Which Austin Neighborhood Should You Move To?
From historic Clarksville to funky South Congress, here’s everything you need to know about Austin’s vibrant neighborhoods.
Snagged a job in Austin, seeking a Texan lover, or longing to swap winter boots for flip flops? Step one is finding a place to live. Austin may be compact, but each neighborhood has its own distinct personality. This is a city where uniqueness is celebrated and every pocket of town packs bags of character. “The wonderful thing about Austin is that it’s truly got something for everyone,” says local realtor Maria-Francesca Reppucci. “Our big little city is thriving with new openings and the eager ambitions of new residents from all over the world”.
Before you make a beeline for downtown, you need to know all about the districts that make up ATX. Perhaps historic architecture splashed with easy access to nature is for you—enter Clarksville. Or you’re the type who loves the sound of live music vibrating through the streets like it is on East Sixth. Authentic Asian food is even a deal-breaker for some, and thankfully, North Lamar is where that’s at. You see, a neighborhood can be the difference between falling in love with Bat City and calling U-Haul to take everything back to your parent's house. So, peruse our trusted guide before dropping a pin on that new home if you’re coming with the former in mind. And, well, howdy there, newcomer!
The Lowdown: Clarksville has one of the most storied histories of any neighborhood in Austin. Founded in the 1870s, it was originally a community for formerly enslaved people. And, while it may be so close to Downtown you can see the city skyline through the branches on every tree-lined sidewalk, there is still a pervading sense of camaraderie that feels distinctively small-town. Speaking of those plant-decked streets, they’re filled with adorable bungalows, old-school businesses complete with retro signs, chic furniture boutiques, and a handful of the best restaurants in Bat City.
Sites & Landmarks: At the corner of North Lamar and West 6th Street, you’ll find a powerful trifecta of Austin’s iconic businesses. First up is BookPeople, Texas’ largest independent bookstore, which has graced the city with poetry and prose since 1970. Next up? Waterloo Records, established in 1982, it’s where musicians come when they touch down in the city. Finally, there’s the flagship location of Whole Foods—before it had anything to do with Amazon Prime, it was a small health food store opened by four Austin friends. The size of the place has certainly grown with its reputation and here you’ll find floors upon floors of fresh food and deli counters.
Food & Drink: Start with the exceptional dim sum brunch at Lin Asian Bar, where you can chow down on jumbo seafood soup dumplings. For a double-hit Sunday Funday, grab some grub at the pink umbrella-strewn Better Half Coffee & Cocktails, then head next door to Hold Out Brewing, where you and the crew can spend a relaxing day pounding pints of their incredibly drinkable fleet. Craving seafood? There are few better places to lap up the ocean than Clark’s Oyster Bar, where you can slurp Petite Crowes and Espresso Martinis while people-watching on their breezy patio.
The Historic West, Austin
The Lowdown: The Historic West Austin is a cluster of the city’s oldest little neighborhoods; Old West, Old Enfield, Bryker, and Windsor. The houses, marked by the brick facades and grand Colonial-style columns, certainly reflect that. Walk the streets, often populated with residents taking their Sunday strolls, to spot centuries-old oak trees and beautiful gardens at every turn. The family-friendly vibe is further personified by Pease District Park, an underrated green space gem that features volleyball and tennis courts as well as a treehouse observational pod.
Sites & Landmarks: Any ‘90s kid will have a serious bout of nostalgia driving past the house from Disney classic Blank Check, located right here in this neighborhood. You can only peer at the outside though—there’s no way to know if the film’s signature indoor-to-outdoor house slide was real or an illusion of movie-making magic.
Food & Drink: This might not be the place to settle down for those who favor a rowdy nightlife scene, but it doesn't mean it lacks evening activities. Chief among them being the original Kerbey Lane Cafe, every Austinite’s go-to spot for food at all hours of the day. And no matter how many times you’ve put away their buttermilk pancakes or signature queso, nothing beats digging into them at the bungalow location where it all started. There’s also Spread & Co., where the ability to build a custom charcuterie board to snack on while sipping draft rosés is bound to elevate your happy hour game.
The Lowdown: Hyde Park, founded over a hundred years ago, is known as Austin’s original suburb, but don't expect identical houses with white-picket fences. Instead, it's an eccentric mix of gabled-roof Victorian architecture, Tudor Revival homes, and cozy, colorful bungalows—with a population of young students, families, and older couples that can feel both hodge-podge and perfectly aligned. With sidewalks shaded by pecan trees, live oaks, and a flush of other greenery, it’s ideal for a Sunday afternoon stroll, yet modern enough that those same lawns are decorated with activist yard signs beneath the magnolia branches.
