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.
About East AustinAdmittedly, I have not spent much time in East Austin in more than 30 years. When I moved to Austin in 1981 to attend college, friends and I often headed to the east side for an inexpensive night out.
My first professional job was in downtown Austin. During the five years that my office was located downtown, I frequently dined with co-workers at lunchtime in East Austin.
Other than a few stops for a meal, to attend a live theater performance or an occasional business appointment, I have rarely ventured east of the interstate since the late 1980s. After recently spending the better part of a day on the east side, I have to admit that I was quite impressed with the melding of the old and new!
I was happy to see that both some of my long time favorite restaurants as well as some places that we've tried in the last ten years or so are still there:
- Angie's Mexican Restaurant @ 1307 E. 7th St.
- Cisco's Restaurant & Bakery @ 1511 E. 6th St.
- Franklin Barbecue @ 900 E. 11th St.
- Hoover's Cooking @ 2002 Manor Rd.
- Juan in a Million @ 2300 E. Cesar Chavez St.
- Launderette @ 2115 Holly St.
We also have hopes that three of our favorite theaters in all of Austin which are located east of the interstate will be opening again soon:
- City Theater @ 3823 Airport Blvd.
- Santa Cruz Theater @ 1807 E. 7th St.
- Vortex Theater @ 2307 Manor Rd #2135
East Austin is definitely full of character! Interspersed between some of the more historic east side residences, there's brand new upscale apartments, condos and completely refurbished single family homes. You'll pass new modern retail establishments (including a small-format Target), restaurants, bars and coffee shops with much more eclectic looking businesses right next door.
Based on the construction that we saw underway, there's more changes coming in the not too distant future. Some have even said that East Austin has replaced South Congress as the cool place to hang out ... and even to live!
16 Murals along Cesar ChavezAustin's First Street was renamed Cesar Chavez in 1993. Although you will be passing by many more murals, this route will take you past 16 of our favorites along this major thoroughfare. Starting at IH-35, begin traveling east on East Cesar Chavez Street.
1. "That's How We Roll"1114 E. Cesar Chavez St. (@ Outdoorsy)
At the intersection with Waller St., you'll see Outdoorsy on your left.
You will notice that a relatively high percentage of the murals in this area of the city are business logos. While some have additional signage, many East Austin companies advertise their location solely by mural. In addition to the first few on our list, we've only included a small number of business logos in this itinerary. This one made the list since we are RVers!
2. "Si Se Puede"1200 E. Cesar Chavez St. (@ Long Motors)
Just a short distance further, the next mural can be seen on the same side of the road through a chain link fence.
It's interesting to know that Cesar Chavez is the person portrayed in the foreground and also for whom the street on which you are traveling was named. Chavez was a leader of the United Farm Worker's Union. The slogan, " Si Se Puede", translating to "Yes we can", became famous during the union's 1970 demands for fair wages and improved working conditions.
3. "Lover Fighter"1209 E. Cesar Chavez St. (@ PRINTpress)
On the right and facing the business' parking lot, you'll see Lover Fighter.
4. "Duck Camp"1301 E. Cesar Chavez St. (@ The Duck Camp)
Less than a block further, Duck Camp is painted on a wooden fence.
5. "Selena" and "La Loteria"1619 E. Cesar Chavez St. (@ Cycle East)
The large mural which includes both Selena and La Loteria is located just over 1/4 mile away. Although the mural is painted on the side of Cycle East, the best view is from the parking lot of Speedy Stop. Make sure to check out the mural on the far side of the convenience store as well.
The artist of this mural definitely listened to the feedback from local residents. The portrait of Selena's face was actually painted twice. The original portrait was covered with white paint and repainted just three days before the official unveiling!
6. "Vegetarians of the World"1901 E. Cesar Chavez St. (@ Mr. Natural)
This very tall mural faces the parking lot between the restaurant/bakery and the vitamins/herb retail outlet of Mr. Natural.
7. "Homie, Stay Home"2101 E. Cesar Chavez St. (@ Taqueria Chapala)
The mural of Selena is not new to the building. The Homie, Stay Home mask, however, is a recent addition. (Not sure how long the mask will be there, but this photo will certainly remind us of life during the pandemic forever!)
8. "David Bowie aka Ziggy Stardust"2125 E. Cesar Chavez St. (@ Aston International Academy)
The David Bowie aka Ziggy Stardust mural covers the entire building - notice how some of the windows are covered in paint!
