Picking Great Austin Vacation Rentals

Whether you’re in Austin for work or play, a vacation rental offers comfort, privacy and convenience during your stay. Austin vacation rentals come in all shapes and sizes with varying amenities to help you put together the best trip possible. Before you book your stay, check out these tips on finding the ideal Austin vacation rental.

Choose the Right Austin Neighborhood

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Austin is separated into dozens of neighborhoods, and each one has a unique personality and different things to offer. When looking for Austin vacation rentals, learn about the neighborhoods and select the one that suits your family, has the vibe you’re looking for or offers the type of experience you want on your trip. Hyde Park is one of the more popular neighborhoods for families or people looking for a quiet, laid-back vacation. It’s filled with picturesque historic homes, charming coffee shops and markets, and there are fewer crowds. On the flip side, South Congress has a bigger nightlife and trendier scene and is filled with young, artsy crowds and is a bit more upbeat.

Consider Local, Austin Attractions

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If you’re in Austin on vacation, you’ve likely narrowed down a few attractions that you want to see while you’re in town. Choosing a vacation rental that’s near Zilker Park means that you can wake up in the morning to go for a jog and enjoy the beautiful views or kayak out in the waterways in the afternoons. Renting a vacation condo Downtown means you’re right in the center of the action and just a short walk from many of the more popular restaurants and clubs in the city. Determine where you plan to spend most of your time, and select a vacation rental that offers a short commute.

Think About the Type of Texas Rental You Want

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Austin vacation rentals offer comfort and convenience for any size party. If you’re in Austin with a large group and plan to cook meals rather than eat out, renting a large home with a kitchen is ideal. You can enjoy family-style meals around the table. Have fun with it and take turns as chef each night, or plan theme nights. Some even have swimming pools and other luxury amenities to enhance your vacation time. However, if you’re in Austin to experience the local barbecue, two-step the night away in a dance hall or just spend most of the time exploring the city, a smaller vacation loft rental or studio provides a comfortable space that may make more sense.

Get Around Austin Easily

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The last thing to consider when selecting an Austin vacation rental is how you’re getting around town. If you have access to your own vehicle, your options are wide open because you have the freedom to go anywhere at any time. Otherwise, opt for a rental that’s within walking distance of the places you need to go or right on the MetroBus line so that it’s easier to move around town.

Find Vacation Rentals Here During Austin’s SXSW

Since 1987, Austin has attracted thousands of people to the arts, culture and music festival and conference known as South by Southwest (SXSW). There are many vacation rentals in and around the city that allow you to get the full Austin experience during the 10-day event. Whether you want to be right in the center of the action or are looking for a quiet retreat at the end of the day, Austin’s neighborhoods offer a little something for everyone, along with their vacation rental homes. Check out the five best areas to stay during Austin SXSW.

Where to Stay for South By SouthWest Conferences & Festivals

  1. Clarksville

    Filled with historic homes and small mom-and-pop shops, Clarksville offers a small-town vibe right in the big city. Renting a vacation home in Clarksville for SXSW means you’ll be able to get around by walking to some attractions and have easy access to public transportation. You’ll never be too far from the action. However, when you’re ready to retreat from all of the excitement, Clarksville offers an array of small shops, unique restaurants and quiet spots to relax in.


  2. East Downtown

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    East Downtown is the artsy sibling of Downtown Austin. It has a grittier edge and is a bit less crowded. East Austin has tree-lined streets that make a beautiful backdrop for an evening stroll. If you’re hungry, you can grab a bite to eat at the numerous food trucks situated around the neighborhood. If shopping is your thing, one-of-a-kind boutiques, jewelry stores and galleries abound. This area of Austin offers a mix of studios in historic buildings and new condos, giving you options for your stay during SXSW Austin.


  3. Dawson

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    Dawson is situated near South Congress, which is close to nightlife and other fun activities. However, it’s just far enough away for peace, quiet and relaxation. Dawson is a residential neighborhood with lots of friendly and close-knit neighbors. There are plenty of small restaurants, bars and shops to keep you entertained, but it’s also close to Highway 71 so it’s easy to hop in the rental car or catch a bus to head into the city.


