Living in Wells Branch, Austin’s Most Popular Family-Friendly Suburb

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The Wells Branch neighborhood is a suburb of Austin, located in the northernmost part of Travis County. This friendly community gives residents the feeling of small town living, while still within a short distance of the bustling, vibrant downtown. 

Considered one of the best suburbs for young professionals, Wells Branch is popular with the tech crowd, students and young families. 

Where is Wells Branch?

Wells Branch is in the upper reaches of Travis County. Directly north of Austin, the neighborhood is about 15 miles north of downtown. But many residents of this neighborhood work at North Austin tech companies, making for a short, easy commute.

The community is also about 30 minutes east of Lake Travis, so it’s easy to take a day trip or enjoy a quick weekend getaway to soak up the views.

History 

The history of Wells Branch goes all the way back to the late 1820s, when couple Wayman and Mary Emily Wells settled in the area. Wells Branch was still part of Mexico back then, and Mr. Wells served as a spy for the Texas settlers during the Texas Revolution. To learn what life was like, you can take the family to visit the Gault Homestead in Katherine Fleischer Park in Wells Branch!

More recently, Wells Branch has built a reputation as a resident-focused community. As a Municipal Utility District, the neighborhood governs itself through a Board of residents who have expanded the park system, developed community and recreation centers, added a skate park and raised funds for a local library.

It’s also seen an increase in rental units, with apartment communities like The Morgan and 33Hundred providing amenities that may have been unaffordable downtown.

Lifestyle

Wells Branch is a community-focused place, with plenty of green spaces, family-friendly entertainment and enough local restaurants to keep the foodies happy.

What to do

Texas living is outdoor living, and that’s certainly apparent here in Wells Branch. The area has its own greenbelt, complete with 6 miles of hike and bike trails. These paths connect favorite areas like Willow Bend pool, Mills Pond, Katherine Fleischer Park and a disc golf course. 

For a little peace, head to Mills Pond for a scenic stroll or bike ride. There’s also a fishing pier, while anglers can take a non-motorized boat out to the middle of the pond. 

If you’re looking for more action, visit Katherine Fleischer Park instead. This extensive park includes a shady playground and playhouse, basketball and tennis courts, a baseball field, pool and more. 

Or take the family to Austin’s Park N Pizza, just 5 minutes northwest. This place has enough to entertain kids and adults, with go karts, mini golf, a rock wall, arcade, batting cage and much more. Warning — once you get the kids in here, they will never want to leave.

Where to eat & drink

For a small neighborhood, Wells Branch has a large variety of delicious independent eateries to keep you busy. 

Inka Chicken serves Peruvian-style rotisserie chicken and Latin American side dishes like yuca fries and plantains. It’s consistently ranked as one of the best places to eat in Wells Branch. Another favorite is Garbo’s Lobster, with giant lobster roll sandwiches, crab cakes and beer-battered fish — using local Austin beer, of course. 

For southern comfort food, visit The Rolling Rooster. Try soul food classics like chicken and waffles, shrimp and grits, baked mac and cheese and delicious collard greens. Plus, there’s a full bar so you can have a tasty drink to wash it all down.

Finally, this is Texas. So of course there’s some great Mexican food to be had. El Huarache serves breakfast tacos, tostadas, enchiladas, and menudo when you need that delicious Mexican fix. 

Moving to Wells Branch 

Real estate snapshot

Most Wells Branch residents are renters. They make up 66% of the suburbs’ population. The area also comes with lower than average rents, with rentals in Wells Branch circling around $1,211.

The buildings in the area are mostly low-rise, so you can expect a comfortable, residential atmosphere. 

Transportation

Tucked between Mopac and I-35, Austin’s primary north/south arteries, Wells Branch offers easy highway access. But for those who prefer not to drive, they can jump on the Metro Rail at Howard Station for a quick commute to downtown. Bring a book and let someone else worry about the traffic.

If you’re heading north instead, you’re less than 15 minutes from the larger suburb of Round Rock with its sprawling outlet mall, minor league baseball diamond, and quaint downtown.

Schools & Employment

There are several schools in this family-friendly neighborhood, ranging from Pre-K all the way to high school. 

Wells Branch Arts Integration Academy, Joe Lee Johnson Elementary, and Northwest Leadership all serve the area at the elementary level. Johnson is a STEAM academy, focusing on science, technology, engineering, arts and math. 

Most middle school students will attend Deerpark Middle School in Round Rock ISD. Some on the east side of the area will attend Dessau Middle School or Cele Middle School in Pflugerville ISD. 

High schools in the area include Weiss High and McNeil High. McNeil is right next door to Round Rock’s large performing arts center, and Weiss High has a lovely new campus, opened in 2017.

While there are no universities in Wells Branch, Austin Community College’s Northridge Campus is located just a few miles south.

Positioned between the tech hubs of both Round Rock and Austin, Wells Branch is popular with the STEM community. Major employers include Dell, 3M and IBM.

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