Searching for the best area to stay in Austin? Check out our top 4 neighborhoods
Heading to the Live Music Capital of the World? Austin has many nicknames, but it’s still hard to sum up this city’s magical atmosphere in just a few sentences. Once you visit, you’ll understand the desire to “keep Austin weird,” but before you visit, you’ll need to decide where to stay in Austin, TX. Maybe you’re wondering where to stay in Austin, TX without a car or where to stay in Austin with kids. Or maybe you’re just searching for a place to crash before or after a massive platter of tacos. Here at Stay Alfred, we’re all about making the travel experience as seamless as possible for you, so our guide to all things Austin will help you spend less time deciding where to stay in Austin and more time devouring this town’s tortilla-wrapped treasures.
Bats, bars, and everything in between: Your guide to Austin, TX
It’s a hipster’s paradise, a foodie’s dream, and even a bucket list destination for amateur chiropterologists. That’s right, nearly as famous as Austin’s food truck scene is its resident bat colony, one of the reasons why Austinites wholeheartedly embrace the city’s cherished “weirdness.” The eclectic culture here attracts visitors from far and wide, but you may be wondering what is the best area to stay in Austin or even where to stay in Austin, TX overall. Keep reading for the low down on where to stay in Austin for every type of traveler, from business travelers to groups of friends.
Searching for the best area to stay in Austin?
Heading to the ATX on for an anniversary, a bachelorette party, a work event, or the kids’ spring break? No matter what brings you to town, there are plenty of things to do in each of our favorite neighborhoods. There are also a few stellar accommodation options fit for any traveler seeking a little extra space and privacy. All of our Stay Alfred travel apartments in Austin feature full kitchens, professional management, and the comfort and convenience that comes with your own home away from home. And if you’re searching for places to stay in Austin downtown, all of our travel apartments are within a short distance of the city center.
If your Austin plans involve live music, shopping, adult beverages, or beautiful outdoor spaces, then SoCo had better be on the agenda. This vibrant district is quintessential Austin: colorful, eclectic, and a little weird. Along South Congress Avenue, honky-tonk bars sit next to food trucks and vintage boutiques with street art on every corner. After all, SoCo is where you’ll find the long-time Austin residents on a mission to preserve Austin’s authentic atmosphere.
Neighborhood Highlights: South Congress
Sold on SoCo’s funky vibe? Make yourself at home at Stay Alfred 422 at The Lake or Stay Alfred at MUSE. If you’re wondering where to stay in Austin, TX without a car, both of our Stay Alfred travel apartments in SoCo sit within walking distance of a plethora of things to do. However, you might not want to leave the building when you have an outdoor pool, a sparkling fitness center, and a BBQ area at your fingertips.
SoCo For Friends
Let’s face it, groups of friends usually don’t visit Austin to do their taxes or to go vacuum cleaner shopping. This town is legendary for its nightlife scene, and the epicenter of it all is SoCo. Wander down South Congress Avenue any night of the week, and your group of pals will surely encounter live music at The Continental Club, an inviting wine list and patio at June's, and famous photo spots like the Greetings From Austin Mural. After a night out, grab some snack fare at Habanero Cafe (open late) or Magnolia Cafe (open 24/7).
SoCo For Families
It’s definitely a fun neighborhood for nightlife and gastronomy, but SoCo also has plenty for families to do. Even when it’s not Halloween, the kids will love watching Austin’s famous bat colony on their twilight flight from the Statesman Bat Observation Center – or any lookout point near the Congress Avenue Bridge. Other outdoor highlights include Little Stacy Park, featuring a playground and a wading pool, and Big Stacy Park, with its Olympic-sized pool.
Once the kiddos have worked up an appetite, head over to Home Slice Pizza for a meal that everybody will like, and finish the day off with a sweet treat from Amy's Ice Creams, Dolce Neve Gelato, or Manolis, a food truck famous for desserts of all types, including refreshing popsicles.
