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 West Lake 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 fourth term on the West Lake Hills City Council.
"The Westlake area is so unique in that it offers a very high quality of life for its residents," Walker says. "Eanes ISD is known for being one of the very best public school systems in the country. There's a diversity of beautiful neighborhoods with an array of spectacular luxury homes to consider both along the Lake Austin waterfront and in the hills overlooking downtown. You can find charming older homes in traditional neighborhoods like Rollingwood, and plenty of new architecturally significant properties that come to market every year."
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
The recent sale of 519 Buckeye Trail is typical of the newer luxury homes built in the West Lake Hills area that offer privacy along a more wooded street and convenient access to central areas of Westlake.
The spectacular architecture of the five-bedroom, six-bath home includes a blend of stone interior walls, walnut, and floor-to-ceiling glass that frames panoramic views of downtown and the surrounding Hill Country. Its 7,600 square feet is spread out over 1.4 acres, and includes a 12-car garage and guest apartment.
It was designed and built in 2010 by "two of the best firms in the area," Cornerstone Architects and Schatz Custom Homes.
"We found the perfect home for our family using Darin, thanks to his deep roots and strong connections in West Lake Hills," say buyers Jack and Peggy Seiders. "This city-view home — that had just become available privately — fit our desire to entertain, with a contemporary architectural design we have loved and with amenities that our entire family continues to enjoy. We would not have our dream home without Darin's knowledge of special off-market properties in Westlake."
Darin Walker lives, works, and plays in West Lake 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.