Not all that long ago, the land where Austin’s 2nd Street District now sprawls was hardly a downtown destination — let alone a bustling neighborhood.
It wasn't until the early part of this century that the six-block area evolved into a bustling urban hub with shops, bars, restaurants, apartments, condos, hotels, and entertainment venues. Today, the 2nd Street District continues to thrive as an urban neighborhood — a neighborhood that’s now hailed as one of the friendliest in the country.
On June 3, National Geographic Traveler unveiled its list of the 28 friendliest neighborhoods in the U.S., and the 2nd Street District was the only neighborhood in Austin to make the cut. Neighborhoods in Houston and El Paso also appear on the list.
Among the high-profile tenants of the district are Austin City Limits Live at the Moody Theater, Violet Crown Cinema, Urban Outfitters, Jo’s Coffee, La Condesa, Milk + Honey Spa, Lamberts, Austin Java, RIDE Indoor Cycling, W Austin, and AMLI on 2nd.
National Geographic Traveler teamed up with Resonance Research Consultancy to develop the list. In a survey created for the magazine, the consultancy combined its proprietary "Best Cities" analytics with statistics and user-generated data that included walkability, housing affordability, public spaces, and places like cafes and restaurants. In addition, the survey examined social media and perception data from TripAdvisor and Yelp.
The research produced a list of ZIP codes that National Geographic Traveler editors then paired with existing neighborhoods to generate the country’s friendliest neighborhoods.
“Friendliness and goodwill go a long way. We want the traveling world to discover destinations that embrace diversity and hospitality when they extend a warm welcome,” George Stone, National Geographic Traveler’s editor in chief, says in a release. “That’s why we’re excited to share this list of the 28 most welcoming neighborhoods in the U.S.”
“These vibrant, unique enclaves are friendly, surprising, and rewarding for locals and visitors alike,” Stone adds. “These destinations offer starting points to experience local city culture through food, people, art, history, and outdoor spaces.”
Joining the 2nd Street District on the list of friendliest neighborhoods in the U.S. is The Heights in Houston.
The Heights features an array of boutiques, thrift stores, antique shops, and restaurants. The first Saturday of each month, the neighborhood hosts the First Saturday Arts Market, complete with crafts, plants, artwork, and live music.
AG Antiques, Jubilee, Manready Mercantile, Mary & Moss, and Retropolis are just some of the prime shopping stops in The Heights. Among the well-regarded eateries in the neighborhood are Boomtown Cafe, Cane Rosso, Field & Tides, Morningstar, and Revival Market.
According to Houston Realtor Paige Martin, The Heights contains more than 450 Yelp-rated establishments, ranks among the city’s most walkable neighborhoods, stands out as a great place for family-friendly activities, and offers one of Houston’s best collections of well-preserved Victorian architecture.
The only other Texas neighborhood to show up on the National Geographic Traveler list was the Chihuahuita and El Segundo Barrio in El Paso.