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Navigating the US: Getting Around in Austin, Texas

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Getting Around Austin

Photo by Ed Schipul

If you’re looking for a place where country meets hipster, you’ve found your spot. Austin, Texas is home to an incredibly vibrant culture of entertainment, cuisine, and outdoor activities. The Texas state capital is often referred to as the “Live Music Capital of the World” because of its large number of music venues . It has also been dubbed “Silicon Hills” due to the many technology companies that call it home.

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Recommended Modes of Transportation

Austin is fairly flat near the river and toward the center of town, making biking a great choice if your visit won’t take you far outside of downtown. Major roads have bike lanes and the weather is decent year-round (although May to October, temperatures may reach the high 90’s with high humidity, making bike rides a bit unpleasant).

Getting around by car isn’t too difficult if you’re used to driving around in a large city. Traffic tends to be bad during normal rush hours, although I-35 through downtown can be jammed throughout the day.

Major Highways and Roadways to Know

There are two major north-south highways: I-35 and Loop 1, and one major east-west highway, known as Ben White or US 290 West/Texas highway 71.

Watch out for the upper deck/lower deck split between Airport Boulevard and Martin Luther King Jr Boulevard; it’s confusing, and accidents occur there often. Also be aware that the on-ramps on I-35, especially the lower deck, are very short.

Alternative Ways of Seeing the City

car2go & ZipCar are car shares and are great for quick trips around town. Sign up to become a member, then go online or use their mobile app to find an available car parked nearby. Just hop in the car and drive to your destination, park, and leave it there for the next user. One hourly rate covers all gas and insurance.

For all you history buffs, get your walk on with a historic walking tour. A fantastic way to learn about Austin’s rich history while enjoying the beautiful weather and scenery, these free guided walking tours require reservations, so be sure to plan in advance.

Getting Around Austin Transportation

Photo by LoneStarMike

Best Places to Park in Austin

Parking in the city center can be difficult, so make sure to look for municipal parking garages and check meters carefully. Cops are known to quickly ticket illegally parked vehicles, and vehicles parked in private parking will be towed.

Check out for a comprehensive list of parking garages and lots, and their rates.

Austin Airports and Car Rentals

Austin Bergstrom International Airport serves as Austin’s major airport. Located just southeast of the city center, it is serviced by most major carriers.

There are a variety of buses, taxis, shuttles and car rentals to get you downtown and back. The MetroAirport bus will get you downtown for just $1.00 while a taxi will cost about $30.00.

Austin Bergstrom International Airport hosts the following rental-car agencies:

ACE Car Rental of Austin: 512-530-3900
Advantage Rent A Car: 1-800-777-5500
Alamo / National Rent-A-Car: 512-530-3500
Avis Car Rental: 512-530-3400
Budget Rent A Car: 512-530-3350
Dollar Car Rental: 512-530-7368
Enterprise Rent-A-Car: 512-530-8100
Hertz Car Rental: 512-530-3600
Thrifty Car Rental: 512-530-6811

Click here for additional transportation options.

Hotels and Attractions in Austin

Between concerts, festivals, restaurants, tours, sports, and outdoor activities, there is more than enough to keep anyone busy, regardless of interests. Austin truly has something for everyone. Check out the links below to plan your trip and decide which attractions are calling your name.

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