It’s almost that time of year again — the sweet season when Austin’s traffic grinds to a halt and secret after-the-fest shows reign. Yep, Austin City Limits is almost upon us. Even locals struggle with how to get to ACL Fest, so we compiled this helpful guide for Austinites and transplants alike. Be safe out there, Austin!
Driving yourself: You want the brutal truth? Just don’t try it. There is a designated parking lot for festival-goers, but it’s relatively small, and sits about 1.5 miles from the ACL gates. At the end of a very hot, very exhausting day, you’ll spend several hours navigating out of the maze… and that can bum out even the most seasoned festival-goer.
Shuttle: By far the most popular option for locals, most ACL-goers board the shuttles that pick up at Republic Square (located at 4th and Guadalupe). These shuttles are pretty swanky — they’re air-conditioned shuttle buses — and they drop you right at the festival gates. They also do pickups at night! Shuttles start running at 10 AM every day of the festival (an hour before the park opens) and service ends at 11 PM every night. Republic Square also houses two of the city’s most-popular bus lines, so you’ll have several options to get home regardless of which side of town you live in.
Walking: If the weather’s nice, walking isn’t actually a bad option. You’ll probably have to find somewhere closer to park or ride-share to, unless you’re staying downtown, but Austin and Zilker Park in particular have excellent walk trails that will take you directly to the festival entrances. The official ACL website recommends the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike trail for walking to the festival. There is extra lighting for safety, plus restrooms, water stations, and parking along the trail.
Biking: ACL says that biking to the festival is the best option, and we tend to agree. It’s usually quicker than driving due to all the traffic, and there are a ton of bike racks close to the festival grounds. It couldn’t be simpler: just bike to the park, lock your bike up, and you’re good to go! Just make sure to bring a bike lock. If you’re going to be drinking at the festival, be responsible: You can still get a DUI riding a bike!
Ride Sharing: Ride sharing is a good option, but festivals send rates surging, and your driver is going to have a pretty hard time fighting all the other ride sharers vying for a pick-up spot. Uber is the official ridesharing partner of ACL, and there are three drop-off and pick up points around the festival:
- Sterzing Street between Barton Springs and Toomey Road
- Stephen F. Austin Drive under MoPac Bridge
- Lee Barton Drive between Lamar Boulevard and Riverside Drive
Public transport: Austin’s public transportation system is centralized around CapMetro, the city’s public bus service. CapMetro ramps up services during ACL weekend, but you can still expect there to be some delays due to traffic and increased demand. However, busing is usually an excellent way to get to the festival, and it’s cheap. You can use this link to look up bus routes and plan your route to the festival grounds.
Bird/Lime Scooters: Last but certainly not least is the trendiest way to get around downtown Austin: electric scooters. For just a base cost of $1 plus $.15 a minute you can arrive at ACL in style for cheap. It is by far the most fun way to get to the festival grounds, just be sure to park them in the designated parking areas around Zilker or you’ll be fined!