I’m no stranger to segways. A couple of years back, I was invited to enjoy a brief segway tour of Halifax and ever since, I’ve been jonesing to repeat the experience.
Luckily I had my chance on a recent trip to Austin, Texas with SegCity. Founded in Austin, the company’s grown to include four additional locations in the Lone Star State: San Antonio, Corpus Christi, Galveston and Houston.
Each city offers a unique series of tours. I chose the 2.5-hour Ultimate City Tour; tours depart from the SegCity office at 1718 Lavaca Street in downtown Austin.
Once I’m checked in and have signed a waiver, it’s time to learn safety and technique. Operating a segway doesn’t take very long to master: it’s a combination of balance and learning how the machine responds to your movements.
After a few spins inside, I grab a helmet and pack the onboard storage bag with a few essentials: camera, water, smart phone, wallet, sunscreen.
Within moments of our departure, the State Capitol dome comes into view. After checking out the Capitol Annex (the upside-down counterpart of the Capitol dome), we’re cruising alongside bright orange butterflies and grassy lawns until we reach the entrance.
My music-loving tour guide Isis remains with our segways as I get a good look inside the Italian Renaissance style building, getting an eyeful of the rotunda and its vast portrait collection containing every person who’s served as either state governor or president of the Republic of Texas.
I barely scratch the surface of this massive (360,000 square-foot) space and its 400 rooms. I do make time to head up the beautiful staircase and admire the dome from above.
Historical tidbits are part of this tour, so as we take brief breaks between spots, I’m getting a good overview of Austin in a very brief time.
Once we’ve left the Capitol, it’s down to Congress and Sixth Avenues, the city’s urban core, heading towards one of the most famous (and reputedly haunted) hotels in Austin: the Driskill.
Not only does the Driskill contain a gorgeous stained-glass ceiling and inverted dome but a bakery dating to the late 1800’s, aptly named 1886 Café and Bakery. Through three glass windows, we’re able to watch the bakers at work (on the day of my tour there’s a three-tiered, gold-leaf accented wedding cake in the works).
I’ve made a mental note to return to this charming Victorian style tea room for a sweet treat and herbal tea while in town.
More sightseeing eventually leads us to the Second Street District. We make our way over Drake Bridge for a great view of Austin at Auditorium Shores, an urban park between the former Palmer Auditorium and the shores of Lady Bird Lake. This park also sees a lot of action during SXSW and Fun Fun Fun Fest amongst other annual events.
By now I feel like a natural on the segway and we’re ready to make our return back to the starting point. There’s a gentle breeze that’s helped curb the midday heat and a few clouds are giving us a bit of relief, even though I’m told that I missed the real heat last week.
This is a fun way of getting around town while taking in both history and highlights. In addition to the Ultimate City Tour, there’s the Segway Cruise (1.5 hours), Street Art Tour (2 hours) and a two-hour, seasonal sunset Ultimate Bat Tour where you’ll get to see the largest Mexican free-tailed bat colony in North America take flight under the Congress Avenue Bridge!
You can also pick up a segway of your own: SegCity is a licensed retailer.
Visit SegCity online for tours and more info.
My Ultimate City Tour was courtesy of SegCity. Opinions, as always, are my own. If you’re heading down to the USA from Canada, consider checking out Roam Mobility. Their stress-free talk, text and data plans help me navigate my way around the roads, keep in touch with family and stay on top of emails whenever I cross the border. Visit Roam online for details on their plans and products.