Is Austin Walkable? Here Are 12 of the Most Walkable Neighborhoods
Jennifer FerraraJuly 9, 2023
Austin prides itself on being a hub for outdoor activities and adventure lovers looking to spend days exploring the area’s beautiful green spaces. With so many options to opt outside, you would think that the Live Music Capital of the World would cater to pedestrians and those looking to explore on foot.
While the city has indeed made strides in the last decade or so when it comes to being more adaptable for those who would rather walk (or bike), Austin comparatively ranks lower on the charts when it comes to overall walkability as a city. Walk Score, a company that uses its patented system to effectively rank neighborhoods and specific locations around the country on their accessibility for walking, biking, and public transit, classifies Austin as 30th in the country with an overall walk score of 42. This falls in the “Some Transit: A few nearby public transportation” category, meaning you will probably need a car to live here.
Is Austin Walkable? The Answer is Sometimes.
However, even with its less-than-impressive Walk Score rating, the rapidly-growing haven does have a handful of incredible neighborhoods and areas that are completely set up for ped-success. With the expertise of our office intel and much support from the thorough research conducted by Walk Score, we’ve composed a list of our top 12 most walkable neighborhoods in Texas’ capital.
It may seem obvious that downtown would be first up on the list of in town and that’s because…well, it has the most to offer its residents. Those without cars who live in a high-rise condo or Clarksville bungalow can just stroll over to the wonderful array of dining, shops, and attractions that lie in the city’s glorious center. Grocery Shop at the flagship Whole Foods, hit the Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail within minutes, and easily spend memorable nights at your favorite nightclub or bar lounge.
When you call downtown home, there is no shortage of sights to discover or sensory stimulators to indulge yourself with. Impress your guests with a walking tour of nearby art at The Contemporary Austin and Mexic-Arte Museum followed by a delectable dinner at Vince Young Steakhouse. Finally, cap off the evening with an unforgettable show at the iconic Esther’s Follies.
Can’t Miss: If you are lucky enough to live in the heart of Austin, you cannot miss the epic found tucked around downtown streets
2. The University of Texas (Plus North University & West Campus)
Walk Score: 92
Transit Score: 65
Bike Score: 94
If you are a student, faculty, or staff at The University of Texas at Austin or work near Campus, you are in luck. The “40 Acres” or the University of Texas campus is located just north of downtown and is comprised of different sections like the famed “West Campus” or West University as well as North University.
These areas of town are about as . This lively section of the city is home to school-goers and younger crowds looking to learn, play, and hang out at some of Austin’s most beloved spots. Living near or on campus pretty much guarantees you won’t have to drive your car for most of your necessary errands (and are probably buying in at lower median home prices, too).
West University's prime geography leaves you within a short walk to campus, a 30-minute walk from downtown, and also allows easy access to the Blanton Museum of Art, the Neill-Cochran House Museum, and The Bullock Texas State History Museum. Spend weekends at the newly unveiled Waterloo Park, which hosts live music and interactive outings throughout the seasons. Living in West Campus is even better if you are a pedal-pusher as Walk Score rated biking here even higher than walking!
Can’t Miss: Strolling and shopping along , the historic stretch of Guadalupe Street that runs parallel to the University
Home to the Instagram-famous “I Love You So Much” mural, a handful of top-notch restaurants, historic music venues, and an unforgettable view of the capitol building, South Congress is one of the most walkable neighborhoods out there. Located in the city’s highly coveted 78704 zip code, South Congress (better known as “SoCo”) features its vibrant main strip of shops and sights, surrounded by quaint residential streets that flaunt high-class, yet eccentric Austin charm.
Since it was first established in 2007, The Domain has served as its own mini-city of sorts for the throngs of tech employees and businesses that decided to call Austin its headquarters. The surrounding area is dubbed . Residents in this part of town can basically find many restaurants, shops, and attractions within a walk of The Domain proper.
Aside from downtown and the denser university areas, East Austin is the next region of the city deemed best for those mainly utilizing two human hooves. We are talking in particular, which spans a compact area just east of Interstate I35 from 7th Street to MLK JR. Boulevard. Boasting the ideal fusion of charming Austin originals and modern new development, this area of town presents approximately 200 restaurants, bars, and coffee shops to try!
For those looking to experience all the Capital City has to offer without living in a high-rise, a cozy home in Central East may be just the ticket. And while you are not smack-dab downtown, you are still a leisurely walk or easy bike ride to the central city hub as well as Rainey Street and East Cesar Chavez.
Can’t Miss: We never pass an opportunity to freshen up on African-American history at the .
