Wonderfully Strange Shops around Downtown Austin

Keep Austin Weird! So say bumper stickers, T-shirts and signs all around town. And, generally, it’s a motto endorsed by Austinites, even those who seem pretty, well, un-weird.

The city thrives on the strange and unexpected — secret concerts, intelligent graffiti, thong-wearing cyclists and a massive birthday bash for Eeyore, the gloomiest of cartoon characters.

So it’s not surprising that there are quite a few shops — and even a museum or two — that cater to those seeking the strange and unique.

Tears of Joy: OK, there’s nothing particularly weird about hot sauce. But when you consider that this shop is dedicated solely to making your complexion turn red — and it features many strange strains of heat found almost nowhere else — it’s fair to plunk this one down in the weird category.

Museum of Natural & Artificial Ephemerata: “Our mission is to preserve endangered modes of collection, to offer a venue where the public can share objects and their stories, and to contemplate diverse processes of collecting.” Sound weird enough? The museum is working on renovations currently, but it is expected to open back up in spring 2015.

Museum of the Weird: The name says it all. Mummies, monsters, weirdos and sideshows. If you need to see a two-headed sheep, it’s the place to be. Be forewarned – it gets mixed reviews online from past visitors. Perhaps it’s just too weird for some folks.

Uncommon Objects: Visiting Uncommon Objects is a bit like walking into an antique shop, until you look around for a while. From taxidermy oddities to odd little collections of buttons, hinges and screws, this store has plenty for the mind to feast on and wonder about.

Spartan Shop: If you’ve never been to Marfa — probably one of the only places in Texas competing for the weird designation — the vibe at Spartan Shop might feel a little familiar. Its minimalistic feel belies the diversity of cool objects and accessories.

Castle Hill: Since opening in 2011 on the site of an abandoned condo development, this graffiti wall has become one of the stranger art projects in the city. It changes daily as new artists make their mark. Abandoned structures are magnets for graffiti, but it takes a town that embraces art and oddities to turn that into a tourist destination where people often bring their families to help keep Austin weird.