9. "Street Graffiti" and "Hola Friend, Hi Amigo"Intersection of E. Cesar Chavez St. and Robert T. Martinez, Jr. St. (@ Abandoned Property)
Look quickly to see the next mural which faces the alley between Aston International Academy and the property next door.
There are actually murals on both sides of the abandoned building. To get a better look at the mural on the far side, you may want to circle the block. Start by turning right on Robert T. Martinez, Jr. St.
After looking at the mural, turn right on Willow St., followed by a right on Anthony St. and a final right back on to Cesar Chavez. Murals #10-14 are all on the next few blocks - if you spot a place to park, grab it and walk!
10. "Gina Chavez" and "Grey Ghost"2400 E. Cesar Chavez St. (@ former location of Switched On)
On your left just beyond Paz Veterinary (which also has murals), there's a parking lot which has a white brick wall. The wall stands toward the back of the lot near E. 2nd St.
There were murals on three of the brick panels, and it appears that more may be painted in the future.
Return to Cesar Chavez and continue in the same direction that you were headed. There are two additional murals, the first on the left and the second on the right side of the street.
11. "Musical Armadillo"2400 E. Cesar Chavez St. (@ Juniper)
12. "East Side"Intersection of Pedernales St. and E. Cesar Chavez St. (@ Warehouse)
Although the businesses that are home to our next two favorite murals are officially located on Cesar Chavez, you'll want to walk left on Pedernales St. to see them.
13. "Inching to Fitness"2400 E. Cesar Chavez St. (@ Blackbird Fitness)
14. "Good Clean Fun in ATX"2400 E. Cesar Chavez St. (@ Phlur)
If you chose to drive on Pedernales past these last two murals, the easiest way to return to the route is to make a left on 2nd St., followed by a left on Mildred St. and then a final left onto Cesar Chavez. If you are on foot, this is a good point to return to your car.
15. "Break Fresh"Between 2601 and 2605 E. Cesar Chavez St. (between Jumpolin and Juiceland)
Juiceland is in the building located at the intersection with San Saba St. The Break Fresh mural is immediately beyond the building. You might want to park and purchase a juice or smoothie for the rest of your drive. Also, check out the murals on all three sides of the building.
16. "Old School Cruzin'"2900 E. Cesar Chavez St. (@ former location of J. Colunga's Body & Paint)
Old School Cruzin' faces Broadway St., so turn right at the intersection.
1 Mural along East Fourth StreetAlthough only one of our favorite murals is on E. 4th St., we couldn't leave it out!
17. "How You Doin'"1301 E. 4th St. (@ DOB Pedicab)
To find How You Doin', turn left on 2nd St. and drive to Attayac St. where you'll turn right. As you approach 4th, you'll see several murals painted on a metal storage warehouse located on the right side of the street.
There's another famous mural near the university that portrays a companion to this female alien frog!
13 Murals along East Sixth StreetTo reach E. 6th St. where the next 13 murals on our list can be found, turn left on 4th and drive to the IH-35 Frontage Road. Turn right on to the Frontage Road and then right again on to E. 6th St.
18. "Let's Play Pac-Man"1107 E. 6th St. (@ Bird's Barbershop)
Hopefully you'll see a place where you can safely pull over, as Let's Play Pac-Man will be behind you as you pass Bird's Barbershop. The mural faces a parking lot and is partially obstructed by a chain link fence.
19. "Be Here Now"1108 E. 6th St. (@ East Austin Hotel)
Almost immediately across the street, look for Be Here Now.
20. "King Shark"1111 E. 6th St. (@ Violet Crown Social Club)
King Shark is on the back side of Violet Crown. Turn right on Waller St. and enter the parking lot through the alley. (Don't miss the other murals on the building as well.)
21. "Let's Tango"1201 E. 6th St. (@ Buenos Aires Cafe)
Immediately across Waller, look for Buenos Aires Cafe. Although some murals were ruined with graffiti, the building has several murals. To find our favorite, exit the parking lot, return to 6th and turn right. Let's Tango was partially obstructed by a chain link fence on the far side of the building.
22. "Let's Pray"1300 E. 6th Street (@ The Lucky Duck)
As you approach Attayac look for Let's Pray, one of many murals on the corner of The Lucky Duck located on the left side of the street.
23. "When You're Strange"1310 E. 6th St. (@ Austin Body Works)
24. "Dancing Texas Goddesses"1511 E. 6th St. (@ Cisco's Restaurant)
There are murals on both sides of Cisco's Restaurant. If you have the time to stop for a meal at the iconic restaurant, you can easily walk to see the murals on both sides. If you choose to continue your drive, turn right on Comal St. to see the murals on the far side.
