“We are going to the Hill Country in a few weeks, where should we go? What should we do?”
I’ve fielded questions like these many times and lord knows I have lots of recommendations. Like heading to Fredericksburg during peach season. Or catching a concert in Canyon Lake. Oh, and how to live it up in New Braunfels!
But it never fails when I mention booking a tour while visiting Austin, people wrinkle their nose and look at me like I’ve lost it. And I get it, being a “tourist” has become somewhat of a faux pas and not entirely without reason. Jockying for a window seat on a noisy tour bus and listening to textbook facts about the landmarks zooming past your smudged window. Sound like fun? Nahhh. But if you take the right tour and with the right guide, it might just be the highlight of your entire trip! Big sightseeing bus tours may be well and good for some, but for those who prefer to engage all five senses while experiencing the vibrant city of Austin, then take a detour. Austin Detours.
With over 20 different tailor-made “tours” contrived to immerse you in Austin’s colorful culture, Austin Detours ensures you will experience authentic Austin.
Solo traveler interested in a live music venue crawl? There’s a Detour for that. Surprise birthday weekend getaway? There’s a Detour for that. Organizing a team building project? Guess what…there’s a Detour for that, too! But for an all-in experience, the Real Austin lets you see, taste, smell, hear, and touch what makes Austin, well, Austin. Austin Detour guides (mosts of which are likely award-winning musicians, celebrated artists, passionate foodies, accomplished actors, history fanatics, or a combination of any and all the above) arrive in style in one of their snazzy Mercedes-Benz vans. Bursting at the seams with trivia and knowledge, they hop from must-see landmarks to off-the-beaten-path treasures throughout the different neighborhoods spanning Austin, all the while divulging fascinating and compelling details that make each one unique.
It all starts with a walking tour of the distinguished Texas State Capitol building. Touch a piece of history as you trail your fingers along the engraved door knobs and hinges while learning about the pink granite that adorns the nation’s largest state capitol building. Hear your naturally amplified voice as you stand in the middle of the open-air rotund,. As for photos, don’t worry. Your in-the-know guide quickly points out all the great photo ops along the way, like the 600,000-square-foot underground extension where the ground level skylights perfectly frame the capitol’s dome.
After the Capitol, the detour continues downtown with a stop at the HOPE Outdoor Gallery. Drift through the ever-changing graffiti that adorns the gallery, chat with the artists while they compose their latest masterpiece, and meet the gentleman dedicated to preserving their work through his photography. The only one of its kind in the country, the HOPE Outdoor Gallery allows street artists and art students alike a unique, open outlet to express themselves fully.
From the gallery, continue on through the hip and trendy South Congress (aka SoCo) area, swing by the Littlefield Fountain at the University of Texas campus in Central Austin, and cruise through the Red River District while taking notes as your guide recommends their favorite restaurants and live music venues.
No trip to Austin is complete without snapping a selfie in front of Austin’s postcard mural. But if you really want to round out the Real Austin experience then follow your nose across the street from the mural and belly up to a picnic table in front of Gourdough’s Big. Fat. Donuts. Famous for serving up gourmet donuts with quirky names and piling them high with mind-blowing toppings, this food truck may quite possibly be my favorite stop on the detour.
Try a Mother Clucker, crowned with fresh fried chicken strips and honey mustard. Or a Fat Elvis, smothered with Gourdough’s house made peanut butter icing, bacon, grilled bananas, and drizzled with honey. But my personal favorite? The Squealing Pig. Slathered in rich, cream cheese icing, drenched in Gourdough’s house made strawberry and jalapeño jelly, layered with crispy bacon and topped with candied jalapeños, this pastry is not for the faint of heart.
Not only will you have an entirely new list of “must-sees” by the end of your Real Austin Detour, recommended by one of Austin’s very own, but you will also feel like you made a new bestie after taking part in one of the friendliest, most genuinely engaged tours ever. After all, they didn’t acquire their “Come as strangers, leave as friends” tagline by accident! So if overcrowded buses and blurry photos aren’t your style, take a Detour.