Amidst something of a gentrified revival, Austin is fast becoming one of the most popular cities to explore in the USA. Regularly topping lists of best places for city mini-breaks and romantic getaways, the world’s attention has been caught by Austin’s reinvention. As the Texas state capital, Austin has a wealth of history and heritage to explore.
Recently, curious and quirky coffee shops, thrift stores, and cafes are cropping up left, right and center. Locals are passionate about food and there is a seemingly never-ending supply of innovative food trucks rustling up some pretty delicious, locally sourced and internationally inspired culinary creations.
A city that has been renowned for decades for its thriving music scene, Austin provided a platform for musical legends such as Janis Joplin and Willie Nelson. The student population does wonders for the social opportunities in Austin. There are live music events night and day scattered throughout this happening city and its varied neighborhoods.
Away from the hustle and bustle of the happening Downtown, visitors to Austin can seek serenity in Zilker Park or enjoy a quick dip at Barton Springs Pool.
Let’s explore where to stay in Austin and discover the best neighborhood in the city for you.
It seems only appropriate to start at the epicenter of everything Austin – in the thriving Downtown. A multifaceted neighborhood, Downtown is both fashionable and functional. Here you will find the impressive Texas state capital building and big business office blocks. This area sees people from all walks of life coexist in harmony. Hundreds of busy professionals scurry around, phone in one hand, coffee in the other, while laissez-faire students catch up for brunch and visitors saunter the streets with camera in hand.
The vibe in Downtown changes throughout the course of the day. Come the early morning, those busy professionals cram onto public transport, creating something of a frenetic feel. Once the sun starts to set, Downtown Austin really comes into its own. Refreshed and revitalized by the sight of the moon, the bars fill up and exude a fun-loving and fancy free atmosphere.
Good For: City Slickers, Culture Vultures, Whistle-Stop Travelers
Neighborhood Highlights: Texas State Capitol Building, Austin City Hall, Austin Children’s Museum, 6th Street Nightlife Scene, Bullock Texas State History Museum
- Aloft Austin – You’ll find Aloft Austin just 500m from the Capitol Building. Super modern, bright and spacious, Aloft Austin is becoming increasingly popular. Feel free to hide away in your private ensuite room, or get mingling in the hotel’s uber-trendy bar and covered garden lounge.
- Locale 2nd Street – Offering the homeliness and spaciousness of a private apartment with the services and amenities of a hotel, Locale 2nd Street is a contemporary accommodation suitable for all. The ceiling to floor windows provide breathtaking views, and guests have access to the property’s impressive fitness center.
- Guild Lavaca St – Whether you stay one night or one month in Austin, Guild Lavaca St will help you feel right at home in the Texan capital. The decor is modern and minimalist. You have access to your own private kitchen, including smart coffee machine and dishwasher.
If the idea alone of the busy Downtown gets you feeling overwhelmed, give a moment’s thought to East Downtown. Away from the bustling business epicenter, the East Downtown neighborhood may be a little less refined but is free from the hustle and craziness.
Travelers keen on exploring Austin’s music scene and food culture will surely fall for the rustic charm of East Downtown. As you will have come to expect in Austin, the evening kick starts with the first strum of an acoustic guitar and finishes with tacos from the street food trailer trucks, as you and your new-found crew head back to base.
Many locals have had their fill of life on Downtown’s 6th Street, and instead convene at the neighborhood’s best happy hour haunts like Small Victory and Shangri-La. Hidden gardens, fairy-lit patios and long bench tables make East Downtown Austin’s best hipster hangout.
Good For: Foodies, Music Lovers, Like a Local Travelers, Young Travelers
Neighborhood Highlights: Contemporary Austin Jones Center, Mexic-Arte Museum, Museum of the Weird, Happy Hour Bars & Restaurants, Live Music Bars
- East Downtown Austin Apartment – This fully-equipped apartment is ideal for travelers keen to feel at home in East Downtown. Having a kitchen allows you to stock up on groceries at the Farmer’s Market and cook for yourself. The decor is stylish and modern and the whole place feels brand new.
