Neighborhoods in Austin
Like most cities, Austin has separate, distinct regions, each with its own community, personality, and neighborhoods. The city is generally thought to differ along cardinal lines, with the center point being the city’s legendary Downtown district. I-35 serves as the dividing line between East and West, and the Colorado River separates North from South. This combination of manmade infrastructure and natural topography lends itself to a convenient quadrant system for navigating the city.
Though far from a comprehensive list of Austin’s neighborhoods, here are the most prominent communities, separated into 5 main geographic regions:
Living in a Central Austin neighborhood means everything is right in your backyard — awesome nightlife and businesses in Downtown; collegiate life and sports at UT; dreamy nature escapes in Zilker Park and Barton Springs; endless choices for restaurants, food trucks, and more on virtually every corner.
- Downtown: Austin’s cultural, economic, political, and social epicenter is Downtown. There, you’ll find the main business district, the Capitol building, great shopping, bars, and killer restaurants. Whether you’re looking for barbecue, Asian fusion, bakeries, Tex-Mex, or an upscale dining experience, Downtown won’t disappoint.
- North University: Just north of Downtown is UT Austin — the University of Texas’s flagship campus. It should go without saying, but where there are college students, there are countless food options, and North University is no exception. Grab some French-inspired bar food at Hopfields or a tasty mediterranean lunch at CAVA.
- Zilker: Located within walking distance of Zilker Park and short driving distance from Downtown, this neighborhood is in close proximity to chill river restaurants — places like Chuy’s and Casa de Luz — and upscale metro eats alike.
- Zilker Park: Located right across the river from Downtown, Zilker Park is an Austin favorite. This park is a huge expanse of greenspace in the Barton Hills neighborhood nestled against the south bank of the Colorado River. Many Austinites spend sunny weekend days playing sports in the park, having a picnic with friends, or cooling off in the Barton Springs Pool.
- Pease Park: Boasting a rich cultural history, Pease Park is one of Texas’s first public parks and Austin’s very first one. Enjoy the diverse ecology within the park while meandering the shaded trails and marvelling at the limestone bluffs.
- Lady Bird Lake: While not technically a lake in its own right, Lady Bird Lake is a lake-like reservoir on the Colorado River in the very heart of Austin. Hike and bike trails line the perimeter of the lake offering beautiful views and serene naturescapes. Make sure to try paddle boarding or kayaking in the lake for a classic Austin activity.
- Downtown: Located smack in the middle of Austin’s young metropolitan hub, Downtown has countless options for nighttime locales. From posh gastropubs, dive bars, and speakeasies to the concert halls and nightclubs on world-famous 6th Street, there’s bound to be a spot that fits your version of a party.
- Rainey Street: Rainey Street is a historic neighborhood in Downtown Austin lined with old bungalow homes that have been converted to hip bar hangouts with a wide variety of tasty cocktails and delicious food trucks. Whether you’re looking to dance the night away or just sip on some craft cocktails, this is the place to be.
- West 6th Street: Right in the heart of Downtown is West 6th — a street lined with bars, clubs, pubs, restaurants, and more. Going out on West 6th is the quintessential Austin nightlife experience, and you’ll immediately get a sense of the city’s culture, youthful spirit, and sense of fun.
- 2nd Street District: In addition to bustling nightlife, state politics, and corporate high rises, Downtown is also home to the 2nd Street District — a vibrant, walkable stretch of shops including local boutiques, well-known brands, and many other unique experiences.
North Austin neighborhoods are definitely a little quieter than ones in Central Austin, but they still boast excellent restaurants, shopping, outdoor recreational spaces, trendy breweries, and many family-friendly activities.
- Avery Ranch
- Balcones Woods
- Cat Mountain
- Great Hills
- Highland Park West Balcones
- Hyde Park
- Jester Estates
- North Burnet
- North Loop
- Northwest Hills
- Windsor Park
- Hyde Park: Between the tree-lined streets and Victorian homes typical to this quiet community, you can find hidden dining gems. Restaurants in Hyde Park follow the neighborhood’s residential aesthetic, operating from former homes or serving comfort dishes. Prime examples include New World Deli, Mongers, and Biscuits & Groovy.
- North Burnet: A homey blend of new structures and old community digs, North Burnet is home to an eclectic mix of dining options. Near Airport Boulevard, you can grab boba and milk buns from 85ºC Bakery. Or check out Pacha Organic Cafe, a small yellow house off Burnet Road that makes brilliant pear-bacon-scallion pancakes.
