• September 10, 2023
  • Lauren Critzer
  • 0

Stepping Back in Time: Your Local’s Guide to the Best Historical Tours in Austin

Austin, Texas, is a city imbued with such rich heritage that the annals of its past feel ever present. This vibrant city intertwines the tales of pioneers, politicians, Native American tribes—each layer thriving, one on top of the other, creating a beautiful blend of the old and new.

Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a culture connoisseur, or just an enthusiastic traveler, the historic treasures of Austin will inspire and gratify your exploration desires. We hope that this local’s guide to the best historical tours in Austin will prove to be your trusty aide in unraveling Austin’s historical riches.

A Stroll Through the Annals of Austin

Austin unearths its stories through incredible places that bridge history, art, and culture. Here are some invaluable historical pit stops that you should consider on your journey through Austin.

Texas State Capitol Tour

Your historical tour in Austin could start nowhere better than with the iconic Texas State Capitol, a stunning artifact of history and architectural prowess rolled into one. As you walk the halls of this monument, you’ll find yourself grappling with the commanding presence of Texas’s storied past.

  • Architectural appeal: The Capitol, completed in 1888, stands a proud 302.64 feet tall, making it an impressive 14.64 feet taller than the U.S Capitol. The ‘Sunset Red’ granite structure shimmers with a stately charm, inviting you to explore the stories it shelters within.
  • Tour insights: On the guided tour, you’ll be immersed in Texas’s legislative history, wandering through halls adorned by portraits depicting key moments in Texas’s formation story. It’s a transformative experience that will offer you a new perspective on Texas’s legislative journey.
  • Rotunda and Dome: The fully restored rotunda is a sight to behold, with its intricately painted ceiling and the magnificent dome, resounding with the echoes of a time gone by.
  • Historical Assets: The Capitol houses invaluable historical assets, like Governor Elisha M. Pease’s statue, who was a prominent force in the Reconstruction of Texas.

Bullock Texas State History Museum

Unravel the saga of Texas at the Bullock Texas State History Museum that tells compelling narratives of the Lone Star State.

  • Exhibits: The museum showcases an impressive collection of exhibits tracing Texas’ history right from pre-historic times till today.
  • La Belle: A crown jewel here is the La Belle shipwreck, an invaluable artifact of 17th century French exploration, which sunk off the coast of Texas in 1686. Resting on the first floor of the museum, it serves as a tangible link to a momentous period in Texas’s past.
  • IMAX Theater: Couple your journey through Texas’s history with entertainment through Texas-specific documentaries and Hollywood films screened at the in-house IMAX Theater.

Austin Duck Adventures Tour

No exploration of the city is wholly complete unless you’ve experienced the Austin Duck Adventures. It’s a unique amphibious tour that introduces you to historic Austin by land, followed by a breezy ride on Lake Austin.

  • Sites: The tour takes you past famous landmarks like the state capitol, the governor’s mansion, and historic homes, each teeming with interesting anecdotes.
  • Water Ride: The Land Rover that drives you through the city scales the bank and plunges into Lake Austin for a scenic boat ride, offering a mesmerizing view of lavish lakeside estates.

Austin’s Historical Soul: South Congress

South Congress or ‘SoCo’ is a vibrant neighborhood that radiates the essence of the city from its restored courtyards and Victorian homes to storied food trucks and historic live music venues.

South Congress Avenue Walking Tour

The best way to capture the charm of SoCo is by taking a South Congress Avenue Historical Walking Tour.

  • Live in the Music: Uncover the tales behind Austin’s title as the ‘Live Music Capital of the World.’ The trail leads you to the legendary Continental Club, which has hosted music giants like Robert Plant, Steve Ray Vaughan, and our very own Willie Nelson.
  • Fabulous Food: The food trucks lined up here serve cuisines from around the globe, making for an exciting detour on your historical excursion.

Hauntingly Beautiful: Ghost Tours

Austin’s historical richness prompts some bone-chilling ghost lore. These spooky trips into the past tell of Austin’s history from an entirely unique perspective.

Haunted Austin Night Tours

As the evening settles, downtown Austin is taken over by its eerie past. With the Haunted Austin Night Tours, you’ll wordlessly wander the streets, exploring the supposedly haunted spots and listening to chilling tales of yore.

  • The Driskill Tales: The Driskill Hotel, reputed as one of the most haunted places in Austin, hides chilling narratives that will linger long after your tour is over.
  • Dark Nightlife: Austin’s nightlife, when paired with spine-chilling ghost tales, offers a bar-hopping experience like none other.

Rewinding into Black History: East Austin

East Austin, with its vibrantly colored murals and history-rich streets, serves as a narrative of Austin’s racially diverse past.

Austin Eastside Murals Tour

A walking tour through East Austin, a symbol of Austin’s black history, rewards you with intricate street art and soulful food joints that span decades in time.

  • Street Art: The murals scattered across the district serve as vibrant reminders of Austin’s racial history, narrating individual stories of struggle and triumph.
  • Culture Blend: The neighborhood, known for its soul food and lively nightlife, envelopes you in a culture that seamlessly blends Austin’s past and present.

Your Journey Through Austin’s History Awaits!

Our local’s guide to the best historical tours in Austin aims to inspire you to delve into the city’s history. As you trot down the city’s storied paths, you’ll find Austin unveiling itself in a new light at every corner—ever changing, yet firmly rooted in its vibrant heritage. So, step into your comfortable shoes and take a tour down Austin’s fascinating history—one historical spot at a time!

Lauren Critzer

I was born in Charlottesville, Virginia and after college, I moved to San Francisco to explore new opportunities and broaden my horizons. I fell in love with the city's vibrant culture and unique atmosphere, but eventually, I moved again, this time to Austin, Texas.

As much as I loved living in different parts of the country, having a baby boy brought me back to my hometown in Charlottesville, where I now live with my husband, our little one, and two furry friends. I enjoy going to wineries, taking my pups everywhere, and spending quality time with my family.

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