Guide to downtown Austin
Local guide written by Brian Talley, realtor and the founder of Regent Property Group.
The Many Faces of Sixth St (East/West/Middle)
Sixth Street (formerly known as Pecan St) is one of the oldest and most notorious parts of Austin. Sixth has evolved over the years into three distinct regions, which each attract their own type of visitor.
When most people think of Sixth, they imagine something resembling Bourbon St. in New Orleans — this would be middle Sixth. Spanning from I-35 to somewhere between Congress and Lavaca, this part of downtown is known for it’s pub walk of over 50 bars, many of which have live music on a nightly basis.
West Sixth Street offers a more refined experience, and most of the establishments can be found between Guadalupe St and Lamar Blvd. This region is a favorite of professional and executive types who live in nearby West Austin. The area boasts some great dining spots as well as several bars with a laid back yet slightly upscale atmosphere.
East Sixth Street has been becoming more popular in recent years and has arguably become more popular than West Sixth. The plethora of new bars and restaurants east of the freeway tend to attract a younger, hipper crowd of inner- city Austinites and college students. The expansion of East Sixth has opened up the downtown music scene to a new generation of Austin musicians with a new string of venues beginning just a few blocks from I-35 and continuing well into the heart of East Austin.
For the discerning visitor, Downtown Austin offers a wide range of luxury hotels, fine dining, and social clubs. If you’re seeking lodging, downtown’s finest options include the historic Driskill Hotel and the newly built W Hotel.
Downtown’s fine dining options include a variety of steakhouses, and seafood restaurants as well as a few more adventurous options for the explorer in you.
Austin loves green spaces, and the downtown area is no exception. Although the area is peppered with mini-parks, most locals gravitate toward Auditorium Shores on the southwest shores of Lady Bird Lake and Pease Park, which begins at Lamar and 15th St. On any given day, these parks will be filled with joggers, hikers, cyclists, dog-walkers and picnic goers enjoying Austin’s beautiful sunny weather.
The Texas Capitol is a must see for anyone. Located at 11th and Congress Ave, the building has been an Austin landmark since 1881. The Capitol architecture is both formidable and uniquely Texan (at least from the inside). Guided tours are available most days, and visitors are free to explore via self-guided tours during business hours.
Austin also features several historic houses from the 19th and early 20th century. These building are maintained by Preservation Austin and are open to the general public for tours. The organization offers a smartphone app for self-guided tours with maps, descriptions, photos and audio commentary.
If a historic bed-and-breakfast is more your game, then the Mansion at Judges Hill might be just the thing. This historic house features 48 hotel-style rooms along with a full array of modern business amenities. The Mansion does frequently run out of vacancies, so be sure to book well in advance.
About the Author:
Brian Talley is an Austin Realtor® and the founder of Regent Property Group, a boutique real estate brokerage specializing in luxury homes on Lake Austin.