Originally established as one of the city’s streetcar suburbs, is one of the oldest in Texas’s capital. Gorgeous vistas, mature lots with Colonial mansions, and sprawling green spaces await your enjoyment in Old West, which is composed of three sections: Old Enfield, Pemberton Heights, and Bryker Woods).
When you live here, sunny days are spent outside at Mayfield Park, and Pease Park, taking in the glorious views of Mount Bonnell. Old West is also where you can visit Barton Springs's little sister pool, Deep Eddy. This spring-fed oasis is perfect for kids and you can walk to Juiceland before or after for a healthy sweet treat.
Similar to The Domain but better for families with kids, is a more recently developed section of northeast Austin that has just about everything you could ever need. With an amazing interactive kid’s museum called The Thinkery, an Alamo Drafthouse movie theater, endless food options, and the best weekly farmer’s market in the city, choosing the Mueller Area as your home is a no-brainer.
Holly is a that graces the shores of the Colorado River, allowing for amazing walkability to the Lady Bird Lake Hike & Bike Trail. Residents here will find a small but strong selection of eateries to dine at, including Launderette, la Barbecue, and Kemuri Tatsu-ya.
Established Austinites might gripe at the complete ratification of this East Austin haven, but people who live there or are moving there would wholeheartedly disagree. Holly offers an impeccable locale near the river, near downtown, and near the interstate for when you do need to utilize four wheels.
Can’t Miss: Walking or Scooting Brewery Tour of Blue Owl and Lazarus
East Cesar Chavez is just as lovely as Holly and the neighboring location gives the answers as to why. While there is a little more traffic due to the proximity to Interstate I35, is a little more known when it comes to the attractions and highlights. Residents who choose this iconic region of the city can do their shopping at the brand-new Whole Foods and Target while also supporting local businesses by way of eating, drinking, and seeing live music.
Foot-friendly perks include having beautiful riverfront trails just down the way, which is wonderful for seasonal events. This vibrant section of Austin also features craft cocktail spaces, industrial outdoor breweries, trendy bike shops, and idyllic coffee houses.
The is ideal for those looking to spend their time strutting up and down South Lamar Boulevard (SoLa). Sandwiched between Bouldin Creek and Barton Hills on the east and west, Zilker meets the famous Matt’s El Rancho Mexican restaurant to the south and Butler Shores to the north.
This prized neighborhood of Austin presents all you need to create the perfect home base in the Live Music Capital of the World. Plus, you are just a walk away from Barton Springs Municipal Pool. While you may be clogged in traffic jams during two weeks of October during Austin City Limits Music Festival, you will also be the first in line for the fest!
Can’t Miss: Evening date nights at Peter Pan Mini-Golf or Butler Pitch & Putt
is a small, but powerful stretch of south Austin real estate that flaunts decent walkability if you are a person of simple pleasures. Really, all you need are some great dining options, a grocery store (we see you, H-E-B), schools for the kiddos, and a combo coffee and beer garden. And this is precisely what the Dawson community provides. While Dawson is equipped to serve the necessary staples, it also presents outstanding access to Highway 290 for easy access to other parts of the city.
Can’t Miss: Climbing at Crux Climbing Gym followed by drinks at Cosmic Coffee
A fun-loving faction of classic Austin charm and new-age glory, (or Cherrywood) is a wonderful choice for those looking to really take advantage of all Austin has to offer its residents and guests. Located just northeast of The University of Texas at Austin, Cherrywood presents supreme access to a delectable array of casual and fine eats, as well as new bars that are ideal for wasting away Friday nights with friends. You are also just minutes from Mueller, Downtown, and the University of Texas at Austin.
Can’t Miss: The chicken-fried steak at Hoover’s Cooking
Quick Tips for Choosing the Best Neighborhood in Austin
Tip #1: Be specific about what’s important to you. Which gym do you want to be close to? What’s your favorite coffee shop? If you find yourself drawn to the businesses of a certain area, that may be a good place to set up a home base.
Tip #2: Talk to people that live in that area. Explore FB groups or just do it the old-fashioned way in person. People that have lived there for a while may be able to give you a more complete big-picture view of what living in that area looks and feels like.
Tip #3: Do a practice walk or bike. Don’t assume that you’ll enjoy walking somewhere just because it’s walkable. Some longer walks can fly by because they are so scenic but others can feel like a bit of a drag. Try it on for size before you commit to a home or even an area.
If you are choosing your Austin launch pad around the locale’s ability to provide walking access to entertainment, attractions, and necessities, we hope this thoughtfully curated list helped to provide some insight. Whether you want to be able to walk to your graduate classes, take in skyline views from the 32nd floor downtown, or walk the colorful streets of Bouldin Creek, Austin has just the walkable neighborhood to fit your desires.
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