Things to do in Austin for Auto Enthusiasts
Finally, a "Things to do in Austin" list for Auto Enthusiasts! Experience adrenaline pumping aerobatics flying in a biplane over downtown Austin, travel back in time with a train ride or experience the world class Circuit of the Americas race track!
These are just some of fun things you can experience from our list of things to do in Austin for auto enthusiasts.
Whether you are visiting Austin or have recently moved to the Austin area and are looking for something fun to do on the weekend, you can find something fun to do on this list.
Fly Over Austin in a Biplane
Enjoy the thrill of flying in a modern open cockpit airplane over the city of Austin with Austin Biplane!
The plane is a 2012 Waco YMF-5 powered by a 7-cylinder, 300-HP radial engine. The plane looks similar to a classic biplane but it's manufactured according to modern fabrication and safety standards.
The best part of the design is that the passenger seating is actually in the front of the plane and can accomodate two passengers!
According to their FAQ, you can bring your camera and take pictures in-flight! They also have GoPro video cameras to record the flight for an extra charge.
There are many packages to choose from the basic 20 minute Tour of downtown Austin, aerobatic flights, sunset flights, and the delux town car service for 2 passengers (door-to-door, dinner for two and a 45 minute flight.
Austin Biplane was founded in 2015 and is owned and operated by USAF pilots Robert Whiteside and Karl Koch.
South side of Austin Bergstrom International Airport @Signature Flight Support. Take I-71 to I-183 South, make a left (east) on Burleson and left (north) on Emma Browning Ave. SIGNATURE is about ½ mile on the right. Rob will meet you in the lobby!
Austin Biplane @ Signature Flight Support
4321 Emma Browning Avenue
Austin, TX, United States
Ride a Train
Take a scenic ride in a train with the Austin Steam Train association.
Although the website is called Austin Steam Train, the steam train has been undergoing major restoration since 1999.
The train they currently use is an Alco Diesel 442. It's a diesel-electric RSD-15 six-axle road-switcher built by the American Locomotive Company in 1960.
This type of train has the nickname of alligator due to its long and low nose.
The steam train is known as the Southern Pacific 786 and it has quite an interesting background.
The engine had a long life pulling freight through Texas and Louisiana from 1916 to 1956. After it was retired from service it was donated to the city of Austin.
It was put on display near Fourth and Trinity streets.
In 1989, after many years of decay, it was leased to the Austin Steam Train Association.
It was restored enough to run for a few years but it eventually developed major issues that would require it to be completely restored.
Where Does It Go?
Most of their rides depart from Cedar Park and either go to Burnett or Bertram. The Cedar Park to Burnett ride is approximately 2 hours each way. The shorter trip goes to Bertram (home to the annual Oatmeal Festival) where there is a short 15 minute stop to visit of the 1912 train station (a relocated Orange Grove station).
They have several themed rides available that include plays and even a wine tasting trip.
Visit the Austin Steam Train Association website for details on train ride packages and the latest information.
Austin Steam Train
401 E. Whitestone Blvd., Ste C-100
Cedar Park, TX 78613
Take a Tour of the Circuit of the Americas
The Circuit of The Americas (COTA) is a world-class racing and entertainment facility designed specifically for Formula 1 racing. They hosted their first Formula 1 race in 2012.
If you would like to experience the Circuit of Americas but aren't in Austin during a race event you still have options! The Circuit of Americas offers tours of the facilities during the weekend and can accomodate group tours during the week with advanced notice.
COTA offers two tour options - walking and shuttle tour.
The walking tour consists of walking to the 25-story Observation Tower and taking the elevator to the top to enjoy a breath-taking birds eye view of the track. The cost is $15.
The shuttle tour covers the entire facility and can take up to one and a half hours.
The highlight of the tour is the 25-story Observation Tower! See COTA’s 3.4-mile racetrack from a perspective that few will ever experience! And also enjoy of the Texas countryside and the Austin skyline.