- Bull Creek District Park: In Northwest Austin, you’ll find Bull Creek park which is home to great hiking and biking trails along with many ecological and educational points of interest! The park has a few addresses that designate its various entrance points, making it convenient to meander through it from multiple access points.
- North Loop: Known for its quirky and eccentric shops, North Loop is the poster child neighborhood for Keeping Austin Weird. It only makes sense then, that the bars and nightlife in this area are equally as unique. For an upscale dive bar that’s a local favorite, check out Workhorse Bar, or if you’re looking for an award-worthy cocktail, look no further than Drink Well.
- North Burnet: Along with its ample food offerings, North Burnet’s bar scene comes alive at night. While certainly a little quieter and tamer than Downtown spots, bars like Growler Room, The Aristocrat, and Night Owl are sure to be a great time.
- The Domain: About 15 minutes north of Downtown Austin, there lies an equally large (if more manufactured) shopping hub: the Domain Northside shopping center. Alongside hip, mid-priced restaurant chains like Velvet Taco and Flyrite, you’ll find an Apple Store, Amazon Books, and multiple upscale fashion boutiques like Brandy Melville. It’s a well-rounded escape fit for a Saturday afternoon spree.
- North Loop: SoCo’s indie cousin, North Loop is home to an eclectic collection of older homes and vintage storefronts. In the cluster of shops next to Epoch alone, you can find second hand vinyls at Breakaway Records, minimalist house plants at Flourish, and thrifted finds at Blue Velvet.
- Triangle: This upscale commercial/residential neighborhood is a popular location for young people. Locked in by Guadalupe, North Lamar, and W 51st Street, the Triangle is designed to be largely self-contained, with dwellings resting above popular dining and retail options. After grabbing a burger at Hopdoddy, you can head into Blue Elephant boutique for trendy styles.
- The Arboretum: Just a stone’s throw away from The Domain, The Arboretum is an open air marketplace with a mix of local and national retailers, entertainment, and dining options. Make sure to check out their calendar to find out what events or activities are coming up!
Many long-time Austinites consider South Austin to evoke the atmosphere of old Austin — before the tech boom and sharp influx of transplants. Many homes across South Austin maintain their vintage charm, and that same charm is evident across several neighborhoods. Long standing favorite restaurants and old-school boutiques give South Austin its historic character while newer businesses and hangout spots add a trendy flair.
- Bouldin Creek
- Circle C Ranch
- East Oak Hill
- Saint Edward’s
- South Congress
- South Lamar
- Travis Heights
- South Lamar: Just minutes beyond downtown, South Lamar Boulevard winds through a series of restaurants and boutiques, each noted for their authenticity and far-out vibe. Visit Ramen Tatsuya to taste their world-famous noodles or, if you’re in the mood for something more extravagant, head up the street to Gordough’s Public House where you can test their selection of doughnut sandwiches.
- South Congress: Perhaps the most iconic community in all of Austin, the neighborhood surrounding legendary Congress Avenue has earned its reputation. With the Texas Capitol Building looming nearby, the Congress strip is lined with upscale fusion restaurants, Tex-Mex favorites, and local speakeasies.
- McKinney Falls State Park: Located in Southeast Austin, this park has it all: hiking, biking, rock climbing, fishing, swimming, picnicking, camping, and even rangering! Venturing through the park will make you feel like you’ve left the city altogether, so it’s a great option for a quick escape.
- Veloway: Located within Circle C Ranch Metro Park, the Veloway is a unique space perfect for outdoor activity enthusiasts. The Veloway is a 23’ wide, 3.1 miles (5K) long tract that traverses the natural terrain, making it a perfect spot for biking, roller skating, or skateboarding.
- South Congress: South Congress has a similarly thriving nightlife scene to Downtown Austin, though most of the party is confined to South Congress Avenue, creating a more relaxed vibe overall. If you’re looking to grab a quick cocktail or two with some pals and still wake up the next morning, this is the place for you.
- South 1st: Pleasantly calmer than other nightlife areas, South 1st Street is perfect for times when you want to wander from restaurant to bar to boutique to eclectic shop. As it’s a smaller area, it’s easily walkable, making it a perfect choice for moving from place to place throughout the day or night.
- South Lamar: Just a few streets west of South Congress is its less-hectic sister, South Lamar. With more of an “old Austin” feel, it’s perfect for a chill night with lots of spots to grab beers, cocktails, and food. South Lamar offers a perfect blend of authentic Austin lifestyle atmosphere with newer spots that have quickly become local favorites.
