Looking for a fun, free adventure? Need to get somewhere but don’t have a car? Take the bus to one of these five locations and soak up everything public transportation has to offer. To board, just swipe your UT ID card and you can ride the bus for free!
Stop: Brentwood Station
The northbound 801 bus has numerous great stops, but especially Brentwood Station, home to the Goodwill/Half-Price Books complex. Just five stops north of campus, this is the area to get first-rate finds on a budget. The Goodwill is still partially under renovation,
so be ready to try on items over your clothes as the dressing rooms are closed. The massive Half-Price Books next door is a staple for bargain books, along with CDs and records. Head a few blocks south to indie bookstore BookWoman for more reading material. After loading up on quality finds, head across the street to Dan’s Hamburgers, a local Austin chain selling American classics and cheap eats. Their website also has great sound effects, so check it out.
Stop: 4121 Red River/Park
If you need to get to H-E-B, this is the bus for you. It stops less than a block away from the H-E-B Complex, which also includes Footlocker and various pet supply stores. After getting your groceries, follow the sweet scents next door into Bath and Body Works, whose fall collection has hit the shelves with a bang. Don’t overdo it, though— lots of masked sniffing is a recipe for sickly sweet sensory overload. To beat the nausea, head a few doors down to Jason’s Deli and get some bottomless soft serve. Ice cream cures everything!
Stop: SoCo Station
Southbound 801 is one of the most direct bus routes to cross the river— it runs straight down Guadalupe and across the First Street Bridge before running along South Congress Avenue. South Congress is an area known for its quirky shops, great food and festive atmosphere. It has a distinct California-beach vibe, complete with stores actually founded in the Golden State (see Aviator Nation and TOMS Roasting Co.). There’s something for everyone here, but stores not to miss include vintage-inspired candy store Big Top Candy Shop and toy store Monkey See Monkey Do. Keep your energy up at Hopdoddy Burger Bar with reasonably priced specialty burgers, then dive into the many thrift and vintage stores along the street. Added bonus— stop by the SoCo Farmers Market from Friday to Sunday for some vintage finds, light bites and good music.
Stop: Lamar Square
Walk two blocks south of the Lamar Square bus stop and you will arrive on a festive, courtyard-like street complete with murals, ice cream and fairy lights. At the end of the street is an outpost of the Alamo Drafthouse Theater, featuring new and classic movies with retro decor. Catch one of their 11:00 a.m. screenings and be served from a special brunch menu, complete with themed fare tailored to your show. For the best seats, be sure to buy tickets in advance on the Alamo Drafthouse website.
Stop: Austin Bergstrom International Airport
Going out of state? Picking up family? Take the bus to the airport! The 20 heads to Austin-Bergstrom via Riverside. Get on at 116 University/Dean Keeton and ride until the end of the line at the airport. Why spend money on an Uber when you could take the bus for free? Be sure to leave lots of extra time, however, as the bus stops frequently and may contribute to pre-trip stress.
Regardless of where you go, the bus is an awesome way to experience Austin, and it’s always a trip to remember. If you need help figuring out what bus to take, use Cap Metro’s trip planner . For updated times and route information, visit Cap Metro’s website. Safe travels!
Featured Image by Ren Breach