Downtown Austin is full of rich, vibrant neighborhoods, each with its own personality and style.

But which neighborhood is right for your business to set up shop, to buy your new condo or simply go on a night out?

It can be overwhelming to decide if you’re not familiar with Downtown Austin. This guide will introduce you to the personalities of the various Downtown Austin neighborhoods and give you a few tips as to where to go, the major companies and industries that office there, and what to do in each district.

Read More: The Best of Downtown Austin, Texas (CBD): What to Do, Where to Eat and What’s Under Construction

 

Uptown/Arts District

Capitol Building in Austin, Texas - Uptown Arts District, Downtown Austin

The Uptown/Arts District is the backyard to the Texas State Capitol, and you’re sure to find lobbyists and politicians alike when Congress is in session.

The Uptown/Arts District is a small pocket bordered by the Texas State Capitol to the east and the University of Texas’ West Campus neighborhood on the north.

This Neighborhood is Known For

A quieter area of Downtown, it’s busy seasons ebb and flow with the legislative season. The Starbucks in this neighborhood is always packed with men in suits and women in pumps.

Within walking distance of this neighborhood is not only the Capitol building, but also the Travis County Courthouse, The Texas Court of Appeals, The Supreme Court of Texas and the Texas Governor’s Mansion.

The Best of the Uptown/Arts District

Take a free guided tour of the Texas State Capitol, then stroll through the neighborhood passing historic churches and homes on your way to lunch at the Texas Chili Parlor, a Downtown Austin institution. Then finish your day of Texas history by heading a few blocks north to the Bullock Texas State History Museum.

Bob Bullock Museum in Downtown Austin, TX

The Bullock Texas State History Museum is home to an ever-changing exhibit of artifacts, rare documents and photographs that tell the story of Texas. Photo courtesy of Matthew Rutledge.

Don’t Miss in this Neighborhood

A classic cocktail at the Cloak Room.

Tucked away in a basement on a quiet corner just next to the Capitol, you’re likely to find yourself sipping cocktails alongside an in-session legislator if you visit during the right time of the year.  

Major Companies and Organizations in the Uptown/Arts District Tenants

Due to the proximity to the Capitol, this area is home to numerous law firms, NGOs and regulatory offices, including:

Major Office Properties in the Uptown/Arts District

This district is home to mid-sized, often older, office properties. The Westview Redevelopment is an effort to renovate one of these such properties, just next to the Capitol.

  • Westview Redevelopment
  • 1300 Guadalupe
  • 1210 San Antonio
  • 1108 Lavaca

 

Congress Avenue Historic District

The Downtown stretch of the Congress Avenue Historic District reaches from Lady Bird Lake to the Texas State Capitol, through the heart of Austin’s Central Business District.

Paramount Theater in Austin, Texas - Congress Avenue

The Paramount Theater is a historic icon on Austin’s Congress Avenue

This Neighborhood is Known For

Lined on either side by the skyscrapers that make up the city’s iconic skyline, Congress Avenue is home to Downtown Austin’s most prominent office buildings as well as a plethora of restaurants, hotels and museums.

The Best of Congress Avenue

Your options are open when you’re on Congress Avenue. From fast-casual lunch spots to fine dining, from an underground jazz club to a swanky cocktail bar, you’re sure to find something your speed.

For dining, try Royal Blue Grocery or Burger Bar if you’re on the go, Swift’s Attic or Counter 3. Five. VII. for an evening out.

Looking for a drink? Elephant Room (tucked away below Counter 3. Five. VII.) offers an intimate jazz bar experience. The Townsend is the perfect happy hour spot for Congress Avenue employees, serving up craft cocktails and small plates. Or seek out the hidden-in-plain-sight Small Victory, behind an unassuming door just off of Congress Avenue, on 7th Street.

The neighborhood isn’t short on activities either. Catch a show at The Paramount and State Theaters, get fit at the newly opened Soul Cycle or take the family to see the bats emerge from under the Congress Avenue Bridge.

The Townsend in Downtown Austin, TX

The Townsend, located across the street from the Paramount Theater, is an ideal place to grab a cocktail before the show.

Don’t Miss in this Neighborhood

Stroll through The Contemporary Austin – Jones Center.

