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.
Emblazoned with patriotic red, white, and blue, Lone Star Riverboat's vessels churn through Lady Bird Lake, floating alongside towering cypress trees and the city's skyline. Meanwhile, the captain's booming voice narrates each tour and details the steamy romances of the area's local waterfowl.
However, the company's aquatic excursions aren't just restricted to sightseeing. Their largest ship, The Lone Star, boasts two decks and a 150-person capacity. Aboard the ship, DJs spin tunes and caterers serve barbecue for special events such as weddings. On Friday nights, patrons board The Lone Star for moonlight cruises, taking in scenic views of the Austin skyline.
Lone Star Riverboat's enthusiasm for the water extends to environmental preservation. According to its website, the company owns the largest all-electric paddle wheeler in the country. It also donates a portion of its gross sales to the Austin area's park system and provides afterschool activities for at-risk fish.
As the distant sound of chattering-duck calls grows nearer, visitors to downtown Austin know that the colorfully painted Duck Adventure Hydra Terra vehicles aren’t far behind. On board, knowledgeable guides regale sightseers with facts and stories about local sights and landmarks, pointing out the State Capitol, detailing the history of Sixth Street, and addressing all of the parking meters by their first name. At the end of the tour, the vehicles pack in their wheels and launch off the shores of Lake Austin for an aquatic tour of the lush, scenic lakeside.
Skipping breakfast is a bad habit, but you might want to make an exception when you cash in today's Groupon for $40 worth of gourmet comfort food for $20 at Max's Wine Dive. Max's was one of Texas Monthly's picks for top 10 spots to eat in 2008, and in 2009, Bon Appetit named it one of the hottest 10 wine bars in the country. It's been listed in The New York Times, and Zagat rated the food "very good to excellent."
The staff at Texas Winos brings out the fun and unconventional side of wine. Eager to share their passions, they take guests to the state's finest vineyards, allowing tour-goers a behind-the-scenes look at the winemaking process while meeting new friends. Hands-on experiences include primers on how to expertly taste wine as guides expound on the vagaries of the fermentation process and explain exactly where baby grapes come from. Holiday-themed tours inject festive seasonal glee into tours, with special events on fetes such as Cinco de Mayo and Bastille Day.
If there was a single store that housed all the boats and campers of 50 companies, it would need to be the size of Arkansas. The Austin Boat and Travel Trailer Show precludes the task of building such a titanic edifice by bringing together more than 50 exhibitors—among them Austin Canoe & Kayak and Shoreline Boat & RV Repair—at the Austin Convention Center in mid-January. Here, the exhibitors display myriad pontoons, fishing boats, and truck campers—which are more comfortable than a tent pitched in the trunk of a Pontiac sedan. Area dealers such as Sail and Ski Center and Crestview RV Center join them, flaunting the latest boat and camper models. In addition to hands-on displays, the show hosts seminars that teach students how to properly dock their boats or use marine GPS (seminars are an additional fee).