Sites & Landmarks: The neighborhood is home to the gorgeous Elisabeth Ney Museum, the once-home and studio of celebrated sculptor, Elisabeth Ney. The (free-to-enter) space exhibits original works and details the life of the German artist who moved to Austin in 1882.
Food & Drink: Hyde Park Bar & Grill is famous for its crisp, seasoned fries served alongside a signature Thousand Island and mayo dipping sauce. Don't miss a locally roasted espresso from Quack's 43rd Street Bakery, and Antonelli’s Cheese Shop for the best spreads money can buy.
The Lowdown: When Cherrywood was being developed during and after World War II, the target demographic for the neighborhood was described as “gentle folk of limited budget but of unlimited good taste.” Still (almost) true today after inflation, it’s close to Downtown Austin while being residential enough to feel far away from the high-rises emerging from beyond the serene streets. The population is chock full of students and recent graduates, not to mention young families whose irregular sleep schedules are aided by the numerous coffee shops that dot the area.
Sites & Landmarks: Patterson Park is the area’s best-kept secret, which is how locals would like to keep it. For those who like to keep things spooky, walk around the Oakwood Cemetery, the oldest city-owned cemetery in Austin filled with notable figures from Texas political history.
Food & Drink: When it comes to coffee shops, one of the best neighborhood haunts is Cherrywood Coffeehouse, where no unfriendly face exists. The best biscuits in the city can be found at Bird Bird Biscuit, and brew lovers should head to Haymaker, whose beers on tap and variety of craft sandwiches make it a go-to for game day viewing.
The Lowdown: Downtown’s iconic image decorates postcards and other memorabilia found dotting the shops along its side streets. Here sits the political center of Texas, and the heart of the live music scene, as evidenced by clubs and bars along the Red River and Sixth Street. The housing is almost exclusively high-class apartments that, depending on their location, might offer gorgeous views of Lady Bird Lake, which serves as the southern border for the neighborhood.
Sites & Landmarks: Downtown is landmarks central. There’s everything from the terra cotta-hued Texas State Capitol (which is even bigger than the United States Capitol, because, you know, Texas) and the Paramount Theater, a revival-style entertainment center with a blazing marquee, to the statue of the city’s patron saint, Willie Nelson, marking the entrance to ACL Live at the Moody Theater.
Food & Drink: Being the most cosmopolitan location within city limits, the shops and restaurants here are equally sophisticated. There’s the famed Garrison, downtown’s best fine dining restaurant that's on every date night wish list. If you’re looking for a less classy experience, however, there’s always Dirty Sixth Street, where you can drink your fill of sake cider bombs at The Jackalope until there’s no other option but to stumble home. Don’t miss Walton’s Fancy & Staple too—Sandra Bullock’s cozy daytime cafe.
The Lowdown: East Riverside previously built up a reputation for strip malls and aging apartment buildings, but it's a different place today. Not only does its proximity to the glistening waters of the Colorado River and the beautiful wildflower fields of Mabel Davis District Park make it rife with natural beauty, but major developments and renovations promise to bring even more businesses sure to appeal to the young professional crowd that dominates the area.
Sites & Landmarks: East Riverside is nestled right up against Lady Bird Lake—and biking, walking, or simply dog-spotting on the boardwalk trailing a section of the waterway is one of the best things you can do in Austin. Looking to actually get out on the river? Rent a paddle-board or kayak from nearby Live Love Paddle and be one with nature.
Food & Drink: There’s popular music venue Emo’s, a local favorite for catching a band or some quality live comedy. Around the corner from Emo’s is Rosita’s Al Pastor, a taco truck serving juicy slices of its namesake pork on pillowy soft homemade flour tortillas till the wee hours of the morning.
The Lowdown: SoCo (South Congress) is easily one of Austin’s most enviable zip codes for many reasons. And it’s been this way since the 1970s when it famously laid claim to Armadillo World Headquarters, a music venue that hosted memorable performances by heavy-hitters like Stevie Ray Vaughan and ZZ Top. Although the Armadillo is sadly gone, the hip, eccentric vibe lives on in the (albeit increasingly expensive) brightly decorated bungalows beckoning from every side street.
Sites & Landmarks: South Congress Street itself, with its multi-block expanse of quirky boutiques (including Allen’s Boots), fun bars, and more culinary affectations than you can count, is the real draw here. Plus, you can walk a good bulk of it without ever losing sight of the stunning Texas State Capitol building on the other side of the river.
