Your Expert Guide
Westlake Hills: A life-long resident reveals his favorite spots
There are so many great places to live in Austin that it helps to have an expert on your side. The Neighborhood Guide presented by Kuper Sotheby's International Realty gives you insider access from the agents who live and work there, providing in-the-know info about your possible new community.
When his family moved to Westlake Hills in 1974, Darin Walker was 7 years old and about to start second grade at Eanes Elementary. They still own the hilltop home on Nob Hill Circle with its panoramic views of downtown and Lake Austin, and it has served as a magnificent launching point to everything special about living in Westlake.
"I've been working in the neighborhood for almost five decades," says the Kuper Sotheby's International Realty agent. "In high school, I started out with odd jobs like mowing lawns and then worked at restaurants like The County Line on the Hill. After college, I worked at area businesses in the finance and investments industry throughout the '90s and 2000s."
In 2010, Walker began working in residential real estate and decided to specialize in Westlake — a natural choice, considering everything he'd experienced in the neighborhood. Today, he's serving his fifth term on the Westlake Hills City Council.
"The Westlake area is so unique in that it offers a wide diversity of neighborhoods with a high quality of life for its residents, along with close proximity to downtown Austin," Walker says. "Eanes ISD is known for being one of the very best public school systems in the country."
He continues, "There are over 20 beautiful neighborhoods with a wide selection of settings to consider, from the traditional family neighborhoods of Rollingwood, Treemont, and Westwood to the manicured resort setting of Barton Creek, serene waterfront communities along Lake Austin, and natural surroundings of Westlake Hills. You have boundless options in Westlake."
Walker offered up a few of his personal favorites about life in Westlake. Here's his guide to the area:
Where to eat & drink
Open since the mid-1980s, La Palomas is the neighborhood gem. "Their margaritas and Mexican food are amazing," says Walker, "and so many old friends and those new to the area love it."
Where to play
Though West Lake Beach is not technically a beach, it's still a family-owned and run park with two swimming areas and a picnic pavilion. "Since I was a kid, I've always loved the park-like setting along Lake Austin," Walker says. And don't forget about Tom Miller Dam and Red Bud Isle, also known as "the entrance to Westlake." "Driving across the bridge with the view of the dam, islands, and lake is an awe-inspiring view."
Where to live
"Westlake Hills is well known for homes that lie within a variety of natural surroundings, like along hilltops, ridges, valleys, and Lake Austin," says Walker. "Architectural styles vary from midcentury modern and '70s ranch-style homes to newer contemporary, transitional, and modern luxury homes built by many of Austin’s best architects and builders.
"Today, new construction has been taking the place of older homes that sit on prime lots," he continues. "New construction takes advantage of panoramic views, offers unique outdoor living spaces, and is built with luxury finishes and amenities."
"The most significant new construction project to come to market in Westlake Hills is a 12-acre enclave of six ultra-luxury estate homes in Wildcat Club," Walker says. "Foursquare Builders is developing the enclave using five of the most recognized architects in Austin. In addition, Foursquare has a spectacular city-view modern home planned at 1603 CanyonView."
"The home exemplifies the high-performance lifestyle of today's buyers, featuring a long list of amenities paired with well-crafted design and execution," says Wes Wigginton of Foursquare Builders. "It's nestled into the surrounding Hill Country environment while also capturing downtown Austin views."
Wigginton continues, "In selecting an agent to work with, there was no comparison. Darin is extremely connected within the community, an expert in knowing the market for new construction, and he has intimate knowledge of land use, building codes, and permitting. As a result of our collaboration, we have developed a strong level of trust in Darin which has accelerated our working relationship, and he has sourced many of our projects."
Darin Walker lives, works, and plays in Westlake Hills. For more information on buying and selling a home in the area, click here, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 512-560-7633.