Austin work trip in late August--transit questions
July 11, 2016 8:13 AM   Subscribe

I'm applying for permission to attend a training workshop in Austin, TX, from Aug. 21-25, and I have some transit questions for Austinites!:

1. I need to provide a rough estimate of transit costs from the airport to my hotel. I don't have a hotel selected yet, but some options suggested so far are the Radisson Austin Downtown (111 East Cesar Chavez St), the Hyatt Regency Austin (208 Barton Springs), and the Extended Stay America -- Town Lake (507 S. First St.). What kind of cab fare do you think I'd be looking at, to/from the airport?

2. Any opinions re: the hotels listed above?

3. Do you think I'd be able to manage without a rental car in that area (the workshop is at the Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar location, 1120 S. Lamar Blvd.)? Or will a car be crucial?

4. Any other tips? I've only been to Austin once before, years ago on a whirlwind visit, so I would love to hear any suggestions that come to mind.

posted by theatro to Travel & Transportation around Austin, TX (7 answers total)
Best answer: I'm not a local, but have a bit of relevant information. I stayed at the Radisson a few months ago and just yesterday took Fare (ridesharing app) from the airport to another Austin hotel a few blocks from the Radisson. My receipt says the trip was 7.75 miles, 16 minutes (at night, so no traffic) and cost $17.30 plus any tip you add. The Radisson is a pretty standard corporate chain hotel, but it was nice and in a good location.
posted by zachlipton at 9:12 AM on July 11, 2016

Best answer: You won't be able to (or won't want to, in the heat of August) walk from any of those hotels to the Drafthouse South Lamar, but it's a quick cab (or rideshare) away from all three, so as long as you budget for that transportation cost, you should be fine without a car. If you will want to go out, etc., the Radisson is probably the most convenient to nightlife -- e.g., you can easily walk (or catch a pedicab) to bars, restaurants, shows, etc. If you will mostly be at the Drafthouse South during the day and at or near your hotel at night, I would recommend against a car, since you'll not only have to pay for the rental but also for parking (at least at the Radisson you will, and probably at the Hyatt Regency, though maybe not at the Extended Stay America). If you'll want to venture out into other parts of Austin, though, a car will be crucial, as public transportation is limited and mid-August is really the worst time of year to be standing around waiting for buses.
posted by devinemissk at 9:22 AM on July 11, 2016 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Cabs will cost a bit more generally. You're looking at $30-35 for the hotels you named according to Taxi Fare Finder. Forget about walking outside in Austin in the summer. Both the Radisson & Hyatt are pretty swanky; the Radisson is right downtown with easy access to nightlife & the Hyatt is across the river nearby a more pastoral area, Zilker Park. Generally speaking Extended Stays won't have nearly the same quality as a per-night based hotel so unless cost is your only factor, skip it.
posted by scalefree at 9:31 AM on July 11, 2016

Best answer: Austin does not currently have Uber or Lyft, so you can't rely on them. There are a number of other ride-sharing services that are trying to fill the vacuum. I haven't used any of them, but I get the impression that Fasten is doing well.

Austin does have Car2Go, and I recommend it. If you want to use that, you'll need to register with them well in advance of your trip. A trip from the airport to downtown would cost ~$15 with that. Car2Go has an arrangement with an offsite parking lot next to the airport called the Parking Spot, so you'd catch the shuttle between the airport and the lot, and then take the car. You need to allow a few extra minutes for that. As a bonus, you get to drive a Smart Car at highway speeds, which is always exciting.

There are plenty of AirBnB and HomeAway places in Austin, including ones around Alamo South Lamar.

If you can swing staying at the Hotel San Jose, do. It's relatively close to the Alamo as the crow flies, but due to Bouldin Creek, there are only indirect routes connecting them. But it's a beautiful hotel.

Public transit in Austin is not great, and uses a hub-and-spoke model where all the connections are downtown. There is an airport express city bus that's not bad, but for getting around in town, I find it's usually faster to walk.
posted by adamrice at 9:47 AM on July 11, 2016

Best answer: I think the airport bus stops right outside that Hyatt. I usually take SuperShuttle, though, which is quoting $11.50 to downtown if you book both to/from the airport (for which they give a slight discount over one-way).

It's reasonable to take the bus from the Radisson to the Alamo Drafthouse (the 3 or the 803). The buses run south on Guadalupe and north on Lavaca through downtown and there are a bunch of other hotels in that general area. Otherwise, though, I'd rent a car and stay somewhere with free parking.
posted by hoyland at 3:32 PM on July 11, 2016

Best answer: I spent a few days in Austin a year ago, and absolutely did not need a car. First, the city has a good bikeshare program that worked perfectly well for me. Second, as mentioned above, they have Car2Go, which gives you more mobilty if you need to head out of the downtown core, and we used it to drive out to Lake Travis one day. Third, there is Uber/Lyft, although as this moment they are having a pissing match with the city. Fourth, taxis exists. Seriously, don't rent a car.
posted by intermod at 7:56 PM on July 11, 2016

Response by poster: Excellent! This helped me fill out my request form, so now here's hoping it goes through and I can come to town. Many thanks for all the information!
posted by theatro at 9:15 AM on July 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

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