Around the Austin metropolitan area, the neighborhoods north of 183 where it intersects with Mopac, have long been looked down upon as “Tech Central,” “South Dallas,” or, simply “Waco.” As Austin’s population has grown and living space in the Downtown and Central Austin areas has condensed and residential properties have grown scarce or unaffordable, those monikers have grown faint and all but faded.
The Domain, Four Points, Lakeline and Cat Hollow are now not only home to the tech set, they’re home to those things about Austin that drove the influx of new residents for the past few decades. Complete with an Alamo Drafthouse or two, a newly-opened Hopdoddy and a farmer’s market to rival Downtown’s thriving weekend destination (complete with a pop-up Salt and Time locale), the North “remembers” the identity of Austin and safeguards it well.
This includes an involvement in SXSW.
Yesterday, we explained that there were means to travel around SXSW without breaking your wallet or endangering your automobile. One such suggestion included Austin’s MetroRail, which operates under special hours and times during SXSW. From early in the morning, when the typical Austin commuters are headed into town, until well into the witching hours, the MetroRail can get you to the action and back again, with nary a hiccup, if you follow some simple rules:
1) Purchase CapMetro Special SXSW pass when they’re offered.
Details have yet to be released, but for a fee that is far less than the cost of daily payments, SXSW and CapMetro offer a week-long rate for the duration (2015 schedule shown in this link) of the conference and festival. You can hop on the rail as far north as Leander (making a very inexpensive short term home rental stay even more inexpensive), but also stay in the heart of Cedar Park or near Howard Lane and Mopac (north of Parmer) and still catch an easy ride into the heart of SXSW.
2) Download the CapMetro App
As with any public transport, schedule changes and delays can happen (though we’ve rarely seen it from CapMetro during SXSW). And, since paper schedules can get lost in the swag-valanche that SXSW offers all of its attendees, the CapMetro App is the perfect way to plan and plot out your schedule, keeping you informed of times and destinations, of arrivals and departures, so you can make the most of your SXSW. Too, the app stores your tickets, so you are never without the proof that the engineers and Austin Police Department occasionally ask you to produce on the train.
3) Bring your bike along for the ride
As we and many other people will tell you, parking is a premium during every conference of SXSW. Whether you’re Interactive, Film or Music, the price of parking in or near Downtown can be prohibitive. We highly recommend, if at all possible, bringing your bike to Austin and taking it on the train with you. As the City of Austin is such an environmentally aware community, bicycles are welcome on the train and bike racks are on nearly every car, to accommodate the trek from your chosen stay into the Downtown area. We can’t stress enough how convenient it is to have a bicycle downtown during SXSW. Faster than a speeding Uber and more powerful than a shuttle, a bike has the benefit of its own lanes, its own storage and it relies on no one other than yourself to get around SXSW.
4) Spend a day in the North
Not only do Austin landmarks Hopdoddy and Roaring Fork have northern locations, but so do P. Terry’s (Austin’s one-upsman response to In-N-Out), Whole Foods, Dogwood Bar, Tarka and even East Side King. All of this is to say nothing of how accessible all of these businesses are during a time when so much attention is on Downtown.
Staying North isn’t just convenient, it’s a way to make certain that every aspect of your SXSW experience is amazing.