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Even though the origins of the Arboretum area of Northwest Austin date back to the 1960s, the neighborhood is still widely considered one of the “new” parts of the city. It’s a unique area to live with a balanced mixture of commercial development and residential among the rolling terrain, winding roads, and steep cliffs at the gateway to the Texas Hill Country and Lake Austin. Lush greenways, towering trees, and wide-open spaces add to the natural allure. The technical borders of the Arboretum neighborhood are the meandering Great Hills Trail to the north and west, North Capital of Texas Highway to the south, and US-183 Highway to the east, but in broader terms, it extends several miles to the north and west for more loosely interpreted designation. The Arboretum’s name, as a neighborhood, derives from the outdoor shopping center of the same name where numerous upscale retailers and restaurants serve both locals and visitors to the destination district. It’s also a short drive to the Domain, a sprawling, open-air, live-work-play development with tons of shopping and dining options beneath well-appointed apartment complexes.
And speaking of rental opportunities, apartments in the Arboretum neighborhood can be found mainly in older-but-updated complexes. Several newer communities have popped up in recent years, especially on the outskirts of the area reaching into the Hill Country where dynamic vistas have become one of the top amenities in addition to popular options such as resort-style pools, off-leash pet parks, and high-tech fitness centers. Prices here tend to be less expensive than closer to the city center. The Arboretum is home to several corporate offices and headquarters, making it a popular residential home base for thousands of professionals in a variety of industries, especially in the technology sector.
Even though the broader Arboretum neighborhood is fairly spread out, traffic has become more congested throughout Northwest Austin thanks to a great deal of new development, making cars and other motorized vehicles a veritable necessity. The area offers easy access to major freeways at the Arboretum’s edge (including North Capital of Texas Highway and US-183 Highway), but the neighborhood is also less than five minutes from MoPac (Loop 1), one of the city’s major transportation arteries. Express lanes and toll roads are convenient and often less traveled because of the additional cost to use. Most of the neighborhoods within the greater Arboretum area aren’t highly walkable, and even though bike lanes are readily available, they’re not as prevalent here as in other parts of Austin. Cycling is still an option for many people, particularly for those commuting to work locations or running errands within the immediate area.
Capital Metro offers bus service with multiple routes and stops throughout Northwest Austin, but at the center of the Arboretum area, just one stop is available. Only two fairly spread-out light rail lines exist in all of Northwest Austin currently, so buses will still typically be the best public transit option. Big-name rideshare services are also choices for those without cars (or anyone seeking a break from driving and finding a parking spot in more congested parts of town), but Austin has other rideshare providers, too, including one served by electric vehicles. The Arboretum also has convenient charging stations, a common sight throughout Austin because of the popularity of EVs in the city.
For farther-reaching travel for leisure or work, Austin-Bergstrom International Airport gives residents plenty of options and flexible schedules. With more than 350 nonstop flights to more than 70 destinations daily—both domestic and international—access to other parts of the nation and world is only a flight or two away. Another option for intrastate travel is a luxury bus service called Vonlane, which offers only first-class seating and beverage/food service from the bus version of a flight attendant.
While the perception may be that the Arboretum area is home to only chain restaurants (which is true to a large extent), many local favorites and smaller regional brands can be found for a little taste of Austin. A classic Mexican breakfast at Vazquez Restaurant makes a great start to any day; Juliet Italian Kitchen is a popular destination for pasta and hand-tossed pizza (as well as its takeout-delivery menu from on-site kitchen Benvolio’s); Hanara Sushi & Grill serves Japanese staples; Estancia Brazilian Steakhouse offers all-you-can meats served tableside along with a massive salad bar; The Kebab Shop specializes in Mediterranean options; Fire Bowl Café offers sizzling Asian dishes; Honest Mary’s deals in healthy bowls with numerous vegetarian and vegan options; Pizza Day delivers your favorite pies, calzones, and sandwiches; Snap Kitchen makes ready-to-eat meals for quick grab-and-go; family-owned Manuel’s focuses on coastal Mexican cuisine; and both Truluck’s Ocean’s Finest Seafood & Crab and Eddie V’s Prime Seafood bring fantastic special-occasion dining to the neighborhood. For sweets, there’s always Amy’s Ice Cream, as well as Bakery Lorraine, which also serves some excellent espresso drinks. Other fine java options can be found at Le Bleu Coffee and Teapioca Lounge, which specializes in boba tea drinks.
Bars are few and far between (other than ones located within larger restaurants), but Knotty Deck & Bar is a popular hotel bar and restaurant that locals visit, too. Cru Wine Bar offers a wide array of wines by the bottle and glass. And Austin Beerworks has a lively taproom on-site at its large brewery headquarters. For the home-bar hookup, Spec’s has everything you could ever need (or imagine) when it comes to booze.
And home cooks have numerous options as Arboretum grocery stores include Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, and a sprawling H-E-B Plus! with everything from food to apparel and electronics.
Pottery Barn, Chico’s, and Barnes & Noble are but a few of the big-name retailers that have outposts here and, for the most part, shopping in the Arboretum consists primarily of national or regional chains. That said, nearly everything you could want or need can be accessed quickly and conveniently within the neighborhood and nearby retail destination, The Domain.
Because of its abundance of natural beauty, outdoor activities are in high demand with Arboretum residents. Oakview Park, Balcones District Park, and Century Oaks Park are popular places to relax or take on an easy hiking trail. Balcones District Park even has a tranquil waterfall that takes away many of the stresses of city life after being in its presence for only a few moments. The Bull Creek District Park and Greenbelt offers the area’s most extensive trail system with beautiful views of the gentle flowing waters of Lower Bull Creek. Meanwhile, Great Hills Golf Club has one of Austin’s best courses, though membership prices can be steep for many people in the area.
Indoor options include multiple movie theaters, as well as plenty of fitness opportunities, including Life Time Fitness, 24 Hour Fitness, Orange Theory, Big Tex Gym, and Camp Gladiator.
The University of Texas has its J.J. Pickle Research Center in the area, making the Arboretum a popular area to live for students, faculty, and staff. Other colleges in the Northwest Austin area that make the Arboretum a desirable place to live include Concordia University, the largest educational institution in the area, the Galen College of Nursing, Strayer University, Austin Community College Northridge Campus, WGU Texas, and LeTourneau University.
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