- Guild East 6th – This fully functioning apartment features a kitchen (complete with coffee machine), living room, and private bathroom. Guests are welcome to make use of the fitness center and the outdoor swimming pool. Buzzing 6th Street is only 1km away, so you get the best of both worlds here.
- Super 8 – Austin Downtown – Uniform in style but comfortable and welcoming, this Super 8 is conveniently close to Interstate 35, making your arrival and departure from Austin as easy as can be. Guests have access to Super 8’s outdoor swimming pool and vending machines. A complimentary continental breakfast is included.
Red River Culture District
If Austin were an atom, then Red River would be its nucleus. Encompassing a radius of just three blocks, the Red River is the heart and soul of Austin’s music scene. Awash with pumping nightclubs, lively bars and quirky diners, it is the only place to stay for lovers of anything and everything musical.
There is a strong sense of community in this neighborhood, proving that music really brings people together. Whether you are a sucker for a bit of hillbilly rock or prefer the extravagance of the cabaret, Red River truly has something for everyone.
Admittedly, it is the nightlife scene that is the major draw card, so what is on offer during the day? Well, with Downtown Austin just a few blocks away and Zilker Park only six stops away on the metro, Austin is your oyster.
Good For: Music Lovers, Party People, Young Travelers, Culture Vultures
Neighborhood Highlights: Empire Control Room & Garage, Cheer Up Charlies, The Sidewinder, Palm Door on Sixth
- Holiday Inn Express – The Holiday Inn Express is perfect for travelers heading to the Red River Culture District. With so much to see, do and experience, you only really need a place to rest your head. Breakfast is included, as is WiFi. All rooms are ensuite.
- Hotel Indigo – A great choice for travelers who want to hit the ground running when they arrive. The team serves up a classic American breakfast each morning and there is an in-house restaurant that is open ’till late. The rooms are colorful and modern with ensuite bathrooms.
- Guild Red River – The highly sought after Guild Red River is ideal for couples. This romantic retreat comes with everything you could wish for, including a spa bath. The decor is incredibly stylish yet the apartment is homely and welcoming. You can socialize with other guests on the sun terrace.
South Congress is an area of Austin that is putting itself firmly back on the map. Now affectionately named ‘SoCo’, South Congress is artsy and accommodating. If you travel to seek connection, to meet people, absorb culture, dance, eat and smile, South Congress is the place for you.
Foodie travelers will have a field day in South Congress. Be sure to time your visit to fall on a Thursday, when the main street stays open late and the community comes together to be just that, a community.
Get your camera ready to snap the countless murals and graffiti artworks that are scattered around the neighborhood. Take some time to saunter through the streets, toss a dollar or two in the hat of a busker or living statue, and get in flow with the laid back feel of SoCo.
Good For: Foodies, Artists, Young Travelers, Backpackers, Solo Travelers
Neighborhood Highlights – The Continental Club, Street Entertainers & Performers, Murals & Graffiti Walls, Yard Dog Art Gallery, Sfanthor House of Wax.
- SoCo Hideaway – Quaint and cozy, this gorgeous two-bedroom holiday home nestled away in central South Congress features high tech amenities like keypad entry and excellent WiFi. SoCo Hideaway is ideal for modern travelers. South Congress is a safe neighborhood and this spacious property is great for families.
- SoCo House – Ideal for couples and road trippers, SoCo House is right at the heart of happening South Congress. The property has secure on-site parking and pets are allowed too. The sun-trapped patio is the perfect place to relax after a long day exploring Austin.
- South Congress Hotel – Stylish, upmarket, and with the highest possible levels of comfort, South Congress Hotel is worth every cent. Rooms come with private ensuite, luxury, complimentary toiletries and fluffy bathrobes. The pool and patio area is a wonderfully relaxing spot and the staff will wait on you hand and foot.
