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Bats head out from the Congress Avenue bridge for a night on the town
Bats head out from the Congress Avenue bridge for a night on the town

South Austin is a dynamic, contemporary part of town where the “Keep Austin Weird” slogan thrives. The southern portion of Austin offers the variety and cultural appeal of downtown but at a more relaxed, Texan pace. At the same time, south Austin is a mix of stylish, urban communities and quiet, single-family home neighborhoods set amidst restaurants, shopping spots, street markets, and music and dancing spots.

Home buyers will find a variety of home and neighborhood options in south Austin. The district offers everything from stately, pre-World War II homes to eclectic loft housing to comfortable suburban homes with garages. Older neighborhoods like Travis Heights and Zilker Park/Barton Hills represent south Austin’s vintage side, with Victorian, Craftsman, and Mid-Century Modern styles, while newer, more modern areas like SoCo and St. Edwards offer more recent homes in mixed commercial-residential settings.

South Austin is bordered by IH-35 to the east, Slaughter Lane to the south, Mo-Pac Expressway and Barton Creek to the west, and Lady Bird Lake to the north. It is in MLS areas 7, 6, 10N, and 10S and includes zip codes 78704, 78735, 78745, 78748, 78749, and 78754.


Zilker Park is considered Austin’s most loved park. Located on the south side of Lady Bird Lake at 2100 Barton Springs Road, this 351-acre park features athletic fields, a nine-hole disc golf course, sand volleyball courts, a playscape, the Zilker Zephyr miniature train, canoes, hike and bike trails, and Barton Springs Pool, a spring-fed pool that maintains a temperature of 68 degrees all year. It is home to the Town Lake Hike and Bike Trail, which is 10.3 miles and always filled with joggers, runners, cyclists, and walkers.

The park also is home to the Zilker Botanical Gardens, which include the Taniguchi Oriental Garden and the Austin Area Garden Center, the Austin Nature and Science Center, the Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum, and the Zilker Hillside Theater. The Zilker Tree lighting ceremony is held annually on the first Sunday in December. The annual Zilker Park Kite Festival is held the first Sunday in March.

The Long Center for the Performing Arts (701 West Riverside Drive) is home to the Austin Symphony Orchestra, Austin Lyric Opera, and Ballet Austin, while next door the Palmer Events Center (900 Barton Springs Road) is used for trade shows, concerts, and other public and private functions. Directly across the street on East Riverside Drive is Auditorium Shores, a popular outdoor concert site that features a statue of Texas guitar legend and Austinite Stevie Ray Vaughan, who was killed in a plane crash in 1990.

At 3001 South Congress, you’ll find St. Edward’s University, a Catholic liberal arts university that has for years received high rankings from such magazines as U.S. News & World Report and Forbes for its academic excellence, affordability, and masters and adult education programs.

Shopping and Restaurants

Three of South Austin’s most important shopping and entertainment streets are parallel: South Congress (SoCo), South First, and South Lamar.

South Congress begins on the Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge, the underside of which is home during the summer to the world’s largest urban bat colony. At dusk, visitors can gather on this bridge to watch a million Mexican Free-tailed bats as they wake up and fly off to hunt insects.

A mile south, just past the Texas School for the Deaf, is the entertainment district of South Congress (known as SoCo.) Austinites and tourists alike can spend a day wandering among thrift stores, antique shops, chic boutiques, cafes, restaurants, dive bars, and music venues. Start the day with a cup of java at Jo’s Coffee, lunch at Guero’s Taco Bar, enjoy a stylish Italian dinner at Vespaio, a cool dessert at Amy’s Ice Creams, and finish a late night of shopping and sight-seeing at the 24/7 Magnolia Cafe South. And be sure to check out the food trucks, which can be found in parking lots all up and down South Congress!

Buy a whole cowboy outfit—from hat to boots and everything in between—at Allen’s Boots. If your clothing tastes run more to vintage, or you just want a costume for Halloween, check out Electric Ladyland/Lucy in Disguise with Diamonds. Shop for antiques and funky collectibles at Off The Wall, Uncommon Objects, and the St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store. Rock the night away at the Continental Club, one of the oldest and most respected music venues in town. After a busy day, enjoy a well-earned rest at the Austin Motel, Hotel San Jose, or the Hotel Saint Cecilia, all of which have been renovated and attract a celebrity clientele. South Congress is known for First Thursday, a street party that occurs the first Thursday of each month. Businesses stay open until 10pm or later, free samples of food and drink are handed out, and bands perform in the parking lots. It’s a great excuse to see what SoCo has to offer.

Hill’s Cafe at 4700 South Congress, south of Ben White Boulevard, has been around for over half a century, and is known for its hearty, American-style fare, and for being a regular venue for country music acts. For Sunday brunch, wedding receptions, and other special occasions, Green Pastures (811 West Live Oak) offers French and regional upscale fare in a rambling Victorian mansion, set in a shady Southern garden presided over by peacocks.

South First Street is known for a mile or so of Tex-Mex restaurants, including Polvo’s, Torchy’s Tacos, and El Mercado.

South Lamar is a popular shopping and entertainment destination. Plus, the ZACH Theatre is on nearby Toomey Road. Popular bars include the Saxon Pub, the Horseshoe Lounge, and the Broken Spoke, a venerable Texas honky-tonk and dance hall. Dining choices include Mr. Natural, Maudie’s Too, Matt’s El Rancho, and the 24/7 Kerbey Lane Cafe South. Phoenicia Bakery and Deli sells Middle Eastern foods to-go. South Lamar’s shopping options include Lamar Union, which also features an Alamo Drafthouse, The Shake Shack, and The Highball.

Barton Springs Road , just south of Lady Bird Lake, is the epicenter of a restaurant district that includes such restaurants as Threadgill’s, Shady Grove, Baby A’s, Chuy’s, and the organic and vegan Casa de Luz.

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