Already snagged your Austin City Limits ticket? That’s fantastic! Now it’s time to arrange your accommodations and figure out how you are going to actually get to the festival. Conveniently Austin City Limits takes place in Zilker Park, which is just roughly two miles south of downtown Austin. This means if you stay in Austin it won't be too difficult to get to and from ACL. Still for most people it will be just too far to walk so you should figure out how you are going to get to Austin City Limits. Further complicating the matter is the fact that there is absolutely no parking at Zilker Park. Thus you need to figure out how you are going to get to ACL. Let's go over all of your options for getting there.
This is pretty awesome – Austin City Limits offers pass holders a free shuttle from downtown Austin to the festival in Zilker Park. The shuttle pickup location is at Republic Square in downtown Austin, TX. The exact address for Republic Square is 422 Guadalupe St, Austin, TX 78701. The map below shows the shuttle pickup in Austin from ACL 2016. This puts the shuttle pickup just a eight minute walk to downtown Austin (where most hotels are located) and a quick 1.8 mile ride to Zilker park. This is a great option if you are staying in downtown Austin as most hotels will be within walking distance of this pickup. The shuttle begins every morning at 10:30 a.m. and will run until 11:00 p.m. at night. Typically the shuttle is super efficient when going to ACL, especially if you head to the festival early. The negative reviews for the shuttle typically derive from the return ride at night, when long lines can form. If you stay until the end of ACL when the headliners wrap up expect to wait in a line for the shuttle. Even if there is a line at night it's still a nice option as it is free.
One final note is this shuttle can be a nice option for you even if you aren't staying in Downtown Austin but have a car. There are multiple parking lots near the shuttle pickup, most only charging $10 or $15 for day parking. You could easily drive to Austin, park in one of these lots, and utilize the shuttle to get to and from ACL.
Not in the mood to wait for someone to come pick you up to take you to Austin City Limits? Biking to the festival is a great option, and actually my preferred method for getting to and from ACL. I like biking to Austin City Limits because you can avoid traffic and come and go as you please. It's only about 2 miles to downtown, so it's less than a 10 minute bike ride and is by far the fastest option for getting home at night. Each entrance to the park has bike parking, so it really doesn't matter what entrance to ACL you use. It is important to note though that the festival does not provide any sort of locks so you must bring your own locks. Fianlly, your bike must be removed from the bike racks at ACL by 11PM on Sunday or it will be impounded. Also, just from my own festival experience, take a screenshot on Google Maps of where you parked your bike. After you've been drinking all day at Austin City Limits its really easy to forget where you parked your bike.
Austin also has a bike sharing program named Austin B-Cycle that you can use to get around the city. There are 50 stations throughout the Austin area, including one just south of the Barton Springs entrance. They will have staff on site to ensure you will always be able to park your bike, even if the rack is full. You can see all the pricing for Austin B-Cycle here. Your best bet is probably the 30-day access pass which will be a $15 processing fee and $11 for the month. This gives you unlimited rides of up to 60 minutes, which should be sufficient to get from Austin to Austin City Limits unless you really go on a drunken adventure.
The local bus in Austin is called the CapMetro and it is a great option for getting to and from Austin City Limits. This is also a nice option if you are staying outside of the downtown area. There is a bus that drops you off at Republic Square where you can take the aforementioned free Austin City Limits shuttle. There is also a bus that drops off near the Barton Springs Road entrance – close enough so you can walk from where the bus (the 803 bus) drops off. The nice part about the bus is there are buses will be running until 3 a.m. on Friday and Saturday of Austin City Limits.
Technically walking is still an option, and one a lot of people actually do take advantage of. If you aren't comfortable with riding a bike in a new city at night after drinking all day you may want to consider just walking. The problem with the other methods of getting home from Austin City Limits is it's a lot of waiting. Whether you take the free shuttle, public bus, or rideshare there will be pretty terrible traffic and tens of thousands of people also leaving. If you are within walking distance, even if it's a bit long, you should at least consider it. You can always stop at a bar on your way back to break up the journey. ACL does provide extra lighting along the trail from Zilker to Downtown Austin to aid any walkers.
Thinking of taking an Uber to Austin City Limits? Not so fast my friend! Austin has recently given Uber the boot so it's not an option for Austin City Limits. The same can be said for Lyft. Austin has its own version of ridesharing named RideAustin that you can take advantage of. You can read all about RideAustin here. It's basically the same thing as Uber or Lyft, but for Austin specifically - gotta keep Austin weird. There will be a designated pickup and drop off spot for Ride Austin at Austin City Limits. This will be the only place you are going to be able to catch one after Austin City Limits wraps up for the night, so be sure to head there if you are trying to get a ride.
These things still exist? If you live in any other major US city you probably haven't used anything besides Uber or Lyft in 3 years, but taxis are still alive and well in Austin. Similar to Ride Austin, taxis will have a designated drop off and pick up location at the Barton Springs ACL entrance. You won't be able to get a taxi to or from ACL from anywhere else. There is a large sign labelled 'TAXIS' so it's hard to miss. Obviously I'm listing this because it is an option for Austin City Limits, but I would go with one of the other methods as this will likely be the most expensive option for ACL.
It's always nice when a music festival is centrally located like Austin City Limits. Any of these options will be fine for getting to ACL, you should just choose the one that works best for you. I personally prefer biking because it offers a lot of freedom to come and go as you please, but there should be a reasonably priced option for everyone at ACL.