Food & Drink: Whether you’re in the mood for caffeine or something stronger, SoCo’s where to be for any form of beverage. Take your cold brew by the gallon at community hang Jo’s Coffee, where you’re bound to find a line of people waiting to take their picture by the “I love you so much” mural donning the side of the building. And for a break from the bustle, head to Simona’s in Colton House for coffee with a kick.
Zilker & Bouldin Creek
The Lowdown: One of the oldest neighborhoods in Austin, the Bouldin Creek and Zilker area achieves the perfect balance between trendiness and resisting becoming over-hyped. Its prime South Austin location, not to mention its proximity to such treasures as Zilker Park and the hiking trails of the Bouldin Creek Greenbelt, have made this area susceptible to much gentrification over the past decade. Walking down South First Street is a great way to take in the flavor of this neighborhood, as everything from clothing stores to ice cream parlors to art galleries call the sometimes-crooked sidewalks here home. Not to be missed is the “Greetings From Austin” mural, which looks straight out of the kind of 1940s vintage postcard you can find in one of the many area antique shops.
Sites & Landmarks: Zilker Park is every Austinite’s favorite urban green space and plays host to the Austin City Limits Music Festival each fall, along with dog-walkers, soccer-players, and picnickers just about every other time of the year. Located inside Zilker Park is Barton Springs, a three-acre public pool filled naturally with water from underground springs—there’s no better way to cool off on a hot August day.
Food & Drink:Bouldin Creek Cafe has vegan meals so delicious you won’t even mind eating healthy, which just means you can go all in on a Margarita at Polvos afterward. Additionally, if the great patio and friendly wait staff at Once Over Coffee Bar don’t automatically make you feel better about taking on the work week ahead, their Frozen Vanilla Latte certainly will.
The Lowdown: The North Loop area is funky yet approachable, and in particular North Loop Boulevard encompasses everything there is to love about this neighborhood—vintage furniture stores, cozy coffee shops, and innovative venues bursting with top-notch food and drink.
Sites & Landmarks: The selection of vintage stores in the North Loop area is unparalleled. Room Service Vintage brings Austin vibes to your living room. From framed floral needlepoints to colorful deck furniture, you’re bound to find a spicy addition to your space here. In addition to home goods, Revival Vintage is stocked with single-stitch shirts and denim marvels.
Food & Drink:JewBoy Burgers peddles delicious patties with toppings that pay tribute to both Jewish and Mexican culture, such as latkes and green chilies. Modern twists on cocktails, like a dry martini made with Scotch, can be found at Drink.Well—but, just a warning, you may never want to go back to the originals again.
The Lowdown: There’s no doubt that the University of Texas casts a huge shadow on Austin—both in the metaphorical as well as in the literal sense when the UT Tower burns bright orange through the night to celebrate various sports victories. The Drag, an area along the western edge of UT’s campus, originated as a place to house businesses that provided services to students, such as campus bookstores. While students may still dominate this area—both in terms of who resides here as well who you’re bound to encounter while out and about—there’s still a lot to love about the neighborhood, even if your coed days are far behind you.
Sites & Landmarks: The Harry Ransom Center, an archival dream of literary and cultural artifacts, is a building every Austinite should visit, whether or not they’re actually a student doing research. Some of the collection’s highlights include a painting by Frida Kahlo, an original Gutenberg Bible, and the oldest surviving photograph in the world.
Food & Drink: Fittingly, The Drag is worth its weight in affordable hangout-worthy bars, delicious take-out options, and shops with an academic bent. Hole in the Wall has been a city institution since it first opened in 1974, and remains one of the best places to catch a shot of whiskey and a show. Another long-term local favorite is Spider House Cafe & Ballroom, where a string light-laden patio shines like the Bat Signal.
The Lowdown: Located in what was formerly the Robert Mueller Municipal Airport, this area has been transformed into a modern version of those 1950s cliche sitcoms neighborhoods—the kind where you can bike to the (eco-friendly) grocery store for a gallon of (oat) milk. The fact that Mueller has more electric cars per capita than any area of the United States should tell you a lot about the people who live here—progressive families who want a slice of Americana without the hold-ups of the traditional suburbs. And with everything from a movie theater to a diner to an Irish pub within its accessible confines, it certainly delivers.
Sites & Landmarks: Neighborhood centerpiece Lake Park offers plenty of green space for hanging with friends on a nice day or taking a sunset run around one of the trails encircling the eponymous lake. And every Sunday, Mueller’s Branch Park Pavilion is home to one of Austin’s best farmers markets.
