Let’s face it: we all geek out. Whether you’re addicted to Candy Crush, obsess over “Sherlock,” or wait 10 minutes for a Marvel movie’s end credits scene, everyone indulges in some sort of fandom. Luckily, Austin is home to a plethora of stores, shops, and spots that exist to scratch that geeky itch whenever it strikes. Here’s our list of the best 22 geek culture spots in all of Austin.
Best Comic Book Shop
Austin Books & Comics
Whether you’re looking for the latest Wonder Woman comic, an out-of-print graphic novel, or an elusive McFarlane figurine, look no further than Austin Books & Comics. With over 6,000-square-feet of floor space, fanboys and gals can get lost in a maze of geek-centered goodness.
And don’t be afraid to ask for recommendations. Austin Books & Comics staff are pros who will convert you from noob to connoisseur in no time. Whether you’re dipping your toe into the Marvel universe or digging the latest Hunter x Hunter manga, this should be your home base.
5002 N. Lamar Blvd. – Website
- Dragon’s Lair Comics & Fantasy – A close second to Austin Books & Comics, Dragon’s Lair has been providing a wide selection of comics, board games, and figurines since 1986. O.G. geekdom.
- Tribe Comics and Games – While Tribe Comics and Games is a contender for any number of geek categories, its comic book selection is nothing to scoff at. Come for the graphic novels; stay for one of the many D&D or RPG gaming nights.
Best Retro Gaming Store
Game Over Videogames
Retro gaming is where my geek flag flies the highest, and Game Over Videogames scratches my itch again and again. From a fully refurbished Atari 2600 to a like-new copy of Castlevania on NES, Game Over has an extraordinary selection. Half of the fun is chatting games with the incredibly knowledgeable staff and soaking in the retro gaming culture. The South Lamar location even has a small gaming art gallery. Austin’s premier spot to buy and sell classic games.
Multiple locations – Website
- Gamerz – Located on the first floor of Lakeline Mall, this shop sports a respectable collection of new and classic games and consoles.
An arcade so amazing that I dedicated an entire article to it, Pinballz defines what a modern arcade should be. Over 200 pinball machines across three Austin locations call this love letter to the past their home. Add to the mix classic and modern cabinets, ticket games, and even a 7D theater experience at Lake Creek, and you have something for everyone. Not only that, but the machines are immaculately maintained. The minute I ever had a lost quarter or credit issue, a staff member immediately jumped to my rescue. An absolute must-visit for fans of classic and modern games alike.
Multiple locations – Website
- Arcade UFO – If you’re into the world of competitive eSports and fighting games, then chances are you’ve already visited Arcade UFO. Bring your sharpened skills and lightening thumbs to this thunderdome of community-centric gaming.
- Kung Fu Saloon – Half arcade, half laid back watering hole, Kung Fu Saloon allows you to quaff alcoholic beverages while throwing Hadokens at Wolverine in X-Men vs Street Fighter. Best of both worlds.
Best Board/Tabletop Gaming Spot
Vigilante Gaming Bar
Austin’s newest spot for Scythe, Stratego and Exploding Kittens is also the city’s best. Delivering a magic formula of games, grub, and booze, Vigilante Gaming Bar elevates the gaming experience like no other. From the custom game boxes to hand-crafted tables to hidden themed rooms, Vigilante was tailor made for gamers of all types and stripes. Even the menu items are designed to be eaten one-handed. Next time you’re in the North Lamar area, swing by Vigilante, either alone or with friends, and grab a table. You won’t be disappointed.
7010 Easy Wind Dr #150 – Website
- Emerald Tavern – It pained me to pull this Austin legend from the winner’s circle. A more laid-back version of Vigilante, Emerald Tavern offers one thing the young blood doesn’t: a place to purchase board games. Classic for a reason.
- Mothership Books and Games – While this jack-of-all-trades store is most famous for their PC/LAN gaming center, Mothership also offers a robust tabletop, card, and RPG gaming section, as well.
Best Film Nerd Spot (Not Movie Theater)
I Luv Video
In a world where binge-streaming Daredevil is a perfectly acceptable way to burn a weekend, the video store is becoming a quaint relic. But movie geeks looking for a personal rental experience will fall in love with I Luv Video. Netflix may guess your tastes via algorithms, but the staff at I Luv Video will–wait for it–actually talk to you! Plus, roaming the aisles of a classic rental store screams nostalgia. Add to the mix a phenomenal selection, and you have cinematic heaven.
4803 Airport Blvd. – Website
- Vulcan Video – A very close second to I Luv Video, Vulcan’s hip vibe, friendly staff, and massive selection make it an easy recommendation for cinema-starved Austinites.
Best Movie Theater
Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar
Everyone knows Alamo Drafthouse isn’t just the best theater in Austin. It’s the best theater chain on the planet. But which location do you love? My favorite continues to be South Lamar. It serves up a splendid balance of great food, a beer selection unlike any other Alamo, and a wide variety of movies, including quote-alongs and classics. Parking in the deck can be rough and the row-length tables need to be swapped out for individuals (a la Lakeline and West Anderson), but it’s still my favorite Austin Alamo. NOTE: My Alamo runner ups are Ritz, followed by my local, Lakeline. I haven’t visited the new Mueller location yet.
- Violet Crown Cinema – When I’m looking to catch the latest Michel Gondry film or foreign documentary, I swing over to downtown’s indie cinema, Violet Crown. Intimate seating, great food and drink, and unique showings you won’t find anywhere else.
- Paramount Theatre – More than a tourist attraction, Paramount Theatre still shows movies on a regular basis, including the capstone films of SXSW Film and Austin Film Festival. An absolute joy to experience.
NOTE: While Wizard World Comic Con may be the biggest in town, it can’t be included on this list because it’s a traveling convention. Only Austin-based or born cons can be considered here.
Fun fact: of all three SXSW festivals, Interactive draws the most people. Not Film, not Music. Interactive! Every year, I set aside an afternoon to wander, checking out the latest in tech, indie games, and cosplay. And ever since Gaming broke free from Interactive to become its own thing, it’s been free to attend! The biggest festival during Austin’s biggest week deserves serious respect.
- RTX – The crew behind Rooster Teeth puts on this yearly three-day expo honoring gamer culture. Animation festivals, game demos, and internet tech round out an incredible weekend of nerdy goodness.
- HavenCon – The only con in Texas, maybe the country, that’s focused on geek culture in the LGBTQ community. A safe place for people of all types to get together and nerd out.
Best Toys and Collectibles
Wonko’s Toys and Games
Need a new Captain Picard toy for your collection? How about a bright and shiny Companion Cube from Portal for your desk? Regardless of your fandom, you’ll find something rad at Wonko’s Toys and Games. Like most toy shops in town, Wonko’s offers the usual mix of games, cards, and RPG nights. But what sets it apart are the rarities, pieces any toy connoisseur will salivate over. The rest of us will find a laid-back toy store with exceptionally friendly employees, ready to help us find that elusive McFarlane figurine.
13776 US-183 #116 – Website
- Toy Joy – While not dedicated to the world of plastic geekdom, Austin’s favorite toy store has plenty of dorky collectables to fill your shelf with.
- Nearly Any Other Comic Book Shop on This List – All joking aside, most of the shops on this list carry collectibles of some sort or another. Check them all out!
@BillTuckerTSP wants to know:
Where do you go for your geek culture fix in Austin?