Emblazoned with patriotic red, white, and blue, Lone Star Riverboat's vessels churn through Lady Bird Lake, floating alongside towering cypress trees and the city's skyline. Meanwhile, the captain's booming voice narrates each tour and details the steamy romances of the area's local waterfowl.
However, the company's aquatic excursions aren't just restricted to sightseeing. Their largest ship, The Lone Star, boasts two decks and a 150-person capacity. Aboard the ship, DJs spin tunes and caterers serve barbecue for special events such as weddings. On Friday nights, patrons board The Lone Star for moonlight cruises, taking in scenic views of the Austin skyline.
Lone Star Riverboat's enthusiasm for the water extends to environmental preservation. According to its website, the company owns the largest all-electric paddle wheeler in the country. It also donates a portion of its gross sales to the Austin area's park system and provides afterschool activities for at-risk fish.
As a young chef just starting out, Jason Tallent had cooked his way up the ladder, working directly under James Beard Foundation Award–winning chefs. After moving to Austin, he took the reins on the 34th Street Café, designing a farm-to-table menu of upscale New American comfort food. He and his team layer hormone-free meats and local, organic veggies to revamp beloved lunch sandwiches such as the BLT, Reuben, or ham and swiss. During the dinner rush, the menu throws on its formal wear for dishes such as crispy risotto with truffle cheese or panko-crusted chicken picatta drizzled with beurre blanc and sprinkled with capers. Affable owner Eddie Bernal keeps the restaurant’s laser-like focus on serving ethical, delicious café cuisine, while high ceilings and a spacious dining room offer guests plenty of room to relax during lunch, dinner, or Twister matches that determine who’s picking up the tab.
Serving central Texas for more than 25 years, Bridal Extravaganza simplifies shopping for brides and grooms by collecting more than 250 vendors under one roof. The booths of experienced wedding professionals lure in couples to sample their wares, from planners showing off their color-coded to-do lists to caterers doling out tastes of cakes, dinner dishes, and champagne. Fashion shows give onlookers a taste of the latest dress fashions for brides and bridesmaids and the latest developments in the world of cummerbunds for grooms. By the day's end, lucky ticket holders win prizes for a free wedding gown, bridal pictures, and cash. Each bride who attends the Bridal Extravaganza will receive $500 in free Bridal Bucks to spend on select exhibitors or a fairy godmother.
Locomotion Inflatable Play disguises healthy servings of exercise with hours of fun and games at its colorful, indoor activity center. Inside, socked adventurers are set free to explore or count each of the facility's 12,000 square feet, which are covered in bouncy inflatables and themed play areas. Playrooms for toddlers keep younger guests separate from older kids, and a miniature town encourages its visitors to cook up their own scenarios at a theater, grocery store, and 1950s-style diner. In addition to open-play sessions, Locomotion hosts birthday parties, and also features a Stuffin' Station, where kids build their own stuffed lions, bears, and dinosaurs to play with when their imaginary friends are busy.
A French-trained chef and a Mexican restaurateur pool their talents at Brown Bag Delivers, designing healthy, affordable cuisine for clients seeking to stockpile easy-to-prepare meals. The menu of entrees and sides rotates every week so the chef can incorporate new, seasonal ingredients. Each meal comes with simple instructions for reheating and can stay fresh inside clients' refrigerators for as long as six days—which is the exact running time of the Ken Burns documentary on leftovers. Although pickup is an option, the staff will also deliver orders to homes or workplaces throughout the Austin metropolitan area.
A finger-licking land of savory bites, Uncle Billy’s boasts a menu loaded with slow cooked barbecued meats, including brisket, ribs, jalepeno cheese sausage, turkey and burgers, as well as light, contrasting salads. Though your Groupon isn't valid toward alcohol, Uncle Billy’s imprimatur remains home to handcrafted creations from brewers Amos Lowe and Brian Peters, who happily pour in-house beers alongside a rotating tap of favorites from breweries throughout Texas. Live music lights up the weekend nighttime air, and a liberal, dogs-welcome policy at the Barton Springs location keeps the outdoor patio cozy on sunny afternoons.