Catch the latest rotating art exhibit at The Contemporary Austin – Jones Center and then venture up to the Moody Rooftop for a bird’s eye view of Congress Avenue and Downtown Austin

Major Companies and Organizations in the Congress Avenue District

The sidewalks along Congress Avenue are always bustling during the day with a steady mixture of lawyers and government employees in suits and ties, tech workers in business extra-casual and tourists with their heads up and cameras out. Major tenants along Congress Avenue include:

Retail Me Not at 301 Congress in Downtown Austin

The RetailMeNot office at 301 Congress

Major Office Properties in the Congress Avenue District

Congress Avenue is lined with many of Austin’s most iconic buildings, most notably the Frost Bank Tower, but also including:

  • One Congress Plaza
  • 100 Congress
  • 301 Congress
  • 501 & 515 Congress
  • 600 Congress
  • The Littlefield & Scarbrough Buildings

 

Market District

Austin’s Market District encompasses the western portion of downtown Austin, from Guadalupe to Lamar, 9th Street down to the booming Seaholm Development on the southern edge.

This Neighborhood is Known For

The Market District is known for luxury living and lively restaurants and bars along 6th Street.

However, the area to the north of 6th Street is brimming with historic homes, many of which have now been converted into offices.

The district is also home to the Whole Foods Flagship Store, a favorite of Austinites and tourists alike.

Whole Foods Store in Downtown Austin, Texas

The Whole Foods Flagship Store on Lamar Boulevard is a hotspot for foodies, yogis and wine enthusiasts alike. Photo courtesy of Caomal.

The Best of the Market District

The Market District is home to an abundance of bars and restaurants along what is referred to as “West 6th”. Take in the downtown views from one of the many rooftop clubs or grab a beer with friends at a low-key spot; either way, start your night with dinner at Ranch 616 first, for Southwestern eats and an eclectically Texan atmosphere.

The area is also a hub for high-rise residential developments, including The Monarch, 360 Condominiums, Seven and The Independent, a 58-story tower that will rise above all others in Austin.

 

Ranch 616 on West 6th Street, Austin, TX

Ranch 616 and its sister bars, Rattle Inn and Star Bar, are staples of West 6th Street and the Market District. Photo courtesy of Ranch 616.

Don’t Miss in this Neighborhood

Celeb-sighting at Walton’s Fancy and Staple or Juan Pelota Cafe.

Both Sandra Bullock and Lance Armstrong call Austin home, and both chose to open their cafes in Austin’s Market District. Start your morning with a cup of jo at Armstrong’s Juan Pelota, then stroll just two blocks north to Walton’s for one of the city’s best sandwiches or salads.

Major Companies and Organizations in the Market District

  • Whole Foods Headquarters
  • Cirrus Logic, currently in the Cirrus Logic Building; will also occupy five floors of Shoal Creek Walk upon completion
  • Under Armor and AthenaHealth are just across the street, in the Seaholm Redevelopment
  • Austin U.S. Federal Courthouse
  • IBC Bank in the IBC Bank Plaza

Major Office Properties in the Market District

The Market District has not traditionally been a prime area for large office towers, however, as the core of the CBD shifts west, there are a number of new office developments either recently completed or underway in this area, including:

  • Third + Shoal
  • Shoal Creek Walk
  • Seaholm Redevelopment
  • IBC Bank Plaza

 

Warehouse District

Just to the west of Congress Avenue, the Austin Warehouse District is bustling with the trendy bars and upscale restaurants and steakhouses. The neighborhood only takes up a few blocks, extending just three blocks west to Guadalupe Street, between 3rd and 7th Streets.

This Neighborhood is Known For

The perfect date night set up, 4th Street and Colorado are lined with bars and restaurants.

The Best of the Warehouse District

Go from happy hour, where you can try one of the dozens of cocktails on the menu at Peche or seek out the aptly named Garage tucked away in a commercial parking garage for one of their award winning Indian Paintbrushes, to dinner at Tim Love’s Lonesome Dove or a steak on the rooftop of Bob’s Steakhouse, to a night-cap and live music at Cedar Street Courtyard.

Don’t Miss in this Neighborhood

Roast your own s’mores at Halcyon.

The perfect way to end the night, stop by Halcyon at the corner of 4th and Lavaca for roast-your-own s’mores.

