Updated: May 27, 2022
Austin, Texas is quickly becoming America’s top cities. And it’s no wonder why. They’ve got creative food coming from food trucks all over the city, live music pumping out of bars every night, and a dark history that has procured many ghosts who still roam the city streets.
With so many new people moving to the city, Austin has stepped up its touring game and now offers a great variety of tours and activities for all those who come to the city.
Here are eight fun activities you can to explore all around Austin!
Haunted ATX Ghost Tour
I’ve been on many ghost tours, but my adventure with Austin's Best Ghost Tour has easily been my favorite. Most ghost tours I’ve been on I just follow the tour guide along the sidewalk just outside of a haunted location. The host points at windows and tells us tales of eerie sightings and local lore before it’s on to the next location.
But with Haunted ATX we got a much more intimate experience… We traveled to several haunted locations throughout the three-hour tour and could venture into all but one of them. This meant we actually got to see remnants of secret passageways used during Prohibition, smell the stale, old air that still lingers in historic ballrooms, and feel the chains that held prisoners captive within brick basements.
Definitely check out this tour if you’re looking for an eerie evening.
Lone Star Riverboat Moonlight Cruise
My friends and I took a spontaneous Austin moonlight cruise on the Lone Star Riverboat one Friday night. We got to cruise along Lady Bird Lake while sipping on our own drinks and gazing at the gorgeous Austin skyline.
We enjoyed the warm breeze and the opportunity to sit back and relax on a Friday night. This definitely beat out waiting in long lines and having to shout over obnoxiously loud music.
I would take this moonlight cruise any night of the week!
Live Love Paddle
Every night in Austin, people crowd along the Congress Avenue Bridge to see thousands of bats awaken and fly across the city in droves.
It's a site every Austinite or tourist needs to see.
But who wants to watch from above, when you can see better from below?
I took a sunset kayak bat watching tour to view the Austin bats from Live Love Paddle to get up close and personal with the bats (and no, they did not poop on me...).
It was so beautiful—despite the horror movie vibes—to see the flashes of their translucent wings as the bats raced past the streetlights.
And of course, I brought along the only acceptable beverage, Thirsty Planet Brewing Company's Fat Bat hazy IPA.
I highly recommend setting out with Casey from Live Love Paddle. He gave the whole tour plenty of time to paddle out to the bridge and explore on their own before bringing us to a great viewing spot. And we got to stay out way past the other tours who set sail back to shore after only a few minutes of seeing the bats.
Float On Sunset cruise
What’s the best way to watch the sunset in Austin, Texas?
How about with a sunset cruise across Lake Travis?
Hop on a pontoon boat from Lake Travis boat tour, and then set out on the lake. You can bring your own food, drinks, and friends, and enjoy the gorgeous sunset on the water.
On my trip, I had a great captain (William) who gave me plenty of recommendations for my time in Austin, like that I should visit Crow Bar for the best drink deals, and Valentina’s for their breakfast tacos. He let us store our drinks in the Yeti cooler, and shared fun facts about the surrounding lake, pointing out Baker Mayfield’s house right on the lakefront!
Grab some friends, or just go by yourself and enjoy the cruise. Either way, you’ll love it!
Lake Travis Zipline Adventures
For a more aerial view of Lake Travis, you'll want to book an adventure with Lake Travis Zipline Adventures.
They have five different lines that go from 300 to 2800 feet, which includes the longest zipline in the entire state of Texas!
Whether it's your first time or you're an experienced zip liner, you'll love this course. It was only my second time, plus I'm terrified of heights, but the tour guides (shout out to Shelby, Nate, Lizzy, and Raylon) made me feel so comfortable and relaxed. They helped control my speed and taught me how to stop properly, so all I had to do was zip—not panic—and enjoy the view.
On this adventure you'll get to see stunning views of Lake Travis as you sore over the water on the 'Leap of Faith' line, and then race side-by-side with your friends on the very last line. At the end of the course, you land right on top of a bar, so you get to crack a beer and soak in the view before going for a dip in the water!
The Escape Game
This summer, escape the Austin heat by heading inside.
And by “inside” I mean getting locked inside a room with friends, and having to find clues and hidden items to find your way out…
The Escape Game offers five different types of escape room adventures, all with varying degrees of difficulty that will make you feel like a modern Sherlock Holmes.
For our adventure, we chose to do ‘Classified,’ a game where we had to get inside the heads of diabolical masterminds and infiltrate their evil plan. It took four (tipsy) adults just under an hour to decipher codes, tunnel through passageways, and find hidden messages in order to uncover the secret plot and escape, but we did it!
The location is just two blocks over from Austin’s main downtown area, so you can head out for drinks and music—if—you escape.
Capital City Tour
Get ready to dive into the history of Texas with the Texas State Capitol Tour.
On this tour, you get to venture inside the Texas State Capital—one of the tallest Capital buildings in the United States, thanks to the Goddess of Liberty who stands on top.
Throughout the building you’ll see paintings and statues that were constructed over a hundred years ago to honor famous battles like The Alamo, and commemorate heroes like Davy Crocket and Sam Houston.
During our one-hour tour, we explored both chambers for the House of Representatives and the Senate, as well as the Supreme Court. It was fascinating to see the actual rooms where such critical decisions have been made over Texas’ history.
Before heading into the Texas Capital, I didn’t know a whole lot about the state’s history. But after leaving, I now know how the state’s ownership changed hands various times, that there have been two female governors in Texas’ lifetime, and I understand the significance of the battle of San Jacinto.
Definitely take the time to explore this state landmark, and ask as many questions as you can during the tour!
Austin Duck Adventures
Sometimes it’s fun to feel like a tourist, right?
One of the best ways to quickly learn about Austin—and get recommendations for fun things to do—is with Austin Duck Adventures. It’s a tour that brings you all over Austin, from the center of 6th street to the middle of Lady Bird Lake.
On this tour, you’ll get to see the bars where Willie Nelson and Janis Joplin first played their music, pass shops that are owned by Austin-local, Sandra Bullock, and float right past where Piranha (1978) was filmed! All the while, you’ll get to quack at passersby with your own duck whistle.
My tour guide pointed out all sorts of hidden landmarks and local gems, which really inspired me to get out and see the city. Because of this tour, I’ve gone on to visit the Austin Central Library, the Oasis on Lake Travis, and Family Business Beer Company, and that’s just the beginning…
Embrace your inner tourist—explore the city, and enjoy the ride!