Welcome to Downtown Austin
The number-one place to live, work, and play in Texas.
Within the heart of the Live Music Capital of the World, Downtown Austin is an all-encompassing neighborhood boasting history, modern architecture, major offices, exciting nightlife, a nationally recognized culinary scene, and beautiful riverfront scenery. With something to discover at each hour of the day, Downtown Austin is undoubtedly one of America’s great “live, work, play” neighborhoods.
In the early 1830s, a one-square-mile plot of land situated between Waller and Shoal Creek was surveyed and developed into a 14-street grid system. One main thoroughfare was dubbed Congress Avenue and would eventually serve as the scenic roadway from the Colorado River up to the State Capitol. Today, downtown is still laid out in this original grid system and many historic buildings from this time period still stand, but several modern additions have drastically transformed the skyline, especially in recent years, as more newcomers discover the magical aura of one of the nation’s best downtown districts.
What to Love
- Austin’s vibrant cultural epicenter
- A plethora of Downtown Austin real estate options to choose from
- A bit of everything can be found, from historic offices to glittering skyscrapers, to waterfront scenery, and buzzy bars
- High Walk Score across the neighborhood
From small neighborhood businesses to high-powered corporate offices, Downtown Austin offers a little bit of everything. Judges Hill, positioned on the northern edge of downtown, is a quiet historic district showcasing the extravagance of Downtown Austin's real estate with single-family homes and other Victorian-era icons. More central portions of downtown, like the 2nd Street District, are busy every day of the week with both locals and out-of-towners alike shopping, brunching, or making their way to a performance at ACL Live. At sundown, Sixth Street comes alive with all its sights and sounds, truly showing off what makes this great city so special.
Dining, Entertainment, and Shopping
With downtown consisting of so many individual districts, there truly is something different to experience every day of the week. Once a quiet residential enclave of Downtown Austin, Rainey Street has now been transformed into a nightlife hotspot, with several luxury high-rises and condo units for sale having been constructed in recent years. Bungalow homes are now Sunday Funday hotspots, offering an alternative to Sixth Street.
Sixth Street is iconic in its own right, with the eastern portion of the thoroughfare blocked off to traffic on weekend nights. Gritty dive bars like Barbarella host frequent theme nights for guests to dance the night away, while The Driskill, the oldest hotel in the city, is a more refined alternative, boasting a rich, masculine bar serving sophisticated cocktails enjoyed in good company.
Second Street offers a look at downtown’s more glamorous, cosmopolitan side. The W Hotel boasts a glamorous restaurant with patio dining and multiple lounge areas, all with their own distinct, sultry atmosphere. Even the barbecue on 2nd is upscale. Lambert’s, situated in a historic, former general store, serves brisket, ribs, sausage, and other classics, paired with all the traditional fixings. The peach upside-down cake and pecan espresso martini are other popular accompaniments to this perfect southern indulgence.
If East Sixth is the mischievous younger sibling, West Sixth is the more classy, grown-up half. Swanky cocktails, brunch, and other refined delights are all enjoyed here by an equally glamorous crowd. Oysters and caviar are decadent indulgences best enjoyed at Clark’s on West Sixth, along with their lobster rolls, Crudo, and ceviche, all perfect on warmer summer afternoons. Quintessential Texas culture can be experienced at Ranch 616. Refreshing ranch waters and prickly pear margaritas are paired with native proteins kike fried oysters, frog legs, and the ever-popular award-winning divorced quail dinner.
Things To Do
Every March, downtown comes alive during the annual South by Southwest Festival. Stretching across two weeks, SXSW attracts film stars, musicians, titans of industry, and some of the largest companies in the nation. A small festival first held in 1987, SXSW has now grown to attract close to 500,000 attendees from over 100 nations in recent years. On a more regular basis, locals can be seen taking a stroll or going for a brisk jog along the shores of Lady Bird Lake. The 11-mile loop wrapping around both sides of the lake is one of the more scenic spots to enjoy a little bit of tranquility in the heart of the bustling city. Republic Square Park is another leisurely spot to enjoy a picnic, holiday events, and the weekend farmers’ market, taking place every Saturday morning.
Fine educational campuses can be found without leaving downtown boundaries. Some great campuses are found at:
Austin High, grades 9-12; AHS was placed within the top 6% of all public high schools in Texas for their outstanding college preparatory program
The Headwaters School, prekindergarten-12th grade; one of the state’s top private Montessori schools for the arts