Returning to the route from Comal is as easy as making a right turn on 5th, a right turn on Onion St. and one last right on to 6th. The next mural is at the intersection of 6th and Chicon.
25. "Let's Band Together"1816 E. 6th St. (@ Whisler's)
26. "Bob Marley"1882 E. 6th St. (@ 6th Street Cool Store)
For the best view of Bob Marley, make a left turn on Chicon. The mural will be on the building immediately on your right.
Turning right on 7th, followed by a right on Robert Martinez and a left on 6th will get you back on the route.
27. "The Curiot"2500 E. 6th St. (@ La Holly Cantina)
At the intersection of 6th and Pedernales, turn left and look for a geometric mural on a black background.
La Holly Cantina opened in April 2018 and the art was added at the same time. The artist, known as Curiot is famous for artwork symbolizing his home country. In addition to geometric patterns, he often incorporates Mexican culture and folklore.
Turn left on Hidalgo Street to reach the next mural.
28. "East ATX"2400 E. 6th St. (@ E6 (East 6th Apartments))
East ATX is actually painted on a parking garage near Hidalgo.
Turn left in front of the mural to continue. You'll be driving between E6, the apartment complex, and HEB Digital. Make a left at 6th where you will soon approach a number of murals on your right, most with business logos.
29. "Felix Spins the Tunes"2505 E. 6th St. (@ BLK Vinyl)
30. "Love Evol Love"2511 E. 6th St. (@ Love Evol Love Tattoo)
1 Mural on Chicon StreetWe found the next mural to be unique as it is painted on a residential property.
31. "Take Flight"708 Chicon St. (@ Residence)
Finding Take Flight will require you to turn left on Calles St. followed by another left onto 7th St. toward downtown Austin. Next, turn right on to Chicon. As the mural is on the residence next door to EZ Pawn, pull into the pawn shop parking lot.
5 Murals along East Seventh StreetAfter viewing the mural, exit the parking lot by turning right on to E. 7th St. where you'll find the next five murals.
32. "Love Yourself, Love the World"1823 E. 7th St. (@ Planned Parenthood)
Almost immediately, turn left into the parking lot of Planned Parenthood. Look up to see Love Yourself, Love the World.
33. "All Eyes on Stage"1805 E. 7th St. (@ Santa Cruz Theater)
From the same lot, you'll have a view of All Eyes on Stage located on the side of the Santa Cruz Theater. Don't miss the front of the theater as it is artistically painted as well!
Exit the lot by turning left to continue driving down E. 7th St.
34. "Division Austin"1620 E. 7th St. (@ Jackrabbit)
In the direction you're traveling, you can't miss Division Austin on the side of a building on the right.
35. "Pink in Austin"1209 E. 7th St. (@ Troublemaker)
Although Pink in Austin is painted on Troublemaker, the best place to see the mural is from the small parking lot for Cute Nail Salon. Check out all of the colors painted on the salon as well!
36. "'Til Death Do Us Part"1201 E. 7th St. (@ Green & White Grocery)
To see Til Death Do Us Part, turn left on Waller St. - it's right on the corner of the Green & White Grocery.
9 Murals Between 11th Street and Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.Six of the final nine murals are found on E. 11th St. and E. 12th St. The remaining three murals are in the same general vicinity - all further north than E. 7th St.
Continue on Waller St. until you reach 6th. Turn right on E. 6th St. and drive to the IH-35 Frontage Road where you will turn right. Your next turn will be a right on to E. 11th St.
37. "Standing Together"912 E. 11th St. (@ African-American Cultural & Heritage Facility)
Seeing Standing Together is easiest by parking in the parking lot for the African-American Cultural & Heritage Facility and getting out of your car. Turn left on Curve St. and enter the parking lot on your left. The mural faces 11th at an angle and is in front of the building known as the Dedrick-Hamilton House.
After viewing Standing Together, return to 11th St. traveling east (away from downtown Austin).
38. "Friendly Rice"1712 E. 11th St. (@ Blackshear Elementary School)
Blackshear Elementary School is located between Concho St. and Salina St. on E. 11th (also referred to as Mesquite St.). Watch carefully as there is an "Y" intersection where you can continue on 11th or change to Rosewood. Make sure to veer right so you stay on 11th.
