Venture south across Lady Bird Lake, aka Town Lake, to find eclectic, unvarnished, and casual. Great neighborhoods with a real community feel are in South Austin. So is SoCo or South Congress, arguably one of the coolest locales in the city. The street scene serves up Home Slice pizza and Jo’s coffee as well as the Continental Club, Uncommon Objects, and the San Jose Hotel. Retail is not the big box kind here. First Thursdays have morphed into a monthly block party with special shopping (and eating) opportunities from local merchants. Plus it’s a fun way to get a feel for the neighborhood.
Snap your photo by the Austin “postcard” at West Annie Street and South 1st Street, but don’t leave without popping next door to La patisserie for macaroons, or back over to SoCo to check out the selection at Allen’s Boots.
Some of the city’s jewels in terms of location and texture are here. Zilker Park, Barton Springs, the Long Center, and St. Edward’s University are among the treasures on this side of town.
Beyond the centrally located and uber-cool 78704 ZIP code, most neighborhoods start to have a more suburban feel. Newer homes and family-oriented communities become the norm and the retail landscape shifts to the popular, mainstream brands.
About 20 minutes southwest of downtown, Circle C is a master-planned community of about 2,700 homes on approximately 4,000 acres. It is also home to the Circle C Tennis Center, Circle C Golf Course, and Circle C Park. It’s easy to stay active in this neighborhood, with its hike-and-bike trails, soccer fields, basketball courts, children’s play areas, and Austin’s only Veloway—a paved three-mile loop for roller skaters, roller bladers, skateboarders, and cyclists.
Known today for its highly sought-after real estate and political activism as much as its enviable location, Travis Heights’ development first took off in a big way in the 1920s. Historical, eclectic, and highly desirable, this neighborhood includes plenty of families, but also young professionals and artists. You’ll find everything from modern apartments to large mansions, and two city parks—Big Stacy and Little Stacy—which are connected by the Blunn Creek Greenbelt.
Within walking distance of Austin’s crown jewel, Zilker Park, Barton Hills has one of the best locations in Austin. Tree-filled, beautiful, and hilly enough to offer scenic vistas, this neighborhood is popular with young families and professionals. Most of the homes were built during the late ’70s and early ’80s, but the texture of the community varies, with modern condominiums next to hip mid-century bungalows that have been remodeled. Close to downtown, MoPac, and right in the middle of the action for South by Southwest, Austin City Limits music festival, and a refreshing dip in Barton Springs on a scorching summer afternoon, Barton Hills is one of the city’s most happening areas.
Texas School for the Deaf was established in 1856 and is Bouldin Creek’s largest institution. A tad eccentric and delightfully diverse, the residents of this neighborhood vary as dramatically as the homes. From new green-built condos to Green Pastures, a historic Victorian home that was transformed into a restaurant, the housing choices in this quiet neighborhood run the gamut. Close to downtown, SoCo, Zilker Park, and pretty much anything Austin has to offer, Bouldin Creek brings it in the character department.
The above neighborhood descriptions are from the Austin Newcomer’s Guide, Winter 2013.