Many visitors to Austin/Central Texas and even some locals aren’t familiar with this annual warm weather ritual: Tubing or floating (the terms are interchangeable) the river. Tubing is a great way to cool off, relax, take in some of the area’s natural beauty, and hang out with friends all at once. The concept is simple: You get into an inflatable tube, a raft, or a canoe and casually float down the river. Excursions are usually about three hours and many groups choose to bring their own alcoholic and soft drinks to enhance the experience. Floating the river is a common summer pastime here in the Austin area, and it’s easily accessible from downtown.
What You Need
Tubing doesn’t require much in the form of equipment. Texas State Tubes will rent you the tube or other flotation device of your choice. You just come ready to get in the water, with your swimsuit and maybe some light clothing for before and after the trip. You can also bring a cooler with your choice of beverages. Please note, however, that NO Styrofoam coolers are allowed, and glass bottles are also prohibited. Alcohol is allowed on the river, and on the San Marcos River where Texas State Tubes operates permits cans (while not every river does), so you can just load your beer into a cooler with some ice and head down.
You’ll also want to bring all your other gear for a few hours in the sun: Sunglasses, sunscreen, and waterproof bags to hold essentials like your phone and keys. Don’t worry if you forget something, Texas State Tubes sells necessities onsite.
That’s pretty much it, we take care of the rest. Texas State Tubes can even pick you up in downtown Austin, drive you to the starting point, and then bring you back downtown at the end of your trip.
Imagine lying back, your feet in the water, your head tilted back enjoying an ice-cold beverage as you slowly glide down the river. That’s tubing! You can traverse the river in a group with your friends or you can venture by yourself, whatever you prefer. Most people describe the experience as relaxing, fun, and a nice break from the daily grind of city life.