You will also see the legendary uphill Turn 1 with its challenging 133-foot rise to the top, the pit area where the racers prepare their race machines and paddock building where celebs mingle with the racing elite, the main grand stands, owner suites, race control, RV parking area, Austin360 Amphitheater.
Tours are available to the public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. most Saturdays and Sundays except concert days. Groups can schedule private tours Monday through Friday as well.
Shuttle rate for adults is $25 per person with discounts for Military (with I.D.), Senior Citizens (65yr & older) and kids. Children 5 and under are FREE.
Hours of operation:
Saturday and Sunday 10 AM - 4 PM
For more up-to-date information on tours, pricing and times:
Contact Al Mays, Director of Tours
Photo courtesy of Circuit of the Americas
Visit the Circuit of the Americas Downtown Paddock
The Downtown Paddock is COTA's headquarters located in downtown Austin, within walking distance of the Austin Convention Center.
The Downtown Paddock serves as an information center and box office. It also features interactive displays and merchandise.
Also at the Downtown Paddock is the Ayrton Senna Hall of Fame Collection. This is an exhibit of items and memorabilia from the legendary Formula 1 driver Ayrton Senna. The Senna Hall of Fame Collection is on display through Spring 2016.
Circuit of the Americas Downtown Paddock
Tuesdays through Sundays from 10AM to 6PM.
Located at 304 E. Cesar Chavez Street
Take a Photo of the Greetings from Austin Mural
The Greetings from Austin mural one of Austin's most beloved examples of outdoor artwork.
The mural was painted on the side of Roadhouse Relics in 1998 by Todd Sanders and his friend Rory Skagen.
The goal was to brighten up the neighborhood with the beautiful mural but it quickly became an iconic backdrop for many a photo opportunity for both visitors and locals.
Over the years the colors began to fade. Todd Sanders and Rory Skagen worked with community leader Troy Madres to raise funds in order to restore the mural. The restoration project took one month and the completed version was unveiled November 23, 2013.
Not only is the mural a great backdrop for taking photos with your family and friends but also your favorite vehicle (hint hint).
Keep in mind that the mural is next to a public street and there could be cars parked in front of it. If you are lucky enough to park your car in front of it and get a shot please be careful. Don't get run over.
The Greetings from Austin mural location address.
1720 S 1st St, Austin, TX 78704
Drive a Go Kart at K1 Speed
Looking for something fun and exciting to do on four wheels in Austin without getting a ticket?
K1 Speed is a world-class indoor go kart racing facility located in north Austin. Their indoor kart tracks are among the largest in the nation!
- European-style 20hp electric karts.
- An atmosphere that is if not as exciting as the on-track racing action.
- Corner after corner of dizzying G-forces.
- Speeds of nearly 45mph on the track.
- Museum-worthy collection of racing memorabilia, including race suits from famous drivers, race cars, autographed paraphernalia, and amazing art work.
Great for individules, couples, families and tream building exercises!
K1 Speed Indoor Go Karts
2500 McHale Ct,
Austin, TX 78758
Photo courtesy K1 Speed.
Visit Dick's Classic Garage Automotive Museum
Dick's Classic Garage is an automotive museum located in San Marcos, Texas. It was founded by Dick Burdick, a Texas businessman and avid car collector.
The museum showcases American vehicles and memorabilia from the 1930s though the 1950s and displays a 1948 Tucker Sedan (chassis number 1050; this is the lowest mileage Tucker with 0.4 miles on the odometer). The museum also includes a restoration area.
Dick's Classic Garage is just a few minutes away from Austin and worth the drive! The facility is modern and the cars are imaculate.
They also host a cruise-in on the third Saturday of each month, year round.
Dick's Classic Garage
120 Stagecoach Trail
San Marcos, TX 78666
Watch a Movie at Austin's only Drive In Movie Theater
The Blue Starlite is a "mini urban" drive-in movie theater that focuses on indie films, art house, cult, Gen X/Y, childhood favorites, and drive-in classics.
