If you’re looking to make the most of the Downtown Austin lifestyle, you’ll want to make sure that you know all the right terminology. Because Austin has a relatively small urban area compared to other major metropolitan cities, our downtown districts are tightly-packed, sometimes separated by no more than a block.
Some are more vibrant than others, some are predominately residential, some are catchalls for whatever is going on in the northwest part of downtown. If you’re looking to become a “true” Austinite, get to know the different Austin districts below:
Congress Avenue is the center of Downtown Austin, running south to north from the Capitol Building south through downtown. This part of downtown is bustling with retailers, restaurants, hotels, grocery stores, and music venues.
Capitol Plaza sits at the center of the Government District. It’s surrounded on all sides by government offices, condos, and more. There is very little retail in this area as most of the space is dedicated to serve the Texas Capitol. That being said, this part of Downtown is often packed with tourists and others enjoying the Capitol grounds.
6th Street (Dirty Sixth)
6th Street is the hub of Austin’s notorious nightlife. This mile long strip of 6th Street goes from Congress Avenue east towards the I-35 frontage road and is packed with shot bars, restaurants, pubs, live music venues and more. On weekend nights, the district gets so full of nightlife revelers that the streets close and are taken over by foot traffic.
East 6th is hipster central for Austin. It’s home to honky tonks, dive bars, and restaurants that run the gamut from modern cuisine, classic throwbacks, asian-fusion, and more. It’s also home to several live music venues, notably The White Horse and Hotel Vegas, both of which serve Austin’s budding musical talent. There is also an abundance of artists that make their home on “the Eastside.” Not for long though. Due to the popularity of the area for its nightlife attractions and relatively low rents, developers have started buying up blocks and erecting mixed-use condos, putting pressure on local businesses.
East Cesar Chavez
East Cesar Chavez is a relatively new district in Downtown Austin. It’s kin to East 6th as the shops and businesses cater to the artistic ilk. You’ll find plenty of dive bars, cocktail bars, BBQ joints, live music venues and more there.
Red River Cultural District
The Red River Cultural District is the heartbeat of Austin’s live music moniker. Home to Mohawk, Cheer Up Charlie’s, Stubb’s, Beerland, Elysium, Barracuda, Empire Control Room and more, you can find an incredible show of local or touring talent on any night of the week.
4th Street & Warehouse District
The 4th Street, or Warehouse District, is located along 4th street extending west from Congress Avenue. It features a healthy mix of nightlife, restaurants, hotels, and more. In fact, this part of downtown is home to Austin’s LGBTQ community with hotspots like Oilcan Harry’s, Seller’s, and Rain on 4th.
2nd Street District
2nd Street District grew out of the necessity to provide amenities for the residents of the luxury high-rises and modern offices in the area. Helmed by the Austonian condo tower, you’ll find a healthy mix of cocktail bars, upscale restaurants (like La Condesa, 2nd, Taverna), and cutting edge music venues like ACL Live at Moody Theater.
Developed around the Seaholm Residences condo development, the Seaholm District is home to the Trader Joe’s, Boiler 9 gastropub, and plenty of offices and local shops. Plus, you’ll be close to plenty of other restaurants, bars, and shopping.
The Market District is located on 5th Street from Nueces Street to Lamar Blvd. and (as the name suggests) features plenty of shopping. Centered around the Whole Foods Market, there are plenty of local shops and restaurants to enjoy in this area. It also encompasses parts of the more popular West Sixth District.
West Sixth is where Austin’s elite go to cut loose. Known for trendy, upscale bars and restaurants this area is bustling on any weekend night with young professionals looking for a fun place to spend their dough. This part of town sits along 6th Street and runs from Guadalupe Street west towards Lamar.
5th Street District
While it mostly takes second place to the 6th Street District, 5th Street has its own offering of bars, live music venues, restaurants, hotels, and cultural offerings. It’s home to the Mexic-Arte Museum, Eddie V’s, Handlebar and is a common place for out-of-towners in Austin for conventions to hang out.
Centered around the Austin Convention Center, this part of downtown is the epicenter of conventions and expositions like SXSW, Austin Auto Show, Westlake High School Prom, and many other events. The ACC supports many businesses in the area, including coffee shops, bars, and more.
Located in the northeast section of Downtown Austin, the Medical District is the area that refers to the area around Dell Seton Medical Center, a cutting edge teaching hospital. It includes the UT School of Nursing, Dell Medical School Health Learning Building, Seton Family of Doctors Seton Institute, Austin Medical Education Building and the Clinical Education Center. By default, it also includes the Frank Erwin Center.
Old West Austin
This is the residential part of Downtown Austin that features a wide range of historic homes and neighborhoods. Running from Lamar Blvd. west towards Lake Austin, Old West Austin is dominated by homes, apartments, golf courses, and condos.
Waller Creek District
The Waller Creek District is a part of eastern downtown that lies between the popular area of 6th Street, the Red River Cultural District, and the Medical District. It follows the Waller Creek riverwalk that meanders northwest towards Waterloo Park. While it doesn’t have a particular draw, it is close to plenty of attractions and is home plenty of hotels and businesses.
Austin’s Arts District is a bit of a misnomer because the majority of the arts are reserved to the area closest to Congress Avenue. The rest of the so-called Arts Districts is a mix of local businesses, houses, restaurants, hotels, and more.
Uptown District (Northside)
Austin’s Uptown District is just that – north of Downtown. It doesn’t have a distinct style or draw. Instead it’s home to a plethora of local businesses, restaurants, hotels, and more.