What Someone From the UK Can Expect When Travelling to Texas

Guest blog on visiting Austin from a UK traveller’s point of view.

In 2012, Austin, Texas will be home to its very first Formula 1 Grand Prix. The capital city of Texas is preparing for a huge influx of visitors from around the world, many of which will be arriving from the United Kingdom. Visitors from abroad might be in for a surprise when it comes to the laid back, welcoming charms of Austin. Citizens have a reputation for being loud in Texas, but with the volume comes a friendly spirit and kind nature. This guide will help you to prepare for a trip to Austin, and understand what to expect when it comes to accommodations, dining, shopping, attractions and the Grand Prix itself.

Austin's skyline on Ladybird Lake - Photo: Stu Seeger

Austin’s skyline on Ladybird Lake – Photo: Stu Seeger

Getting Around Austin

Travellers from the UK might be used to having public transportation but many cities in Texas lack many forms of efficient public transport. Austin does have a reliable and inexpensive bus service, but most people will do better renting a car of their own as attractions and hotels are often miles from one another. Parking is easy to find and usually reasonable in price, excluding the more downtown area which can be pricey. Walking on foot is possible, but the city is quite large and may make pedestrian journeys too long.


Attractions in Austin

There are plenty of great attractions to enjoy in Austin, many of them architectural sites. Don’t miss out on seeing the Texas State Capitol Building, which prides itself on being bigger than even the US Capital Building in Washington, D.C. Other interesting buildings include the LBJ Presidential Library and the University of Texas at Austin. Austin is also known for the live music scene, and it is recommended that every traveler seeks out an opera, concert or local gig to experience the live music firsthand.

The University of Texas at Austin - Photo: alamobasement

The University of Texas at Austin – Photo: alamobasement

Accommodations in Austin

There are plenty of different accommodation options in Austin, all depending on budget and size of the travelling party. Everything from hostel to hotels and even Texas villas are available. Because of the large number of events in Austin at any given time, many hotels in the downtown area book up months in advance. The same applies to the villas in Austin, which are ideal for larger groups or those who want to spend time in an authentic luxury home in the city, rather than staying in a hotel each night.


Dining in Austin

As the capital of Texas, Austin offers up some incredible dining for visitors and locals alike. Expect large portions and an emphasis on local barbecue while visiting the city. A large number of Austin’s restaurants offer up either Southern style barbecue, Mexican food or a Tex-Mex combination of both. Austin is one of the few Texan cities which also boasts ethnic cuisine from all over the world, so Vietnamese, Chinese and Japanese food are also easy to find. Quite a surprising number of local residents prefer vegan, vegetarian or organic foods, so there are also plenty of options in Austin for those types of cuisine.


The Austin Grand Prix

Although the track site for the Austin 2012 Grand Prix is still being constructed, it will no doubt be a landmark in this Texan city. The event will take place in November, giving travellers from around the world plenty of time to finalize their plans to view this amazing premier racing event in Texas. The agreement is currently to host the event from 2012 until the year 2021, so there will be plenty of opportunities to enjoy Austin, Texas in the next decade for racing fans.

Want to add your own tips and experiences for first-time visitors to Texas? Add your comments below!

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  1. atxflyer, 5 years ago

    The track is actually more like 13 miles from downtown, and people will be strongly discouraged from driving to the track. Despite the 120K capacity, the track will have only 20K parking spots. So the vast majority of visitors will be taking shuttle buses from locations around town, hopefully near public transportation and hotels. Being the inaugural event, you should probably give yourself plenty of time to get to the track on race day — so leaving your hotel 3 hours (or more) early isn’t bad to estimate on the safe side. But in reality you will probably have a much shorter trip on the shuttle bus.

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  2. James, 5 years ago

    This is a nice overview, but more info is needed by an overseas visitor to the GP. It is necessary to talk about some of the challenges they will encounter, or we’re not much of a help. Its good that the article starts off with transportation, as this will be the biggest challenge to the GP being a success. The track is 20 miles from downtown Austin, and each day of the weekend the estimated time to the track from downtown is three hours. The return trip to downtown is also estimated to take three hours. Renting a car for around town is a good idea, but it will probably be better to take whatever public transportation they offer to and from the track. There aren’t any hotels near the track, so if you don’t want to wait the drive out, you may want to park an RV near or at the track. Its kind of a choice between staying at the track or spending multiple hours of your vacation in a vehicle to see what Austin has to offer.

    Dining in Austin can be a real treat, but bring your Visa, Mastercard, and American Express… you will pay a premium on race weekend. Then again there’s always BBQ and tacos!

    The people in Austin are a diverse mix. There are 50,000 college students, techy types, musicians, artists, and don’t forget the cowboys! This mixed bag of people make Austin an interesting place to visit, just check out 6th street on any given Friday or Saturday night. There is also a vibrant LG community, so head down to the Wharehouse district for a great time! The downtown bar area can get a little crazy closer to closing time, so be aware of your surroundings. Other than that it is a safe, fun place to party!

    One last comment- the GP in Austin is only scheduled for 2012. The original 10 year agreement has not been resigned, but once they see how we pull it off, I’m sure we’ll be enjoying the race for years to come!

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