Sitting south of the Colorado River is the peaceful neighborhood of Zilker. Home to one of Austin’s most loved attractions, Zilker Metropolitan Park, this scenic spot is ideal for travelers who enjoy the great outdoors and keeping fit on the road. Many locals refer to Zilker Metropolitan Park as the ‘soul of the city,’ and it is not hard to see why. A community space for one and all, to use how they please.
As a neighborhood, Zilker offers you the best of both worlds. You are welcome to embrace the tranquility of expansive Zilker Metropolitan Park, while being within a short walk of the major must-visit tourist hotspots in Austin, such as the State Capitol and Bullock Texas State History Museum across the river.
There are ample restaurants and cafes to explore and, as ever in Austin, the culinary delights continue to get bigger and more innovative than ever.
Good For: Active Travelers, Families, Couples, Like A Local Travelers
Neighborhood Highlights: Zilker Metropolitan Park, Barton Springs Pool, Zilker Zephyr Toy Train, Zilker Hillside Theater, Austin Nature and Science Centre, Umlauf Sculpture Garden & Museum
- Guild Lamar Union – Just a 14-minute walk from Zilker Metropolitan Park, Guild Lamar Union is at the heart of the neighborhood. Each suite has a fully equipped kitchen and spacious living room. Ideal for families or groups of travelers, as each suite can sleep up to four people.
- Chic SoLa Retreat – AIRBNB – Contemporary in design, homely in atmosphere, Chic SoLa Retreat has all the amenities you could ask for and then some – including free street parking and excellent WiFi. The beds are exceptionally comfortable and the property can sleep up to six people per night, ideal for families and groups.
- The Zilker Experience – AIRBNB – The Zilker Experience is one of the most affordable accommodation options in the neighborhood. Compact, cozy and sleeping up to four people per night, The Zilker Experience helps keep you on budget in Austin. Featuring fully equipped kitchen, garden area, and free parking onsite.
Easily one of Austin’s most affable and affluent neighborhoods. Home to some of Austin’s most lavish properties, Travis Heights is perfect for travelers who require next-level comfort during their travels.
Big Stacy Park is a beautiful and relaxing place to spend an afternoon and is often much less populated than busy Zilker Metropolitan Park. Again, whereas Zilker has Barton Springs, Travis Heights has Ladybird Lake, which is ideal both for active travelers and those who want to embrace the romance of Austin. Be sure to enjoy a sunset or two lakeside, perhaps with a picnic dinner.
The real highlight for nature lovers in Travis Heights is the Statesman Bat Observation Centre. As dusk approaches, the city skyline comes alive with bats flitting here and there in picture-perfect silhouette form.
There are dozens of locally run coffee shops and craft brew houses to sample in Travis Heights too.
Good For: Luxury Travelers, Active Travelers, Older Travelers, Couples
Neighborhood Highlights: Ladybird Lake, Statesman Bat Observation Centre, Big Stacy Neighborhood Park, Larry Monroe Forever Bridge
- Park Lane Guest House – Elegant and enchanting, Park Lane Guest House is an oasis in the north of Travis Heights. Offering a hearty and healthy, organic vegetarian breakfast and excellent coffee, you start the day right at Park Lane Guest House. The beds are exceptionally comfortable.
- Travis Heights Hideaway – AIRBNB -Ideal for couples, Travis Heights Hideaway is a romantic retreat not to be missed. The memory foam queen bed is an added luxury, as is the super-fast WiFi. Located within a short walk of South Congress and Downtown, in the heart of Travis Heights.
- Hideaway Guest Suite – AIRBNB -Nestled deep within Travis Heights, this luxurious suite is a real hidden gem. Featuring a heated salt water swimming pool, exquisite custom-made furniture, and complimentary toiletries, Hideaway Guest Suite is dreamy and romantic. Perfect for couples or digital nomads in search of a photogenic home.