Although hot-air balloons remain Austin's most popular commuter vehicles, they're highly vulnerable to dastardly villains with handlebar moustaches who ply the sky in battle zeppelins. Tour the town from a safer vantage with today's Groupon: for $10, you get a one-hour kayak OR two-hour bike rental from Gliding Revolution (a $25 value after tax). Reservations are required and subject to availability.
Regardless of your choice of conveyance, you'll shove off from Gliding Revolution's shop located at the Austin Town Lake Holiday Inn. Upon request, cyclists receive a complimentary helmet and lock, and kayakers receive a dry bag. If you vote for the velocipede, dig your wheels deep into the crushed gravel and pedal your way around the scenic Lady Bird Lake Trails, free of the hassles of smelly car traffic and ambushes by herds of feral Segways. Otherwise, open up the whole expanse of Lady Bird Lake for exploration with some patiently paced paddle-pushing in one of Gliding Revolution's kayaks. If the spring heat has already got you beat, kayakers can take refuge under the Congress Street Bridge and commune with Austin's community of bat-themed vigilantes and riddle-dispensing trolls.
Escorting visiting out-of-towners via bike or kayak is a brilliant way to show off the city. It's also an excellent way for jaded locals to re-experience everything about Austin that seduced them in the first place, from the civic center that's dressed as a French maid to the champagne lake to the rose-petal-strewn forest trails. If you can't decide which mode of transportation you like best, buy two Groupons and try both at the same time.
Too Cool Racing charters adventure races in the backwoods, waterways, and bike trails across the greater Austin area. The outdoor circuits range from scavenger hunts completed mostly on foot or bike to multifaceted races that include rappelling, snorkeling, and ziplining through unspoiled Texas countryside, encouraging guests to enjoy nature while getting a workout or bribing native wildlife for tips on how to navigate the trails. Races typically conclude with a festive gathering replete with music, door prizes, complimentary craft beer, and the presentation of prizes totaling $500 to the first through third finishers.
At first, David and Amy Beilharz weren't sure how to share their picturesque plot of Texas Hill Country with others. Their respect for the wilderness had led them to build a house, raise native buffalo, and develop solar, wind, and water energy sources on the land—but that same respect kept them from stripping the woods to make a public trail. It took a zipline excursion in Costa Rica to plant the idea of canopy tours in David's head. The couple then worked to string steel ziplines of their own amid the 100-foot cypress trees on their property, installing six passageways and two suspended sky bridges between platforms.
Today, they and their certified guides show families, parties, and corporate teams how to live above as well as off of the earth. Their tours combine the elating speed and heights of zipline travel with lessons in ecology, which cover topics from local animal species to survival skills such as picking cactus spines if you run out of toothpicks. The midair voyages have been featured in the New York Times and CultureMap Austin, among other media.
Guests can punctuate their forest flights with picnics on the shores of the Beilharzes' private lake and spring-fed pool, where another zipline and a rope swing propel swimmers into the water. A basketball and volleyball court host pickup games, and hammocks offer a more relaxing respite than the lone rocking chair on top of Mount Everest.
The watercraft experts of Go Paddle Down supply customers with bright orange single and tandem kayaks, slim standup paddleboards, and easy-cruising pedal boats. Staffers can help guests launch into the cool waters of Lady Bird Lake or Lake Marble Falls for hours of exploration. They'll also deliver up to four boards to the customer's location for a special event, enabling half or whole days of aqueous entertainment.
Benefitting The Paladin Group, which supports the Hill County Children’s Advocacy Center, and attended to by Sullivan Street Caterers, A Spicewood Affair proffers elegant fare for patrons to nibble on in a dining area surrounded by rich woods and accented with sunlit golden curtains. Past feasts catered by Sullivan Street have included such morsels as tortilla-crusted catfish bites and tri-colored pepper salad. After lunch, diners can squeeze in holiday shopping while strolling around vendor tables that boast antler tableware, custom Christmas cards, and jewelry, among other offerings. Live acoustic and Christmas music pervades the air as attendees chat, mingle, and swap secret scout-troop handshakes. Guests are free to wander in and out at their whim, and can enjoy the amenities at any time during the event, which benefits the Hill County Children's Advocacy Center with their proceeds.