Soon enough, your Instagram feed will once again be flooded with Festival Fashion, pictures in front of the ACL frame, and Austin skylines as Austin City Limits approaches. Been TOO LONG. After 8 years of attending ACL & living in Austin, I am sharing my biggest ACL tips and how to tackle ACL like a local pro!
These are the 10 tried and true pieces of advice & ACL tips, and I also included the products I always take to ACL Festival with me! That way you come in knowing EXACTLY what to expect!
1 || They do intense FULL BODY checks when you come in, so be sneaky!
If you are trying to sneak in alcohol or other items, beware that those checks are THOROUGH. I’ve had my fake tampons taken and my boob flask poured out. My top recommendation is to pick the busiest time of day and pick the line that is the most swamped. At that point, they’re just going to shuffle you through with the rest of the people. They also KNOW where to look, and the best luck we have had has been using a guy’s crotch.
If you have one day where you think they’re being less strict DON’T GET COCKY. Our day 1 of 2021 I had nobody check a THING so on Day 2 I was less careful, and it led to items being taken up. Do not get cocky!!!!!
This is much different from Coachella where they could not care less. THEY CARE.
If you do want to try and be sneaky, here are some Amazon options:
2 || Enter from the Austin High School entrance
The lines are ALWAYS shorter at this entrance by the bridge than any of the other Zilker entrances. WITHOUT FAIL. Set your Lyft to drop you off at Austin High School and then walk over from here. You have a WAY shorter walk than the Barton Springs entrance and the line is going to be so much better. Honestly my favorite and most useful of the ACL tips. Also, this is your best option for an exit too!
3 || The Craft Beer Tent is Your Friend
It’s like $12 for a beer and while that is absolutely way more expensive than it should be, it’s not SO expensive as to risk getting yourself kicked out for sneaking in liquor. You can also get wine bottles and THOSE are beyond expensive, don’t recommend that option. Also, god bless the mister fans. This is the best place on the grounds to keep cool and not feel like you’re dying from the heat.
2021 Update // The wife carafes are not worth it, and the Karbach Beer is only 4.9% ABV despite it looking heavier!!!!!
** EXTRA SNEAKY PRO TIP: There is a Titos Claw Machine near the Titos VIP Lounge. If you arrive early and are A+ at claw machines, it’s not that hard to win some VIP wristbands. Our group of friends managed a couple in 2021 and it comes with free drinks!!!! **
4 || Keep your iPhone in your HAND at all times, no pockets and no bags
Okay, people. THIS IS KEY. MY BIGGEST OF ACL TIPS. I have had my friend’s phones stolen straight out of their own front pockets and back pockets and bags and even if you feel it happening, there are so many people around you who can’t do anything about it. In fact, I was the only one without her phone stolen all because I was taking 39475 pictures with it so it never left my palm. TAKE THAT BOYS.
5 || You will not have service 90% of the time, so communicate meeting times and spots in advance. Phone on airplane mode so it does not kill your battery as it tries to connect!
Seriously, even those apps that claim to let you use the internet when there is no internet are lies. Find a meeting spot with your friends or establish a totem pole/flag system. Otherwise, expect to never find them. Buddy up!
Also, your phone is going to keep trying to connect to cellular data or WIFI, and doing so will KILL YOUR BATTERY. Which is pretty rough when you’re trying to leave a festival and lose your friends. Saying this from experience. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND a portable charger or a phone case that also charges your phone.
Here are some solid options from Amazon:
Check Out These Cute Amazon Festival Outfit Ideas!
6 || Wear comfy shoes and be prepared for mud and dirt to get all over them
My brand new white converse looked about 10 years old after one ACL Weekend. Skip your favorite shoes or those really cute bright white boots you love with your outfit. Pack the ones you can handle being destroyed. Expect mud and drinks and sweat and to be their new color.Expect everyone to step on your feet in the crowds.
Also do not wear flip-flops. Sounds great in theory, horrible in reality. Someone WILL step on them and destroy them the second you enter a concert.
7 || Screenshot the ACL lineup for the day and make it your phone background
SHOUTOUT to @Rachellately for this tip. Instead of keeping the paper lineup or trying to get to the website with zero services, having it as your phone background will make figuring out where to go next WAY easier! Put it as your lock screen and maybe the ACL Stage Map as your background.
