Since its founding in 1980, Sun & Ski Sports has remained true to its philosophy: “do a few things, but do them better than anybody else.” The shop stocks equipment in five categories of extreme and outdoor activities, including camping, skating, running, bicycling, and water and snow sports. It specializes in these to ensure its merchandise maintains a high standard of quality, and its employees are knowledgeable participants in the sports their department represents.
Bikers can drop off their steeds for tune-ups from certified mechanics who put all brands through the rigors of a 12-point inspection, checking chains and adjusting wobbly pedals and malfunctioning spoke-card motors. While waiting, curious eyes might linger on a North Face two-person tent, a Blackburn Airtower bicycle pump, or a vast selection of shoes from brands such as New Balance and Asics. Men and women can traipse nearly barefoot in the park with Vibram FiveFingers, which offer minimal structural encumbrances for a more natural stride, or cast their feet aside for the new-wheeled prowess that comes with a Fuji SL-1 LE Ultegra performance road bike.
Growing up in El Paso near Hueco Tanks led Austin Rock Gym owner Troy Wilson to view rock climbing as a way of life. In order to open his own facility he merged his experience running youth climbing programs and gyms with that of his wife and coowner Erica—a Houston native who has spent years scaling New Mexico's rocky ridges. Specializing in bouldering, belaying, and lead climbing, the duo brings mountain terrain indoors at two Austin area locations. The north Austin gym's 30-foot bouldering wall and colorful climbing routes challenge visitors to traverse steep angles, and its top-rope routes let belayed crag clingers scale to the perfect yodeling height. At the south Austin gym, sculpted, 30-foot textured walls loom over a 10,000-square-foot facility, in which climbers can belay, practice lead climbing, or conquer a bouldering cave.
Veteran climbers at each location teach classes and private lessons for rookie rockers 4 and older. In addition to bouldering, lead climbing, and belaying classes, instructors lead women's only sessions and Powerhouse courses that focus on strengthening the body's core. Troy and Tracy's team of experts also guides groups to outdoor climbing venues and lugs a portable rock wall to construction workers no longer challenged by ladders.
A wide, dusty expanse lies in the center of rugged woods. Its sandy floor occasionally laps up into wind tunnels as desert breezes roll through. The expanse is dotted with large wooden spools and shrubs. Through the eerie silence, a muffled rustling is heard, and suddenly a masked figure appears, a long marker aimed at an opponent.
Within Austin Paintball's nine distinct fields, paint-slinging commandos encounter strategies and scenarios sprawled across 30 acres of dense woodlands and dusty lots. Units march into the Barrels field, which is haphazardly strewn with stacked, splattered barrels, or onto a new tournament area. The Underground and Iwo Jima, two fields marked by deep trenches that force exhilarating combat, re-create famous battles from history or legendary finger-painting skirmishes from kindergarten.
Self-service stations include 3,000 and 4,500 psi compressed-air stations, where players can recharge their air-powered devices or inflate self-brought blimps for paint-based air raids. Pacifists can view the action from the 1,000-square-foot stone patio that overlooks the hill country or take aim at motionless targets at the firing range.
Most runners simply want to cross the finish line of their first marathon. Steve Sisson wanted Austin’s runners to set loftier goals, so he created Rogue Running and hired a staff of experienced and decorated coaches. Steve himself is tribute to what drive can accomplish: he was a three-time all-American cross-country and track runner at the University of Texas, and is currently the assistant coach for the women’s track-and-field team.
His vision is to pass on that sense of discipline as well as advanced running techniques in a training program tailored according to how hard runners want to work, rather than how frequently they’ve spotted Jesse Owens in the supermarket. Using this method, the Rogue crew has readied runners for everything from 5K races and marathons to triathlons and trail runs. One of Steve’s ultimate goals is to create a thriving running community. To this end, Rogue Running has trained more than 10,000 runners of varying skill levels, and opened retail stores that outfit the community with athletic apparel and running shoes.
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.
Largemouth and guadalupe bass fin through the Colorado River rapids while birds soar above river islands and swimmer-friendly sandbars. Moored in a nook along this artery, Texas native and outdoor enthusiast Danny Walker—known as “Pops”—and his son—“Dan the Man Omega Mega”—equip adventurers by renting regular, tandem, and fishing kayaks, as well as standup paddleboards, from MOC Kayaks. To elevate river adventures from Huck Finn–style floating to Rambo-style hunting, pros outfit customers with fishing poles and tackle, sending them off to catch some of the river's more than 20 varieties of perch. For those who'd rather drop their lines in stiller waters, MOC Kayaks takes paddlers to Lake Travis and Lake Austin, and those who seek coaching on how to catch finned bounty can take advantage of guided trips. Dedicated adventurers can also buy their own kayaks to craft custom adventures or to take home and paddle around neighbors' pools.