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To experience one of the most exciting and diverse parts of Austin, you need to head south of the border. In this case, that boundary is the Colorado River—and the section of it known as Lady Bird Lake—which separates South Austin from bustling Downtown Austin and Central Austin. The South Austin area is roughly defined by MoPac Expressway (Texas 1 Loop) to the west, Interstate 35 to the east, and south almost to the town of Buda. The further south you travel, the more rural and green many sections appear, but neighborhoods closer to the river have the same vibrant energy of the city center. Plus, South Austin apartments come in many styles and price points. For many people, South Austin offers a glimpse into the city’s past when it hadn’t yet exploded in population and corporate relocation. The most popular neighborhoods in the region include the South Congress area (known locally as SoCo), South Lamar, Barton Hills, and Zilker, but other beloved areas include West Congress, East Congress, Garrison Park, South Manchaca, Brodie Springs, Southpark Meadows, Southwest Gate, and Slaughter Creek. Because of the vastness of the South Austin region, renters can choose from every type of rental housing option available, whether it’s an apartment in a smaller building such as a duplex, a limited-unit apartment or townhome structure, a high-rise or mid-rise, or an apartment among hundreds of other units in one of Austin’s famously huge apartment communities. In all instances, you’ll find both older and brand-new construction with prices that typically rise the more recently a place was built and the more amenities it offers, such as resort-style pools, dog parks, on-site food and beverage outlets, and state-of-the-art fitness facilities.

Like those in the rest of the city, South Austin residents often place a high priority on outdoor activities, and this region has many, including Zilker Park (one of the city’s largest), Butler Metro Park, and Arboretum Shores with great views of the Colorado River and Downtown skyline, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, and Mary Moore Searight Metropolitan Park each with their own cardio combinations of walking, jogging, hiking, cycling, canoeing, kayaking, or standup paddleboarding. There are also plenty of restaurants in South Austin, as well as bars, coffee shops, live music venues, and numerous shopping and entertainment options.

Getting Around

Getting Around

The most common (and practical) way to travel around South Austin is by car, truck, or motorcycle—pretty much anything with an engine. Though less convenient and more uncomfortable while waiting outside in the hot summer months, Austin public transportation makes getting around the immediate South Austin/Downtown Austin area easy enough if you don’t have access to your own vehicle.

Capital Metro offers several bus routes in addition to newer MetroRapid and limited MetroRail services that connect South Austin residents with other parts of the city, too. It’s 32 miles long, but currently only has nine stops along the single line. Cycling is more popular here than in almost any US city (especially in Texas), and many parts of South Austin are very simple to navigate on a bike, whether it’s your own or one rented by the hour from numerous bikeshare stations throughout the region. In addition to nationally known rideshare services, Austin has other rideshare alternatives, including one with a fleet of electric cars. Plus, Austin has charging stations all over town due to a large concentration of BEVs and EVs.

When it’s time to get out of Austin, the city is served by the well-appointed, easy-to-navigate Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, which offers an average of 350 daily nonstop flights to more than 70 domestic and international destinations. For travel within the state to major cities, Vonlane (a luxury bus service with first-class seating and on-board bus attendant offering food and beverage service) has a pickup/drop-off point in Downtown Austin that gets people between Austin and San Antonio, Houston, or Dallas with ease.

Food & Drink

Visiting South Austin makes for some tough food-related decisions, but the benefit of being a full-time resident is the perk of working through the long list of incredible culinary options in this expansive part of the city. In the South Congress (SoCo) neighborhood, popular spots often attract crowds and lines down the block, whether it’s Tex-Mex at Guero’s or their outdoor live music space, Guero’s Taco Bar, burgers at Joann’s Fine Foods, pizza at Home Slice, a quick breakfast at Little Brother Coffee & Kolaches, breakfast tacos at Jo’s, nutritious meals at Two Hands, or sweet treats at either Amy’s Ice Cream or Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams. In other parts of South Austin, dining spots worth seeking out are often food trucks (including Spicy Boys Fried Chicken, LeRoy and Lewis Barbecue and Tommy Want Wingy), modern fare at Odd Duck, tacos at Maria’s Taco Xpress, Italian favorites at ARTIPASTA, and plenty of decadence at Lick Honest Ice Creams.