SoCo For Couples
Nothing spells true love like sharing a delicious meal, and SoCo is the perfect place for couples to enjoy a memorable dinner date. From classy spots like Lenoir to casual Tex-Mex favorites like Torchy's Tacos (who says tacos aren’t a love language?), there’s something for every mood and every craving around here. Take a quick trip to Spain with the shareable tapas dishes at Winebelly or channel your inner Aladdin or Jasmine at The Flying Carpet Moroccan Souk Food. And no date night is complete without a chocolate dipped deliciousness from Bananarchy.
SoCo For Business Travelers
Sure, SoCo is known for hipster-approved food trucks and funky shops, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take important clients or business partners out for a sophisticated meal. Skip the food trucks this time and invite your work dinner group for a meal at Perla's, a local favorite for New England-style seafood, or Vespaio, possibly SoCo’s best Italian restaurant.
Slightly northwest of South Congress, Zilker is like a less touristy, more chilled-out version of high-energy SoCo. You’ll still find fantastic food and toe-tappin’ tunes here, but without the crowds that flock to SoCo on weekends. Locals love Zilker for the easy access to Zilker Park and Barton Creek, and we think you’ll become a fan of this desirable district too.
Neighborhood Highlights: Zilker
Though Zilker is pretty relaxed most of the year, it’s the busiest part of town during a few very specific times of the year. Two of Austin’s signature events, South by Southwest and the Austin City Limits music festival, are held at Zilker Park, so it’s the center of the action if your plans bring you to the ATX during those events.
Zilker For Friends
Move over, SoCo! Round up a group of pals and head out for a night of revelry in Zilker. Sure, SoCo might be more famous, but Zilker is just as fun – if not more fun than its energetic neighbor. Start at Saxon Pub, which is famous for its free live music during weekday happy hours. What’s better than drink discounts and dancing?! If the music really has you feeling inspired, you might want to head to the Stevie Ray Vaughan Statue on the shore of Lady Bird Lake for a rock ‘n roll photo op. Or channel your inner rock star by picking up a rental instrument from Rock n Roll Rentals!
The friendly fun continues at Lockout Austin, one of the most exciting escape rooms in the ATX, featuring themed puzzle rooms like the “Cursed Ship.” Once you’ve worked up an appetite, head to Black Sheep Lodge for cold drinks, sizzling burgers, and raucous bar games. Round out the night with a drink and a treat at Gourdough's Public House, an old-school trailer serving donuts and booze late into the night.
Zilker For Business Travelers
Zilker is packed with restaurants and nightlife, and you can’t really go wrong with any choice of bar or music venue. But if you’re visiting Austin for business, a bit of exercise might be just what you need to push through that intense conference or day of meetings. Kick things into high gear with a workout at iLoveKickboxing or CrossFit South Lamar – both of which will make those stressful meetings seem like a walk in the park.
Or, take an actual walk (or run) in the park on the West Bouldin Creek Greenbelt, a scenic pathway that runs parallel to Zilker’s main drag. Craving some more calm? Take a barre or yoga class at DEFINE or a pilates class at Somaspace. In the mood for something a little different? Hang loose and test your balance on a board at City Surf Fitness, one of the only places where you can surf on dry land.
Zilker For Families
It’s a favorite for the over 21-crowd, but that doesn’t mean Zilker doesn’t have a lot to offer for the under-10 crowd. Visiting Austin with kids? Zilker is a fabulous home base, thanks to its proximity to the attractions of Zilker Park. During the summer, a dip in the park’s 3-acre Barton Springs Pool is a must, and little locomotive fans will love riding the Zilker Zephyr Miniature Train. Also in Zilker Park is the Austin Nature & Science Center, home to some of Austin’s oldest residents: dinosaur fossils.
More must-dos with kids include putt putt at Peter Pan Mini-Golf, just a short walk from Zilker Park, and burgers on the spacious patio at Shady Grove. Need a burger and a milkshake in a hurry? Grab a meal for the fam on the go at P. Terry's Burger Stand.
