Circuit of the Americas (COTA)
The capital of Texas is a city on the rise. It's had a massive influx of new residents and its infrastructure has struggled to catch up. While it's having issues managing the huge growth in vehicle traffic clogging its roads - largely due to constant construction - what it has done right is bring racing to the city by with the Circuit of the Americas track.
Austin is an incredibly friendly considering its size and growth. Often when a city sees a large increase in transplants, it loses much of what made it draw those people in. Granted, that is definitely happening here as well. We were told stories of people who moved next door to 6th Street and then complained about noise coming from the bars, even though they very well knew that 6th Street is a section of downtown that is known for its busy bars and live music, and about how large residential projects are pushing out the locals that made Rainey Street the great spot that it is. But despite these things, Austin is by and large a friendly, welcoming city.
Where to Stay, What to Do
Austin isn't a very large city, so your choices for lodging are pretty open. Just be aware that construction can cause bottlenecks that bring traffic to a halt seemingly at random. If you want to experience a few of Austin's most famous areas, downtown is the place to be. It takes about 20 minutes to get downtown from the airport and there are several nice hotels to choose from. Plenty of restaurants can be reached with a short walk. Austin's famous 6th Street is near the center of it all, and Rainey Street isn't too far away.
Zilker Park is a bit further away so you'll need to take a car if you're staying downtown, but it's a must-see area while in Austin. Bring a swimsuit and splash around in the Barton Springs pool, or you can hike or bike the 7.5-mile long Barton Creek Greenbelt. There are boat rentals on Ladybird Lake (a dammed section of the Colorado River), huge grass fields for sports, and events happening throughout the year.
Getting to COTA
Circuit of the Americas is about half an hour from downtown and can be reached by car or shuttle. The shuttles run for certain events and tickets can be bought in advance or from the driver.
Circuit of the Americas
It doesn't matter what the weather is like, bring an umbrella. There's very little shade at the track, and you'll quickly find yourself wishing for cover.