Where to Stay in Austin: 11 Best Areas
If you’re wondering where to stay in Austin, you’re in the right place. In this article, I will give an insight into the best areas to stay in Austin for all budget travelers; read on as I show you the best of Austin.
Settled on the 27th of December 1839, Austin is the state capital of Texas and the 11th largest city in the entire United States. However, despite that fact, Austin is an incredibly unique destination, and one that is vastly different to what you would normally expect from a big city.
A sun-soaked metropolis, filled with a blend of American and Hispanic cultures, where the built-up heart and more natural outskirts are just as important as one another, there’s no better place to get a true feel of what Texas is all about than right here in Austin.
So, if you are, understandably, interested in experiencing this amazing city for yourself, but aren’t quite sure where would be best for you to stay, I would highly recommend reading on.
See more about the USA: Where to Stay in Denver
Before you begin reading through the article, allow me to give you a few pointers, as there may be certain criteria that’s essential to your perfect location, which could make one choice the easy answer.
For example, are you all about a thriving nightlife? In which case the Red River Cultural District and the legendary 6th Street would probably be your best bet.
Are you travelling as a family with small children, where Zilker, with its wide-open spaces and easy access to the city centre, would be convenient?
Plenty of people will come to Austin to explore its history and see its most famous locations, meaning that I would highly recommend staying downtown district if that sounds like you.
Or maybe you are making a short stop in Austin, perhaps for a game of golf or to catch a motorsport event, so you want to stay near the airport? In that case, I’d recommend staying in Southeast Austin.
These are just a few of the considerations that go into selecting the perfect destination when you go away. While they may not seem that important to some, getting them right is crucial to ensuring your trip is as successful as it could possibly be.
|💖 Best Area:||Downtown Austin|
|💎 Best luxury hotel:||The Driskill, in The Unbound Collection by Hyatt|
|🏨 Best mid-range hotel:||Fairmont Austin|
|💰 Best budget hotel:||Aloft Austin Downtown|
- Where to Stay in Austin: 11 Best Areas to Stay in Austin
- 📌 Downtown Austin, where to stay in Austin for first time visitors
- 📌 Red River Cultural District/6th Street, where to stay in Austin for nightlife
- 📌 South Congress (SOCO), one of the best trendiest neighborhoods to stay in Austin
- 📌 Barton Hills, the best area in Austin for outdoor recreation
- 📌 Zilker/South Austin, where to stay in Austin for families
- 📌 Central Austin, a residential neighborhood in Austin
- 📌 Southeast Austin, where to stay in Austin near the airport
- 📌 East Austin, where to stay in Austin on a budget
- 📌 Rainey Street Historic District
- 📌 University of Texas Campus Area
- 📌 North Loop
📌11 Best Areas to Stay in Austin
While Austin, in general, is a fabulous city, full of unique character and great places to stay, there are 11 neighborhoods that jump out as being able to provide that little bit extra. In the following section, I will outline where they are and exactly what it is that makes them so great.
Best areas to Stay in Austin Map
To see more detail of where to stay in Austin Map, go to google map;
1. 💖 Downtown Austin, where to stay in Austin for first time visitors
We, perhaps unsurprisingly, begin in Downtown Austin. The heart of the city, this offers everything you would expect from a modern-day city centre, and then some.
Historic landmarks are abundant in this part of the city, such as the historic buildings: State Capitol Building and its stunning grounds, the Texas State Library and Archives, the Texas Governor’s Mansion, and the Texas African American History Memorial, all of which are located in close proximity to each other.
You can also check out attractions nearby such as the University of Texas, Blanton Museum of Art, the Austin Children’s Museum, the Bullock State Texas History Museum, Saturday Downtown Farmer’s Market, the Austin Museum of Art, Austin City Hall, and Red River Cultural District.
High-end hotels, bars, restaurants and shops line the streets, making it a perfect location for anyone wanting to split their trip equally between seeing the sights and kicking back and relaxing. The Old Bakery And Emporium is a perfect example of this, featuring a gift shop located within a historic bakery building.
Being at the heart of the city not only means you can freely stroll around to witness all of this, but you won’t have to worry about paying for parking either. It also means that you are surrounded by many of the other top neighbourhoods on offer, giving you the chance to easily move between them to explore what they have to offer as well.
Stay in Downtown Austin if you want to be at the heart of the city, near numerous other neighborhoods; you are interested in the history of the city; you want to see some of its most famous attractions; you like fancy hotels, bars and restaurants; you enjoy shopping; you don’t want to have to worry about paying for parking; you want to stay in nightlife district with live music; you want to stay in Austin just for the weekend, without a car.
