Austin, TX Neighborhood guides

A Renter’s Guide to Barton Hills, Austin: The Perfect Mix of the Big City Life and the Great Outdoors

Barton Hills Austin

A centrally located neighborhood with unparalleled access to green space, Barton Hills, Austin, is the place to be if you want to get outdoors and enjoy the big city life. 

Located just south of downtown across Lady Bird Lake, this vibrant neighborhood puts you just outside the city center and inside an energetic and eclectic community with quiet streets and plenty to do.

Where is Barton Hills, Austin?

Barton Hills is a long, narrow neighborhood that stretches about 4 miles south from Zilker Park. The community is bounded by Capital of Texas Highway to the south, Barton Springs Road to the north (with Zilker Park just beyond), the Zilker neighborhood to the east and MoPac Expressway to the west. 

Barton Hills Austin

The area encompasses Barton Springs Pool and parts of the Barton Creek Greenbelt, with its hiking and biking trails. Just north of the neighborhood is Zilker Park, which includes the Zilker Park Botanical Garden and major events like the annual Kite Fest and Austin City Limits.

History

The Barton Hills, Austin, neighborhood has been owned by some of the most famous names in the Austin landscape. 

In the 1830s, William “Uncle Billy” Barton bought a large tract of land in what is now South Austin. The land included four natural springs, which he named for his three daughters — Parthenia, Eliza and Zenobia. Today, we call them Barton Springs. 

 

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The land and springs changed hands several times until self-made millionaire Andrew Zilker snapped them up in 1901. Zilker eventually sold the property to the City of Austin and required that it become public parkland. Now, that land is Zilker Park.

Developers broke ground on the residential part of the neighborhood in the 1940s. At that point, the area was considered a suburb and included mostly single-family homes. Austin’s 1956 Parade of Homes featured it as the “world’s largest air-conditioned subdivision.”

In more recent years, apartment complexes have been popping up in the area. With so much greenery nearby, these units often feature park views. Their proximity to downtown makes the apartments highly desirable in the Austin area!

Living in Barton Hills, Austin

Barton Hills is an ideal blend of outdoor relaxation and city nightlife. It has plenty to do for both professionals and young families!

What to Do

If you’re looking for outdoor space, this is the perfect neighborhood for you. With the Barton Creek Greenbelt winding through the area, you can have hiking trails in your backyard — literally! 

On a hot day, residents in the northern part of the neighborhood can walk up to Barton Springs Pool to enjoy a dip. The spring-fed pool is a brisk 68-degrees year-round. 

 

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Just north of the neighborhood, you’ll find Zilker Park, the 350-acre park at the heart of Austin. Inside the park is the Zilker Park Botanical Garden, featuring a peaceful Japanese garden, a dinosaur exhibit, a butterfly garden and more. The park is also home to the Umlauf Sculpture Garden, which displays the works of Austinite Charles Umlauf. 

 

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And of course, being so near Zilker Park puts many residents within walking distance of Austin City Limits, one of Texas’ most popular music festivals. 

Barton Hills, Austin, is also near Lamar Union Plaza on South Lamar, which contains a spa, salon and Alamo Drafthouse Cinema for those days when it’s too hot to stay outside.

Where to Eat & Drink

South Lamar is a major thoroughfare in Austin, and it’s lined with plenty of beloved restaurants and bars.

 

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Visit Matt’s El Rancho for classic Tex-Mex. This famous spot has been serving enchiladas and margaritas to the locals since the 1950s. Or for something more modern, try Gourdough’s Public House just across the street. This food truck-turned-restaurant is devoted to donuts. They serve sandwiches and burgers, but they come on savory donuts instead of buns. 

 

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A bit further down South Lamar, get a hot pie and cold craft beer from Pinthouse Pizza. Their Electric Jellyfish IPA is a local favorite. 

 

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And when the sushi craving hits, head back toward downtown to visit Uchi. This award-winning sushi and Japanese restaurant is helmed by James Beard-winning chef Tyson Cole and is one of Austin’s best.

Moving to Barton Hills, Austin

Real estate snapshot

Since Barton Hills is one of the greenest neighborhoods in Austin. you’re likely to find plenty of apartments with nature views. 

 

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Wherever you’ll live here, you’ll be close to shops, restaurants and cultural hotspots, while the locals praise the neighborhood’s safety and excellent schools. Naturally, Barton Hills apartments are in high demand, so rentals here go for $1,625 on average.

Transportation

With the MoPac Expressway to the west, South Lamar to the east and Capital of Texas Highway to the south, Barton Hills residents are perfectly positioned to get wherever they need to go. 

South Lamar crosses the river and heads straight downtown, while MoPac extends north through the city and beyond, nearly reaching the suburb of Round Rock. 

Most neighborhood residents drive, but there are bus routes in the area as well, connecting Barton Hills to downtown, the University of Texas, South Austin and more.

Education & employment

Barton Hills has some of the best public schools in the Austin area. 

 

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Elementary school students attend either Barton Hills or Zilker Elementary School. Barton Hills Elementary takes advantage of the local greenery to focus on environmental and science-based programming. Zilker Elementary has been ranked as “Exemplary” by Austin Independent School District and has a robust Arts in Education program. 

Middle School students attend O. Henry Middle School, a highly-rated school with a better-than-average student to teacher ratio. 

High school students will attend Austin High, located just across Lady Bird Lake from Barton Hills. The school offers Advanced Placement courses, Career & Technical Education and an award-winning theater department.

 

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Barton Hills is primarily residential, so most employers in the area are small businesses. But with easy access to downtown and MoPac Expressway, residents can access the offices of large companies like Whole Foods, the University of Texas and the IBM campus in North Austin.

The neighborhood is also near both City Hall and the state capitol building, making it a great home base for city and state employees.

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About the author

Irina Lupa

Irina Lupa is a creative writer for RENTCafé, where she covers market trends and topics relevant to today’s renters. Before developing a passion for real estate, she focused on fields ranging from automotive electronics to digital business development, digging into tech news from a critical perspective. Irina holds a B.S. in Journalism and Mass Communication. You can connect with Irina via email.

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