They call it a mini urban drive-in because it is located in the city (as opposed to a 10 acre field) and they limit the number of cars per movie showing to somewhere between 30 to 50 vehicles. They also have a walk-in section, and they strongly suggest you bring a FM radio and chairs!
Now for the really cool part.
You can rent the whole drive-in and have a movie night for two! You can also request a specific movie. A more practical scenario would be a group rental. A great idea for car clubs to add a little variety to your meetup!
The Blue Starlite mini urban drive-in movie theater was the brainchild of Austin resident Josh Frank. Josh is a writer, producer, director and composer.
So, why would a writer, producer, director and composer start a drive-in move theater?
Quite by accident, it turns out.
Sometime back in 2010, Josh wanted to celebrate the six month anniversary of his relationship with his girlfriend. He decided to set up a drive-in just for two on some property he had access to. During the set up process Josh's friends became interested in attending. Next thing you know, it turned in to a business.
The original drive-in "opened" in 2010 at an art co-op/studio at 2326 E. Cesar Chavez. He later opened a second larger location on 1001 E. Sixth. As the drive-in grew (and the lease expired), Josh scouted for another location. He eventually made a deal with Austin Studios and had the grand opening at the current location on July 4, 2012.
Blue Starlite Drive-In Theater
1901 E. 51st ST
Visit the Austin Speed Shop
Curious about what a real hot rod shop looks like? We recommend a visit to the Austin Speed Shop.
The Austin Speed Shop is a custom automotive fabricating shop that specializes in building 1963 and older traditional style Hot Rod and Custom cars from start to finish.
The Austin Speed Shop, originally called South Austin Speed Shop, was founded in 2005 by a partnership of three hot rod enthusiasts and entrepreneurs.
Most people have never set foot in a hot rod shop. They're usually located in industrial areas or backyard workshops. There are very few that really welcome visits from the curious.
Although the Austin Speed Shop is located in a semi-industrial area, they are very welcoming to visitors that are interested in learning more about the custom car and hot rod world.
Even if you're not there to start a project you can always buy some apparel, view the projects they are currently working on and take a few photos.
Austin Speed Shop
3507 Chapman Lane
Austin, TX 78744
Visit Murpho's Rods and Customs and the Boneyard Boutique
If you're in to kool kustoms and the rockabilly lifestyle you need to visit Murpho's Rods and Customs!
Murpho's Rods and Customs is a full service custom, restoration and hot rod shop with a lifestyle driven retail boutique connected. The "Boneyard Boutique" carries vintage inspired and rockabilly type apparel.
Murpho's Rods and Customs
1700 Fortview Road
Attend the Weekly Gearheads Meetup at Cabela's in Buda
This meetup started in 2009 and is still going today!
The gathering consists mainly of hotrods, street rods, muscle cars and classic cars belonging to the club members and visitors.
The meetup is every Saturday evening from about 6pm to 10pm, year-round (although if its extremely cold and/or raining don't expect anyone to be there).
The Gearhead car club usually has representatives there and you can buy Gearhead club apparel to show your support.
They also sponsor an annual open car show at Cabela's in the Fall.
No burnouts or alcohol as this meetup is in the Cabelas parking lot.
Attend the Monthly Cars and Coffee Austin at the Oasis
Cars and Coffee Austin is a monthly automotive celebration that meets at The Oasis on Lake Travis, the "Sunset Capital of Texas."
You will typically find more late model muscle cars, sports cars and exotics at this meetup.
Cars and Coffee is held there each month on the second Sunday from 10 am to 1 pm.
Cars and Coffee Austin Location
The Oasis on Lake Travis Restaurant
6550 Comanche Trail
Austin, TX 78732
Cars and Coffee Austin
More Things To Do
These are just some of things to do in Austin that would be of interest to auto enthusiasts.
Check out our Resources page for more ideas!
Article photo "Austin from Congress Bridge" by Daveydickler (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.