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Charming Austin Neighborhood: TRIBEZA’s Guide to Zilker

What to see and do in one of Autin's oldest and most beloved neighborhoods

Photo by Stella Masterson

The Zilker neighborhood originated around 1918 when Andrew Jackson Zilker deeded 35 acres surrounding Barton Springs to the city of Austin. The first homes in the area were soon built in the early 1920’s, and it’s been one of Austin’s favorite neighborhoods since.

Zilker extends south of Lady Bird Lake, approximately bounded by the Union Pacific Railway to the southeast/south (Lamar Boulevard south of Oltorf), Barton Skyway to the south, Rabb Road and Azie Morton Road to the west and Lady Bird Lake to the north.

Zilker has it all — old Austin charm with towering oak trees, as well as a thriving restaurant, bar, and shopping scene. It’s minutes from downtown and walking distance to Barton Springs Pool, yet this neighborhood somehow holds on to Austin’s original small-town feel. We love life in the 78704!


Photo by Stella Masterson


Photo by Stella Masterson

Bungalow in Zilker

Photo by Stella Masterson

Things to Do

(photo courtesy of Gibson Street Bar)

Gibson Street Bar

Hands down one of the best bars in town! Gibson Street Bar holds a lot of memories for a lot of Austinites. From holiday bar takeovers, Nightmare on Gibson Street, and Gibson Wonderland – this bar has something fun and unique going on year round. Stop by during Happy Hour (M-F, 4-7 p.m.) for some great drinks and excellent ambiance.

Lamar union plaza
Photo by Will Taylor

Lamar Union Plaza

Lamar Union Plaza touts itself as the place to “eat, shop, and play in the 78704” and for good reason! This area is a one-stop-shop for so many great Austin eateries, bars, and fun. Alamo Drafthouse, Cafe Medici, and The Highball are just a few of the local spots that call this plaza home.

(Photo courtesy of Peter Pan Mini Golf)

Peter Pan Mini Golf

It goes without saying that Peter Pan Mini Golf is a must-visit for any Austinite or tourist alike. It has been a fixture at the corner of Barton Springs and South Lamar since 1948, where the giant Peter Pan and T-Rex are prominently displayed at the entrance. Peter Pan brings up sweet memories for so many. Thankfully, it is still going strong today, with the original family at the helm. An Austin Treasure for sure!

Places to See & Stay

Photo by Heidi Okla

Barton Springs Pool

Barton Springs Pool has been a favorite Austin swimming hole since the late 1800’s and is still one of Austin’s most popular attractions today. The pool measures three acres in size and is fed by natural springs with an average temperature of 68-70 degrees fahrenheit. Come hang on the sprawling lawn, take a dip in the cool water, or plan a night swim and howl at the moon. Yes, howling at the moon is a Barton Springs tradition that lends itself quite nicely to our “Keep Austin Weird” motto.

(photo courtesy of Zilker Botanical Garden)

Zilker Botanical Garden

Zilker Park is a must-visit for anyone who wants the full Austin experience, but nestled within the park is one of our favorite spots in the city: Zilker Botanical Garden. Aside from regularly hosting whimsical and fun events like the Woodland Faerie Trail and Dino Days, the park maintains three themed gardens: the Taniguchi Japanese Garden, Hartman Prehistoric Garden, and the Rose Garden. Each garden is interconnected by pathways, making the entire experience feel like a magical walk through of beauty and history. We couldn’t recommend it more!

Carpenter Hotel (photo by Andrea Calo)

Carpenter Hotel

“A Bridge Between The City And The Outdoors” is the perfect description for this hip Bunkhouse hotel nestled in the Zilker neighborhood. It was designed to offer fresh air at every turn, from the open air stairwell and hallways to each room’s private terrace. The portion of the hotel that serves as the front desk, cafe, and restaurant was originally a meeting hall built in 1948, making this space all the more special. We love the aesthetic, the overall vibe, and their current residency with Sister Palm at their Coffee Bar. Stop by and get your palm read! How fun is that?!

Where to Eat

Austin City Guides: Best Burgers
(Photo by Richard Casteel)

Odd Duck

What started as a beloved food trailer in 2009 has since become a staple on the Austin food scene. Odd Duck offers unique fare that has something for everyone, especially the adventurous eaters. Their commitment to cooking and serving innovative dishes while using only locally sourced goods sets Odd Duck apart from the rest. And the ambiance is lovely too!

Casa de Luz
(Photo by Holly Cowart)

Casa De Luz

Casa De Luz is more than a restaurant, it’s an entire village that “supports holistic, mind, spirit, health, and heart-centered events including classes, workshops, meetings, one-on-one sessions, seminars, consulting, and coaching.” An Austin original by today’s standards (it first opened in 1991), this vegetarian restaurant serves up organic, delicious meals daily. The entire atmosphere is one of peacefulness that can be felt the moment you enter the gates.

(Photo courtesy of Matt’s El Rancho)

Matt’s El Rancho

Matt Martinez started his career in 1923 at the age of 6, selling tamales from a wooden pushcart at the Texas Capitol. What a story! He opened his first restaurant with his wife Janie in 1952 in downtown Austin. They didn’t have employees and the original spot sat 40 guests. Today the south Lamar location sits 500 but still makes everything from scratch and is operated by Matt and Janie’s daughters. Stop by for some of the best food and drinks in town, including fresh lime juice margaritas, Mexican seafood dishes, and Bob Armstrong dip. You won’t be disappointed!