Personally, pre going to ACL I literally put every show I want to see in my calendar. Then I get the alerts 10 minutes before they start when I’m sprawled out on the lawn ignoring the time! And I have my calendar on my homescreen so it’s easy for me to track
8 || Get there earlier and then just relax before your bands start. Also, pack a blanket!!
Getting there between 3-5pm means waiting in insanely long packed lines. Super fun, right!? If your show starts at 5 and you get there at 4 you’re absolutely either not gonna make the start of the show, or end up at the far back. However, the later times are prime for trying to get things in. I should not be allowed to give advice.
Also, I always forget to pack a little blanket. Every year. Like one of these “Super Soaker Towels” that folds up small but can be laid out for ultimate comfort. I hate sitting on the grass and I always say “I won’t mind!” and then I 100% do mind and end up cranky.
9 || CLEAR BAGS a must, unless it’s a SMALL fanny pack!
I’ve talked to so many people about this and NOBODY KNEW. It’s a new ACL rule that all bags MUST be clear bags. That hugefanny pack or drawstring backpack is now utterly useless. So please make sure you order one in advance! Below are some great ones you can order in advance!
If you have a small fanny pack it doesn’t have to be clear, but ANY LARGE BAGS DO.
Small clutch purses and fanny packs that are4.5″ x 5.5″ or smallerdo not need to be clear
10 || The AMEX Lounge has the best bathrooms
If you want clearer bathrooms and you have an American Express Platinum card, then ask to find out where the AMEX Lounge is and you get access! This does include AMEX Platinum or Delta AMEX.
There are a few other lounges with solid bathrooms like the Bumble Lounge or T Mobile lounge and usually, you just have to download the app to get in (do that beforehand!!) but the AMEX Is my favorite.
And of course, this blog post has my go-to credit card recommendations. I’ve got the AMEX Plat so this is where I’ll be!
Bonus Tip || Avoid 6th Street afterwards
I get it, Sixth is Austin Famous. However, it will 100% be overcrowded with obscene lines and full of regrets. There are SO many other Austin drinking spots! Opt to check out Rainey Street or East Austin bars instead.
Off Rainey Street
Check out Bangers for the good beer, Bungalow for the bar games, Lucilles for the relaxed vibes, or Container Bar for the dancing
Off the East Side
Check out Whistlers for the good cocktails, White Horse for the dancing, Shangri La for the best dive vibes, or Lazarus for the beer!
What To Pack For ACL
These are the essentials I will 100% have in my bag this ACL! Five years later and I have learned what to bring and what not to bring. Love spreading that knowledge (linked everything on Amazon below).
Clear Fanny Pack or Clear Purse
Again! You have to have a clear bag! I linked a couple of affordable ones on amazon above that fit the bill! Also I swear on my life do not bring a drawstring bag those cords are going to make your shoulder wanna cry.
The sun is bright and my desire to stare straight into it for concerts all day is minimal. Make sure you pack some you don’t mind breaking or losing!
For so many obvious reasons. Please make sure you re-apply constantly throughout the day to avoid some brutal second-degree burns! Aerosol containers, including sunscreen and personal beauty products, aren’t allowed though so make sure it’s a lotion.
Water Bottle (EMPTY)
I personally like to pack my fold-able one (linked above) because when it goes empty I can just stick it right back into my pack all small instead of carrying a large one around all day! However, if you want your drink to stay cold I would recommend a more insulated version.
I wanted to bring something smaller that I can have Denver carry around in a bag and I can sit on it when I am very exhausted.
Portable Charger and a Keychain Cord
Firstly, see my tip above about why the portable charger is a MUST during ACL. Also, I packed my charger last year and forgot a cord. Dumb. I ended up getting this cute tassel cord I keep on my keys all the time so I have something to take with me!
Hand Sanitizer Wipes
Because port-a-potty life is nasty. And we do not need those germs.
A Secret Flask + A Koozie
I would obviously never condone this (lol) but if you do choose to bring alcohol then that is totally up to you!
Amazon Links to all the Products I am Packing for ACL!
Looking for more Austin posts? Check out these!
Ultimate Guide to Austin Happy Hours for Great Deals
Austin Mural Guide – Most Instagrammable Murals in Austin