The biggest traffic concern during SXSW is the road closures. Be sure to plan your route carefully when traveling during SXSW so that you don’t get stuck driving in circles to get to your destination! The main road closure will be along 6th street between Brazos Street and Interstate 35. All cross streets in this area (Sabine, Red River, Neches, Trinity, San Jacinto, and Brazos) will also be closed between 5th and 7th Streets.
Want to find a lot close to the Convention Center? Try the Convention Center Parking lots located on 2nd and Brazos Streets (best for events in Exhibit Halls 1, 2, and 3, and meeting rooms 1-10) and 5th and Red River Streets (best for events in Exhibit Halls 3, 4, and 5, and meeting rooms 11-19). They will be charging a $10 flat rate and will be open until 1a.m. every day from March 4-17.
Keep in mind that city parking meter hours have been extended most nights and on Saturday during SXSW so be sure you keep your meter running and full to avoid any parking tickets! The Austin Police Department, which went “boot happy” last year, will be on the lookout for parking violators and will not hesitate to tow your car!
If you don’t mind walking a bit, one of the best places to find parking is at the Long Center. Parking is normally a flat rate of $7 but rates can change depending on the event and day (to $15-$20 a day). For events and over-flow parking there are the Palmer Events Center Garage and the One Texas Center Parking Garage. Rates can vary at these garages but are normally around $7 per car.
During the Interactive portion of SXSW you will have to get up early to get a decent parking spot (around 9 am), and most spots will be taken by 11 am. During the music portion you will have until noon before parking becomes difficult.
If you’re a fan of exercise and mother nature you can park at Austin High School for free and take the hike and bike trail up to downtown Austin.