Where To Stay In Austin Downtown?
Fairmont Austin This 4-star hotel is located within easy walking distance from Austin Convention Center, Capitol Building, Frank Erwin Center – University of Texas, also close to Texas Memorial Stadium, Barton Springs Pool, and Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.
Aloft Austin Downtown This is a three-star budget hotel, located in Downtown Austin, close proximity to Capitol Building, Austin Convention Center, Frank Erwin Center – University of Texas, Texas Memorial Stadium, and Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.
Hyatt House Austin/Downtown This 3-star hotel offers a seasonal outdoor swimming pool, an onsite bar, and a market. Close to Capitol Building, Austin Convention Center, the University of Texas at Austin, Barton Springs Pool, Circuit Of The Americas, and Texas Memorial Stadium.
Check out my virtual tour about the best places to stay in Austin in this video or continue reading:
2. Red River Cultural District/6th Street, where to stay in Austin for nightlife
Located adjacent to downtown Austin, just to its east, the Red River Cultural District is still situated in the heart of the city. That said, the experience you will get here is noticeably different, as this is the location of the world-famous 6th Street.
Lined with bars, clubs, restaurants and tourist attractions, this is undoubtedly the destination to visit for those looking to let loose and experience the edgier side of Austin.
For nightlife, check out Mohawk Austin, Cheer Up Charlies, Pelons Tex Mex, Stubbs, Barbarella nightclub, Swan Dive, and Beerland.
Street performers roam the sidewalks, performing tricks and acts you may associate more with places like the Las Vegas Strip or Bourbon Street in New Orleans. Bars are filled with live performances on any given night of the week, from well known performers to amateur jam sessions, all displaying the type of blues that Austin is famous for.
Even the dining options are a little more unusual, with chain restaurants like Bikini’s and the local Voodoo Donuts offering food more akin to bars and dinners than you would find in a high-end destination.
If all of that doesn’t sound wild enough, perhaps a trip to see the bizarre exhibits in the Museum Of The Weird, a challenging afternoon trying to break out of the escape rooms at The Escape Game Austin, or a night watching the stars of Anarchy Championship Wrestling battle it out at The Mohawk would be more to your liking.
Whatever you’re looking for, if it’s the wild side of Austin you want to experience, then this is the place to do it, as no where better represents the city’s motto of “Keep Austin Weird” than right here.
Stay in Red River Cultural District if you enjoy live entertainment; you like street performers; Wild and diverse nightlife is important to you; you want more unique and unusual attractions; you want to be in the heart of the city; you love Austin’s legendary blues scene; you’re looking for the best places for a bachelor Or bachelorette party.
Where To Stay In Austin Near 6th Street?
Canopy By Hilton Austin Downtown This is a mid-range hotel, offering an onsite restaurant, a bar, an outdoor swimming pool, free wifi, and a fitness centre. It’s also located close to Shoal Beach, Austin Convention Center, and Texas State Capitol.
Hotel ZaZa Austin This 4-star hotel is located near 6th street, within walking distance from Children’s Museum, Texas State Capitol, Austin City Hall, O Henry Museum, and Paramount Theatre.🔍FIND BEST HOTELS IN AUSTIN
3. South Congress (SOCO), one of the best trendiest neighborhoods to stay in Austin
We’re going to take a step back from the city centre now, as we look to the other side of the Colorado River, and the neighbourhood of South Congress.
A more residential neighbourhood than our previous options, this is where I personally stay when I’m in the city, as it beautifully combines a more laid back, local, authentic Texan feel, with the convenience of being able to quickly get back into the thick of things.
With plenty of awesome bars, restaurants and shops in the area, including the Fiesta supermarket and bakery, which will give you a perfect opportunity to experience the Hispanic culture of the area, this is a location where you can comfortably enjoy your lazy days, without having to worry about all of the hustle and bustle. You can check out Continental Club and Yard Dog Art Gallery.
Then when you do want to explore the inner parts of the city, you are just a 10-minute car ride down the I-35 from the State Capitol, making it a quick and easy job to get back into the thick of things.
For anyone wanting to get a true feel of what it’s actually like to live in Austin, or those who want a perfect balance of both slow and fast paced days on their vacation, I would highly recommend staying in South Congress.
Stay in South Congress if you want to get a true feel of what it’s like to live in the city; you want a more relaxed place to stay; you want to experience the city’s Hispanic culture; you want easy access to the city centre.