  4. South Lamar

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    South Lamar is the neighborhood for people heading to SXSW on a budget. This area has cheap eateries, thrift stores and dive bars that offer a true Austin experience without the large price tag. While this neighborhood tends to be quieter after the sun goes down, you can still find plenty to do at night if that’s what you’re into. Additionally, South Lamar has an abundance of outdoor areas for enjoying Austin in the spring — free of charge.


  5. Hyde Park

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    Hyde Park is a historic neighborhood in Austin filled with turn-of-the-century homes and tree-lined streets. Renovated homes and new construction maintain the integrity of the neighborhood and pay homage to generations past. There are plenty of places within walking distance, and it’s right on the MetroBus line if you need to go farther into the city. In addition to historic homes, Hyde Park has a mixture of duplexes, cozy bungalows and apartments throughout the neighborhood for those looking for comfortable SXSW vacation rentals.

11 Exciting Things To Do In Austin, Texas

You’ve booked your vacation rental home in Austin and you’re ready to see the sights. While you’re in town, stop in to see some of these tourist attractions and local favorites. These things to do when visiting Austin will help you get a taste of the city’s flair and flavor.

11 things to do in Austin for a great Texas vacation

  1. Swim in Barton Springs Pool

    Barton Springs Pool is a year-round swimming hole that residents and visitors love. The three-acre lake has an average natural temperature of 70 degrees. It’s been a favorite spot for generations, and Native Americans once believed that the warm waters held healing powers. So, when summer temperatures soar in the city, the locals head to Zilker Metropolitan Park for a dip in Barton Springs Pool. The water in this spring-fed lake stays a brisk 68 degrees Fahrenheit, so you can quickly cool off on a hot summer afternoon. There’s also an educational exhibit where you can learn more about the three-acre lake and its history in the area. If you don’t want to take a dip in the pool, explore the rest of the park. Dig for fossils. Relax in the botanical garden. Enjoy outdoor art in the sculpture garden.

  2. See Austin’s Bats off Ann Richards Congress Avenue Bridge

    CC BY-SA 2.0/Steve/Flickr

    Every summer, Mexican free-tailed bats fly into Austin and make their home under the Ann Richards Congress Avenue Bridge. With between 750,000 and one million bats, they make up the largest urban bat colony on the North American continent. They also create one of Austin’s most popular attractions when they leave their nests each evening in search of food. You can watch the natural show from the bridge, but check out Austin kayak rentals to get some of the best views from the river.

  3. Watch a Film at Alamo Drafthouse

    Alamo Drafthouse offers a unique film experience along with drinks and high-quality food. It’s a local institution and has been one of the top things to do in Austin, Texas, for over two decades.

  4. Picnic at Zilker Metropolitan Park

    Spreading out over 351 acres, Zilker Metropolitan Park is one of Austin’s top attractions and a nice place to have a picnic. During the week you’ll find better parking and fewer crowds. After your picnic, stroll on the trails, canoe on the waterways or play a game on one of the many athletic fields before returning to your vacation rental.

  5. Listen to Live Music on Sixth Street

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    Check out Sixth Street and discover why Austin has been named “Live Music Capital of the World.” The stretch of Sixth Street between Congress and Interstate 35 contains an assortment of shops, restaurants and bars with local flair. On Friday and Saturday nights, this area is open to pedestrian traffic only, so you can stroll between the venues. Stop at a rooftop bar for a bird’s-eye view of the city, listen to local bands perform or experience Austin’s longest-running show, Esther’s Follies.

  6. Eat Austin’s best at Franklin Barbecue

    Franklin Barbecue is one of the most popular restaurants in the city, as evidenced by the line that forms around the block starting at 6:30 a.m. Don’t wait until you’re starving to head over. The wait can sometimes last four hours.

  7. Check Out the LBJ Library and Museum

    The LBJ Library and Museum has hundreds of interesting exhibits and artifacts, offering a glimpse into American history during Lyndon B. Johnson’s presidency. The library underwent renovations in 2012, giving this attraction new life.

