Austin tours are available to please the interests of all visitors and fit the budgets of all vacations. They range from the completely free (tours of the State Capitol, for instance) to expensive (gourmet dinner and music cruises), and you can book tours suitable for all physical conditions or those suited only for participants in reasonably good shape.
Austin zip line tours are provided in a few Texas Hill Country areas from 15 to 60 miles outside of Downtown Austin. These are generally on private family owned and operated farms and ranches located to the southwest of the city and to the northwest in the Lake Travis region. Typical are the Austin zip line tours offered in Cypress Valley, located a few miles north of Lake Travis. Easy zip lines and more challenging courses are set up in the forest canopy, requiring little disruption to the delicate ecosystems on the ground. This is a great way to observe some of the varied wildlife of the region, from numerous bird species to foxes, bobcats, deer, and mountain lions. Cypress Valley can also provide unique overnights in the Lofthaven Tree House, a charming and cozy room built up in the trees with queen bed suitable for romantic couples. For families, two air mattresses can accommodate up to two children. There is a separate tree house bath cottage connected to the sleeping quarters by a suspension bridge and containing and shower, washbasin, and toilet. The basic requirements for all Austin zip line tours are a minimum age of ten years and weight of 70 pounds. The zip line courses are excellent for small groups and corporate events.
Austin Duck tours and Austin Segway tours provide two other unique ways to see the city. The Colorado River runs right through the downtown area, and dams have created two lakes (Lake Austin and Lady Bird Lake) within the city limit. In addition to more traditional cruises and kayaks, the Austin Duck tours are performed by a unique amphibious vehicle called a Hydra Terra vehicle. These are not the vintage amphibious Duck vehicles that served in the Normandy invasion of World War II and are used for tours of cities like Boston and London. The Austin Duck tours in Hydra Terra vehicles utilize a more modern craft that looks a bit like an open-sided bus. The narrated tours begin in the Sixth Street Entertainment District, drive along city streets seeing some of the main attractions, and then splash down in Lake Austin for a cruise along the shoreline.
You can book a late afternoon Duck tour that ends up at the famous Bat Bridge (aka the Congress Street Bridge) at dusk in order to view the spectacle of thousands of Mexican free tailed bats emerging into the sky as they head out for their nightly feeding. You can enjoy these Austin bat tours on more traditional craft as well as on the Segways that are available from several local operators. The Segway tours are generally guided, but you can also book self-guided tours. You can also enjoy the bat spectacle completely free just by standing on the bridge when the bats take flight.
Many first time visitors to the city will enjoy panoramic Austin tours that usually last about 90 minutes and are done in a minivan or small bus with a professional guide. Typical routes include passing by the State Capitol and driving through the historic Sixth Street area. This is an excellent way to get an overview of the city so you have a better idea of where you want to spend more time during your visit, whether it’s exploring one of the city museums or enjoying the city’s celebrated music and nightlife.
There are several kinds of Austin tours that cater to special interests. Botanic tours may visit the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center or the beautiful Zilker Park Botanical Garden. You can get the children interested in Austin history by participating in a ghost tour that might spend some time at the famous Driskill Hotel, which is said to be haunted, as well as the old Warehouse District, and a historic cemetery.