Looking for the coolest places to explore and hang out like a local? We’ve put together a hit list of Austin’s most happening and up-and-coming neighborhoods. Just pick an area of town and discover the unique neighborhoods that are home to some of the hippest restaurants, shops and live music venues in Austin, Texas.
The heart of Austin beats in the Downtown area, home to live music venues, historic theaters, museums and trendy 2ND Street District boutiques.
Rainey Street. Credit Geoff Duncan.
Rows of cute bungalows have been transformed into Rainey Street, a lively scene of restaurants, bars and food trucks. Have brunch at the rowdy Banger’s Sausage House & Beer Garden or dinner at Emmer & Rye, hailed by Bon Appétit as one of the best restaurants in the country. Clive Bar’s swank vibe makes it the perfect spot for a date night, followed by a midnight snack at Via 313, a food truck serving up Detroit-style pizza in the back yard at Craft Pride.
Red River Cultural District
Live music venues of all stripes can be found on Red River, including Stubb’s Bar-B-Q (featuring an awesome outdoor amphitheater), Mohawk rock club, hip-hop at Empire Control Room & Garage and local up-and-coming bands at the queer-owned Cheer Up Charlies.
Sixth Street has always had a quirky allure, with its loud bars sharing space with world-class hotels. Easy Tiger Bake Shop & Beer Garden is a popular place for craft beer, artisan soft pretzels and competitive ping pong games. Maggie Mae’s rooftop is always packed with people dancing and drinking. Turn in for the night at the venerable Driskill Hotel, an Austin icon established in 1886.
Fourth Street is home to the city’s LGBTQ bars, where you can dance the night away at Highland Lounge, grab a drink and watch a drag show at Oilcan Harry’s, or lounge on the back patio at Rain. Catch concerts at ACL Live at The Moody Theater or Parker Jazz Club.
North Austin offers something for everyone, with award-winning breweries and restaurants, mixed-use shopping developments and family-friendly entertainment.
Thai-Kun. Credit Mark Weatherford.
At The Arboretum, a park-like outdoor shopping center, try rich southwestern fare at Z'Tejas or wood-fired pizza at Brick Oven. Then shop for home accessories at Pottery Barn or sports gear at Orvis.
Wander down Domain’s Rock Rose entertainment corridor and pop into St. Genevieve for a glass of wine or Thai-Kun for Thai food. Stop in at Raven + Lily for fair trade gifts and Golden Bones for women’s clothing and accessories.
South Austin is a melding of old and new, with trendy restaurants and bars interspersed among long-time Austin originals.
Fresa's. Credit Nick Simonite.
South Congress Avenue
Start your day with an iced turbo coffee a Jo’s Coffee and a selfie snapped in front of the famous I love you so much mural. Then wander down South Congress Avenue and shop for kicks at Allens Boots, take a break for a frosé on the patio at the hipster Hotel San José, and dig the Mexican food and live music at Güero’s Taco Bar.
South First Street
South First Street is a fashionista’s dream, home to jewelry stores, vintage shops like Bloomers and Frocks and modern boutiques. Be sure to take a pic of the iconic Greetings from Austin mural or dine under the majestic live oak trees at Fresa's.
Check out Austin Art Garage for affordable local art in a funky setting, and Moss for consignment designer fashions. Feast on seafood and sushi at the contemporary Japanese Uchi, then dance it off with some boot scootin’ at the famed Broken Spoke dance hall.
East Austin is one of the city’s biggest and most diverse neighborhoods, where you’ll find an ever-growing range of cuisine and culture.
Contigo. Credit Nick Simonite.
East Sixth Street
Indulge in global cuisine, including empanadas at Buenos Aires Café and Mexican snacks at the nearby Hay Elotes. Then sip a craft cocktail at Whisler’s or get to two-steppin’ at the White Horse honky-tonk.
East Cesar Chavez
Drop by Quickie Pickie for coffee, wine, beer and the famous la Barbecue. Or try the Don Juan taco at Juan in a Million. Browse Resistencia Bookstore for Chicano, Latino, Native American and queer bilingual literature.
The Mueller planned community includes its lively Town Center District, with popular spots like Colleen’s Kitchen (with clever cocktails), Alamo Drafthouse Cinema and Thinkery children’s museum.
Cherrywood Coffeehouse offers a bit of everything, from all-day breakfast to beers on tap and live music on the weekends. Try Hoover’s Cooking, a Manor Road staple known for its soul food specialties. Or check out the nearby Bird Bird Biscuit, serving house-made buttermilk biscuit sandwiches.
The eclectic Central Austin is located just north of the University of Texas at Austin campus, and is home to everything from country bars and record shops to cutting-edge restaurants and lounges.
LBJ Presidential Library. Credit Jay Godwin.
The University of Texas at Austin‘s sprawling campus houses several impressive museums, including the LBJ Presidential Library, Harry Ransom Center and the Blanton Museum of Art. See live music at Hole in the Wall, where famous folks like Spoon and Gary Clark Jr. have played the small stage.
Nestled in the shady hamlet of Hyde Park is the Elisabet Ney Museum, housed in what was once the German-born sculptress’ home and studio. The museum displays the largest collection of Ney’s work in the world, including portrait sculptures of notable 19th century Texans. Stop in for a meal at Hyde Park Bar & Grill, situated in a beautiful 1920s home.
This happening road is lined with must-eat stops. Sample a handcrafted beer and juicy burger at Hopdoddy. Try a weekday lunch on the rooftop patio at Be More Pacific, serving up authentic Filipino fare. Or stop in for an Iced Mojo (the house specialty) and a curried chicken salad sandwich at Epoch Coffee.
Burnet Road/North Loop
Both Burnet and North Loop and are home to fantastic dining and relaxed nightlife options along with several vintage shops selling retro clothing, home decor and mid-century modern furniture. Room Service Vintage and Blue Velvet are good bets for fantastic, affordable finds.
Escape the urban sprawl in West Austin, which gives way to rolling hills, scenic drives and postcard-perfect lakes.
Better Half Coffee & Cocktails. Credit Alison Narro.
West Sixth Street
Experience the Whole Foods Market flagship store, which features four restaurants, a beer and wine bar, a food truck, and a rooftop that hosts live bands and events. Across the street, flip through records and catch in-store jam sessions at Waterloo Records. Dine at Holy Roller, a punk rock, roller derby-themed restaurant that serves brunch all day, every day.
Check out the art galleries in the Clarksville Historic District, including works by regional artists at Wally Workman Gallery, and master artworks by Chagall and Picasso at Russell Collection Fine Art Gallery. Have a drink on the patio at Better Half Coffee & Cocktails.
This affluent neighborhood is located between downtown Austin and Lake Austin. Stop in at The Beer Plant, Austin’s first vegan gastropub, serving a fully plant-based menu and craft beer in a farmhouse pub atmosphere. Explore the art museum and outdoor sculpture garden at the beautiful Contemporary Austin-Laguna Gloria, set on the Lake Austin waterfront.
The Westlake area features natural wonders like the Bee Cave Sculpture Park, featuring rotating artworks in a seven-acre natural setting that includes a spring-fed pond and huge oak trees. Enjoy a craft cocktail made with local spirits and Texan cuisine at Jack Allen’s Kitchen.