The 16 Best Austin Tours

Get a feel for the Texas state capital's food, music, beer and history.

U.S. News & World Report

The 16 Best Austin Tours

Best Austin Tours

Austin's Sixth Street is a hub of activity for musicians.(Getty Images)

Experience a hearty Texas welcome in Austin, which offers everything from live music to lakes and scenery to delicious food. Whether you want to learn more about the city's historic, yet haunted past, watch the famous Austin bats fly over Lady Bird Lake or check out the beer scene, you'll find that these Austin tours won't disappoint. U.S. News reviewed both expert opinion and traveler sentiment to create this list of the best tours in Austin.

Austin Detours – Austin Live Music Crawl

Visit some of Austin's best live music venues on this three-hour evening tour. Local musicians serve as tour guides and take participants to as many as three stops for live tunes. As you venue hop, you'll get an overview of the city and learn about the history of its music scene. Reviewers describe the tour as fun and say that guides are well-versed in Austin's local music culture. Tickets cost approximately $50, and tours run Sunday through Friday from 7 to 10 p.m. and Saturday from 8 to 11 p.m. Participants must be at least 21 years old to join the tour. Austin Detours also offers tours of downtown Austin and the Hill Country.

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BikeTexas Tours – Tour Austin on an e-Bike

Cycle to the top sights in Austin, like the Stevie Ray Vaughan Statue and Barton Springs Pool, by electric bike on this two-hour tour from BikeTexas Tours. The company's e-bikes come with headlights and taillights, as well as helmets for safety. Participants say this is a great way to see the city thanks to the leisurely pace of the tour. Reviewers also appreciate the guides, who they describe as attentive and friendly. Tickets start at $69 per person, and participants must be at least 16 years old. Tours are available daily, except Wednesday, at 9:30 a.m. BikeTexas Tours also offers music- and foodie-themed e-bike tours.

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Austin Brewery Tours – City Brewery Tour

Sample local beer at three Austin craft breweries on this four-hour outing. You'll be driven from brewery to brewery by an in-the-know local. Reviewers applaud the friendly guides and appreciate that each participant can select the beers they'd like to sample for the tasting. Tickets start at $80 per person and transportation, tastings and facility tours (when available) are included. You'll also have the option to purchase food from food trucks stationed at the breweries. Tours operate Thursday and Friday from 4 to 8 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from around noon to 4 p.m. Austin Brewery Tours also offers a Hill Country Brewery Tour.

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PubCrawler of Austin

The PubCrawler is a pedal-powered vehicle for six to 15 participants. You're welcome to bring your own alcohol (hard liquor is prohibited) and light snacks on the ride, but you will be making stops at bars and pubs along the way. Routes are decided the day of your tour and are chosen by group preference. Route options include the Market District (which visits Sixth Street), Riverside (which boasts gorgeous views) and the Capitol/Warehouse district (home to trendy bars and restaurants). While you will be pedaling your way around town on this two-hour tour, vehicles have electric pedal assist to help you out. Reviewers say the guides are key to this tour and make it lots of fun. Tours operate Thursday to Sunday. Tickets start at $39 per person for Thursday outings and $42 for trips on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. You must be 21 or older to participate. The company also offers private outings.

During the spring and summer, travelers gather along Congress Avenue Bridge to watch the Austin bats fly into the night.Getty Images

Lone Star Riverboat – Bat Watching Sunset Tours

Feast your eyes on more than a million bats who call the Congress Avenue Bridge home as they emerge at sunset. This hourlong lake cruise includes narration from the boat's captain about Austin history. Reviewers describe the guides as informative and entertaining and say they enjoy a good view of the bats. Cruises are offered March through October about 30 minutes before sunset. Tickets start at $12 for adults, $7 for children ages 3 to 12 and are free for kids 2 and younger. Other cruises from Lone Star Riverboat include weekend sightseeing cruises and Friday night moonlight cruises.

Austin Eats Food Tours – Best of Austin Food Truck Tour

Travel by air-conditioned bus and enjoy foods like barbecue, beer, desserts and more on this three-hour guided excursion that visits four to five food trucks stationed in some of the city's hippest neighborhoods. Reviewers say the food is plentiful and delicious and that the tour is fun. Tickets cost approximately $85. This is an adult-oriented tour, so participants must be at least 15 years old to join. The Austin Food Truck Tour is available most Saturdays at 10 a.m. The company offers a variety of food tours, including a brunch tour, a happy hour tour, and a combination barbecue, brunch and brewery tour.

Austin Duck Adventures

Explore Austin by land and by water on this 75-minute narrated tour, which takes you around downtown past the Texas State Capitol building, the Texas Governor's Mansion, historic Sixth Street and then cruises into the waters of Lake Austin past the Hill Country. Participants say guides are very funny and that Austin Duck Adventures is a great family activity. Tickets cost approximately $30 for adults and $20 for kids ages 3 to 12; children 2 and younger join for free. Tours are available daily, though times vary based on the season and day of the week.

Haunted ATX – Private Hearse Tour

Hop inside a Cadillac hearse to explore the haunted side of Austin. This private tour, which lasts about three hours, takes participants to various sites in the city known to be haunted, including the Littlefield House on the University of Texas campus. Reviewers describe guides as knowledgeable and say they enjoy hearing the ghost stories. Some even say they felt a ghostly presence during the trip. Tickets cost about $100 for the first two people (there is a two-ticket minimum purchase) and $59 for each additional participant with a maximum of six people. The tour is not recommended for children younger than 13, though content can be accommodated for a younger audience. Haunted ATX offers the tour daily, except Monday, at 7 and 8 p.m. It also offers a public ghost tour in a van.

