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Do I need to rent a car for a week in Austin?

My first Austin trip is coming up, going for a week around New Year's to take in as much BBQ and live music as possible.  Do I need to rent a car or is it pretty much taxi/walkable?

12 Answers

top answer by
Scott from Austin, Texas

If BBQ is really on your agenda you need a car.  Some of the best BBQ in the area requires driving 20-30 minutes.  If you plan on making the pilgrimage to Lockhart, Luling, Taylor (Texas), Lexington or any of the other BBQ meccas I would definitely rent a car.  That said Downtown Austin is very walkable/taxiable.  IF you were spending all of your time in that area you wouldn't need one.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Lockhart (city)
  2. Luling (city)
  3. Taylor (Texas) (city)
  4. Lexington (city)
  5. Downtown Austin (neighborhood)
5 thankscomments (1)

answered by
Sean from Austin (Texas)

Walking a driving aren't the only options - we also have public transportation! the bus goes everywhere in Austin. It can be a colorful crowd, but just the more austin-y :) honestly, I prefer the bus over trying to find parking downtown anyway.

4 thanks

answered first by
Omar from Richardson

If you're going for a week and really want to maximize your visit; I'd recommend a car.  The heart of Austin is walkable (especially now that the weather has cooled off) and you could keep yourself thoroughly entertained if you confined yourself to the warehouse district/6th street, S Congress, and West Riverside drive; but that's not the same as maximizing your live music and BBQ experience.  Austin has music and BBQ scattered all over the place - including in several surrounding towns (The original Salt Lick BBQ comes to mind as one of the premiere BBQ joints that requires a drive), so limiting yourself to walking will exclude some of opportunities for both music and food.  

For a long weekend I'd say walk.  For a week?  Get a car - you'll be able to fill the quieter mid-week periods with trips out of Austin proper to check out the music and food further south in places like Fredericksburg (Texas) (for the wineries and German food) and New Braunfels (for live music in Gruene Hall).

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Salt Lick BBQ (restaurant)
  2. Fredericksburg (Texas) (city)
  3. New Braunfels (city)
  4. Gruene Hall (restaurant)
4 thankscomments (1)

answered by
Agnes from New York City

Thanks everyone, I was there for 5 days and was thinking about using zipcar 1 or 2 days to check out BBQ and other attractions further away.  Checked the weather right before the trip and pulled the trigger on a rental for the entire trip, it rained every day.  But driving out to Salt Lick BBQ and Cathedral of Junk, among other things, kept us plenty busy and happy (dry/warm).  Thanks for all the tips and advice!

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Salt Lick BBQ (restaurant)
  2. Cathedral of Junk (attraction)
3 thanks

answered by
Daniel from Austin (Texas)

I also suggest renting a car. Austin has a variety of transportation options (taxis, uber, bike rental, Car2Go, bus, etc.), but you will see much more of the Central Texas area if you have a car. Omar gave some good suggestions (I agree with visiting Salt Lick BBQ and perhaps Fredericksburg). If you are on a BBQ quest, you might drive to the town of Lockhart. Another good out-of-town BBQ spot is called Opie's Barbecue on 71 way West of town. Downtown parking can get crowded, but you will be visiting during the holidays. As for music venues, check out Continental Club, Mohawk, E 6th Street (Hotel Vegas, Eastside Showroom). For country music, go to The Broken Spoke. Also, there is a place called Donn's Depot that is definitely worth visiting. Not many tourist go there. Have fun! 

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Salt Lick BBQ (restaurant)
  2. Lockhart (city)
  3. Opie's Barbecue (restaurant)
  4. Continental Club (attraction)
  5. Mohawk (attraction)
  6. The Broken Spoke (attraction)
  7. Donn's Depot (attraction)
3 thanks

answered by

Downtown Austin is where you will find most of the best live music venues. Downtown is walkable and taxis are readily available.  If you wish to experience a lot of different barbecue joints, then you will need a set of wheels.  

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Downtown Austin (neighborhood)
2 thanks

answered by
Mike from Westwood Village

If you're staying in the city or near downtown then you can definitely get around without a car. There are tons of bars/restaurants within walking distance or an easy cab ride. You should check out Juan In A Million for some breakfast tacos! 

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Juan In A Million (restaurant)
2 thanks

answered by
Kathryn from Saratoga Springs

I would probably rent a car. There are so many things to see you'll end up spending waaay more on cab fare. Having said that, the traffic in Austin is awful! But it's still worth every moment!

2 thanks

answered by
Karl from Brookfield, Wisconsin

It really depends on your plans. Austin is a sprawled out city with lots to do in the burbs, but you can set it up where you never need more than a walk or bike. It sounds like you'll probably be hanging out within one or two neighborhoods (near 6th I'd imagine), which means you wouldn't need a car. Taxi from the airport might get expensive, though. I'd check on that price before finalizing the decision.

2 thanks

answered by
Jacey & Scott from Fort Collins

I would suggest renting a car.  While downtown area and immediate surrounding areas have lots to do, and plenty of restaurants, there are so many more things to do on the far west side of town-and the scenery is gorgeous!

If you are there for a week, maybe rent the car at the start or end for only a few days.  Then plan your week stay around doing things in the immediate downtown area when you don't have the car!

2 thanks

answered by
Christine from Hilo, Hawaii

They have a good bus system but I definitely recommend getting a rental car.


1 thanks

answered by
Irina from London

You made the best decision. Unfortunately, I hadn't seen your question before you went to Austin. I would recommend you to book a rental car in advance, for instance at Austin car hire. You would save some money. But I see you had a great time anyway :)

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