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Drone view of the University of Texas at Austin Campus
Drone view of the University of Texas at Austin Campus

Central Austin is one of the most desired locations in Austin, due to its proximity to downtown businesses and nightlife, the State Capitol and other Texas government complexes, and the University of Texas campus. In MLS areas 1B, 4, UT, and DT, central Austin always has been a popular place to live, work, and spend leisure time, and has seen an even greater resurgence since the introduction of high-rise and loft living. The skyline of downtown Austin has changed dramatically over the last decade and is a vibrant hub for many Austinites and for visitors and tourists.

Everything that’s great about Austin can be found in the central district. This is where people come for entertainment, shopping, business, and a place to call home. Many of Austin’s annual festivals are in central Austin, including the internationally renowned South By Southwest Music Festival, which helped the city become known as the “Live Music Capital of the World.” Central Austin also is a hotbed of economic activity and high-tech innovation with its thriving business climate.

Properties in Central Austin

Urban excitement blends with old fashioned charm in central Austin, which is home to many beautiful historic sites, such as West Austin Park, and old neighborhoods such as Allandale, Pemberton Heights, and Brykerwoods. AustonianThese areas feature some of Austin’s finest historical homes, many of which are surrounded by large, carefully manicured properties dotted with mature oak and cottonwood trees, affording shade and privacy. The University of Texas at Austin provides an additional backdrop of classic architecture and landscaping for many homes between Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. and E. Dean Keaton St.

Homes in central Austin range from cottages from the 1800s to remodeled or new construction luxury homes to sleek, high-rise condominiums. Demand for all properties in central Austin is high, and demand for condos has exceeded the availability of units in many cases, despite rampant construction over the last few years.

Neighborhood Location

Central Austin is bordered to the north by FM 2222, the east by IH-35, the south by Lady Bird Lake, and the west by the Colorado River. Central Austin includes zip codes 78701, 78703, 78705, 78731, 78751, and 78756 and is served by the Austin Independent School District.


Austin’s recorded history began in the 1830s when Anglo-American settlers arrived in Central Texas and founded the village of Waterloo on the banks of the Colorado River, the first permanent settlement in the area. By 1839, Waterloo adopted the name Austin and became the capital of the Republic of Texas. The Texas State Capitol is an enormous pink granite building with a dome taller than that of the U.S. Capitol, a point of pride for many Texans. The Capitol building enjoys a prominent place in the skyline at the head of Congress Avenue. Tourists tend to start at the Capitol Visitors Center in the old General Land Office building and move on to the Capitol itself, completing their tour a few blocks north at the Bullock Texas State History Museum, which includes three floors of exhibits and an IMAX theater.

On the opposite end of Congress Avenue is the 416-acre Lady Bird Lake, which separates central Austin from south Austin. Its nine bridges include the Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge, summer home to a colony of a million Mexican Free-tailed Bats , and the James D. Pfluger FAIA (Lamar Blvd.) Pedestrian/Bicycle Bridge, which provides hikers, walkers, runners, joggers, and bicyclists with a safe means of getting from one side of the lake to the other.

Other popular attractions along Congress Avenue are the Paramount Theatre, a restored motion picture palace that is mostly used as a performing arts venue but that hosts movie premieres and revivals of classic films, and the Arthouse at the Jones Center, a gallery that shows innovative artwork.

On the east side of downtown, a leading attraction is East Sixth Street, often compared to New Orleans’ Bourbon Street. It is lined with bars and live music venues filled with college students and tourists. It is also home to the historical Driskill Hotel, a Victorian showplace that opened in 1886. Intersecting with East Sixth is Red River Street, which is known for its music venues. A little further south is the 881,400 square foot Austin Convention Center.

West of Congress is the Second Street District, which includes Willie Nelson Boulevard. The Second Street District is lined with upscale restaurants, boutiques, the Antoine Predock-designed City Hall, the Austonian, and the W Hotel.

Just north of the Second Street District is the Warehouse District, with bars and restaurants aimed at a professional crowd. North of that is yet another bar and restaurant district – West Sixth Street – which has flourished due to the increased population density created by high-rises.

At the intersection of West Sixth Street and North Lamar are Book People, the largest independent bookstore in Texas, the Whole Foods flagship store, which is a wonderland for foodies, and Waterloo Records, one of the largest and most respected music stores in the United States. West of Lamar is a section of art galleries.

Blanton museum AustinJust north of the State Capitol is the huge campus of the University of Texas at Austin. Book a tour of the UT Tower for a spectacular view of the city. The Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art, a block north of the Bullock Museum, has collections of antiquities, prints, and European and American art dating from the Middle Ages to the present day. The Texas Memorial Museum, housed in an Art Deco building near the Law School, specializes in natural history and paleontology. The dinosaur and fossil exhibits are a huge hit with children.

The Lyndon Baines Johnson Library & Museum has artifacts from the late President’s political career and a reproduction of the Oval Office as it was decorated during his administration. Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium is home to Texas Longhorn football games, and the Frank Erwin Center is a venue for touring musical acts. The Visual Arts Center displays work designed by UT art students. The Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center is a special collections library. While most of its holdings are accessible only to scholars, there are exhibits on the ground floor of some collection highlights, including the world’s first photograph, a Gutenberg Bible, and other historical, literary, cinematic, and artistic treasures.

The area around UT is filled with bars, restaurants, and shops. The Drag is a section of Guadalupe Street west of campus stretching roughly from MLK Boulevard north to 32nd Street. While the Drag has lost some of the bohemian vibe that characterized it from the 70s to the 90s, it’s still a great place for people-watching. Tourists can stock up on UT Longhorn-related clothing and other souvenirs at the University Co-op.

Further north is Hyde Park, a residential community known for its beautifully restored Victorian and Craftsman-style homes. While there are pricier and more luxurious neighborhoods in town, if you asked many Austinites where they’d live if they had the money, they often say Hyde Park. One highlight of Hyde Park is the Elisabet Ney Museum, the home and studio of an eccentric sculptress who moved to Texas after establishing her reputation sculpting the famous and the powerful in Europe. Among her most familiar works are the statues of Sam Houston and Stephen F. Austin in the southern entrance foyer of the State Capitol.

North of Hyde Park is North Loop, a hipster-dominated area that includes a few vintage stores, dive bars, and funky restaurants. West of downtown are such neighborhoods as Clarksville, Pemberton Heights, and Tarrytown. (If you explore Pemberton Heights, make sure and drive by the Pemberton Castle at 1415 Wooldridge Drive, which was used as the sales office for the subdivision in the 1920s).

Other attractions in the western part of Central Austin are Camp Mabry, a National Guard camp that is home to the Texas Military Forces Museum, and, on the shores of Lake Austin, the Austin Museum of Art-Laguna Gloria, which includes the Italianate villa of philanthropist Clara Driscoll, and an art school.

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