SXSW Interactive Pro Tips

How to get around, find that forgotten cord, and get your coffee fix

Packed airports, cramped planes, and overzealous TSA agents couldn't stop you. You've made it to SXSW Interactive! If the combo of being in a new town and jet lag has you overwhelmed, here are a few Austin tips to ensure access to the bare essentials.


SXSW Shuttles
SXSW Interactive is such behemoth that there are scads of venues positioned all over the Downtown area. If trudging up Congress Avenue to the InterContinental Stephen in those shoes that look so cool but feel so terrible isn’t going to happen, badge-holders can hop on one of the SXSW Shuttles. There are two looping routes (north and south), but both of them go to the Convention Center and the JW Marriott. Check the map or just ask your friendly shuttle driver if their conveyance will get you to your destination.

You’re on a boat! Yup, this year SXSW even chartered a 36-seat, water-borne taxi to get badge-holders across Lady Bird Lake. The boat leaves at the top of the hour from Hyatt Regency South Shore and docks at the Waller Creek Boathouse on the north shore. The return trip sets off about 15 minutes after the hour.

Couldn’t get a hotel room near Downtown? It might be worth paying for an official SXSW hotel shuttle to bring you reliably to and from the Convention Center. Prices range from $20 for a day pass to $120 for nine days of rides.

The Cap Metro system is going out of its way to help out SXSW-goers. Buses between the airport and Downtown will be running more frequently to keep up with demand. They will also have extended hours for certain routes.

If the MetroRail line is near your Airbnb or hotel, the little engine that could might be your best option. Get tickets at any station, hop on board, and get a traffic free ride directly to the Convention Center. The train will be running extended hours for the entire festival.

Go to Cap Metro’s website for helpful maps, trip planners, and pricing.

Austin B-Cycle (courtesy of Kimberley Jones)

Austin’s citywide bikeshare program, B-Cycle, will have day-pass vouchers for badge-holders at the SXcycles depot (604 Driskill). The passes are good for 24-hours of rides with a 30-minute limit. Quantities are limited and our guess is these two-wheeled gems will be very popular. B-cycle docking stations can be found at or near most SXSW Interactive venues. Check out the B-cycle website for more details on how the system works.

If your legs are too tired to pedal, there are pedicabs waiting all over town to do the legwork for you. They aren’t cheap, but sometimes you’re a little too tipsy to walk, and there’s a pedicab driver with impressively muscled thighs just waiting to help. You can’t fight fate.

Trying to phone or hail a cab during peak SXSW hours can be a bit like Rocky trying to catch that chicken. We’ve heard urban-legends of people actually calling and getting a cab though, so:
Yellow Cab Austin – 512/452-9999
Lone Star Cab – 512/836-4900
Austin Cab Company – 512/478-2222

Lyft and Uber
Austin has two transportation network companies working legally this year. Uber and Lyft will have an arsenal of poor students, artists looking to make a quick buck, and maybe a creeper or two looking to give you a ride. Download their respective apps and cross your fingers for that responsible and helpful driver that everyone wants.

Not sure which service to choose? Uber has struggled in the headlines, being accused of underhanded business practices and, more recently, having the info of 50,000 of the service’s drivers breached. Lyft, on the other hand, has those infuriating pink mustaches on them. So, pick your poison.

Yup, live music, even at Discount Electronics (Photo by John Anderson)

Tech Emergency

Dropped your phone? Forgot your charger? Airline batter your laptop? Don't panic. Here are a few local electronics shops to help you find that power cord or replace that ailing hard drive.

Discount Electronics
9711 Manchaca
1011 W. Anderson Ln.
This place has a wide selection of computers, phones, and everything you need to make them work right. They will also repair your suffering electronic friend. Did your laptop get mangled in transit? You could buy an inexpensive, refurbished laptop if you don’t want to be the only one at the festival without one.

Fry’s Electronics
12707 MoPac N.,
From computers to components to smartphones to all manner of wires and cables to connect them, this place probably has it.

Best Buy
1201 Barbara Jordan Blvd.,
You might have heard of this place. What’s more, you probably already know what they have in stock.

Apple Store
Barton Creek Square Mall, 2901 Cap. of TX Hwy. S.,
The Domain, 11410 Century Oaks Terrace,
Sometimes you just need those brightly lit aisles of sleek, computing sexiness to soothe your nerves. Especially if those nerves are raw from a laptop on the fritz or phone without its charger.

CompuZone (Apple specialist)
1011 W. Fifth,
Far and away the closest option for that forgotten or ailing Apple product. From Downtown, it’s a doable walk, a short bike trip, or a cheap cab ride.

Cenote (Photo by John Anderson)

Coffee Shops

Coffee is pretty much the official beverage of SXSW, until 8pm when it switches to beer. Most hotels have coffee available in the lounge which ranges from a perfect pick-me-up to a bitter morning jolt of sludge. If you want to get out of the hotel here are a few Downtown caffeine suppliers.

Halcyon, 218 W. Fourth

Houndstooth Coffee, 401 Congress

Austin Java, 301 W. Second

Hideout Coffeehouse, 617 Congress

Jo’s, 242 W. Second

Cafe Ruckus, 409 W. Second

Just East of the Highway

Brew & Brew, 500 San Marcos

Flat Track Coffee, 913 E. Cesar Chavez

Cenote, 1010 E. Cesar Chavez

Got questions? Maybe we can help! Email

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