Hop on a bike to cruise around town to see cool sights and sample beer along the way on a trip with Bike and Brew ATX.(Courtesy of Bike and Brew ATX)

Bike and Brew ATX – Austin's Gem

Plan on cycling about 5 miles as you tour the east side of downtown on this approximately 3 1/2-hour tour. Designed for moderate riders comfortable with hills, the tour includes stops at three breweries for a tasting flight and a souvenir tasting glass. Reviewers say the pacing of the tour is perfect and that the beer and breweries are great. Tickets cost about $75 per person, though there are discounts available for couples and groups. You must be 21 years old to join. Tours run in the afternoon and evening multiple times Wednesday through Sunday. Bike and Brew ATX also offers a street art-themed tour and a food and beer combo tour.

Your Biker Gang – Biker Gang Ride Adventure

Cruise around Austin with your "biker gang" on this two-hour tour, which participants describe as a fun, must-do activity in Austin. With a knowledgeable guide by your side, you'll don vintage-style helmets and goggles and sightsee your way through the city via a fat tire minibike. The e-bikes, which do not exceed 20 mph, are easy to ride, according to reviewers. Tickets cost approximately $70 per person. Children ages 16 and younger who are taller than 48 inches are welcome to ride as passengers for free as long as the total weight on the bike doesn't exceed 300 pounds. Tours operate Friday through Sunday at 10 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Your Biker Gang also offers a morning city ride, as well as a tour that makes stops at the city's top food trucks.

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Nation Tours – Historic Downtown Austin and Capitol Segway Tour

An ideal option for first-time visitors, this two-hour Segway tour glides past several of Austin's top sights. You'll see the Texas State Capitol building, the haunted Driskill Hotel, the warehouse district and Lady Bird Lake, among other landmarks. All tours include instruction for properly riding the vehicles. Travelers recommend the tour and say it's an efficient way to see Austin in a short amount of time. Tours, which are offered daily at 9 a.m., start at approximately $70 per person. Participants must be at least 14 years old and weigh between 100 and 275 pounds. The company also runs an evening ghost tour and a 90-minute afternoon sightseeing tour.

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Twisted Texas Tour – The Brunch Bus

Enjoy a sampling of Austin's best brunch spots on this unique bus tour. During the three-hour trip, you'll visit three different eateries for local specialties like breakfast tacos or chicken and waffles (and you'll enjoy an adult beverage at each stop, too). In between stops, you'll be treated to live music from the onboard band, play games and win prizes. Participants may bring beer, sparkling wine, wine or canned alcoholic drinks with them, but no food. Reviewers say they love the live band on board and applaud the food stops. Tickets cost about $80 per person and include food and drinks at each stop. Participants must be 21 or older. Tours run Friday and Saturday at 11 a.m. and Sunday at 10 a.m. Twisted Texas Tour offers several different excursions, including the Brew Bus, Austin Live Music Experience and the Weird Austin City Tour.

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The Texas State Capitol building in Austin is a major attraction; several tours pass by this incredible structure.Getty Images

City Running Tours – Historic Downtown Run

Get some exercise while seeing the sights on this 3-mile running tour of downtown that lasts about 45 minutes. The tour takes runners past the Texas State Capitol building, the Driskill Hotel, the Congress Avenue Bridge and Lady Bird Lake. Runners say they really enjoy the guides, who set a comfortable pace everyone can maintain. Tickets cost approximately $25 per person. Runs take place Saturdays at 10 a.m. on a relatively flat course. There are no age requirements, but the company recommends booking a personalized running tour if you have younger kids who might not be able to keep up. City Running Tours offers several different runs, including a 6-mile run around Austin's top parks.

AO Tours – Austin + Hill Country Sightseeing Tour

AO Tours Austin promises you'll see more than 50 attractions in just 90 minutes on this Mercedes-Benz van tour. On the excursion, you'll see Mount Bonnell, Zilker Metropolitan Park and the LBJ Presidential Library, among other top sights. Guides narrate the entire journey, sharing Austin's history, its unique culture, food scene and more. Participants say the tour is a good value, the 14-passenger bus is comfortable and guides are insightful. Tickets start at $25 for adults and $17 for children 12 and younger. Tours are available daily at 10 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. There's also a seasonal, weekend-only 4:30 p.m. tour. The company also offers private tours.

Live Love Paddle – Congress Avenue Bridge Bat Tours

Did you know that Austin is home to one of the world's largest urban bat colonies? They live under the Congress Avenue Bridge and are a popular – albeit unusual – attraction for Austin visitors. On this approximately two-hour tour, you'll kayak Lady Bird Lake to the bridge to see the bats fly off. Reviewers say they enjoy observing the bats and describe guides as educational and energetic. Tickets start at $45 per person. Tours run mid-February through late November (when the bats roost under the bridge) and departure times vary based on the season. You must weigh at least 30 pounds and no more than 275 pounds to go on the tour. Live Love Paddle leads other kayaking tours, including a Full Moon Music Paddle and a July 4th Fireworks Tour.

ATXcursions – River Tubing

Kick back and relax as you float down one of the Austin area's rivers in an inner tube while enjoying your favorite beverage. ATXcursions provides tubes as well as coolers and ice, and you're welcome to bring your own food and beverages (including alcohol). The outing takes about six hours total, including drive time; you'll be on the water for two to four hours. Water temperatures average around 72 degrees year-round. Reviewers say the tour runs smoothly and is a lot of fun. Participants must be at least 18 years old to join the tour; tickets start at $70. Tours run during the spring, summer and early fall Friday through Sunday. Excursions depart central Austin at various times in the morning.

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