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Bidding on Austin hotels (or other Austin ideas)

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I did do a search, but the most recent info I came up with was a couple of years old, so I thought I'd post again since things can change!

I'm going with two friends to Austin on Presidents' Day weekend - a first trip for all of us, so we're not at all familiar with the geography. Downtown hotels seem to be quite expensive, even on Hotwire and Priceline (over $200 - we'd love to stay under $150, and of course less is even better!). Are there other areas of town which are good (or not good) for a typical tourist visit? I'm assuming we'll rent a car, so we wouldn't necessarily have to be walking distance to much, though that would be nice. We're at various points in our 30s, mainly interested in food, usual tourist things, generally checking out this town we've heard is so great. We're up for some nightlife, but don't need to be in the middle of Sixth Street or anything.

These Hotwire zones seem to be most central:

North Austin

or further out, areas like Round Rock or Barton Creek. Any thoughts on areas with good value or places to avoid?

Any other Austin suggestions are welcome! I've found a few trip reports here that I'll be looking at. This all just came up yesterday, so it's a relatively spontaneous trip. Thanks in advance!

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