Austin is a fairly spread out city – I would recommend a car so you can get to different parts of it. Downtown / 6th Street is one well known area where you are better off taking a cab to and from especially if you’re going to drink, but if you want to really see the city drive up Guadalupe or go out the Bee Caves Road area and make sure you visit the funky South Congress / south Austin parts, too.
Sounds like your staying right downtown and if that is the only area you will be in you can walk.
Austin is not a transit friendly city so if your wanting to see other areas of the city I would recomend renting a car.
If you’re wanting to do Christmas stuff while you’re here you’ll definitely want to check out the lights on 37th street. It’s uniquely Austin! You would probably need a car to get to that, although you can catch the bus or take a cab.
There’s also the huge light-up Christmas tree and the Trail of Lights at Zilker park, but you can catch a shuttle to that at 14th & Trinity.
Info about the Trail of Lights:
Photos I took on 37th Street last year:
Honestly, Austin is pretty spread out, and the public transportation is very slow and inefficient, so if your plan is to explore the city, I would recommend a rental and a map. If you’re cool with just hanging out downtown, then you can definitely get away with walking, buses, and cabs.
If you’re in Texas — always rent a car. Also eat at Sienna in North Austin. Highly rated Italian (sorry for the plug, but I’m friends with the chef — it’s GOOD).
As you are staying at the Intercontinental Stephen F. Austin, you are pretty much in the heart of Downtown. The Roaring Fork (connected to the hotel) is a very fine place to eat, indeed. 6th Street is one block south and the best portions of it are a couple of blocks east – well within walking distance. If you are not opposed to a 5-6 block trek, you can easily visit the Warehouse district (4th Street and around Guadalupe, Lavaca and Colorado). Visit Alamo Drafthouse (4th & Colorado) for a uniquely Austin experience.
Unless you are staying within the downtown area, I would rent a car. Austin is a very spread out town with much of the “attractions” quite a distance away. Parking is pretty ample, so a cab can be more a headache than a convenience.
The hotel is wonderful. We spend our wedding night there and enjoyed it. I recommend dinner at the Roaring Fork, which is at the street level of that hotel. It has provided some of the best meals I have had in Austin.
To enjoy the downtown sites, no, you do not need a car. Taxis are reliable and easy to get downtown. We recommended that all of our out to town guest NOT rent cars when they were in for the wedding.
The downtown area of Austin can keep you busy for some time. The Trail of Lights at Zilker Park has a free shuttle service from 14th & Trinity or a cab can take you to Lamar and Riverside. Enjoy the walk up the street with hundreds of others. You pass some of the well known restaurants in Austin, Chuy’s, Shady Grove, Baby A’s. Stop by Austin Java Co or Flipnotics for a cup of coffee or hot chocolate to warm you up.
The light on 37th Steet were shocking and amazing. I love to go every year. I would not recommend driving a car to this event either. It is a mad house and more fun to see it on foot. If you are in the mood for pizza before or after the lights, Manga Pizza is on Guadalupe. Regardless of how cold it is, Amy’s Ice Cream is a must have. You can find it near Manga.
I live in downtown and feel comfortable walking anywhere. You will see and be greeted by the homeless population in Austin, but I have never felt uncomfortable around any in that area. I do not recommend walking under or around I-35 though.
Enjoy your visit. It is a great town!
Thank you everyone for your help – I appreciate it very much. This is all great advice. We can’t wait to visit Austin.
I hope you checked the answers posted on the other page. Because your question posted twice. There are 4 more answers….Go to the link where your questions are posted, and you will see what I mean.
I should have posted this a while ago, but my wife and I LOVED our visit to Austin. We had a lot of fun and we tried out a lot of the places that were suggested from people’s posts on this site – they were all great suggestions. Thanks again for helping point us in the right direction.
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