- South Congress: Yet again, SoCo is a hotbed of urban activity. Alongside Congress Ave’s exquisite dining options, there are several local designer shops, Western boutiques, and upscale clothing chains.
- South 1st: Lined with many cute boutiques and eclectic shops, South 1st offers quirky, charming finds as well as some killer vintage stores like: Bloomers and Frocks; Flashback; and Passport Vintage.
One of the most diverse areas of Austin, East Austin boasts a thriving creative and artistic community and is home to many of the city’s top small, local businesses. This region of Austin has made a concerted effort to keep its rich history visible and accessible with museums and cultural centers peppering the area.
- East Cesar Chavez: Both this neighborhood and the street itself are rich in culture and history, making it one of the last remaining vestiges of Old Austin. Along East Cesar Chavez St., you’ll find colorful restaurants with unconventional layouts, such as Kemuri Tatsu-ya, or respected neighborhood digs like Juan in a Million, which is famous for their delicious tacos.
- Central East Austin: A roundup of Austin’s dining scene would be incomplete without highlighting Franklin Barbeque. Located on the corner of 11th Street and Branch Street, this spot attracts visitors from all around the world and has been awarded Texas Monthly’s Best Barbecue Joint in Texas as well as Bon Appetit’s Best Barbeque Joint in America.
- Boggy Creek Greenbelt: Perfect for lowkey activities like picnics and nature walks while simultaneously being a favorite hiking and running spot, the Boggy Creek Greenbelt is an East Austin gem.
- Roy G Guerrero Park: If whispers about Secret Beach haven’t already piqued your interest, then you’ve got to meander through Guerrero Park on the winding trail. Walk, run, or bike and see if you can find the entrance to Secret Beach! The mystery alone is exciting, but don’t forget to take in the local flora and natural beauty.
- East 6th: East 6th Street is home to some of the trendiest bars in Austin ranging from divey and rustic spots to chic patios and lounges. Many spaces on East 6th also have live music, making it a quintessential Austin experience.
- Holly: While typically considered more of a residential neighborhood, Holly has many cute and quaint boutiques, local shops, and unique finds along Cesar Chavez. Pop into Coco Coquette and browse their wide selection of wigs, and music lovers should be sure to check out BLK Vinyl and Switched On.
West Austin neighborhoods make it so easy to get lost in the Central Texas landscape. Whether you’re looking to taste some sweet Hill Country peaches, go for a refreshing dip in a lake, or drink and dine at waterfront restaurants, West Austin has it all.
- Austin Lake Estates
- East Oak Hill
- Lost Creek
- Old Enfield Road
- River Place
- Steiner Ranch
- Windsor Hills
- West Lake
- Tarrytown: Located just west of Downtown and UT Austin and abutting the Colorado River, Tarrytown has a few different flavors within its borders. Try out Hula Hut for stellar lakeside dining with a luau vibe or check out the Beer Plant if you’re looking for some classic gastropub fare that’s entirely vegan.
- West Lake Hills: If you find yourself south of the river and west of Mopac, you have to head over to Plaza de las Lomas for some delicious dining options. If you’re in the mood for Mediterranean flavors, head to CAVA, or if you’re craving some Mexican fare, head over to Las Palomas to satisfy your palate.
- Barton Creek Greenbelt: If you want to spend all day wandering along 12 miles of winding trail, climbing some rocks, or cooling off in the river, check out Barton Creek Greenbelt. Start at the trailhead near Barton Springs Pool and get lost in one of the most beautiful places in Austin.
- Mount Bonnell: If you’re pining for a vantage point where you can see Lake Travis, Austin’s skyline, and Texas Hill Country, the vista at Mount Bonnell is the place to be. Gazing out from the highest point within Austin’s city limits 775 feet above sea level makes Mount Bonnell a fantastic sightseeing spot and great photo op.
- West Lake: If lowkey nights are more your speed, West Lake is the place for you. Have a glass or two at The Grove Wine Bar or enjoy an upscale, swanky atmosphere at the Visconti Bar.
- The Doke: Primarily a marina and docking space, the Doke is where you’ll probably depart from if you’re taking a river cruise. But before you get on the water, grab a drink at Abel’s on the Lake and choose from their extensive selection of brews on tap.
- Barton Creek Square: If you’re looking for a classic shopping mall experience, head over to Barton Creek Square. This newly renovated mall features big retail stores like Apple, Lululemon, Nordstrom as well as a DWELL community lounge and work space.
