You plan these great trips to fun cities, but when it comes to creating a travel itinerary, there’s the big question: What do you do each day? There’s no better way to get to know a city than to tour it. And when the weather is nice, why not explore it on foot?
The same great Southern cities and outdoor areas you want to visit also happen to have some top-rated walking tours, and we’ve compiled a list of 10 that will take your vacation to the next level. Lace up your sneakers and track those steps!
Tours by Steven’s New Orleans Jogging Tour | New Orleans, LA
- Time: 3 hours
- Cost: $49
In a city famous for its tours, Tours by Steven are ranked among the best. While there are a number of options from which to choose, one of the more unique options is a New Orleans jogging tour. Meet your small group in the heart of the French Quarter before venturing through many neighborhoods during your six-mile jog. Get up, be active and start your day strong with this tour of the city. In case you were trying to be healthy, be warned! The tour concludes at the French Market where passing up on decadent food can be difficult. But go ahead and indulge — you’ve earned it!
Brew-ed’s Asheville Brewery Tours | Asheville, NC
- Time: 2-3 hours
- Cost: $37-$50
Did you know that downtown Asheville houses more than a dozen breweries? On your next trip to this beloved mountain town, you would be missing out if you didn’t give some of these locally crafted beers a try. What makes Brew-ed tours special is that each one is led by a certified cicerone — in other words, they’re beer experts.
“I really like that our tours are more than the typical party bus. We get behind the scenes of not only how beer is made, but the history of different beer styles and a feel for the industry itself,” says Cliff Mori, owner of Brew-ed. “We also include some Asheville history along the way, so our participants can get a feel for the city.”
Tasting the award-winning beers is one thing, but it’s even more enjoyable when you get to explore the sites of the city while you’re at it. Expect to go to one brewery each hour. Tickets sell out fast, so book well in advance.
Charleston Footprints | Charleston, SC
- Time: 2 hours
- Cost: $20
Charleston is known for its charm, and who better to tell you about it than a seventh-generation Charlestonian? Zigzag through historic Charleston’s cobblestone streets and charming neighborhoods — on a sunny day, there’s no better way to see the city. Your guide, award-winning journalist and author Michael Trouche, offers his Charleston Footprint tours starting at 10:30 a.m. or 2:30 p.m.
Tipster’s East Side Art Tour | Austin, TX
- Time: 1.5 hours
- Cost: Free
Vacations can be very expensive, but not all of your activities have to break the bank! This free tour of East Side Austin shows you the modern side of this city. “On Tipster’s East Side Art Tour you will experience the local street art scene in Austin’s fastest-growing part of the city, the hip and vibrant East Side,” says Kelly Buller, co-founder of Tipster Tours. “Along with learning about different forms of murals and street art, you will get an overview of the history and things to do on the East Side of Austin.”
Gain insider knowledge of the graffiti that lines buildings all around town — street art is much more interesting when you have it explained to you. As you pass by the eclectic art, you will perhaps better understand the city’s character that gives the city its motto: “Keep Austin Weird.”
Check the website for tour times, but there’s no need to book ahead, so it’s a great way to spend an unscheduled afternoon. “My favorite thing about the East Side Art tour is the creative energy in this part of town along with the natural canvas the city holds as new murals are always popping up,” adds Kelly. We can’t wait to check it out!
Peachtree Food Tour | Atlanta, GA
- Time: 3 hours
- Cost: $100
Atlanta’s food scene is renowned, and even on your best day, you can only try so many restaurants. That’s the beauty of a food walking tour. During the Peachtree Food Tour, you’ll walk from restaurant to restaurant and get tastes at each — all while taking part in good conversation. Be prepared to be adventurous as you taste some of the local favorites and recommended restaurants. Explore Atlanta’s cuisine while learning about some non-food activities, also.