The mural, which honors a long time principal of the school, is painted on a corner and covers parts of two sides of a building.
39. "The Pillars Project: Our History, Our Trail"Intersection of Rosewood Ave. and N. Pleasant Valley Rd. (@ Underpass)
Different from all of the others on this list, The Pillars Project is definitely worth the less than one mile drive to get there. Turn left on Chicon and then right on Rosewood Ave. As you approach the Boggy Creek Greenbelt, keep your eyes peeled for the six pillars beneath the overpass located just beyond Rosewood Neighborhood Park. (You may want to leave your vehicle at the park on the left and walk toward the murals. Stopping and/or parking beneath the overpass is not recommended.)
Each of the 6 pillars were designed and painted by a different artist with one common thread - East Austin history.
From Rosewood Ave. turn right on to Hargrave St. and then right on to N. Pleasant Valley Rd. This will take you on the overpass above the pillars. Turn left on E. 13th St. and then left again on to Chicon.
40. "We Are East Austin"1215 Chicon St. (@ C & M Liquors)
Just after your turn you'll see a mural on the side of C & M Liquors on the left side of the street. The We Are East Austin mural is on the opposite side of the building in a chain-link fenced parking lot that faces an alley. Hopefully you can easily get in and out of the alley to snap a photo!
41. "We Rise"1900 E. 12th St. (@ Laced with Romance)
Just a couple of buildings away as you near the intersection with 12th St., We Rise will also be on your left.
A mural painted by the same artist was covered with white paint prior to a new business opening in the building. In response to public outcry, the artist was again asked to paint the wall. The business made a guarantee that the mural would stand through 2021.
42. "East Austin Pride" and "We Are All Making History"1700 E. 12th St. (@ Leona Gallery)
Make a right turn on to E. 12th and about 1/10 of a mile down the road on the right is Leona Gallery. If you don't mind walking a couple of blocks, drive to the field where the next mural is located. You should be able to park there for a few minutes and walk back to see the two murals on the front of the gallery.
43. "Dream"1614 E. 12th St. (@ Mustang Paint & Body)
In the direction that you are traveling, Dream is on the far side of the paint and body shop.
Continue west (the same direction that you were traveling) on 12th for two blocks. Turn left on to Comal St. After a few blocks, Comal will end and you'll have the choice to continue forward on either Hackberry or Angelina. Veer to the left to take Angelina.
44. "Voyage to Soulsville"1161 Angelina St. (@ Austin Public Library, Carver Branch)
The parking lot for the library is on your left just after the library building. You can't miss the mural once you enter the lot!
Exit the parking lot and retrace your steps by turning right on to Angelina and then right again on to Comal. In just over 1/2 mile, you'll reach the intersection with E. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. Turn right to see the final mural on this route!
45. "You're My Butter Half"2000 E. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. (@ United Way for Greater Austin)
You're My Butter Half is located less than 1/2 mile east at the intersection of Alamo St. and E. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. There is usually street parking available on Alamo. The mural is on a slight hill covered with grass.
Tips for Your Mural HuntIf you had the patience to stay with us through the end, you've virtually seen more than 45 of the best murals in East Austin! While the murals are free to see and fun to both find and photograph, there are some things to keep in mind:
- For unknown reason, people feel compelled to vandalize murals. It goes without saying not to be that person. In addition to being illegal, destroying murals causes more expense to repair or replace the art. Just like you hope to see the art in pristine condition, others do too!
- A side effect of having so many murals in such a small area is an increase in traffic and street congestion. Be mindful that there are speed limits. Just like it is not safe to drive faster than the limit, it is also not safe to drive below the limit!
- Walkers block traffic while posing for the perfect Instagram shot and then move without being aware of nearby moving vehicles. When you do decide to get out of the car for a better view, remember what your parents taught you. Always look both left and right before crossing, and don't stop in the middle of the road!
- In areas where there are a high number of murals in a rather small area such as East Austin, be mindful of others being less than careful. Unfortunately you may see traffic jams caused by slow moving cars with passengers trying to capture that perfect image. Or, worse, you may encounter a driver trying to take a photo while at the wheel! Don't be either of these people!
Central and North Austin MuralsCome back later this spring for a route that will take you past the best of the Central and North Austin Murals. Just like in this article, we'll provide photos along with the addresses and nearby landmarks making them as easy to find as possible!
Favorite Murals in East AustinWhat are your favorite East Austin murals and did we include them on our list? If not, where are they located?
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