At a Glance
When to Go
Austin Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) is six miles southeast of the city center and is served by most major carriers, with nonstop flights to 49 destinations. You have a selection of buses (including the MetroAirport, $1 to downtown), taxis, shuttles, and car rentals to get you into town and back. Taxi fare to downtown Austin is approximately $30. If arriving by train, you’ll alight at the Austin Amtrak station just west of downtown, which is served by the Texas Eagle Line. Austin sits on one major freeway (I-35) and several regional highways, and its outskirts are reached by several tollways.
Generally, seeing Austin by foot is very difficult. However, if you’re content to see only downtown Austin (Sixth Street, the Second Street District, the Capitol) and you’re in good shape, it’s possible to explore these downtown areas on foot. There are many attractions within a one- to two-mile walk from most downtown hotels. Just be prepared for potentially oppressive heat during the summer months. Driving is not too difficult if you’re used to living in a large city. The car-share program Car2go provides a fleet of free-floating, low-emission, self-service smart cars distributed all over the city. Biking is a great way to get around year-round and the weather is usually agreeable from mid-October to mid-April. There are multiple bike rental outfits in town, including Bicycle Sports Shop Bike Rentals, which is located near downtown and offers the largest selection of bike rentals in the city. The public bus network, Capital Metro, has inexpensive neighborhood, express, and downtown routes. Visitors can also get around on the Capital MetroRail commuter train, which operates on weekdays between Downtown and Northwest Austin. The Capital Metro website has a trip planner that can find public transport options between two points in Austin. Taxis can’t be hailed on the street. Find a cab stand or call one of the companies ahead of time.
Food and Drink
Austin is the capital of Texas, and the Texas State Capitol is a must-see. A great source of pride for both the city and the state, the beautiful State Capitol building, wrapped in Texas pink granite, is free to visitors.
There are, of course, the well-known events such as Austin City Limits, South by Southwest, the Texas Book Festival, the Austin Film Festival, and the Austin Food and Wine Festival, but lesser-known gatherings are also catching on and well worth the trip. The Zilker Park Kite Festival, for example, is the oldest continuous kite festival in the United States. Hundreds of kites will dance in the sky the first Sunday in March.
What the Locals Know
Rey Shaun Madolora is a fine art photographer who lives in Austin, Texas when not traveling the world. He primarily shoots 35mm photographs during his global adventures, but real-time updates, travel guides, and point-and-shoot photos can be found on his travel travel blog Why You Go There? He is a serial entrepreneur, avid mountain biker and cyclist, yogi, musician, and foodie.