Best places to stay near South Congress:
TownePlace Suites Austin South This 3-star hotel offers rooms with free wifi, a private bathroom, and a business center. Located in close proximity to Austin Convention Center, Barton Springs Pool, Capitol Building, and Frank Erwin Center – University of Texas.
Comfort Suites – South Austin This budget hotel offers an outdoor swimming pool, a fitness center, and free wifi. It’s also close to Capitol Building, Texas Memorial Stadium, and the University of Texas at Austin.🔍FIND BEST HOTELS IN SOUTH CONGRESS
4. Barton Hills, best area in Austin for outdoor recreation
We move now to the western part of the city, to a location in Barton Hills, that has two major, yet vastly different, selling points.
The first is that this is the location of Barton Creek Square, the best shopping mall in the city. Anyone wanting to enjoy a little retail therapy, spend a day browsing the stores or grab some food or drink at the food court or in one of the many café’s, stalls or restaurants on offer, will find a range unlike anywhere else in Austin. Whether you want to grab souvenirs or fill up your entire baggage allowance, the variety on offer here should be enough to satisfy even the pickiest of customers.
The other draw to the area is a stark contrast to the first, in that it is an area known for its nature and outdoor locations.
With Barton Creek, Barton Creek Greenbelt, Barton Creek Wilderness Park and, slightly further away, Barton Creek Habitat Preserve all in the surrounding area, this is a location that gives you an amazing opportunity to explore the natural landscapes and wildlife in the area.
You combine these two draws with the fact that Barton Hills is less than a 15-minute drive from the city centre and you might not find a more diverse location in the entire city.
Stay in Barton Hills if you want to go shopping; you are interested in the local wildlife; you enjoy long walks in the country; you want easy access back to the city centre.
Best places to stay near Baron Creek:
The Carpenter Hotel Offers an outdoor swimming pool, free wifi, an on-site restaurant, and air-conditioned rooms. Close proximity to Barton Springs Pool, Palmer Events Center, and Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum.
Residence Inn by Marriott Austin Southwest Three-star hotel is located close to Barton Springs Pool, Austin Convention Center, Capitol Building, and Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.🔍FIND BEST HOTELS IN BARTON CREEK
5. Zilker/South Austin, where to stay in Austin for families
We move back a little closer to the city centre for our next few neighbourhoods, starting with Zilker.
Located on the southern edge of the Colorado River, Zilker is about as close to the heart of the city centre as you can get without actually being in it. Not only is this convenient, but it also provides you with some of the most incredible views of the city skyline that you are going to find.
Its most famous attraction is Zilker Park, a beautiful location that runs along the river, popular with walkers, runners and pretty much anyone who wants to enjoy the great outdoors without even having to leave the confines of the city. You also check out Barton Springs Pool.
Its beauty and convenience also mean events such as the Austin City Limits music festival and the 4th of July celebrations are held here, giving you a perfect opportunity to be right in the heart of the festivities if you choose to stay here.
Other things to do in Zilker is visiting Austin Nature and Science Centre, Zilker Zephyr train, Umlauf Sculpture Garden, and swim at Barton Springs.
At only a 45-minute walk to the city centre, you can leave the car at the hotel and take a pleasant stroll through the stunning landscapes and past some iconic Austin locations and institutions, such as the Stevie Ray Vaughn Memorial and Sandy’s Hamburgers, for a slightly slower paced experience.
Stay in Zilker if you want a more laid-back location; you want to witness stunning views of the city; you like river views; you enjoy walks along the river; you want to be able to get into the city quickly, without a car; you like festivals and events; you like a lot of biking trails and hiking.
Best places to stay in Zilker Park:🔍FIND BEST HOTELS IN ZILKER PARK
6. Central Austin, a residential neighborhood in Austin
Central Austin is actually located just north of what is generally considered to be the centre of the city, with its name referring more to its geographical location. That said, with a car, you can be back in the true centre in as little as 5 minutes from here.
This is a location where it’s incredibly easy to pinpoint the main attraction, as this is the home of the University Of Texas.
As you would therefore probably imagine, this makes it a neighbourhood that has a distinctively student feel to it. This means not only are shops, bars, cafes, restaurants etc slightly cheaper and more affordable, they also tend to feature a younger clientele, making for a livelier, more upbeat feeling than some other parts of the city.
Another benefit of staying in this part of town is that if you are coming to enjoy one of the events hosted by the university, such as the South By Southwest Film Festival or one of the many athletic competitions its team are involved in, then beating the inevitable crowds to the venue on show day becomes much less of a concern.
Stay in Central Austin if you are here for an event hosted by the University Of Texas; you are visiting Austin as a student; you want lower priced bars, restaurants and cafes; you want a livelier atmosphere.