Zilker For Couples
Austin has always been a popular bachelorette party destination, but the getaways to Austin certainly don’t have to end after the big day! On a romantic trip to the ATX, take a stroll through the Umlauf Sculpture Garden & Museum or the Zilker Botanical Garden to take advantage of Austin’s legendary sunny weather. If you’re in the mood for dancing, take date night to new heights at Broken Spoke, the iconic country music dancehall with live music and more than a few cowboy boots.
Prefer to spend your date night in a comfy theater seat? Dinner and a movie doesn’t have to be a complicated affair; head to Alamo Drafthouse Cinema South Lamar and enjoy a flick and a feast at the same time. The theater serves a full food and drink menu and shows the latest blockbusters. Finish date night on a sweet note by sharing a scoop of ice cream at Lick Honest Ice Creams, just steps from the movie theater.
Originally rising to fame as the seat of Texas government, Downtown Austin is equal parts business and pleasure. The city center is home to a thriving business district, a popular convention center, and the exquisite Capitol building. It’s also packed with cool cocktail bars, cozy coffee shops, and culinary gems, so even the most serious work trip can feel like a vacation.
Neighborhood Highlights: Downtown Austin
Whether you’re visiting for a conference or for the kids’ spring break, you may be wondering where to stay in Austin, TX near 6th Street. Downtown Austin’s “Main Street” runs parallel to Lady Bird Lake, so nearly anywhere within the Downtown district will put you within walking distance of 6th Street.
Downtown Austin For Friends
Need a caffeine fix or a cozy spot to catch up with a friend? Downtown Austin’s cafe culture offers plenty of options for cold brew, cappuccinos, and any other coffee concoction you can think of. Some of our favorites include Houndstooth Coffee, Caffe Medici, and Juan Pelota Cafe. For a unique coffee pairing, don’t miss the vegan ice cream sandwich at The Hideout Coffee House, and Easy Tiger’s relaxed vibe is perfect for a lazy afternoon with friends.
Downtown Austin For Families
They say everything’s bigger in Texas, and that’s true when it comes to government buildings too. A visit to Austin with kids in tow should include a day of learning about the state government in the capital city. In the center of Downtown Austin stands the Texas Capitol, the seat of the legislature in the Lone Star State. This majestic building opened in 1888 and features some dazzling architecture.
Downtown Austin For Couples
Searching for a spot for a romantic evening out? Downtown Austin certainly has its fair share of watering holes, and some of them are absolutely perfect for deep conversations over a craft cocktail – maybe with some live music in the background. For a classy night filled with classic cocktails, pop into The Roosevelt Room, which is known for their unique concoctions and inspired ingredients. Other recommended cocktail bars include the speakeasy Midnight Cowboy, just remember to make a reservation and ring the buzzer to get in, and Small Victory where they take mixology very seriously, featuring expertly crafted libations.
If live music is an essential ingredient to a special night out, head to Mohawk Austin for frequent shows and daily happy hour or the subterranean Elephant Room, which features live tunes every night and a nice selection of beer and wine.
Downtown Austin For Business Travelers
If a trade show, conference, or company-wide meeting brings you to town, like many business travelers visiting the ATX, you may find yourself searching for lunch options near the Austin Convention Center. What’s better than learning, networking, or collaborating? Digging into a delicious mid-day meal within walking distance!
One of the best crowd pleasers is Fareground, a sprawling food hall with something for everybody. For Asian fare with a twist, try the upbeat Koriente, and for finger-lickin’-good barbecue, you’ve got to grab lunch at Cooper's Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que. Searching for a power lunch place? Moonshine Grill is the downtown go-to for a classy business lunch, and it’s just steps from the convention center.
Downtown’s cool cousin is just down 6th Street. The recently revitalized Holly neighborhood is packed with Austin’s signature eclectic vibe, a smorgasbord of delicious restaurants, and only a few tourists. Thanks to its convenient location near Downtown Austin, Lady Bird Lake, and a plethora of things to do, it’s quickly becoming a favorite of Austinites and visitors alike.