  8. Take a Tour of the State Capitol

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    Everything is bigger in Texas, including the state capitol, which stands 14 feet higher than the nation’s capitol building. The large pink granite building maintains much of the same look and feel of the original construction and offers a glimpse into Texas history. It’s also a great place to beat the afternoon heat. Here you can take a guided or self-paced tour through the building and learn more about local and state history. The grounds around the building are just as spectacular, featuring historical buildings and landscaping that make excellent backdrops for photos or picnics.

  9. Line Dance at the Broken Spoke

    Established in 1964, the Broken Spoke is the last Texas dance hall of its kind. Listen to live music, line dance with the crowd or take a dance lesson and learn to two-step with the best of them.

  10. Enjoy the View from the University of Texas Tower

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    There are some spectacular views of Austin all around the city, but none compare to the view from the top of the University of Texas Tower. Enjoy guided or self-guided tours that go all the way up to the observation deck, where you get a panoramic view of the campus, the capitol and the entire city.

  11. Blanton Museum of Art

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    There’s more to the Austin art scene than music. The Blanton Museum of Art on the University of Texas’ campus is home to more than 17,000 works of art that range from Renaissance master works to contemporary American art. If you love art, find time in your schedule to explore the museum’s three galleries and rotating exhibits. If you’re in town during the summer, check out the museum’s programs for children and bring the entire family along to appreciate some culture.

Choosing the Best Austin Vacation Rental

Whether it’s a weekend getaway with your friends or the annual family holiday, vacationing in Austin is a memorable experience. One of the most important decisions you make as you plan your visit is where you’re going to stay. You have plenty of Austin vacation rentals to choose from within the city’s different neighborhoods, and these tips can help you pick the best one for yourself and your companions.

10 Tips to Pick the Perfect Vacation Rental in Austin

  1. Choose a Convenient Location

    You’re going on vacation to have some fun and relax, so make the most of your time by choosing a vacation rental located near the attractions and activities that you put on your itinerary. Covering nearly 300 square miles, Austin is smaller than Manhattan, but it has a reputation for congested roads, especially in the morning and early evening. If possible, pick a vacation rental that’s within walking distance, or at least a short car ride away.

  2. Know the Lingo

    As you read descriptions of properties, avoid making assumptions about what vague terms like “city view,” “kid-friendly” and “near” mean. For example, a room with a “city view” may look out over part of a city neighborhood instead of offering panoramic views of the skyline. “Kid-friendly” may refer to the fact that children are permitted on the premises or indicate that the property has safety gates, cabinet locks or a playground. However, the most important term to clarify is “near.” Don’t take a chance with distance. Check a map to see how far the property is from points of interest and ask about the types of shopping and dining that are close to the vacation rental. Nearby shopping is convenient, but only if the stores offer items you want or need.

  3. Have a Plan to Get Around

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    Austin has several public transportation options, including a bus system and light rail. MetroBus offers convenient local routes in neighborhoods along with flyer and crosstown routes with limited stops so you can get to your destination quicker. The CapMetro rail runs north and south through the city, stopping at popular shopping and entertainment spots along the way. If you want to skip the traffic and take advantage of the public transportation system, look for a vacation rental near one of the routes or lines. Check the metro website for routes, stop times and details about purchasing a pass.

  4. Look for Amenities You Want

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    Your vacation rental is your home away from home, a place where you can refresh and regroup after a day of sightseeing. Small details like a stocked kitchen, a bathtub or a plush sofa can make your stay more comfortable. A walk-in shower may be fine for you, but a bathtub can be more handy for bathing the children. Skip properties that lack full kitchens if you want to cook your own meals instead of eating out during your stay. Other amenities to consider are a swimming pool and air conditioning if your plans bring you to Austin in the summer.

  5. Consider All Available Accommodations

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    Austin has a variety of accommodations for visitors, including national chain and boutique hotels, bed and breakfast establishments and Austin vacation home rentals. Staying in a bed and breakfast or a private residence in a neighborhood gives you a glimpse at everyday Austin.

  6. Make Sure It’s Kid-Friendly

    Choosing a vacation rental that meets your needs is even more important when you’re bringing the entire family. When you see a rental with a swimming pool, you may immediately imagine how refreshing it’ll feel to cool off in the afternoon. However, you should also find out how close the pool is to the unit and make sure there’s a security fence to keep out unsupervised children. If you’re considering a two-story unit, ask if there’s a gate at the top or bottom of the stairs to reduce the chance of a fall. Look for details like the color scheme inside the unit and whether it has a washer and dryer.

