ACL Prep – What You Need to Know

Festival prep. We know it, we love it, and after the year and a half we’ve had, it’s finally back. After all that time off, I’ve been left thinking ‘where do I begin?’, and with the killer sets Austin City Limits has in store for this year, I must come prepared. With this in mind, I’ve compiled an approachable prep list of bookings and purchases that will gear anyone up for an unforgettable weekend at ACL, with a wide range of prices and experiences. I’ve divided my recommendations into 4 different categories: housing, food, clothes, and must-see sets. 

Housing 

Cheaper Options

Like most festival weekends, finding affordable and quality places to stay can be quite a challenge. For the cheapest rooms, AirBnB is definitely the way to go. There are plenty of places ranging from $75-$300 a night, if you’re willing to stay somewhere a little less cushy than some hotels. Linked are 2 rooms close to Zilker from $95 to $200

Midrange Options

If room service and beautiful pools are more your jam, this is the category for you. These range from $400-$600 a night, which I normally would never call ‘medium’ priced, but Austin knows how to make your pockets hurt during ACL weekends. You could certainly stay at your basic Hilton or Best Western and be perfectly comfortable, but these hotels provide more of an experience. 

Archer Hotel – Archer is a stunning 4-star hotel located in North Austin near the Domain. Although this hotel is more of a drive to Zilker, it’s proximity to restaurants and the beautiful atmosphere makes it worth it. Rooms start at $400 for weekend one. 

Hotel Ella – This charming historical hotel is in the heart of west campus. Each room is full of charm and the hotel has a welcoming and kind staff to assist you. There is also a beautiful pool and outdoor space if you’re in the mood for a swim after a long day of concerts. Rooms start at $400 for weekend one. 

Expensive Options

These hotels are for those who want the convenient location, nice rooms, and are willing to spend some money. Ranging from $500-$700, these hotels will undoubtedly provide a wonderful stay. 

Canopy by Hilton – Less than 3 miles from Zilker, Canopy by Hilton is a sleek and modern hotel with lots of amenities. Rooms start at $500 for weekend one.

South Congress Hotel – This hotel gives the full experience, with a stunning space and proximity to some of the most iconic spots in Austin, like the I Love You mural and Allen’s Boots. Rooms start at $700 for weekend one. 

Food

One of the great joys of Austin is their diverse and delicious food selection, with yummy restaurants at every price point. ACL Eats has lots of good choices, but if you’re looking to branch out during your weekend, here’s what I recommend. 

Cheaper options

Chuy’s – A Tex-Mex classic that can please anyone. 

Juiceland – Easy, quick, and refreshing, especially after a long day outside. Merit Coffee- Quality coffee that’s cheaper than your artisanal store. 

Black’s BBQ – Classic Texas barbeque but without Franklin’s wait. 

Midrange Options

Franklin’s BBQ – It’s famous for a reason, but if you want it, I would suggest doing curbside a couple weeks in advance, otherwise you will be in line all day.

Intelligentsia – This place can satisfy any caffeine fiend, with amazing coffee, tea, and matcha. 

Loro – This asian-inspired barbeque joint is owned by Uchi and one of Franklin’s smoke-masters. It’s casual and affordable, but most importantly delicious. Expensive options 

Uchi/Uchi Co – Known for their innovative and fresh dishes, this sushi restaurant has a friendly staff and fun atmosphere for those looking for an upper-level dining experience. 

Jeffrey’s – If you want to dine like kings, this Italian place will not disappoint.

Clothes

For the trendiest and most affordable clothes, I recommend thrifting to put together your festival fits. Buffalo Exchange is a consignment classic chalk full of statement pieces and a fun shopping experience. Uptown Cheapskate is similar to Plato’s Closet in concept and price point but with a trendier selection. For your tried-and-true stores, South Congress and the Domain are your spots. There, you can find stores like Urban Outfitters, Lululemon, and Reformation, or you can explore some local boutiques. 

Set Recs

The frontliners this year are hard to beat and have a little something for everyone, but there are a few smaller sets I would absolutely not miss. 

Backseat Lovers – This band has a few hits circulating around TikTok. Their sound makes me feel like I’m in a coming of age movie, and their music is very instrument-based, so I know it will make for a great live show.

Dayglow – This locally-grown artist just released his second album completely written, produced, and performed by lead singer Sloan Struble. He has a really diverse mix of sounds, but if you like Tame Impala and 80’s guitar riffs, you’ve gotta see this show. 

Trixie Mattel – Along with winning Drag Race All-Stars, Trixie Mattel has multiple wonderful country albums. Not only is she a talented singer and performer, but she’s hilarious. She will no doubt put together an amazing concert. 

Mother Mother – Mother Mother is the perfect intersection of The Neighborhood, Arctic Monkeys, and Tame Impala, all put into a rock band. Their unique sound and insightful lyrics make them a must-listen, and a really memorable performance to see live.