Neighborhood Highlights: Holly
Holly’s residential vibe feels home already, so why not make it your home base in Austin? Stay Alfred at Alexan E6 modern amenities include a resort-style outdoor pool with cabanas, a cool game room with a ping pong table, and a modern gym, so this “home base” definitely feels more like a “vacation base.”
Holly For Business Travelers
Close enough to Downtown but far enough from the hustle and bustle, Holly is a nice happy medium for business travelers heading to the ATX. Before heading into Downtown Austin, fuel up with a caffeinated beverage at Flat Track Coffee or Fleet Coffee Co. If something more substantial sounds good, grab a bite at Counter Cafe or Joe’s Bakery & Coffee Shop, both featuring fabulous breakfast menus.
After the workday, head back to your Holly oasis and clear your head with a walk through Pan American Neighborhood Park. Thanks to Austin’s ever-sunny weather, there’s no better way to enjoy the sun! And if you’ve had a long day and crave an easy night on the couch, cozy up in your Stay Alfred’s living room and order a take-out pie from Bufalina Pizza.
Holly For Families
Dining out with the kids in tow can be a challenge, which is why families love the full kitchens in every Stay Alfred travel apartment. That’s also why families love going out to eat in laid-back Holly, where the whole crew can dig into yummy Tex-Mex without the crowds of Downtown or SoCo. Most famous is Juan in a Million, open for breakfast and lunch, and their laid-back atmosphere means kids are 100% welcome.
Also worth a visit is Veracruz All Natural Food Truck, known for tacos al pastor. This spot gets bonus points for outdoor seating so the kids don’t need to keep their excitement to an indoor volume. Another family favorite food truck is Hay Elotes, serving kid-friendly Mexican street food like corn, nachos, and fruit cups.
Holly For Couples
Although the ATX is certainly famous for tacos and BBQ, there’s more to Austin’s food scene than meats grilled every which way. When it’s time for a romantic dinner with a special someone, embark on a global culinary trek without even leaving the boundaries of the Holly neighborhood. For authentic Japanese fare and a sizable sake list, snag a table at Kemuri Tatsu-Ya, and for Italian food so good even Nonna would approve, head to the cozy Intero Restaurant and don’t forget to try their artisan chocolates for dessert.
Other international favorites include Mediterranean-inspired Tillery Kitchen and Bar (famous for their patio), Justine's for chic French cuisine, and Saigon Le Vendeur, a shipping container turned banh mi slinger just two blocks from Stay Alfred at Alexan E6.
Holly For Friends
If you’re part of a group of friends visiting Austin, there’s no doubt you’ll get your fill of libations and Tex-Mex. By the end of your trip, you might be craving some nutritious veggies, and the Holly neighborhood is where you’ll find a stellar array of health food spots – mixed in between the taco joints and cocktail bars, of course. If the tacos are tempting but you want to keep things healthy, find a happy medium at The Vegan Nom, a veggie-only taco truck with meat-free takes on favorites like al pastor and buffalo “chicken.”
In the mood for more vegetable goodness? Dig into an overflowing bowl of locally sourced meats and fresh veggies at Ranch Hand Organic Bowls or soak up some rays on the patio at Counter Culture while indulging in a walnut burger or gooey mac and “cheeze.” Then reward yourself for being so healthy with a vegan treat from Capital City Bakery!
Next stop: Austin!
Craving live music, Tex-Mex, or colorful murals? You’ve made the big decision to visit the ATX, now let us help you decide where to stay in Austin and the best area to stay in Austin for whatever you have planned. Whether you’re a business traveler, a family of adventurers, a fun-seeking group of friends, or starry-eyed honeymooners, Austin certainly has enough to offer that you may consider extending your stay.
Pack your best bat-watching gear, dancing shoes, and pants with a stretchy waistband because you don’t want to miss out on the best Austin activities. However, don’t forget to consult our handy-dandy packing list to ensure you’ve remembered all the basics. We’ll let you figure out which taco spot to hit up first, but if you need any assistance choosing the travel apartment of your dreams, just give Stay Alfred’s friendly guest service team a call at 1.866.232.3864.