The low-hanging branches of southern live oak trees stretch out over the house and pavilion areas at Don Strange Ranch, dappling parties, weddings, and corporate team gatherings with splashes of sunlight. Since 1952, the 125-acre longhorn ranch in the Texas Hill Country has hosted myriad events, including scenes from the PBS music documentary series Live from the Artists Den and the wedding of country music stars Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton.
More than just a picturesque backdrop, the ranch?s rugged natural surroundings host outdoor activities such as ropes courses and kayak trips down the Guadalupe River. And the friendly staffers who man 350- to 400-foot ziplines work to ease guests out of their comfort zones, like a mother bird pushing her young out of the nest for their first extreme base-jumping lesson.
Bandera RiverFest’s schedule enlivens the banks of the Medina River with a host of games, music, festival fare, and events. Witness the festival's capstone, the Anything That Floats Regatta, where decorated vessels crafted from a variety of floating materials, including foamboard and living otters, parade down the river. The dulcet tones of bands such as Fifty Dollar Dynasty and The Perfect Parrothead Party enchant eardrums, and watermelon and Big Lou’s hot-dog-eating contest and a Central Texas Barbecue Association–sanctioned barbecue cook-off challenge bellies to expand themselves. Additional events include a car show, an arts-and-crafts show, and a swap meet, where you can trade Social Security numbers.
Hugging the banks of the blue-green Medina River between its craggy bluffs, Paradise Canyon gives kayakers, fishers, and picnickers a breathtaking backdrop that echoes the sounds of falling water, rustling trees, and hooting owls. As summer readers laze atop a blanket along the shore, they can watch river riders drift past in tubes ($7 rental) or kayaks ($30 rental), or the saddled backs of freshwater mermaids. The canyon's abundant avian life will have bird watchers scrambling for their field guides, and umbrella-covered tables accommodate a family-sized picnic spread. Dedicated outdoorsfolk can also arrange to spend the day fly-fishing before retreating to a lantern-lit canvas tent for a night of s'mores and scary PowerPoint presentations. Otherwise, reserve Paradise Canyon's three-bedroom, four-bathroom log-cabin lodge and create a rustic setting for the next family reunion, wedding, or quilting retreat.
Since 1971, Guadalupe Canoe Livery has equipped powerful paddlers to explore the scenic upper Guadalupe River with kayaks, canoes, rafts, and inner tubes. Don a life jacket and climb into an Old Town canoe with a pal for a tour of the shoreline that should last 2–3 hours. Fun for navigation novices and seasoned stream skimmers alike, the tour departs from Nichols Landing on Spring Branch Road, a location reachable by a fee-free shuttle.
Cranes Mill Marina gives landlubbers the chance to become aquatic adventurers on its fleet of rentable watercrafts. A three-hour eight passenger ski-boat rental lets speed demons tug along delighted adrenaline junkies on the included wake board, kneeboard, tube, or water skis. Slower-moving seafarers can climb aboard a 24-foot-long, party-ready pontoon boat, which has a flat bottom easily used as a dance floor or roller-skating rink. The pontoon boat ferries up to 11 cadets at an ambling, luxurious pace, making it a sturdy hub for swimming excursions, easy-going fishing trips, or an afternoon spent gazing at the lake's natural beauty.
San Antonio?s bustling urban environs and picturesque natural surroundings both serve as the setting for Adventure Club San Antonio?s organized, jovial group outings for singles and married couples alike. Resident staffers heed suggestions from more than 300 members and 200 fortune cookies to devise a calendar of events that brims with an average of 60 activities every month, most of which are free of charge. After perusing the bevy of activities, participants congregate amid the verdant San Antonio?area wilderness for outdoor recreation such as hiking and canoeing, or within the lively city limits for dinners, sports matches, members-only shindigs, and frequent volunteer sessions for local charities.
Aside from the chance to mingle with new friends and explore the region, members receive discounts at dozens of local businesses, and can swiftly find a companion for unofficial events and shadow-puppet castings via a handy activity partners? forum. Additionally, Adventure Club can connect members to a network of similar groups in Austin and Houston.