A Relocator’s Guide to Zilker

A Relocator’s Guide to Zilker

  • Katie Jackson

As one of Austin’s most highly sought-after neighborhoods, Zilker's vibrant, trendy vibes offer plenty to love. From its abundant outdoor space to its family-fun recreation areas and excellent restaurants, Zilker has much appeal for real estate seekers longing for an Austin enclave to call their very own.

If you are looking into Zilker homes for sale, below are just a few of the fantastic spots you don’t want to miss out on. Read on for a guide from Katie Jackson for an inside perspective on what makes Zilker a must-see community.

Zilker Metropolitan Park

If you’re making moves on the Zilker real estate scene, you should be well aware that Zilker Park is the heartbeat of the neighborhood. The accolades speak for themselves — the park is the winner of the “Best of Austin” readers’ poll for the best playground, the best place to hang with your pet, the best place for a picnic, and so much more. In short, Zilker Park is simply the best.

With over 350 impressive acres to explore, sprawling and serene Zilker Park is replete with countless opportunities to get active in the great outdoors. Akin to NYC’s Central Park, you will find excitement and fun at every turn, from hiking, fishing, and swimming to enjoying the outdoor entertainment and botanical gardens.

If your idea of the perfect sunny afternoon is picnicking with your family, catching a rousing game of disc golf or volleyball, taking in the scenery as you stroll along a hiking trail, watching your kids adventure on the playground, or simply observing the squirrels — you have come to the right place. Zilker Park is where the fun knows no bounds, with its five volleyball courts, disc golf course, swimming spots, open green spaces and fields, clubhouse for rentals, and much more.

If that wasn’t enough to spike your interest, Zilker Park is also home to the Zilker Botanical Garden, the Zilker Nature Preserve, the Austin Nature and Science Center, the Barton Springs Pool, the Zilker Hillside Theatre, and more. Kids can catch a ride on the mini train that parallels the water or take a dive on the slides at the playscape. To get active, you can head out for a jog along the paths winding through the park and enjoy the vistas of Lady Bird Lake along the Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail. With endless opportunities, the adventure is truly your own to create.

Zilker Nature Preserve

At the Zilker Nature Preserve, the hidden trails are full of lively green spaces and tranquility. Passing through creek beds and shady trees, the Overlook Trail rewards you with views of the big-city skyline and the promise of a bright future on your horizon. Make the trek, enjoy the weather, and contemplate the peacefulness of an escape into nature.

Zilker Botanical Garden

Photo courtesy of Zilker Botanical Garden
Near the center of Zilker Park, the Zilker Botanical Garden is a stunning 28-acre property filled with sunshiny flora and serenity. The Cactus and Succulent Garden is a standout, along with the Hartman Prehistoric Garden, where you can discover dinosaur footprints. Take a stroll down the Butterfly Trail or through the gorgeous Mabel Davis Rose Garden. For something more whimsical, visit the Pioneer Village to stop in at a replica blacksmith shop and experience a piece of history.

Barton Springs Pool

Photo courtesy of austintexas.gov
If you’re seeking a respite from the Austin summer haze, head to the Barton Springs Pool, where you’ll be met with shimmering water and a good time. Fed by several underground springs, the three-acre natural spring water pool stays a refreshing 68 degrees year-round. Named for Billy Barton, who bought the land in the early 1800s, the pool has been a staple of Austin recreation ever since. The springs are considered a federally protected habitat for the endangered Barton Springs salamander, and this is a popular spot for taking a dive to escape the heat.

Zilker Hillside Theatre

Get ready for Shakespeare in the Park at Zilker’s own Hillside Theatre. This exciting outdoor venue is home to live concerts, music festivals, family-friendly performances, and tons of fun. From the spring to the fall, the theater puts on award-winning productions with free admission for all to enjoy. So, bring your snacks and a blanket and get ready for a show. The theater is known for putting on full-scale musical productions like Broadway’s Newsies!, and its performances are fully funded by community partnerships and individual donations.

