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.
On durable, all-terrain Segway x2 Personal Transporters, nature-seekers can spot wildlife or sample an off-road experience during two-hour tours at the Central Florida Zoo. Informed by tour-guide narration conveyed via wireless heads, zoo tours encounter a menagerie of animalian personalities such as Gus the camel, Elmo the macaw, and a skulking pair of rare Amur leopards, with riders briefly veering off onto unpaved landscape. Off-roading tours venture entirely upon forested paths, eschewing animal exhibits and braving the surrounding woodland landscape with the two-wheeled spirit of Davy Crockett’s penny-farthing. Both tours begin with a safety video and orientation, and stride-free sightseers are encouraged to bring a camera or photographic memory to remember the experience.
More than 30 wineries dot the idyllic Texas Hill Country, the historically rich backdrop for ARC’s Wine Plus’s tours. The company’s signature excursion, the wine tour, makes stops at three or more wineries, where guests can swig samples as guides share facts about wines, specifically those born in Texas. Brew tours, on the other hand, showcase Texan beer and its history. During tours of local breweries, groups can soak up the guide’s exhaustive knowledge with their brain sponges while sampling local suds.
The 14th annual San Antonio Homes Tour invites sightseers to gallivant through a sextet of the city’s most innovative private residences in a half-day self-guided tour. Designed by members of The American Institute of Architects, each residence tickles architecture aficionados and domestic laypeople alike with energy-saving additions—including solar power, geothermal energy, and water harvesting—eye-tantalizing historic renovations, and effective poltergeist-control techniques. Throughout the self-navigated journey, tourists will visit locations in Leon Springs, Alamo Heights, Alta Vista II, and King William.
From 1927 until 2009, the Piper Aircraft company produced 144,000 airplanes. Of those, 90,000 are still flying. One is a 1978 single-engine Saratoga that can often be seen soaring over the hills and lakes of the Texas landscape.
Inside that Saratoga, the Air Tours Texas pilots lead up to five passengers on scenic tours and adventures, sharing scenic aerial views of Lake Travis, Canyon Lake, Austin, San Antonio, and Enchanted Rock with their awestruck human cargo. The group of pilots also offers sunset flights, stunningly romantic marriage-proposal flights, and copilot experiences that introduce aspiring pilots to flight basics.
In 1910, Louis Bush led his first tour of Washington, DC, loading passengers into the refurbished chassis of a Mack truck that he had painted blue and gray. From this humble beginning, Louis expanded his Gray Line tours throughout the United States and abroad. The company currently hosts tours in more than 700 destinations across six continents and all three moons. However, Gray Line's expansive international scope isn't nearly as important as its commitment to a narrow, regional focus. Each tour aims to introduce visitors to some distinctive facet of the city's identity, from the ghosts of Savannah, Georgia’s, historic district to the towering redwoods of San Francisco’s Muir Woods. During the chauffeured sojourns, guides dole out intriguing tidbits of local knowledge, giving the groups some invaluable insight into the areas’ histories and cultures.