Wildland Trekking’s Best of Appalachia Tour | NC
- Time: 5 days
- Cost: $2,230
Don’t be deceived by finding a Wildland Trekking tour listed among “walking” tours. This tour is better described as a hiking tour and is not for the traveler looking for a relaxing stroll. “The Best of Appalachia Inn-based Hiking Tour is my favorite tour we offer,” says Kyle Felts, Appalachian program manager/guide. “The reason is that you get such a diverse experience. Two-and-a-half days in the Smokies followed by two-and-a-half days in Pisgah National Forest. You get big views in the Smokies, but it’s more creeks and flora. When you come to Pisgah, that’s when we get big, massive 365-degree views.”
Expect long treks with sweeping vistas and diverse wildlife during the day and overnight stops at lodges and inns each night, complete with a delicious meal. There’s no better way to explore the beauty of the South than by walking through it, and in this tour, you get to see a lot.
After Life Tour’s Voices of the Dead Tour | Savannah, GA
- Time: 1.5 hours
- Cost: $29
Legend has it that the Hostess City is also hospitable to many ghosts. Carve out an hour and a half of your night to wander through old cemeteries, historic theaters and old inns during Savannah’s Voices of the Dead tour. As you go from place to place, your tour guide from After Life Tours will tell you the skin-crawling stories of murder and the ghosts that haunt the city.
Civil Rights Movement Tour | Nashville, TN
- Time: 1.5 hours
- Cost: $67
While Nashville is primarily known for its music, the city’s history is deeply connected to the Civil Rights Movement. The educational scene placed Nashville on the forefront of peaceful demonstrations, and United Street Tours’ Civil Right Movement walking tour takes you where sit-ins occurred and tells the story of the brave people who participated in them.
“United Street Tours is a walking tour company that showcases the lesser-known stories of Nashville’s black history,” says UST founder Chakita Patterson. “The Nashville sit-in movement was a time when ordinary people went to ordinary places and nonviolently fought for equality for all people.”
The 1.5-hour tour tells the civil rights story and puts on display otherwise easily missed spots that hold important Nashville history. “Recently, there has been a big push in Nashville towards diversity and inclusion, and this tour really grounds participants in the why behind the importance of diversity and inclusion efforts,” adds Chakita. “Our participants’ favorite part of the tour is seeing the places where the sit-ins happened and learning the stories behind those places.”
Historical Walking Tours | Charlottesville, VA
- Time: Varies
- Cost: FREE
Charlottesville is home to the University of Virginia, but the city and county are home to a rich history as well —beyond that of Thomas Jefferson. This Historical Walking Tour takes you through the Commonwealth of Virginia’s past 250 years. As you pass by monuments, buildings and graves, your tour guide will tell you the stories behind them. Be sure to check the calendar to see which tours are being offered when you’re visiting.
San Antonio Food Tours | San Antonio, TX
- Time: 3 hours
- Cost: $50
“San Antonio has become quite the foodie destination,” says Jordan of SA Food Tours. “We love that we can showcase our city’s food scene by exploring restaurants off the beaten path.”
Indeed, San Antonio is known for its Tex-Mex, and a food walking tour is sure to highlight a good bit of this flavor. Your passport stamping won’t end there, though. A three-hour group tour will take you from Cuba to Argentina and back to the USA. “We support local restaurants so our guests can truly experience eating like a local,” adds Jordan.
Come hungry because there’s a whole lot to try! As you make your way from restaurant to restaurant, your tour guide will also tell you a bit about the history of the places you pass by.
***AVAILABLE Fall 2019***
- Time: anytime
- Cost: FREE
This walking tour is not yet available, but will be soon! Downtown Nashville is lined with historical markers pointing out important city landmarks. As part of a project for a postgraduate certificate in digital media, Dr. Mary Ellen Pethel used these historical markers to create a digital walking tour of Nashville. With the help of the Metro Historical Committee, this idea for digital walking tours expanded to its current state: Nashville Sites. While only the beta site is currently complete, this will be a mobile-friendly website where you can find tours of varying topics, such as women’s suffrage and a music tour, and links to explore downtown Nashville. And once launched, medallions will be visible on the side of featured buildings and historic markers with a scannable QR code to bring you straight to the particular tour.
Here’s to hittin’ the pavement (and the trails) throughout the South!
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