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A field of bluebonnet flowers
A field of bluebonnet flowers

Northwest Austin starts just outside downtown and extends to the edge of the Texas Hill Country. This portion of the city features many properties with beautiful views of downtown Austin, hilly topography, and Lakes Austin and Travis and generally is known as Austin’s most scenic area.

Prior to the 1950s and 60s, the hills of northwest Austin remained mostly unsettled. In the 1930s, the Lower Colorado River Authority commissioned the installation of dams throughout the river to combat flooding; the dams created the Highland Lakes, which include Lake Austin and Lake Travis. Road construction contributed to northwest Austin’s livability, and, although limestone hills occur naturally throughout the northwest, road construction augmented highway-lining rock formations, providing a “cliffside” look for many neighborhoods.

Many areas in northwest Austin have sizeable, wooded lots, with large greenbelts between communities and along the southern edge of the range. Quite a few of Austin’s luxury properties are located in this area, with some homes listed above $10 million, offering acreage, horse facilities, guest houses, and even ballrooms. In addition to luxury properties, there are many options in line with median home values in Austin.

Northwest Austin supports a strong business and retail community, affording great shopping at locations such as Lakeline Mall and The Arboretum. Numerous high-tech companies are based in northwest Austin, attracting skilled and educated workers to the area. Major businesses include Applied Materials, a technology company that makes semiconductor equipment; AT&T Labs; Flextronics International, a large manufacturer of electronics; 3M’s research and development facility; and Seton Northwest Hospital.


Parts of Austin’s northwest region of hill country are breathtaking; mountainous hills roll into the distance, their continuity broken only by Austin’s art-deco skyline. Builders and architects have accepted the terrain’s rocky challenge, and they’ve succeeded in producing homes whose grandeur matches their setting.

From custom-built lakefront properties to master-planned communities, northwest Austin real estate offers beauty and breadth. Some large neighborhoods in northwest Austin include Avery Ranch, River Place, Steiner Ranch, Spicewood, and Anderson Mill West.

Two Lake Travis-front residents, Abbie and Rick, described northwest Austin as a “great place for families” who want a safe, peaceful community that still offers beauty and excitement. “Northwest Austin has suburban qualities, but it isn’t boring,” said Rick.

Although Central Texans consider downtown to be Austin’s urban heartbeat, outward growth pumps city life farther into the northwest. Recent resident Bret Malish said northwest Austin is “growing like crazy.”

Northwest Austin comprises MLS areas RN, NW, and CLS. It is bordered by Lake Travis to the west; Parmer, McNeil, and 2222 along the east; and Lake Austin to the south. It includes the zip codes of 78613, 78641, 78645, 78726, 78730, 78731, 78732, 78734, 78750, and 78759. Downtown Austin is roughly 10 miles away from northwest Austin’s nearest point and is about 25 miles away from the northwest Austin/Cedar Park border.

Community and Neighborhood Associations

The Northwest Austin Civic Association fosters community for a handful of northwestern neighborhoods, including Highland Hills, Shinoak Valley, Cat Mountain, Cat Mountain Villas, Northwest Hills, Meadow Mountain, North Cat Mountain, Lakewood Village, Lakewood Park, Parkhill, and Vista West.

Balcones Wood Neighborhood Association, Canyon Creek Neighborhood Association, and Anderson Mill Limited District, are the names of a few community groups.


Northwest Austin is in the Austin Independent School District, with some homes in theLeander Independent School District and the Round Rock Independent School District.


Malish said that although “the ‘hippie culture’ isn’t as prevalent in the northwest as it is downtown,” northwesterners maintain similar ideals when it comes to health and recreation. All of Austin loves to stay fit by spending time outside—the northwest population is no exception.

Golf Courses

Golfers play their favorite sport on northwest Austin’s challenging terrain at the following clubs: Balcones Country Club, Golf Club at Avery Ranch, Great Hills Country Club, and University of Texas Golf Club.

Nearby Public Boat Ramps

lake austin from the northwestMany neighborhoods have their own pools, but it also is easy to access larger bodies of water via boat. Lake Travis residents Abbie and Rick prefer water activities above all. Abbie said northwest Austin is “all about the lakes,” and Rick claimed, “If you’re not on the lake, you’re not having as much fun as you should be.” Luckily, numerous parks make for a seamless land to water transition.