  7. Inspect the Pictures

    Unless you live close enough to Austin that you can inspect potential vacation rentals in person, you have to rely on pictures to get a feel for each place. The pictures show you the layout of the unit, the type of furniture it has and the neighborhood it’s in. They also help you decide what to bring with you. For example, if the vacation rental has a walk-in shower without a bathtub, you can leave your bath pillow at home because you know you won’t be able to use it. Likewise, if you see a plush sofa with a big screen television in the living room, you can plan to spend a night or two relaxing with a movie.

  8. Get Enough Space

    Chances are that, while you’re on vacation, you’re going to spend more time exploring the city than hanging out at your home away from home. You still need to make sure you have enough room to move around, though. See to it that there are enough beds available for everyone who’s going with you. Look for a unit that has room to store baby or pet equipment that you bring along. If possible, choose a vacation rental home that has more than one bathroom if you’re not going to be the only person staying there.

  9. Ask About Pets

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    With a large selection of restaurants, public parks and stores that welcome dogs along with their owners, Austin is one of the most dog-friendly cities in the United States. That doesn’t mean your vacation rental has the same policy for four-legged family members. If your family vacation is incomplete without your dog or cat, look for a pet-friendly rental. Check the rental policy to make sure your pet falls within the size requirement, and ask about details like where you can walk with your furry friend.

  10. Set a Budget and Stick to It

    Establishing a price range for your Austin vacation rental has two distinct advantages. First, it helps you narrow your choices by excluding units that don’t fit within your budget. Even more important, budgeting for your vacation makes it more enjoyable because you know you can afford to pay for it. Sticking with the budget also helps you be more deliberate in your choices as you decide where you want to spend the vacation money.

6 Austin Vacation Rental Ideas

Sure, there are plenty of hotels to stay in in Austin for your vacation, but a vacation rental home lets you experience the city and its culture in a way that a hotel cannot. Instead of heading to the hotel lobby for continental breakfast, you can walk out the front door and down the street to a diner that’s been serving up breakfast to locals for decades. Vacation rentals in Austin, TX come in all shapes and sizes to accommodate all types of groups and vacations.

Whether you’re looking for a quiet house to enjoy a family vacation or a small studio to rest your head after a night out dancing, there are accommodations for everyone. Check out these Austin vacation rental ideas to help you plan your next trip.

Bungalow in South Congress

Small and cozy bungalows are a charming way to experience the lively personality of Southern Congress — more commonly known as SoCo. This neighborhood is one of the most popular in Austin for visitors and locals alike. It’s known for its vibrant boutiques and shops, live music and unique food options. While South Congress Avenue itself is full of life and excitement, the streets surrounding it are quieter. A vacation rental bungalow on one of these quiet streets puts you close to the action but offers a quiet haven just a short walk away. An intimate bungalow is a great place to enjoy your Austin vacation with friends or family.

House in Hyde Park

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The historic homes in Hyde Park are well maintained and have perfectly manicured lawns, making them the ideal backdrop for all of your Austin vacation Instagram photos. Many houses in this area have the Texas Historical Plaques to cement their place in Austin’s deep history. The quiet neighborhood on the north side of Austin is ideal for families with children or people looking for a quiet vacation. With porches, patios and other outdoor spaces, you can enjoy evenings outside without having to leave the refuge of the house. There are several cafes, shops, diners and bakeries in walking distance from most Hyde Park homes. If you don’t have access to a car during your vacation, Hyde Park has several MetroBus stops throughout the neighborhood.

Apartment in Zilker

Wilker Park Wikimedia Commons

Zilker is another bustling neighborhood in Austin that is home to families and singles alike. The neighborhood is named after its largest attraction — Zilker Park — which is where you might like to spend time relaxing. The park offers 351 acres of land, trails and water for running, biking, swimming, kayaking and any other outdoor activities you enjoy. It’s also close to restaurants, nightclubs, bars and music venues for nighttime entertainment. A vacation apartment in Zilker is an affordable way to stay in one of the most popular spots in town. You might even get to catch a view of Austin’s skyline over the water from your window.

