Get the most out of your trip to Austin and Circuit of The Americas! Here’s your travel guide to the 2019 United States Grand Prix on 31 October to 3 November.
How to get to Austin?
San Antonio, Houston and Dallas are all within a few hours’ drive of Austin. The US interstate highway also provides good connections for a proper road trip. Here’s some sample driving times: Atlanta (14 hours), Phoenix (15 hours), Miami (19 hours), Los Angeles (20 hours). Buses and trains are also available for fans on a budget.
Austin-Bergstrom Airport (AUS), which is located southeast of downtown and close to Circuit of The Americas, has daily direct connections to all corners of the USA (especially with Southwest Airlines). Austin’s only airport also has an increasing number of medium and long-haul connections, including direct flights to Mexico City, Toronto, Frankfurt and London. For a better selection of international flights, you may also consider flying into the larger Texas hubs in Houston or Dallas.
Where to stay?
We recommend staying downtown. Not only will you find everything from lively hostels to 5-star luxury, you’ll also be able to dine at some of the city’s best restaurants and soak up the best off-track atmosphere in the 6th Street entertainment district. Just south of downtown, the area around South Congress is also worth considering; home to some of the best shopping and culture in the city, South Congress is also known for its live music venues. Cheaper digs – not to mention some of the best food trucks in the city – can be found in the hipster enclave of inner East Austin. For quieter surroundings and more green spaces, the area around the University of Texas campus is also recommended. For something a little different, RV and dry camping is also available at the track.
How to get to Circuit of The Americas?
The home of the USGP is located about 10 miles southeast of downtown Austin, close to Austin-Bergstrom Airport. The best way to get there on race weekend is to take the Downtown Shuttle, a regular bus service that departs from the Austin Convention Centre to the circuit (and vice versa) at regular intervals and costs $30 return each day. Trackside parking is also available for those who want to drive their own cars, or you can avail of ride-sharing (Uber, Lyft) or local taxis; one way fares to Circuit of The Americas should set you back around $40-60 from most parts of central Austin.
What tickets to buy?
From General Admission to VIP Hospitality, the views at Circuit of The Americas are exceptional from all corners of the track. The bleachers at Turn 4, where you can see the cars negotiate the high speed “esses,” provide excellent views for an affordable price. Don’t miss any of the pits action, or the pre- and post-race atmosphere, with a seat in the Main Grandstand; Platinum and Gold B Packages offer some of the best views here. You can also take your experience to the next level with access to the Champions Club, a climate-controlled hospitality suite near the Main Grandstand that offers all-day hospitality, including gourmet meals and open bars, plus a guest appearance by American motorsport legend Mario Andretti (Access to Lunch with a Legend with Mario Andretti can also be purchased as an a la carte item.) Gold A, Multi-Turn and Turn 12 Packages are already sold out for 2019.
Even if you have a grandstand seat or access to trackside hospitality, we still recommend getting out and about to explore this stunning circuit. Lots of natural elevation helps provide excellent panoramic views from many vantage points throughout the General Admission zones, which are open to all ticket holders. Formula 1 cars will be in action for around six hours over the weekend, including two 90-minute practice sessions on Friday, 60-minute practice and qualifying sessions on Saturday and the race on Sunday. This year’s on-track schedule (check here) also includes Formula 4 and two categories featuring historic F1 and endurance cars.
No trip to Circuit of The Americas would be complete without checking out the views from the top of the iconic COTA Tower; tickets for the observation deck cost $30 and can be purchased at the base. Nearby, the Austin360 Amphitheater will host F1 driver autograph sessions and other events throughout the weekend. Don’t forget to save some energy for the post-race concerts featuring Imagine Dragons (Friday, November 1) and Pink (Saturday, November 2), which take place on the COTA Super Stage between Turns 11 and 12 (check map here). A host of additional musical acts will be performing over the race weekend on multiple stages around the circuit. Other trackside areas to check out include the F1 Fanzone near the Austin360 Amphitheater and the go-kart track and Zipline behind the Main Grandstand
What to do away from the track?
Make sure you plan at least one night to check out the nightlife and live music that have put Austin on the world map. The city really does come alive after dark and the best place to experience this is in the 6th street/Red River precinct, which is lined with live music bars playing everything from blues to punk; Pete's Dueling Piano Bar is a particular favourite among F1 insiders. Just across the river on South Congress, you’ll find some of the city’s best live music venues such as The Continental Club. If you are lucky, you may even catch the Congress Bridge Bats, a colony of approximately 1.5 million Mexican free-tail bats that emerge from the Congress Bridge at dusk every evening to forage for food. Feeling peckish? Check out one of the city’s many food truck lots (we recommend Rainey Street & Pangea Lounge, for starters) where you can sample everything from tacos to burgers in a relaxed, friendly environment.
By day, the Texan capital has a wealth of culture, history and natural beauty waiting to be discovered. Visit the imposing Texas State Capitol, one of the finest historical buildings in the USA; climb to the top of the dome for stunning views of the city or admire some of the nearby monuments. The nearby Bullock Texas State History Museum is also worth checking out. Austin is also home to the largest public university in the United States. Take a walk around the huge grounds, which house some of the city’s best musuems, notably the Blanton Museum of Art and the LBJ Presidential Library. Get back to nature at Zilker Metropolitan Park for some of the best views of the city skyline. The huge park boasts miles of hiking and cycling trails and you can also go hire a canoe on Lady Bird Lake or go swimming in Barton Springs, weather permitting.