No city in the state does a better job of combining the rich cultural vitalism of urban Texas with the region’s more famous natural beauty. Austin is the 10th most populous city in the US, but it’s also carved in two by the majestic Colorado River, embellished with luscious urban parks and surrounded by lakes, canyons and wildlife refuges. Much of this urban and rural splendor is characterized by calm, fresh waterways perfect for paddling across. So whether you’re a beginner or a pro paddler, read on to discover the water-based fun awaiting you in Austin.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
An Intro to Paddleboarding in Austin
If there’s one thing the people of Austin love about their city, it’s the amount of outdoor adventure they can have. The many waters flowing through have long been a relaxing avenue for canoeists and kayakers to float down, but in recent years it’s become all about the stand-up paddleboard scene.
The wonderful thing about this outdoorsy pastime is that it allows you to reconnect with nature without having to leave the city. In fact, there’s something beautiful about the contrasting serenity between water and pavement, as if the rivers and lakes are a kind of secret refuge from the hustle and bustle of the city. You can experience the bliss of exploring nature while simultaneously staring at the city’s impressive skyline, and watch the urban landscape ebb and flow, just like the waters passing along your paddle.
Best Paddleboarding Locations in Austin
Lady Bird Lake – this reservoir on the Colorado River, found right in the heart of Austin, is the go-to destination for paddleboarders in the city. Enjoy stunning views of the skyline, marvel at the calmness of the water and paddle past the iconic Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge.
Lake Austin – head to the eastern fringes of the city to find another Colorado River reservoir. Lake Austin is renowned for its beautifully clear waters – rare for a major city – and a luscious shoreline. Keep an eye out for the lake’s rich fish population, and perhaps even a turtle or two.
Barton Creek – also on the eastern side of the city, Barton Creek is a haven for hikers, mountain bikers and water lovers alike. There are lots of lovely swimming spots as well as plenty of gentle waters perfect for a paddle. The Barton Creek Greenbelt is a local favorite, providing paddlers with a chance to escape into nature just minutes from downtown.
Spring Lake – thought to be the clearest body of water in Texas, this gorgeous little lake near San Marcos Springs is the place to SUP if you want a pure nature escape.
Colorado River – venture beyond the city and explore further downstream! There are plenty of spots to check out, from the epic expanses of Travis Lake to crystal clear gems hidden amid the Texan wilderness.
Rentals and Gear
No need to worry about packing your own board, since Austin is home to plenty of rental shops. You can choose from a wide range of paddleboards, including recreational, touring and inflatable boards, and there are usually shops that cater to a variety of budgets and levels of experience. Most shops also offer life vests, paddles and other pieces of equipment, crucial for ensuring your safety, particularly on uncharted (by you) waters.
Lessons and Tours
If you’re eager to fast-track your skills and explore Austin’s waters with an experienced guide, paddleboarding lessons and tours are readily available across the city. These options are fantastic for newcomers as they provide professional instruction but can also bring you closer to the city, thanks to the local insights of your teacher.
The best time for paddleboarding in Austin depends on weather conditions and water levels. While paddleboarding is enjoyable year-round, late spring through early fall is considered peak season. During these months, you can expect pleasant weather and a welcoming atmosphere.
Safety and Etiquette
While in the groove, paddleboarding is one of the most relaxing activities out there. It’s important to ensure your practicing proper safety precautions before embracing that zen, however. This is particularly important when taking to water on large bodies like the Colorado River. Make sure your equipment is in top notch condition, wear a life jacket and, preferably, don’t go out on the water alone. It’s also important to maintain good etiquette. Remain aware of your surroundings and be friendly with other paddlers, look after local wildlife by staying at a safe distance and, obviously, don’t litter in the water or on the shore.
Paddleboarding in Austin is an accessible and captivating experience that seamlessly blends the city’s vibrant culture with its pristine waters. Whether you’re drawn to the iconic skyline views of Lady Bird Lake or the tranquil serenity of Lake Austin, this city’s paddleboarding scene offers a range of opportunities for water babies of all levels. So, grab your paddle, don your PFD (personal flotation device) and embark on an unforgettable journey through the heart of Texas.
Beginner’s Guide to Paddleboarding
Never stood on a paddleboard? Welcome to a sport that’s as easy to pick up as it is addictive to take up! Here’s a few tips to get you started:
Basic techniques – paddleboarding is about balance and coordination. Start in calm waters, practice kneeling, and then gradually transition to standing. Paddle gently and maintain a straight posture at all times.
Safety guidelines – always wear a personal flotation device, especially if you’re new to the sport. Stay within your comfort zone and be aware of your surroundings. Respect other water users, and adhere to local waterway rules.
Choosing the right board – beginners often find wider and longer boards more stable. Look for boards with a comfortable deck pad for your feet. Rental shops can help you find the perfect fit.
Paddle selection – your paddle should be around 8-10 inches taller than your height. Proper paddle technique is essential for an enjoyable experience, so take your time to get the hang of it.
This is an AI assisted article produced by Gethin Morgan.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.