The heart of Austin’s college scene, but with enough activities and green space to satisfy anyone.
Young · Walkable · Popular · Lively
When you hit Central Austin, you’ll know right away you landed in Longhorn territory. From the massive football stadium, which packs in crowds of tailgaters every fall, to the burnt orange glow of the UT Tower, the University of Texas at Austin dominates this area just north of Downtown. And, with its close proximity to all academic buildings — not to mention, the infamous strip of bars and restaurants known as “The Drag” — there’s no doubt it attracts a collegiate population.
However, the gorgeous, historic houses in this area would be perfect for small, growing families as well, especially in the section known as Hyde Park. The architecture there spans the gamut from peaked-roof Victorian classics, to hip, quaint bungalows. Yet, despite the different styles, a love of greenery mixed with a modern attitude abounds, creating a place where old magnolia trees line the blocks alongside progressive political banners and signs.
Considering its proximity to campus, you can bet the students here spend their weekends doing what they do best: hitting the bars. Nevertheless, because everything from sports dives to live music gems line the streets, there are enough options for anyone who lives or studies here. In contrast to the neon lights of The Drag, the Hancock Conservancy’s sizable green space includes a golf course, dog park, and recreation center. But, with such beautiful houses on every corner of Central Austin, you might choose to forego the walk in the park for a stroll on the sidewalk.
Our Favorite Spots
Plenty of cultural institutions surround this neighborhood’s centerpiece, the world-renowned UT Austin. One of our favorites is the Harry Ransom Center, an endlessly fascinating archival collection that counts a Frida Kahlo self-portrait and the oldest surviving photograph in the world among its many treasures. Locals and students alike treasure the chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting at coffee shop and hang out spot, Quacks 43rd Street Bakery. Follow the college students’ lead and grab an additional large cold brew to go.
Things to know
There’s a good rule of thumb when it comes to parking options in Central Austin: the closer you get to the UT campus, the less likely it becomes to find a spot. The campus itself enforces restrictive parking measures — most places require a UT permit to park, if you can even find a spot. Luckily, as you venture towards this neighborhood’s outskirts, more opportunities for street parking arise. For those looking to live as close to the home of the Longhorns as possible, however, an apartment building with a parking garage or parking spots is a must-have.