Food & Drink: The handmade pasta at L’Oca d’Oro is the single strongest argument against the rumor that good Italian food doesn't exist in Texas. Grabbing a coffee at Halcyon or a scoop of Hill Country Honey & Vanilla Bean at Lick Honest Ice Creams makes a perfect portable treat for a walk around the duck-filled expanse of Lake Park.
The Lowdown: The Tarrytown/Deep Eddy neighborhood is one of the best places for die-hard animal lovers. The Beer Plant takes all the gastropub standards but makes them entirely vegan—you’ll never look at a plate of chicken and gravy the same way again after trying its succulent plant-based version. And because you can’t really be an Austinite without a rescue dog in tow, be sure to stop by Austin Pets Alive!’s Tarrytown Dog Adoption Center. We dare you to walk through their facility and not come home with a furry friend.
Sites & Landmarks: Take a dip in the always-refreshing waters of Deep Eddy, the oldest swimming pool in Texas. Pop-up events and screenings are routinely held in the summer.
Food & Drink: There are safe havens for meat-eaters among vegan eateries. Pool Burger not only boasts some of the best patties in town, but its tiki cocktails and velvety Jalapeño Pimento are not to be missed. For a taste of classic Austin, be sure to stop by Deep Eddy’s Cabaret, where you can grab a Lone Star while being regaled by locals about the good ol’ days.
The Lowdown: The cozy, residential neighborhood of North Lamar is a throwback to the times before major corporations sponsored South by Southwest. The area truly feels like a cultural diamond thanks to the sheer amount of different nationalities sharing the space, not to mention the unbeatable food scene—especially Asian food. The far north location and plethora of strip malls mean it often gets left off of real estate maps, but for those looking for international charm and reliable affordability, North Lamar is the place to be.
Sites & Landmarks: Enter via the pagoda in Chinatown Center for some of the best Asian cuisine in all of Austin. Don’t leave without getting your fill of the unique products found in the aisles of MT Supermarket, which features grocery and household necessities from China, Taiwan, Korea, and Japan.
Food & Drink: Eateries here are reminiscent of finds in bigger cities like Los Angeles, where nondescript locations conceal homegrown flavor combinations from around the world. In addition to the previously mentioned Chinatown Center, there’s Northgate Shopping Center, stocked with standout restaurants featuring Indian, Pakistani, and Middle Eastern specialties. Don’t miss Mariscos Los Jarochos, which eschews Austin’s Tex-Mex dominance for Veracruz-style seafood.
East Sixth Street & Holly
The Lowdown: The East Sixth Street and Holly neighborhoods have traditionally been home to a thriving Black community in Austin. However, with the onset of gentrification, many of those Black-owned businesses have been driven out due to higher rents and national chains coming in. There are still some incredible local places to hit up in the area, though—and its reputation as a mecca for hipsters is somewhat well-deserved, as you’re bound to see at least one manbun per block around these parts.
Sites & Landmarks: Established in 1877, Huston-Tillotson University is the oldest university in the city and a testament to East Austin’s rich African-American heritage. Music venues are one of the area’s main highlights. Hotel Vegas is the place to catch your new favorite indie rock band before they hit it big, and you can two-step the night away at modern honky-tonk The White Horse.
Food & Drink: Happy hour at Licha’s Cantina is a true respite from the work day, while the empanadas at Buenos Aires Café are famous in the Austin region—you should probably try one of each just to get the full experience. Sushi speakeasy Sushi | Bar ATX is here too for an upscale experience.
West Lake Hills
The Lowdown: West Lake Hills is for sure considered the most bougie place in Austin—and, fittingly, the most expensive. And while gigantic mansions priced into the millions play an undeniable role in the local fabric, the naturally beautiful hilly landscape is attracting the gaze of a new, younger generation. And for those aiming to raise a family in the city, the excellent schools in the area are a huge draw.
Sites & Landmarks: The best panoramas in the city can be found atop Mount Bonnell’s 106-step stone stairway. It’s a great place to bring a picnic or enjoy some drinks on a first date and, like many areas in Austin, it’s completely dog-friendly.
Food & Drink: Restaurants here lean on classic Texan flavors. Take in a 20-mile view of the Hill Country while eating your way through homemade bread and famous ribs at The County Line on the Hill. Jack Allen’s Kitchen covers two of the basic food groups found in Austin, with Tex-Mex classics like Layered Chunky Queso with Green Chile Pork and country-style dishes like Chicken Fried Chicken sharing the gut-busting bill.