Downtown, Austin Travel Guide

Downtown Summary

Pros

  • Sixth Street, a popular street lined with restaurants, bars, and nightclubs
  • Austin's business district
  • SoCo's galleries, boutiques, and monthly festivals
  • Home to the Capitol and numerous museums
  • Bordered on the south by Lady Bird Lake and Hike and Bike Trail
  • Lots of green space for a city
  • Great barbecue
  • Birthplace of Whole Foods

Cons

  • Traffic-heavy area
  • Public transit is limited
  • Sixth Street can be rowdy, especially on the weekends (a pro for some!)
  • Super-hot in the summertime
  • Lots of construction
  • Congress Avenue Bridge is famous for its bats (some people love it -- we're not one of them)

What It's Like

Downtown Austin is really the birthplace of Texas -- the first Texas settlements were in Austin, and downtown Austin still operates on the original grid plan of the city from the 1800s. Therefore, the area is steeped in history -- the Austin Public Library serves as the Austin History Center, and is the source of information on Austin from its founding in 1839. Downtown also boasts numerous museums, like the Austin Museum of Art and the Austin Children's Museum.

Downtown Austin is composed of the city's business district and is home to the majority of Austin's government buildings -- the Capitol and the Governor's Mansion are popular sites. But unlike the downtown areas of some cities, downtown Austin isn't dead once the businesspeople head home after work. The area only gets livelier: Sixth Street teems with a young, rowdy crowd filtering in and out of the many bars and nightclubs in the area, especially on the weekends. A tamer scene can be found at the restaurants on the street and some of the higher-end bars and lounges. During the day, crowds tend to enjoy the air-conditioning in the art galleries and shops in SoCo. Those looking for more of an outdoor adventure can head to the Lady Bird Lake and Hike and Bike Trail. The majority of the lake prohibits motored water sports, meaning that the lake is pristine, and visitors can kayak, sail, and canoe. The 10-mile Hike and Bike Trail is a shady, green area for walking, running, and hiking.

Where to Stay

Those prepared (and excited) for wild, rowdy nights may want to stay near Sixth Street, where downtown's nightlife is centered. Business travelers may consider hotels in downtown's business district, near the Capitol, while avid shoppers may want to check out the SoCo area.  

View all Downtown Hotels

Facts

Language:

English

Airports:

Austin Bergstrom International Airport

Peak:

March-May; October-December

Off-Peak:

January-February; May-September

Visa:

No

Vaccines:

No

Currency:

U.S. Dollar

Electricity:

120 V, 60 Hz

Tipping:

15-20% at restaurants

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