If you’re asking yourself, “Do I need to rent a car in Austin?”, the short answer is yes. Austin, like the rest of Texas, is an area designed to be explored via car.
If you’re just hanging in the main downtown area for a couple of days, you may be able to swing traveling on foot. But everything is bigger in Texas and Austin is big! Within the central city limits alone there are so many fun areas to check out, along with all the outdoor adventures you can have just an hour or two away.
A rental car is the way to go. Taxis and ride shares are expensive and public transportation is inefficient. Rent a car and you’ll have all the freedom to explore every nook and cranny of this fantastic capital city. And with ‘Keep Austin Weird’ as the unofficial local motto, you definitely don’t want to miss out on all the wild and crazy sights and bites.
We gave you the short version. But here we get into the details of the big question: Do you need a rental car in Austin?
Avoid Public Transportation
In Texas, people drive. Though Austin has public transportation just like any major metropolitan city, it doesn’t have the same infrastructure like New York or Chicago. In other words, you may have to take multiple buses or metro rail trips to get to that restaurant. In this city, having a car is the most efficient and effective way to get around.
When you head to the capital city, renting a car is a great alternative to some of those more expensive options, like taxis or ride shares. Though a car rental isn’t cheap, you’ll spend way more cash calling a taxi every few hours to get to all your destinations. And ride shares add up pretty quickly in a busy city.
Renting a car on your trip to Austin will save you time. Instead of figuring out complicated (and slow) public transportation, or waiting for a taxi to get to your accommodations, just rent a car.
Moving around the city will be way easier when you’ve got full autonomy. With a rental car, you won’t have to wait for a rideshare driver to find you. And you won’t spend precious minutes waiting at bus stops or sitting through long routes to get to your destination. In a city like Austin, having a car is way more efficient.
Take Day Trips
There’s so much to see in this growing city, but when you ask yourself, “Should I rent a car in Austin?” you have to consider all great day trips just outside the city. Austin sits in part of the state known as the Hill Country. It’s a beautiful rural area with all sorts of lakes, rivers, and outdoor activities to explore.
If you’re looking to climb, camp, or stargaze, Enchanted Rock State Natural Area makes for a unique weekend road trip. It’s less than two hours away from Austin by car and is a great rural escape.
If you’re traveling to Austin in the summer, you’ll need a relief from the heat. Jacob’s Well is a playful spot that’s popular for its cool turquoise waters and great jumping rocks. If you’re looking for a refreshing dip just an hour outside the city, this is your place.
If you want a little Texas history and some great food, San Antonio has no shortage of things to do. Drive to the Alamo, explore the iconic River Walk, or take a stroll through the Japanese Tea Gardens.
Enjoy Austin’s Music and Food
When you head to a new city, you want the maximum autonomy possible so you fully enjoy every corner and every moment. And with a rental car, you’ll be able to do just that. You can hit up Austin’s amazing music scene, with big events like Austin City Limits or SXSW. Or get some authentic Texas flavor at the Broken Spoke. One of the few traditional dance halls left in Texas, the Broken Spoke offers food, live music, and dancing all year long. You can even take dance lessons in the evening!
And when it comes time to explore Austin’s incredible food scene, you’ll have no problem getting your hands on the city’s famous tacos and barbecue. Hop around to some of Austin’s best eats, like Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ truck, where you can get life-altering, mesquite-fired brisket breakfast tacos from a permanent taco truck. Or line up early for authentic Texas BBQ at Kerlin’s, where they sell big plates of delicious barbecue and fixins’ (Texan for sides) until they run out.
If you need a break from the beef, drive to Better Half Coffee and Cocktails. The place developed a cult following for their cauliflower tater tots served with a homemade beet ketchup. Or, head to Austin’s famous Picnic Food Truck Park, a central location for food trucks to park and serve hungry customers.