Best places to stay in Central Austin:
Moxy Austin – University A three star hotel located close to e University of Texas at Austin, Texas Memorial Stadium, and Capitol Building.
AC Hotel by Marriott Austin-University Located in central Austin, with main sights nearby are the Capitol Building, the University of Texas at Austin, and Texas Memorial Stadium.
Hotel Ella This midrange artistic boutique hotel, located close to within walking distance from the University of Texas at Austin, and 6th Street Entertainment District. Texas State Capitol is also nearby.🔍FIND BEST HOTELS IN CENTRAL AUSTIN
7. Southeast Austin, where to stay in Austin near airport
Southeast Austin is located on the outskirts of town and, while it has its perks, it is definitely a location that is suited to visitors with more specific needs.
For starters, Southeast Austin is located incredibly close to the airport. This makes it very convenient for people who prefer to stay close by, whether that be to save them carting their luggage around, because they are only in the city on a flight layover or for any other reason they may have.
Then, there is the specific set of attractions located in the surrounding areas.
You have the Roy Kizer Golf Course, one of the finest in the city, as well as the Circuit Of The Americas, home to many motorsport events, including the Formula 1 American Grand Prix. Anyone either attending or participating in an event at either of these two locations would be well suited to staying in this area.
Then there is McKinney Falls State Park, possibly the most beautiful outdoor location in Austin, featuring cascading waterfalls, the flowing waters of Onion Creek, numerous hiking trails, including Camino Real de los Tejas National Historic Trail, and sites on the National Register Of Historic Places, like the Smith Rock Shelter and the Ruins Of McKinney’s Stone House.
Anyone wanting to explore the more natural side of Austin will be able to spend days here, wandering the trails, seeing the sights and examining the animals and plant life of the area.
Stay in Southeast Austin if you need to stay near the airport; you want to play a few rounds of golf; you are attending an event at the Roy Kizer Golf Course or the Circuit Of The Americas; you want to explore McKinney Falls State Park.
Best places to stay near McKinney Falls State Park:
- Staybridge Suites Austin South Interstate Hwy 35, an IHG Hotel
- Comfort Suites – South Austin
- TownePlace Suites Austin South
8. East Austin, where to stay in Austin on a budget
Our final destination brings us to the coolest neighborhood – East Austin, a little over 2 miles to the east of the city center. For returning visitors to the city, this one may come as a surprise, as it has previously been seen largely as a somewhat run down, residential neighborhood.
Things have changed here recently though, as investments into the area have quickly brought it in line with the rest of the inner sections of the city. Now East Austin has a reputation as a vibrant, up and coming neighbourhood.
Attractions nearby are the Texas Museum of Music, The George Washington Carver Library, George Washington Carver Museum, Alamo Street, Tejano Walking Trails, Cultural and Genealogy Center, and the Plaza Saltillo MetroRail station.
With less notoriety comes lower prices on both accommodation and pricing in the surrounding areas. As such, East Austin has developed a vibrant, lively atmosphere, with many younger travellers and those on a budget flocking to the area and enjoying their days relaxing in bars, cafes and restaurants, for a fraction of the price they would elsewhere.
Known primarily for its artistic entertainment, with a number of galleries and a massive quantity of street art, East Austin also gives you the chance to enjoy attractions in your surrounding area, while the more famous attractions in the city centre are just a short trip away.
Stay in East Austin if you are travelling on a budget; you want a livelier, more upbeat neighbourhood; you are interested in artistic attractions; you want to be near to the city centre.
Best places to stay in East Austin:🔍FIND BEST HOTELS IN EAST AUSTIN
9. Rainey Street Historic District
Rainey Street was once a residential district filled with bungalows. Today, it is an area filled with bars, clubs, and other entertainment venues, often using the original historic buildings. This is a neighborhood that attracts young professionals.
There are newer parts of Rainey Street as well, modern high rises that have slightly changed its historic character. The proximity of downtown is certainly an advantage when looking for a place to stay in Austin. You have access to its main attractions.
There are murals on many of its walls and for that alone, Rainey Street is marked out from the concrete and steel used elsewhere to modernise the city. Some walking trails start in Rainey Street and head out to other places of interest. Accommodation incidentally ranges from B&B to high-rise apartments for rent.
Best places to stay in Rainey Street Historic District:🔍FIND BEST HOTELS IN RAINY STREET HISTORIC DISTRICT
10. University of Texas Campus Area
Budget travellers should also look to this campus area because of the presence of off-campus students regularly living on a budget. Not surprisingly, it is a neighbourhood dominated by the younger generation. There are plenty of cheap places in the campus area to eat and drink, day and night.