- Village at Westlake: Offering a mix of eats and shops, the Village at Westlake is a convenient stop for West Austinites to pick up essentials like groceries from HEB but also cross some errands off their to-do list.
Beyond Austin City Limits
In addition to the countless neighborhoods within Austin itself, just outside the city boundaries lie many desirable neighborhoods that offer a more suburban feel while maintaining quick access and close proximity to downtown Austin.
North of Austin:
East of Austin:
South of Austin:
West of Austin:
- Hamilton Pool: This natural swimming hole is a beautiful oasis just a short drive from Austin to Dripping Springs. The pool has a waterfall, making this already gorgeous natural escape even more exciting. Because the pool attracts so many visitors, reservations are required to enjoy it, so don’t forget to reserve your spot in advance!
- Inks Lake State Park: Located just an hour northwest of Austin, Inks Lake State Park is perfect for a day trip or weekend camping excursion. The lake’s consistent level throughout the year makes it a great choice no matter the season. You can hike, fish, camp, swim, picnic, and stargaze to your heart’s content.
- Bastrop State Park: If wandering through the Lost Pines sounds like your kind of adventure, head 32 miles east of Austin to Bastrop State Park. Here, you can camp in a few ways — pitch your own tent, drive up in an RV, or stay in a historic cabin onsite. If you’re not staying overnight, make the most of your day by hiking the trails or fishing in Lake Mina.
- Hill Country Galleria: If you’re looking for upscale shopping and dining, Hill Country Galleria is the place to go. Located a quick 25 minute drive from Downtown Austin in the Bee Cave area, The Shops at the Galleria offer a high-end shopping experience with brand name stores, a movie theater, a Whole Foods, and plenty of dining options.
- Lakeline Mall: Located just outside Austin city limits in nearby Cedar Park, Lakeline Mall is a large shopping mall with over 150 shops including department stores, a food court, and movie theater. Lakeline’s directory includes men’s, women’s, and children’s apparel plus much more, making it perfect for a family outing.
- Premium Outlets San Marcos: About 35 miles south of Downtown Austin, the San Marcos Premium Outlets is paradise for shopaholics looking for great deals. This outdoor outlet mall boasts 145 luxury, designer, and name brands stores with offerings spanning childrenswear to homegoods.
- Premium Outlets Round Rock: If you’d rather travel north for your outlet shopping, you’ll hit Round Rock Premium Outlets after about 25 miles of driving. While slightly smaller than its San Marcos sibling, the Round Rock outlets are still home to 125 stores that will surely satisfy all your shopping wants and needs.
- La Frontera Village: While you’re in Round Rock on a shopping spree, you’ll definitely want to stop by La Frontera Village as well. The center is a mix of retail, office, and residential spaces, so will offer a nice change of scenery from the outlet mall experience.
Getting Around the City
Austin is most easily navigated by car, but there are plenty of options for public transportation, rideshares, and eco-friendly means of getting around the city.
- Capital Metro Bus System: The Cap Metro busses are the most widely used means of public transportation in Austin, with routes stretching all across the city. A one-way trip costs $1.25 making it a very affordable option for getting around. Many busses even have hydraulic bike racks on the front of them, so you can conveniently take your bike with you to different parts of the city without having to ride it the whole way there.
- Metrorail: Route 550 on the Red Line is ideal for commuting to Downtown from Leader and North Austin. A single ride is $3.50 with additional weekly and monthly passes available, too. Skip the rush hour traffic and enjoy a peaceful ride on the metrorail. With free WiFi onboard, you can even use your commute time to get yourself organized before the workday or stream a TV show to keep yourself entertained.
- Taxi & Rideshare: Popular rideshare apps like Uber and Lyft are available throughout the city as well as some local options like RideAustin and ExecuTesla plus taxis which you can hail on the street or request through the app Curbed.
- Bikeshare: Austin’s bikeshare network allows you to enjoy the biking trails throughout the city or commute via bike without the hassle of locking and storing your own. They offer various memberships as well as a pay-as-you-ride option, and their fleet even includes electric bikes.
- E-Scooters: Like many metropolitan areas, E-scooters have popped up in Austin as a newer option for getting around. Bird, Lime, and Link standing electric scooters can be seen all over the city and cost $1 to unlock plus $0.29-$0.39 per minute thereafter.
- Pedicabs: These carts, pulled by local cyclists, can be found all throughout downtown Austin. There are many different pedicab companies, but they are all licensed by the City of Austin Ground Transportation Department and work solely on tips, so be generous!