When the first Austin City Limits Festival was held in 2002, organizers expected only 25,000 people would come. What started as a festival to showcase the local bands and national headliners tied to the “Austin City Limits” television show has grown into one of the most exciting music festivals in the world. This two-weekend festival brings downtown Austin’s Zilker Park to life with mouthwatering food, music, and exciting activities. This year, ACL Music Festival will be held on October 4 – 6 and October 11 – 13 with a wide array of artists, listed below. Are any of your favorites in this year’s lineup?
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Where to Stay for Austin City Limits
If you’re planning on attending ACL, why not skip booking a cramped hotel room in favor of an Austin vacation rental in one of the city’s most popular neighborhoods! Here are the five most convenient places to stay.
When it comes to finding the best place to stay close to Austin City Limits Music Festival, it’s hard to beat the convenience of a vacation rental located in the Zilker neighborhood, just across the lake from downtown. It’s one of the more popular neighborhoods among real estate buffs, and it’s home to a mix of small single-family homes and ultra-modern new construction. Best of all, a vacation rental here puts you within walking distance of Zilker Park, where the festival is held, and the Barton Creek Greenbelt, where you can hike, bike and get in touch with nature during your down time.
The Zilker neighborhood offers quiet surroundings and easy access to the festival, but staying downtown puts you within steps of all the action in Austin. Grab a bite to eat at restaurants like Koriente or Moonshine, sip cocktails at bars like Peche or Midnight Cowboy, and see shows at theaters like the Alamo Drafthouse Ritz or Violet Crown. From eateries to comedy clubs to shops and boutiques, you’ll find it all downtown. Plus, you’ll be just a short ride away from Zilker Park.
- South Congress (SoCo)
The SoCo neighborhood is popular among visitors and locals looking for a laid-back atmosphere, in addition to a variety of things to do, see, and eat. SoCo is known for its artsy vibe and great eateries like Bouldin Creek Cafe. To experience the neighborhood’s artistic side, head to First Street, where there are plenty of galleries, studios, and public art, including the “Greetings from Austin” mural.
This neighborhood is part of what many locals call “Old West Austin.” It’s known for its gorgeous homes, lush greenery and throwbacks like Nau’s Enfield Drug, a classic soda fountain, diner, and drugstore hybrid. The luscious lemon ricotta pancakes at the Josephine House are also popular, as is the speakeasy vibe at Winflo Osteria. Looking for galleries? Check out Artworks or Wally Workman Gallery.
- Hyde Park
Located just north of the University of Texas campus, this idyllic neighborhood boasts charming bungalows, manicured landscapes and restaurants like Wheatsville Co-Op and Hyde Park Bar & Grill. This historic neighborhood also offers a few gems, like Workhorse Bar, which is a perfect spot for gathering with friends and grabbing a few drinks before or after the festival.
Things to Do Near the Festival
Austin has a reputation for having some of the most mouthwatering barbecue in the country, so you should definitely take time out of your trip to stop by one of the city’s famous BBQ joints. Aside from that, here are a few other activities in the area.
- Sit Back and Relax at Shady Grove
Shady Grove is less a short stroll away from Zilker Park — less than ten minutes to be exact. In the summertime, they host the longest running live music series in Austin called “Unplugged at the Grove.” You may even get the chance to catch a movie at Shady Grove’s Starlight Theater, where they play old school classic films under the stars.
Plus, the establishment offers ACL 3 Day Parking Passes for festival-goers, so you can park your car there and grab a bite at Shady Grove before heading over to the festival.
- Rent a Kayak, Canoe, or Paddle Board on Lady Bird Lake
Rowing Dock at the northern tip of Zilker Park provides rentals of all kinds to explore Austin on water. You have the option to rent regular kayaks, fishing kayaks, canoes, and stand up paddle boards. They also host full moon paddles, and lucky for ACL Weekend 2 attendees, the next full moon happens to fall on October 13th.
- Hit a Couple Rounds at Peter Pan Mini Golf
On a sunny day during your trip, you can walk over to Peter Pan Mini Golf, less than a 15 minute walk from Zilker Park. The vibrant golf course has been around since 1946, and is obviously kid friendly, but the best part about this spot is that it’s BYOB. Mini golf pregame before the festival, anyone?
- Cool Off at Barton Springs Pool
Last but not least, while you’re already in the Zilker Park area, you might as well visit Barton Springs Pool located inside the park. The pool is three acres in size and gets its water from underground springs. Even on a chilly day, the water is naturally warm at an average temperature between 68 to 70 degrees. The pool is normally open to the public from 5am to 10pm, and non-resident admission fees cost $9 for adults, $5 for kids ages 12 to 17, and $4 for kids 11 and under. Little ones under 1 year old swim for free!
A Playlist for the Pregame
No matter where you plan to get hyped up for the festival, we have exactly what you need to set the mood right. Here’s a VacationRenter playlist made up of 55 tracks from artists in this year’s lineup — ordered from the first day to the last.