Barton Hills, which is bisected by a creek that flows into the Colorado River, was named for a pioneering homesteader who settled by the area’s famous springs in 1837. He was hardly the first to recognize this lush swath as prime real estate; evidence of old Spanish missions, Native American camps, and even dinosaur tracks have been found here. These days, it’s hunters and those who love the outdoors who flock to the 78704 zip code.
Welcome to Barton Hills
Considered the epicenter of cool, this South Austin neighborhood benefits from its proximity to oodles of cool shops and hot restaurants (many along nearby South Lamar), a spectacular string of trails and refreshing waterways, and easy access to downtown.
Like most of South Austin, Barton Hills embraces the city’s unofficial motto to “Keep Austin Weird,” and its laid-back vibe attracts millennials and older residents alike. And while it may be close to the action, the neighborhood itself feels sealed off from the fun-loving crowds who descend on Zilker Park and Barton Springs.
One of the best urban trails in the state, the Barton Creek Greenbelt runs right through the heart of Barton Hills. With seven miles of pathways amid eight hundred verdant acres, it feels like a lush island in the middle of Austin’s concrete jungle. The 351-acre Zilker Park, which borders the Colorado River just south of downtown, is another delightful respite. In addition to its natural beauty, Barton Hills also stimulates with its pockets of culture. Admire outdoor artwork at the intimate Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum, or sing along with the biggest names in music at the jam-packed Austin City Limits Music Festival that takes over Zilker Park each fall. No matter your preference, the area is full of art-forward activities for all.
Some of the area’s first homes, modest one-stories built in the forties and fifties, still stand, though many are being replaced with decidedly more modern (and taller) substitutes. A smattering of apartment complexes and condos are sprinkled throughout the dense residential streets, too.
Austin’s best-known natural feature is Barton Springs, a concrete-ringed watering hole fed by the chilly springs that burble up from the Edwards Aquifer. Even though some half a million people take a dip here each year (the people-watching is excellent), you’ll come to think of it as your own private pool.