On my first day in Austin I ran into Mary from AO Tours in the Wild About Music store, and she invited me along for the afternoon tour. It was well worth the 90 minutes. AO Tours is not a hop-on/hop-off bus, it is a continuous 90-minute tour which takes you far beyond where a hop-on/hop-off could go. This means you get a full orientation to all of Austin. It’s best to do the tour when you first arrive, because you’ll get a good sense of where you want to go back to spend more time. You’ll also get recommendations for dining, night life and shopping in each of the districts. (Note: AO Tours also has a hop-on/hop-off option, but that is a different tour).
The best part of the tour is the context. Your guide will fill you with historical and cultural facts that will give you a sense of why Austin is the great city it is and where it’s heading in the future. Guides are personable as well as knowledgeable, and encourage questions.
At the end of your tour they’ll give you a pink luggage tag which entitles you to discounts at about a dozen local vendors, from museums to restaurants to clothing shops (and an even better reason to do the tour when you first arrive).
Here’s what the tour includes:
- 2nd Street District
- Lady Bird Lake – South Shore
- Barton Springs Road
- Hill Country & Highland Lakes
- Historic West Austin
- Market District
- The Warehouse District
- Historic East Austin
- East Sixth Street area
- State of Texas
- University of Texas At Austin
Learn more about AO tours here: https://aotoursaustin.com/