The Warehouse District in Austin, TX

Bars and restaurants line the streets of Austin’s Warehouse District, while the office towers of the surrounding neighborhoods loom overhead. Photo courtesy of Jim Nix.

Major Companies and Organizations in the Warehouse District

The Warehouse District tenant make up reflects that of the CBD as a whole, part tech titan, part traditional institutions. The major tenants in the area include:

Major Office Properties in the Warehouse District

Amongst the hustle and bustle of the nightlife, are many of Austin’s major downtown office properties, including:

  • 210 West 7th
  • 300 West 6th
  • Chase Bank Tower
  • Lavaca Plaza
  • The planned Brandywine office development at 405 Colorado

 

Ready to map it out?

Download your free copy of the Downtown Austin Neighborhood Map to see how the districts layout across downtown.

Get Your Copy of the Downtown Austin Neighborhoods Map

 

2nd Street District

Stretching the length of 2nd Street, from Trinity Street west to Nueces Street, the strip is lined with local boutiques and trendy fashion shops.

This Neighborhood is Known For

The 2nd Street District is known as downtown Austin’s shopping hub. The street is also home to a number of Austin’s downtown hotels, luxury apartments and condos, and restaurants. Dead ending into the Austin Convention Center, the area is a hot spot for tourists and Austinites alike.

The Best of the 2nd Street District

Intermixed with the fashion are some of the city’s best brunch spots, happy hour haunts and a number of fast-casual chains for the surrounding residents. For brunch, try Taverna for $2 mimosas with a side of delicious Italian food or hit the aptly named Second Bar + Kitchen, where you can people watch as you dine al fresco on the corner of 2nd and Congress.

La Condesa in Austin's Second Street District

Grab a seat on the bar patio during happy hour and enjoy one of the best margaritas in town. Photo courtesy of Michael Hsu Office of Architecture.

Ready for happy hour? Stop by La Condesa for modern Mexican flavors in one of the city’s coolest atmospheres (the restaurant was designed by local star-chitect Michael Hsu).

Don’t Miss in this Neighborhood

Watch a movie at Violet Crown Cinema.

After spending the day strolling 2nd, duck out of the heat at Violet Crown Cinema. This boutique movie theater features indie flicks served with cold cocktails and delicious meals. On the menu? Burgers, pizzas and even a cheese board.

Major Companies and Organizations in the Second Street District

Although Second Street is heavily populated by retail, residential and hospitality, there are a few office tenants that call the district home:

  • Silicon Labs owns and occupies the two buildings that flank city hall, 200 and 400 West Cesar Chavez Street
  • Spredfast occupies space in the Silicon Labs Buildings
  • Google is taking over 200,000 sf at 500 West 2nd

Major Office Properties in the Second Street District

While not many, there are a handful of office or office-adjacent properties to be found in the Second Street District, including:

  • Silicon Labs Buildings
  • 500 West 2nd
  • The Convention Center
  • Austin City Hall
Austin City Hall

Austin City Hall is a focal point of downtown Austin. Photo courtesy of That Other Paper.

Red River District

Running along Red River Street, from 7th street north to 12th street, the Red River District is flush with nightclubs and concert venues alike.

This Neighborhood is Known For

Officially designated The Red River Cultural District, the area is the ideal place to catch live music in Downtown Austin.

The Best of the Red River District

Grab some Tex-Mex at Pelons and gear up for your night out. Catch a show at music venues Stubb’s, Mohawk or Empire Control Room & Garage, and then end the night dancing at Barbarella.

Don’t Miss in this Neighborhood

Enjoy a show at Stubb’s Waller Creek Amphitheater.

The barbeque is good. The live music is better. Both national names and Austin icons frequent this outdoor theater and the atmosphere can’t be beat.

 

Stubb's in Downtown Austin's Red River District.

Live music at Stubb’s Waller Creek Amphitheater

Major Companies and Organizations in the Red River District

The Red River District is primarily retail and residential users, however there are a few government, municipal and nonprofits that office within the Red River District or the surrounding area.

Major Office Properties in the Red River District

The Teacher Retirement System of Texas building is one of the only large office properties in the Red River District.

The Velocity Credit Union Site, located off of Red River, just north of 11th Street, is currently for sale, with potential plans for a mixed-use redevelopment.

Velocity Tower in Austin, TX

A rendering of the potential development at the Velocity land site.