Nightlife is a huge part of the South Austin experience, and you’ll find everything from hole-in-the-wall dives to hipster-friendly cocktail lounges. Lustre Pearl South shakes up some crafty concoctions (and features a trio of food trucks to balance out the booze). Check out Saxon Pub and South Austin Beer Garden for cold brews and music and The Little Darlin’ for frozen drinks. Get a dose of 1960s-retro flair at Casino South Side. Also worth a stop: the two-story Armadillo Den and Moontower Saloon, a lively spot with a massive outdoor space that’s enjoyable year-round.

South Austin is also a place where you can go directly to the source of alcoholic creation. The Yard, a mixed-use development in a former industrial complex, is home to several spots, including Austin Winery (the city’s only urban winery), Still Austin Distillery, St. Elmo Brewing Co., Blue Norther Hard Seltzer, Texas Sake Company, and Austin Cocktails, makers of full-strength, real-spirit, canned craft cocktails. Other brewery options in South Austin include Meanwhile Brewing, Thirsty Planet Brewing Company, and (512) Brewing Company. For a buzz from caffeine, South Austin has you well-covered—and then some. Radio Coffee and Beer, Summer Moon Coffee Trailer, The Spokesman (also at The Yard), and Captain Quackenbush’s Coffeehouse are all excellent options.

Shopping

The SoCo neighborhood features several local stores and boutiques, including Allens Boots for genuinely iconic Texas footwear. Procure folk art and other décor at Tesoros Trading Company, mere steps away. Grab a good read at South Congress Books, some new headwear at the Trovador custom hat shop, or some apparel from yesteryear at Feathers Vintage. The Yeti flagship store is also in the area and a must-visit for fans of their insulated drinkware and other products. Over on South First Street, discover more vintage stores, jewelry, and apparel shops. Be sure to make a pilgrimage to End of An Ear, an old-school record shop. Pop-up shopping festivals packed with local purveyors and artisans can be found throughout South Austin, with First Thursdays in SoCo one of the biggest and most popular. Southpark Meadows is a good stop for mall shoppers. And for groceries in South Austin, residents have tons of options, including H-E-B, Sprouts Farmers Market, Central Market, Randalls, and smaller operations such as SoCo’s Tiny Grocer and Wheatsville Food Co-Op.

Things to Do

Live bands may be a staple of many Downtown Austin restaurants and bars, but South Austin most definitely gives that area a run for its musical money. The Far Out Lounge & Stage is both a food truck park and a multiple-stage venue for live music spreading out over three acres. Broken Spoke has been a honky-tonk mainstay since 1964, and in addition to hearing great tunes, you can also take Texas two-stepping lessons to boot-scoot on any dance floor in town. Continental Club, one of the oldest establishments in the area dating back to 1955, has been everything from a burlesque club to a supper club, but now it’s a laidback spot for drinks that hosts the best local acts ready to burst onto the national stage. And C-Boy’s Heart & Soul is a juke joint with a nice patio, chill indoor cocktail lounge, and numerous options to catch a live music act.

For live theatrical productions and other performances, ZACH Theatre and The Long Center for Performing Arts are go-tos, while Austin Art Garage, the Art for People Gallery, TexPop ATX, and Umlauf Sculpture Garden & Museum are superb venues for exploring visual media across multiple disciplines.

Outdoor options include Zilker Park, the Zilker Botanical Garden, Barton Springs Pool, William H. Russel Karst Preserve, Bauerle Ranch Park, the Barton Creek Greenbelt, Mary Moore Searight Metropolitan Park, the Stephenson Nature Preserve, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, and its across-the-road neighbor, Veloway Park, a three-mile path devoted exclusively to cyclists and skateboarders.

Colleges & Universities

South Austin is home to several colleges and universities, including St. Edwards University, Austin Community College: South Austin Campus, US American College of Business and Healthcare, and the Ann Richards School for Young Business Leaders. The northern neighborhoods of South Austin are also less than 15 minutes from the main University of Texas at Austin campus, making South Austin a highly desirable place to set up residence for students at any of these institutes of higher learning.

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