Whether you've lived in Austin for two years or 20, there's always a new way to see the city. From flying in luxury to casual biking, we took a look at Austin's top tour companies to help you become a tourist in your own backyard, generate ideas for a date night or bachelorette party, and entertain family and friends when they inevitably come for a visit.
The newest way of touring the city from above, Austin Biplane brings the thrill of aviation to Austin. Established in 2015, the world’s only in-production open cockpit biplane allows for two passengers to ride side by side in the front while the pilot flies from the rear. Owned and operated by U.S. Air Force alum captain Robert Whiteside, a decorated combat veteran with several deployments and countless flying hours under his belt, you could not wish for a more exhilarating adventure with a more experienced pilot.
The plane itself keeps the feel of a classic aircraft but is manufactured under today’s safety standards. Once you're strapped in and sipping bubbly, takeoff is smooth and quick. Riders fly over a vast sea of green before seeing downtown on the horizon where the pilot dips the plane down for a rollercoaster-like ride over Lady Bird Lake, the capitol, UT stadium, and the Frost Bank Tower.
Austin Biplane offers different packages, ranging from the romantic Sunset Champagne flight to the Red Baron, an aerobatic flight where you find yourself upside down in an open cockpit. Best for the daring and romantic couple or a birthday treat on a sunny day, whatever package you choose, this tour is just plain cool.
Austin Tour Company
Austin Tour Company customizes tours appropriate for any type of group. The outings take anywhere from 90 minutes to several hours and lead guests to destinations that are of specific interest to them. Whether you want a short tour in the city or long tour on the outskirts of town, have five or 30 people, Austin Tour Company can accommodate your needs. Another bonus is that you can bring your own alcohol on most of the driving tours.
Destinations include visiting music venues, distilleries, breweries, iconic street art, and floating the river. Work with an expert on building the ideal tour for your friend’s bachelorette party or something to impress your clients.
PubCrawler of Austin
If you’ve ever seen a yellow trolley-like contraption with human legs pedaling down the streets of downtown as riders laugh hysterically, you've been witness to PubCrawler of Austin. Offering a variety of routes, PubCrawler takes you to Austin's quintessential bars (and yes you can drink while you pedal), the state capitol building, the Warehouse District, or Barton Springs. You can also arrange for specific stops beforehand.
Each PubCrawler transport carries 15 passengers, but only 10 actually pedal. Bring at least eight "fit" buddies who are 5-foot-3-inches or taller (best for pedaling), and don’t worry about anything but enjoying yourself — every PubCrawler comes with a driver. This tour is for a young drinking crowd, so try it out on your next girls' or boys' weekend.
ATXcursions is the perfect summer tour, as you can tour breweries by air conditioned transportation or conveniently float the river. For the river tour, the company picks you up and drops you off in Austin, and includes tube rentals, ice, and coolers so that all you need to bring is your favorite drink and favorite friends. For the brewery tour, with an optional stop at The Salt Lick, guests visit three different breweries to taste Austin-made beers. Plus, you don’t have to worry about driving.
A five-star-rated company, this is a fit for locals who want to enjoy a laid-back bachelor party or for for the beer-loving family that is all over the age of 21. ATXcursions is one of the most relaxing full-service tours for groups of any size.
Gliding Revolution Austin Segway Tours
Austin Segway Tours is an easy way to explore our historic city. The Capitol Pavement tour makes stops at the state capitol building, the famed Driskill Hotel, Lady Bird Lake, world-famous Sixth Street, and shopping areas. The Haunted Ghost and Bat City tour takes you down to the Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge to see the free-tailed bats come out for their nightly show, a cruise around downtown, and a stop at the Paramount Theatre. These excursions are designed for international tourists, first-time Austin visitors, and guests who have not had a chance to see the city's most iconic spots.
Fly Lake Austin
If you are looking for something different to do in Austin, this option is for you. Not exactly a leisurely tour of the city, Fly Lake Austin provides a unique water adventure, offering the flyboard, an apparatus that uses water power to propel the rider into the air. Bringing a group out to the lake to learn to fly is an experience no one will forget. Fly Lake Austin can customize your group’s outing so that your corporate event or birthday party will (quite literally) blow your guests out of the water. Formed for outdoorsy, fit locals and lovers of extreme sports, prepare for an action-packed day.
Austin Detours puts a great deal of thought into each of its themed tours. While they make mandatory stops at all of the city's major landmarks, they prefer to give guests a true experience of the real Austin. The tour guides are local artists, musicians, foodies, and business owners, which means they know every inch of the city. By giving a perspective from people who make up the fabric of the city, Austin Detours sets itself apart from your typical touring company that may not be able to give you tidbits of information only locals know.
The other special aspect of Austin Detours is that you get to experience the city in a sensory way, not just as a viewer through the windows of a tour van. Guests will eat at top restaurants and food trailers, watch sunsets, and stomp their feet at the city's best music venues. These tours satisfy curious tourists who enjoy seeing how Austinites live daily.
Double Decker Austin
On this hop on, hop off double-decker bus, guests get some of the best views of the city while having the opportunity to explore the downtown districts. Visitors learn all about Austin from the guides and interact with people on the streets from the deck. Since tickets are good for the whole day, you are able to hop on and off at your leisure and not be tied to any time frame.
If you see an interesting coffee shop or want to take a break and watch a movie at the Violet Crown Cinema, you can get back on when you are ready. Double Decker Austin makes more downtown stops than any other tour, runs Thursdays through Mondays, and is meant for casual tourists who want to experience the city at their own pace and not feel pressured to stick to a schedule.