As undeniably charming as Austin is, it’s difficult to get a feel for our town without jumping in a car. Like it or not, a vehicle is standard issue here in the heart of Texas. But while you can’t trek the entire city on foot, Austin boasts several neighborhood enclaves that are full of great restaurants, tree-lined parks and window shopping, all within leisurely walking distance.
This fall, as the the late afternoon light draws you outside and the evenings cool, park your car, grab your walking shoes and experience a few of these neighborhood gems for yourself.
#1 West Lynn and Lamar
The neighborhood around West Lynn and Lamar feels like it’s always bustling. Find a parking spot as close to Caffe Medici as you can (1101 W. Lynn St.), and start your morning with one of their amazing French press coffees and a Tacodeli taco.
Walk down to West Austin Park (1317 W. 10th St.) and, if you’ve brought your dog, let him run wild and free in the enclosed dog park while you enjoy your coffee. Afterwards, head east toward Lamar and 5th Street to check out the gorgeous Clarksville homes.
On Lamar, stroll through three floors of books at BookPeople (603 N. Lamar Blvd.) and discover your favorite Texas musicians at Waterloo Records (600A N. Lamar Blvd.). Grab an ice cream at Amy’s (1012 W. Sixth St.) before you head home and be sure to pay homage to the granddaddy of natural food stores, Whole Foods headquarters (600A N. Lamar Blvd.). Between their endless specialty products and walk-in beer cooler, you’ll see for yourself why it’s a not-to-miss destination.
An innovative master-planned development designed to encourage walkability, Mueller is a wonderful neighborhood where you can explore, shop and dine on foot. The abundance of green spaces in this neighborhood inspires long afternoons tossing a frisbee or walking on trails with friends until sunset.
Start your afternoon at one of the several parks that frame the development—I like Bartholomew Park (5201 Berkman Drive)—and then walk through the nearby retail zones exploring dozens of shops. Large local chains like Torchy’s (1801 E. 51st St.) are in abundance at Mueller, and several big box stores as well, but the real gem is the Mueller Farmers’ Market (4209 Airport Blvd.), with local food and live music hosted at Lake Park off Airport every Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
#3 West Campus
As someone who lives and walks around this neighborhood every day, I think West Campus gets a bad rap. Yes, there are frat houses and all the raucous student activity that comes with that, but you can walk to both Pease Park and amazing museums in under 15 minutes, not to mention food carts and amazing restaurants tucked away where you’d least expect them.
Park your car behind the Texas Women’s Federation (2312 San Gabriel St.) and stroll past the historic mansion on your way to Fresh Plus (2401 San Gabriel St.) to load up on snacks. Whether you like to stroll with a local kombucha or munch on an ice cream sandwich, this quirky, locally-owned grocery store has you covered.
Head west, passing Lamar, and enter Pease Park (1100 Kingsbury St.), one of our city’s largest parks, nestled smack in the middle of Austin. Catch the afternoon light filtering through the sprawling live oak trees as you make a loop through the park along Shoal Creek to the Clarksville entrance, where you can shoot hoops or hang out with the kids at the playscape.
Head back toward 24th Street and wind down on a stylish patio at Freedmen’s (2402 San Gabriel St.), where you can offset calories burned in the park with smoky BBQ and craft cocktails.
Editor’s Note: Freedmen’s is closing Aug. 31, 2018, at its West Campus location.
With the weather cooling down a bit, now is the perfect time to strap on your walking shoes, head outside and get to know Austin from a different perspective. All the fascinating, lovely details of this city you miss while driving by are in sharper focus when you slow down and go for a stroll.
@kristinmleigh wants to know:
What is your favorite walkable neighborhood in Austin?
We always have unique content on the Austinot, and we love to give things away. You know, like CDs, event tickets and other cool stuff. We only send out our Best of the Austinot newsletter two times/month. It’s where we give you a recap of our best articles and give stuff away. Interested? Subscribe to Best of the Austinot here!