 

Entertainment District

Stretching the length of 6th Street, from IH-35 on the east to Congress Avenue on the west, is the Entertainment District, one of the most iconic neighborhoods in Austin, Texas.

This Neighborhood is Known For

The 6th Street Entertainment District is made up of the section of 6th Street that is known historically as Pecan Street and by college kids as “Dirty Sixth”.

At night, the bars open their doors and on weekend nights the street is blocked off to cars. High heels, cheap drinks and loud music flood the streets. It’s the perfect destination for a 21st birthday or Bachelor(ette) Party.

 

Sixth Street in Austin, TX

Famous for live music and the abundance of bars, 6th Street is one of Austin’s most iconic tourist destinations. Photo courtesy of Davidlohr Bueso.

The Best of the 6th Street Entertainment District

There is much more to this neighborhood than just its reputation as the “Bourbon Street of Austin”.

On the west end, where 6th Street hits Congress, stand a number of the city’s most historic buildings: the Littlefield & Scarbrough Buildings, now prominent Austin office buildings, and the Stephen F. Austin Intercontinental Hotel and The Driskill Hotel, two classic Austin hotels that are still functioning today.

On the east end of the neighborhood, where 6th Street approaches IH-35, local restaurants and event spaces have popped up along revitalized Waller Creek. Most notably is Easy Tiger, a german bakery on street level and a beer garden at creek level. Stop by for a craft beer and a pretzel with beer cheese.

The Driskill in Austin, TX

The Driskill Hotel was completed in 1886 and is the oldest operating hotel in Austin. Photo courtesy of Karen Blaha.

 

Don’t Miss in this Neighborhood

Sip a cocktail at the Stephen F.

The hotel bar at the Stephen F. Austin Intercontinental, affectionately known as the Stephen F., is located on the second floor of the hotel. Grab a drink at the bar and make your way to the terrace that overlooks Congress Avenue. It’s the ideal place for people watching and a great way to see the sun set over Austin, Texas.  

Major Companies and Organizations in the 6th Street Entertainment District

Although the Entertainment District is mostly populated by bars, restaurants and retail, the Texas Lottery Commision does call the district home. Additionally, a handful of small companies have set up shop either in street level retail-suites-turned-office or tucked away in offices above the retail shops.

Major Office Properties in the Entertainment District

Most of the 6th Street Entertainment District offices are low-rise buildings, either located on street level or on the second story above a retail suite. However, where 6th Street meets Congress, there are some of Austin’s most prominent office buildings, including:

  • 600 Congress
  • Littlefield Building
  • Scarbrough Building
  • 515 Congress

 

Rainey Street District

The Rainey Street District, tucked away just outside of Austin’s downtown core, has come to life over the past 10 years.

Previously a residential neighborhood, most of the houses have been converted to hip bars and trendy restaurants. Rainey Street is known for it’s “Sunday Funday” vibes, the bars are packed long before the sun goes down, with young professionals sipping local beers and playing yard-games galore with their dogs in tow.

Half Step in Austin, Texas - Rainey Street

Patios and picnic tables are a way of life on Rainey Street. Photo courtesy of Half Step.

First came the bars, then came a flush of multifamily development. New developments abound in the Rainey Street district, primarily all luxury residential, including 70 Rainey, The Millennium Rainey and SkyHouse.

Don’t Miss in this Neighborhood

Super Soul Sunday at Icenhauer’s

Each Sunday, the Nightowls, a 10-piece soul band puts on a show at Icenhauer’s. Get there early, because the place gets packed, and make sure you’ve got your dancing shoes on.

Major Tenants & Office Properties in the Rainey Street District

While there aren’t currently any office developments in the Rainey Street District, that is soon to change. There are multiple developments in the early planning stages that are sure to attract Austin’s top tenants.

Now that you’re up to speed on the eight major downtown Austin neighborhoods, it’s time to go out and explore the city. If you’re looking for even further insights into Austin’s CBD, read our Q&A with AQUILA principal and downtown resident Chad Barrett.
To find out what it costs to lease office space in the CBD, be sure to read our article How Much Does it Cost to Lease Office Space in Austin, Texas?

 

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Lauren Little | Senior Marketing Coordinator | AQUILA Commercial

Lauren Little

Lauren is AQUILA’s marketing rockstar. She’s the full package: organized, efficient and creative to boot.

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