The Best Neighborhoods for Gay Couples in Austin, According to a Gay Realtor

The Best Neighborhoods for Gay Couples in Austin, According to a Gay Realtor

  • Lyon Gegenheimer
  • 10/1/22

There are few U.S. cities on the rise that offer the promise that Austin, Texas, does, as one that positions itself to be all things to all people. Aside from its booming economy, buoyed by a rapidly expanded technology sector, Austin features an abundance of outdoor activities and a restaurant, bar, and live music scene with few rivals anywhere in the county. But more than just being one of the country's most sought-after places to live, Austin is also one of the most gay-friendly cities in the U.S.

It's not just a matter of one or two areas of the city catering to the LGBTQ community; instead, many of the city's most popular neighborhoods cater to the LGBTQ community. Each area is distinct, featuring a multitude of luxury properties. Unlike other cities, Austin provides gay couples with an incredible amount of choices in establishing their home closest to the areas most important to them.

So, if you’re looking into Downtown or East Austin real estate, let's explore this wonderful city further as we showcase Austin's best neighborhoods for gay couples.

East Austin

Though Austin may not have a specific district on par with San Francisco's iconic Castro neighborhood or even Dallas' popular Oak Lawn area, East Austin serves as the de facto core of the city's LGBTQ community. Situated on the other side of Interstate 35 from downtown, East Austin is arguably the city's most diverse neighborhood, and aside from the renowned Sixth Street Historic District, it may also be its most vibrant. There is a deep-rooted, come-as-you-are vibe that permeates the streets of this trendy ‘burg.

With Downtown Austin only a five-minute drive from the heart of the neighborhood, it's ultra-convenient to many of the city's most popular attractions without the fuss. East Austin has plenty of its own landmarks to boast about. One of the most popular sections of Lady Bird Lake forms East Austin's southern boundary. Residents have direct access to the lake and hiking and biking trails.

After hours, East Austin is famous for its hole-in-the-wall dive bars, though it is populated with enough upscale establishments to ensure a well-rounded night on the town. LGBTQ-owned establishments include the outstanding La Barbecue and Gelateria Gemelli. As an older part of town, homes here cover the spectrum. From Folk & Queen Anne Victorians through Mid-Century Modern a wide variety of housing types make up the East Austin real estate scene.  At the same time, there's enough new construction to satisfy more contemporary tastes. For the low-maintenance living crowd, there are plenty of upscale condo options packed with luxury amenities.


Do art galleries, cafe culture, and organic shopping appeal to you? Clarksville brings these elements together into a perfect pedestrian lifestyle. The neighborhood is anchored by the Market District (home to possibly the largest Whole Foods on the planet), a place reminiscent of San Francisco. Picture food halls like you would find in Harrod’s in London — with a lunchtime roof terrace so large, they put an ice rink on top of it for the Winter holidays.

Tucked into the southwest corner of Central Austin, where the MoPac Expressway traverses the Colorado River, Clarksville is one of Austin's preeminent neighborhoods, even if it sometimes flies under the radar compared to the vibrancy of downtown right next door. What is arguably the region's most gorgeous and historically rich community, Clarksville, sits at the heart of a vibrant sphere of influence for the LGBTQ community.

For starters, 6th Street serves as the neighborhood's southern border. Cross Lamar Street, and you're minutes away from many of the best LGBTQ bars and nightclubs in the entire state, including The Iron Bear, the Highland Lounge, and Oilcan Harrys. Venture a bit further, and you're in the heart of Red River, Austin's unofficial alternative lifestyle entertainment district, including favorite hangouts Barbarella and Swan Dive, Elysium Nightclub, and the always magical Cheer Up Charlies.

Closer to home, Clarksville's ultra-trendy West Sixth Street District and the quaint, village-like West Lynn Street feature numerous gay-friendly restaurants, bars, and boutiques. The real allure of Clarksville is the homes that sit along its majestic tree-lined streets. Historic, stately mansions and expertly crafted bungalows dating to the 1930s are the showstoppers, but outstanding new contemporaries carry their own wow factor. 

All told, Clarksville has the best bakeries, wine shop, and patios in the Austin area. The neighborhood is the perfect urban enclave to make a home for a gay couple seeking acceptance, sanctuary, and an idyllic spot to start or raise a family.