There are both cheap hotels here, but also apartments for rent if you want a longer stay. Given that students are on vacation during the summer, many student apartments are empty during those months with landlords looking for tenants.
The Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium is a 5-minute walk from the heart of the campus. The Blanton Museum of Art is a great place for those who appreciate modern art, and the work of several Latin American artists. Other attractions here are The UT clock tower, and the Skyspace exhibit and its spectacular natural lighting.
Best hotels near University of Texas Campus Area:🔍FIND BEST HOTELS IN UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AUSTIN
11. North Loop
North Loop borders the University and Downtown, so it has many advantages as a base. The name comes from the loop of a highway providing access to both. It is a busy area offering a wide variety of restaurants and shops. You will also find cheap movie theatres for entertainment.
It is a district with plenty of clothes, books, and record shops. If you are looking for presents, or souvenirs, here may be the place to start. Coffee shops and food trucks are also found in these streets. There are no hotel chains here, but you will find choices in accommodation. The best options tend to suit those wanting to rent a simple room.
There seems no likelihood of more hotels moving in despite the appeal of the North Loop. If you are happy with a clean room, go for it and enjoy what the neighbourhood has to offer.
Best places to stay in North Loop:🔍FIND BEST HOTELS IN NORTH LOOP
FAQs on the best areas to stay in Austin
With our 11 destinations behind us, I’ll move now to answering a few of the most frequently asked questions that people have when it comes to booking a trip to Austin.
If you haven’t already worked out where the perfect place for you to stay is, the following section should help you to achieve that goal.
How Long To Stay In Austin?
Austin is a city with so much culture and history, as well as incredible attractions, that I really can’t put a limit on how much time you should stay there. That’s even more true if you plan to rent a car and expand your trip to the surrounding areas as well.
I personally spent 6 straight weeks there one summer and was still sad to leave, if that gives you any indication. So, while I won’t put an upper limit on your trip, I will instead recommend that you don’t go for any less than a week.
With so much to do, see and experience, making a trip of any less than that is certain to leave you feeling like you’ve missed out on seeing a number of things you would have liked to.
How To Get Around Austin?
You have three options when it comes to how to get around Austin and I would personally recommend combining all of them.
Being a large city, hiring a car is a great idea in Austin, as it allows you to not only travel to all parts of the city with great ease, but it also enables you to explore the surrounding areas as well.
Then there’s the old-fashioned way of simply walking around. Despite its size, Austin is a relatively safe and friendly city, so simply strolling through the streets will allow you the opportunity to discover some of the local gems in the area.
The city also features a third, more unique option too, in the form of a steam train. This classic, fully restored engine will take you on a sightseeing tour in and around the city that is well worth the price of admission and I would highly recommend it to everyone.
Best Things To Do And See In Austin?
Austin is such a fantastic city, brimming with things to do, that narrowing it down to just the best few is a real challenge.
Tourist Attractions such as the historic State Capitol building and legendary 6th street fill the downtown area with enough to keep your days filled with culture and your nights bursting with wild entertainment.
Slightly further out you have Zilker park, with its wide-open spaces and fantastic river walks, and the Congress Avenue Bridge, allowing you to stroll across the river, with the opportunity to witness swarms of bats taking flight from beneath it as the sun sets.
Further out still you have Barton Creek, a unique combination that is home to not just the best shopping mall in the city but also a habitat preserve, full of the local wildlife. Speaking of which, McKinley Falls State Park is another fantastic location to take in a bit of the nature in the area, offering incredible walks, especially during Austin’s cooler, wetter months.
All of these great tourist attractions and many more are constants in the city, which will provide plenty to keep you occupied whenever you go. However, don’t forget about the more time specific events in the city either.
From the 4th of July festivities in Zilker Park to world famous festivals, such as the South By South West Film Festival and the Austin City Limits Music Festival, there is almost always something going on in Austin, to add a more exclusive attraction to your visit.
Combine all that with the incredible range of shops, bars, restaurants and live entertainment venues and you will begin to see why Austin is a city much better suited to a longer, more in-depth vacation.
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While I may be a little bias, you can probably see from this article that Austin is a truly fabulous city. Whether you want history, culture, nature, or a more modern trip of shopping, eating and drinking, this is a destination that has something to offer for everyone.
Hopefully, my guide will have helped you narrow down your search for the perfect place to stay while you’re in town, so all that should be left is for you to get booking and experience it all for yourself as soon as you can.