Townhouse in Clarksville

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Clarksville is a quiet neighborhood located close to downtown, giving residents and visitors the best of both worlds. The historic homes have been protected from the growth and development seen in other areas, but it’s still close enough to downtown to feel like you’re a part of the action. A townhouse in Clarksville is a nice spot for a girls’ weekend or family vacation. The quirky neighborhood welcomes all. Nau’s Enfield Drug has been a community staple for decades and is a must-stop destination for milkshakes during your visit. At night, head over to the world-famous Sixth Street to listen to some of the local music. All is within walking distance of a townhouse vacation rental where you can rest after a day of excitement.

Condo in East Downtown

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East Downtown is the artsy and colorful side of town. This area has a long history. Many of the older bungalows where people used to live have been refurbished into shops, salons and other businesses. New condos in East Downtown provide comfortable digs for your stay. The streets are lined with galleries and shops at which you can find vibrant arts and crafts from local artists. Used bookstores, boutiques and thrift shops are the places to find rare gems from generations past. Get your fill of local cuisine and refreshments at the restaurants, bars and food trucks that have set up shop in East Downtown. All are just a short walk from an East Downtown vacation condo.

Apartment or Condo in South Lamar

An apartment in South Lamar is a great way to stay and play in Austin on a budget. Located right along the Barton Creek Greenbelt, South Lamar has vast outdoor spaces in which you can enjoy the beauty of Austin free of charge. The neighborhood also has several local restaurants and hole-in-the-wall bars offering food and drinks at non-tourist prices. Vacation apartments and condos in South Lamar keep you close to this laid-back neighborhood with its Southern hospitality but put you within walking distance of some of the other lively scenes in Austin.

Why We Launched VacationRenter

VacationRenter Product

At Wilbur Labs, the SF-based startup studio behind VacationRenter, we have quarterly company offsites where we book a vacation rental to work for a few days in a different city. This should be a relatively easy process, but every time we search for a rental, it takes hours of planning and work. We find ourselves scrolling through pages of search results and jumping from site to site, trying to find the ideal place for the best price.

While doing searches, we kept noticing the results were not tailored to our specific needs. There was no way to verify that we were actually getting the best deal after booking a rental. As a result, we spent a lot of time thinking about how large this opportunity was in terms of the number of vacation renters and property owners who would be impacted if we could make the process easier, especially in light of the scale and complexity of working with multiple inventory sources.

Our startup studio model is to identify pain points we can remedy with automation and AI. Our own experience as customers led to the realization that the vacation rental space had the kind of problems we could fix.

No one had yet come up with a way to truly personalize vacation rental search results. We wanted to change that so that it would be easy to find the right rental.

Why Launch a New Company?
At Wilbur Labs, we use automation to solve big problems. When evaluating potential ideas, we decide to move forward if we have an entirely new concept, or an idea that can improve a current industry by 10x.  We knew we could make the search for a vacation rental at least 10x better. That’s why we launched VacationRenter.

The last thing we wanted to do was offer another website cluttered with vacation rental listings, or a meta search product with poor user experience. 

Rather than add to the noise and confusion of all the search results for vacation rentals, we use automation and AI to personalize the many search results that already exist based upon real time signals regarding consumer intent. We built VacationRenter from the ground up to be frictionless across all devices.

We listened closely to feedback from our users and incorporated it as we refined VacationRenter’s user experience. Two months after our soft launch, we completely rebuilt the UX based on testing and user feedback. We push updates to production an average of four times per week.  The result of this iterative process has been extremely rapid improvement and compelling sales growth. 

The Company Today
We have reached a $100 million annual booking run-rate in a very short time during this soft launch. To the best of our knowledge, this is the fastest growth of anyone in this space. This tells us that a lot of people want a better search experience, and that VacationRenter is the solution they have been looking for. With the $3 million investment behind VacationRenter, we will build on what we’ve already accomplished, and accelerate this impressive growth.

Check out our announcement for more details about our launch.

We’re hiring to grow the VacationRenter team. View current openings here: https://www.wilburlabs.com/careers

As we continue to scale up and develop a better rental search experience, we’ll leverage our funding to invest in new integrations, enhance our automation, and expand our reach.