South Austin 

When exploring the best Austin neighborhoods for a gay couple to settle in, most searches focus on individual communities, such as the aforementioned Clarksville and East Austin. South Austin, however, breaks that mold. Indicative of Austin's progressive, open-arm approach to the growing LGBTQ community, instead of a singular, central locale south of Lady Bird Lake, gay couples can find a great home and welcoming community in several of the region's most sought-after neighborhoods.

The South Austin trifecta of Barton Hills, South Lamar, and Zilker are among the most popular neighborhoods for music lovers, outdoor lovers, food lovers, and architecture lovers. So really, it's an excellent place for any kind of lover.  Perhaps the most notable draw is the 351-acre Zilker Park along the southern shores of Lady Bird Lake. Linking the neighborhoods of Barton Hills to the southwest and its namesake Zilker to the east, the expansive green space hosts numerous annual festivals, including the Austin City Limits Music Festival and South by Southwest.

Barton Hills

Barton Hills is a magnet for recreational enthusiasts. A large swath of the 850-acre Barton Creek Greenbelt occupies the neighborhood's southwestern corner. You're never too far from a favorite hike or bike trail in one of Barton Hill's idyllic neighborhoods. Set amongst gently rolling hills, the numerous housing options include a beautiful collection of some of the city's most well-preserved mid-century moderns.  All within a short walk or bike ride to Barton Springs Pool, the natural gem of this City.


Itself primarily residential, Zilker moves at a slightly quicker pace than its western neighbor, thanks to the lively South Lamar Boulevard corridor that serves as its eastern border. One of Austin's underappreciated gems, you can quickly access local parks and trails on one side and then enjoy great restaurants and thumping live music venues on the other. Housing combines older Craftsman and bungalow properties and brand new contemporary construction.

South Lamar

On a map, South Lamar seems like one of Austin's sleepy outlying suburbs, but that picture is highly deceiving. Instead, as the city boomed, 10 minutes to the north, the South Lamar neighborhood boomed alongside it. Condos, front porch homes, and multimillion-dollar new construction anchored by trendy boutiques, eclectic eateries, and laid-back after-hours haunts have made the area a significant draw for LGBTQ singles and couples alike. Patika is a favorite LGBTQ-owned cafe straddling the South Lamar and Zilker neighborhoods.

Travis Heights

Credit: Jo's Coffee
Finally, and never a place to be overlooked, Travis Heights and the adjacent South Congress Boulevard have long been a favorite destination for the LGBTQ crowd. One of the most notable LGBTQ-owned establishments is Jo's Coffee and its "I love you so much" mural on South Congress. Travis Heights is a particular favorite among those who appreciate Austin's long, diverse architectural lineage. Homes date as far back as the turn of the century and add tremendous character to one of the city's most celebrated neighborhoods. Walking the nature trail on Blunn Creek through the heart of the neighborhood or taking a dip at the spring-fed Big Stacy Pool, are reason enough to call Travis Heights home.

Downtown Austin & Rainey Street

Over the past two decades, Austin's once sleepy capital city transformed itself into the country's most dynamic, progressive relocation destination. Downtown Austin and its jewel, Rainey Street, showcase this newfound confidence, and the city's LGBTQ community is a central force in driving it forward. Based on numbers from 2021, Austin's percentage of LGBTQ residents relative to the area's metro population ranked third in the U.S. Its 5.9% ratio is only behind Portland, Oregon's 6.0%, and San Francisco's 6.7%.

Much of Austin's LGBTQ community sees Downtown Austin real estate as the best of all worlds. For gay, lesbian, or queer couples seeking a fresh start in a refreshingly tolerant city, downtown is the ideal neighborhood to establish a foothold in Austin. Lively entertainment districts, outstanding shopping and dining, ample outdoor recreation, and a wealth of housing options welcome newcomers to the fold. The central location and easy access to major transportation networks are a huge bonus.