Emma Long Park at 1600 City Park Road off FM 2222 offers a boat ramp to lake-lovers. And, for just an eight-dollar admission fee, Emma Long visitors can spend the day swimming in Lake Austin, fishing off of piers, running along Oak and Juniper-shaded trails, or barbequing with friends. Emma Long’s volleyball and basketball courts also make it a fun congregational place for sporting teams, athletic families, and birthday party crews.

Smaller but just as scenic, Commons Ford Park (614 Commons Ford Road North), provides similar amenities as does Emma Long with its boat ramp, barbeque pits, running trails, volleyball courts, and picnic tables. It does not permit swimming. It does, however, have beautiful waterfalls and lake views.

Selma Hughes Park (11921 Selma Hughes Park Rd.) grazes Lake Austin’s shore and mostly caters to nearby residents, although its picnic-perfect setting of greenbelt, barbeque pits, and tables is open to the public. The boat ramps in Mary Quinlan Park (1601 Quinlan Park Rd. S.) also lend access to Lake Austin. After a dip in the lake, boaters can enjoy a barbeque picnic on Mary Quinlan Parks’ rolling hills.

Fritz Hughes Park, on 3100 Fritz Hughes Park Rd., looks up at Mansfield Dam—a phenomenal photo-op. The park itself is camera-ready with its verdant plateau for picnics. It also has a basketball court.

Closer into town, the Walsh Boat Landing is in the lower end of the lake off Lake Austin Blvd., west of Red Bud Trail. Loop 360 Ramp is located mid-lake.

In addition to expansive public parks, many neighborhoods feature their own community parks.

Northwestern residents who prefer staying fit by exercising indoors have numerous gyms and yoga, Pilates, and barre studios in their vicinity. A few include Bodywise Gym on 1603 Ranch Road 620 N, Wild Basin Fitness at Steiner Ranch, Anytime Fitness (6911 N FM 620 B-100), Pure Barre Austin in The Arboretum, and Sunstone Yoga, 10710 Research Blvd #326.


Libraries are easy to find throughout and nearby northwest Austin. A few include Spicewood Springs Library, Milwood Library, Bee Cave Public Library, and the City of Cedar Park Public Library.

Cultural Offerings

Northwesterners do not have to travel downtown for artistic engagement. The Art Amore Studios on Jester Blvd. conducts studio arts classes for children and teens of all skill levels. It also is a birthday party venue. RS Thompson Art (Big View Drive) gallery shows and sells art—a perfect supplement for the prestigious homes also located on Big View Drive. And thanks to Ariel Art Galleries, customized portraits and classical paintings can complete the walls of Austin’s modern-day castles.

The nearest Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in northwest Austin is on W. Anderson Lane. Popular culture buffs and movie lovers flock to Alamo Drafthouse for blockbusters, classics, quote-alongs, parties, and silently served snacks and drinks. The Drafthouse encourages filmgoers to take their experience seriously—if noise disturbances occur (barring quote-along situations), the loud culprit will be asked to leave.

The Balcones Wildlife Refuge , just west of Austin’s northwestern border, exhibits wildlife in its natural element. Curious nature lovers and students can use the refuge as a live learning experience.

Shopping and Restaurants

Malish enjoys northwest Austin because it is “secluded from the hustle and bustle of downtown” but still offers premium shopping and eating experiences.

Although northwest Austin has its own suburban vibe, downtown Austin’s notorious eateries have branches in the northwest. Kerbey Lane Café, one of Austin’s favorite places to eat brunch, is located on Highway 183. And, northwest Austin wouldn’t feel authentic without an Amy’s Ice Cream—good thing it has one at 10000 Research Blvd. For a sit-down Tex-Mex meal, northwest residents can consume free cornbread and dishes such as Chile Relleno at West Parmer Lane’s Z Tejas location.

The Arboretum is an upscale open-air 45-store shopping center, with stores such as Chico’s, The Gap, Pottery Barn, Barnes & Noble, Restoration Hardware, and Express nestled in a park-like setting. Food offerings include The Cheesecake Factory, among others. The Arboretum Market, across the street, offers even more: Starbucks, Talbots, and Williams-Sonoma.

Lakeline Mall is anchored by Dillard’s, JCPenney, Macy’s, and Sears and includes more than 150 specialty stores and a nine-screen Regal Theatre. Lakeline Plaza and Lakeline Village are adjacent to Lakeline Mall and offer dozens of stores, including Best Buy, Old Navy, and TJMaxx. Nearby restaurants include Chili’s, Applebee’s, Texican Café, and Plucker’s.

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