Lady Bird Lake

For even more fun in the sun, don’t miss Lady Bird Lake, which connects to Zilker Park through the Colorado River. Zilker Park Boat Rentals has all you need for a kayaking or canoeing experience you won’t soon forget.

If hiking is more your speed, you can enjoy the sights along the Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail. At Lou Neff Point, where Lady Bird Lake meets Barton Creek, you’ll find an enchanting view of the downtown Austin cityscape.

While Zilker is big on outdoor activities, the community offers a host of top-notch restaurants and indoor spots worth exploring. Don’t overlook the following activities in Zilker on those days when you’d rather head inside for an adventure.

Austin Nature and Science Center

Zilker locals and tourists alike rave about the Austin Nature and Science Center, another notable feature of the lively Zilker Park. This popular spot has been a staple of interactive education and exhibits since 1960 and offers programs for all ages, from preschoolers to adults. Visitors can tour the wildlife exhibits to learn more about local and exotic animals and environmental rehabilitation efforts. At the Dino Pit, dig for fossil casts and marvel at the fossil collection discovered years ago. To get up close and personal with nature, don’t miss the Naturalist Workshop, where you can examine bones, insects, and minerals through microscopes and magnifying glasses.

Top restaurants in Zilker

Photo courtesy of Odd Duck
After all this adventuring, you may have worked up an appetite, so it’s time to head to one of Zilker’s outstanding dining spots. Uchi, which means “house” in Japanese, serves a delightful menu of creations by James Beard Award-winning chef Tyson Cole in an elegant atmosphere. With daily specials like A5 hot rock, bluefin tuna Crudo, and softshell crab rolls, you will never go home hungry.

If chef Tyson Cole’s skills have impressed you, don’t miss Loro, a standout Asian smokehouse where wonderful flavors are always the focus. Helmed by James Beard Award-winning chefs Tyson Cole and Aaron Franklin, this top-tier restaurant combines Asian cuisine with Texas soul, creating unique dishes like coconut-scented rice with lime leaves, oat-smoked salmon with cucumber-yuzu broth, the Loro cheeseburger, and Malaysian curry chicken.

The menu never disappoints at Odd Duck, either, thanks to its incredible array of selections, from blackened redfish with sourdough sauce to dry-aged Wagyu burger. What began in a Fleetwood Mallard trailer in 2009 has transformed into one of Zilker’s go-to's for a phenomenal meal.

At Matt’s El Rancho, excellent food is the name of the game. In 1952, Matt and Janie’s restaurant found their humble beginnings on East 1st Street, with only 40 seats in the dining area. Today, you and 499 other hungry patrons can enjoy made-from-scratch menu favorites like shrimp enchiladas with guacamole salad, tacos al carbon, chicken burritos with Spanish rice, chile Rellenos, grilled redfish, and much more.

Last but not least, no mention of Zilker restaurants would be complete without Terry Black’s BBQ, which offers a menu of mouth-watering selections, from the sliced brisket and baked potato salad to the Jalapeno cheese sausage. Don’t miss out!

Exploring Zilker luxury homes for sale?

With the gorgeous landscape of Zilker Park and a dazzling dining scene, Zilker has so much to offer those with a heart for adventure and awesome food.

If you’re intrigued by all the amenities and action that Zilker has in store, team up with expert Realtor® Katie Jackson to find a home that checks all the boxes. As a highly skilled luxury specialist, Katie’s unparalleled expertise in the Austin luxury real estate scene will guide you to the perfect property.

When you want to reach success in your real estate journey, trust Katie as your go-to resource and get ready for results.


Katie’s knowledge of the Austin real estate market is unparalleled. Fluent in Spanish and well-traveled, Katie espouses all the traits of a successful real estate agent. She provides a unique and very local perspective on all areas of Real Estate.

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