We’re proud to offer a far better search experience for people looking for the perfect rental at the best price. And we’re going to continue to make it better.

Where to Stay in Austin: A Neighborhood Travel Guide

Situated on the edge of Texas Hill Country in the heart of the state, Austin is more than a state capital or sleepy college town. The city is steeped in the history of the Lone Star State and home to a vibrant arts scene that attracts visitors from all over the country. There’s plenty to do here on vacation, from checking out live music in local bars and legendary clubs to sampling delicacies from food trucks and taking in the wide range of classic and contemporary art. When deciding where to stay in Austin, think about how you plan to spend your time and what you want to see while on vacation. Each neighborhood has its own distinct ambience and local landmarks, and choosing a vacation rental in one of these spots can help you get better acquainted with the area’s culture.

Here are the 6 best neighborhoods of Austin

  1. Downtown

    If you want to stay in the middle of the action, close to shopping, dining and entertainment, look for hotels in downtown Austin, TX. The center of the city is all business during the day and a nightlife hotspot after the sun goes down. Here you find an assortment of accommodations, including historic hotels that date back as far as the late 1800s and towering urban and local boutique hotels. From your hotel, you can walk to the State Capitol, stroll through shops in the Warehouse District and head over to Sixth Street for an evening filled with cocktails and live music. Downtown’s convenient location and compact size make it a popular spot with vacationers, and you can use it as a starting point for your adventures in Austin.

  2. SoCo

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    Travel south from downtown on Congress Avenue and you arrive in SoCo, where you get to see firsthand why Austin’s unofficial city motto is “Keep Austin Weird.” This trendy neighborhood has a distinct, quirky vibe that attracts locals and tourists who enjoy its shops, restaurants and galleries. While staying in a private residence or local boutique hotel, head out for the day to sample local fare from food trucks that serve everything from tacos to cupcakes, listen to music at the legendary Continental Club and take photos with murals painted on walls all over the area for custom souvenirs of your vacation. This neighborhood is also home to the famed bat colony under the Ann Richards Congress Avenue Bridge. Stop to watch them fly out as the sun sets before you head out for the night. You can also walk to downtown in less than an hour or take a 10-minute cab ride to the city’s center.

  3. Barton Hills

    If you prefer quiet green spaces, consider Barton Hills, a neighborhood southwest of downtown. This primarily residential area includes several access points to Austin’s Barton Creek Greenbelt, with almost 13 miles of trails along with swimming holes and rock-climbing opportunities. Zilker Park, a picturesque urban park that’s home to the Austin City Limits music festival, is to the north. There are plenty of private residences available for short-term vacation rentals here, so bring the family and spend some time discovering why Austin is popular with nature enthusiasts.

  4. University of Texas

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    The streets near the University of Texas just north of downtown have a variety of restaurants, shops and entertainment geared toward college students. At the heart of the area is Guadalupe Street, which bustles with activity 24 hours a day. Several bus lines service the area, so you can rely on public transportation to get around town and explore landmarks and attractions like the LBJ Presidential Library. Stay in one of the chain hotels that cater to university and business guests, or experience the charm of nearby neighborhoods in a boutique hotel or bed and breakfast in Hyde Park, where historic Victorian-style homes line the tree-shaded streets.

  5. The Domain

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    Located less than 30 minutes to the north of downtown, The Domain is one of Austin’s most rapidly growing areas for residents and businesses. Built in 2007, this mixed-use retail-and-residential area contains fine dining and prestigious department stores as well as boutiques and an assortment of entertainment options for the entire family. The area has its own bowling alley, movie theater and spas where you can completely relax and enjoy your time during your vacation. Austin Domain hotels include several national chain hotels located conveniently near the interstate for easy access to the greater Austin area.

  6. East Austin

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    Just two miles away from downtown and east of Interstate 35, East Austin is an up-and-coming neighborhood with an artistic vibe. It’s a diverse community and one of the oldest sections of Austin, a place where you see buildings adorned with murals, hole-in-the-wall bars featuring live local music and some of the most celebrated Mexican food in town. Accommodations range from national chain hotels near the highway to trendy boutique hotels and private apartments that let you feel like a local while you’re on vacation.