The Contemporary Austin, originally known as the Austin Museum of Art, is the city’s primary contemporary art institution. Of its many delightful exhibits, the Soundsuits series by gay artist Nick Cave stand out. Beholding Soundsuits, one encounters bright, whimsical, and otherworldly fabric sculptures — camouflage for the body, a second skin that precludes race, gender, and class. Another place to visit, Oil Can Harry’s, offers a more boisterous atmosphere. Austin’s oldest gay bar, Oil Can’s is located along a vibrant section of East 4th Street. Along with Capital City Playhouse in the early 1980’s, Oil Can’s witnessed firsthand the revival and tranformation of downtown Austin into a lively and inclusive community.

Incredibly walkable, it's simple enough to move between the area's eight primary neighborhoods, including the Sixth Street Historic District, the shopping along 2nd Street, the upscale Warehouse District, and the nightlife hub of Red River. Downtown's roster of high-end, high-rise condo towers ultimately stands out to those moving into the city. Vast options to suit every need and style await, and Downtown's highly social nature means you and your partner won't be newcomers for long.

For those seeking healthy urban living, look no further than Rainey Street. The perfect combination of urban and oasis, the neighborhood is located along the shores of Lady Bird Lake and a 16-mile trail for hiking and biking. Between the trail and lakefront, you can pursue many forms of physical activity. And when the sun sets, the neighborhood’s nightlife has the bars, music, and restaurants conducive to a hedonistic evening of drinking, dancing, and singing.

More so than in other Austin neighborhoods, there is a robust LGBTQ support structure downtown, including the Austin Pride Foundation, which also hosts the city's annual Pride Celebration.

Holly Street & East Cesar Chavez

This neighborhood is noteworthy for being the site of Austin Pride, held every August at Festival Beach on the shores of Lady Bird Lake. On East Cesar Chavez is Sir Rat, a fetish and leather shop that epitomizes the imperative to keep Austin weird. You’ll also find Prizer Arts & Letters, a gay-owned and operated community art gallery where you might find tributes to such personages as Gary Floyd (openly gay vocalist for Dicks, an ‘80s punk band) and photographers Gretchen Phillips, Deb Norris, and Beth Schindler (members of the Homo Photo Club).

South Congress (SoCo)

Austin’s SoCo district has fine Victorian homes, quaint arts and crafts shops, and bungalows, plus high-end new construction homes fit for magazines. South Congress was the site of a new hair care line by Jonathan Ven Ness, Austin’s most famous non-binary citizen. Of South Congress and Austin generally, Ness said, “The city is so green and so beautiful, I just fell in love with it.” Ness and his partner, Mark Peacock, remained in Austin long enough for the former to launch his new Netflix series.

Speaking of famous Austinites, South Congress is also home to Liz Lambert’s original boutique hotel, the Hotel San Jose, as featured in the documentary, Last Days of the San Jose.

UT & North University

Bordering the campus of University of Texas, the North University neighborhood is another inclusive community where LGBTQ are welcome. Famously a hippie haven in the 1970s, the area, formally known as Gypsy Grove is where Janis Joplin rented a house and began her illustrious career first performing at nearby dive bars & honky tonks. Today, North University remains a hub for education, youth culture, and history.

Easy to overlook, Out Youth Austin operates a suicide prevention hotline that saves lives. In its 30+ years of existence, Out Youth has been a safe place for youth of all sexual orientations and gender identities. More prominent is “The Drag,” or Guadalupe Street, a busy pedestriran boulevard along the edge of UT-Austin campus. Nearby The Drag is Hemphill Park, a picture-perfect neighborhood in North University with close access to shopping and food: Wheatsville Co-op, Amy’s Ice Cream, and Foodheads to name just a few of the best.

Ready to get started?

Ready to learn more about Austin's vibrant LGBTQ community, including the city's best gay-friendly restaurants, bars, and attractions? Contact Lyon Gegenheimer today to start your home-buying (or selling) journey. From Downtown Austin condos for sale to luxury homes in Clarksville or South Austin, allow Lyon's knowledge and expertise to be your guide to navigating Austin's luxury real estate market.

Work With Lyon

Lyon is the lead broker of the Lyon Real Estate Group at Compass based in Austin, Texas. Lyon Real Estate Group’s goals are to provide the highest level of real estate services available. Honesty, Experience, and Integrity are principles and qualities the brokers and agents demonstrate daily with enthusiasm and solid market knowledge.

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