In April of 2009, Brian Hill was at an impasse. Always the guy to throw parties and plan vacations with his friends, Brian had promised his friends a 4th of July bash on his own party boat. The only problem was that he didn't have a party boat. Instead of canceling the party and disappointing his friends, Brian put his engineering degree from the University of Texas to good use and created the Catalyst—a 20'x50' single-deck party barge. After the success of his initial voyage, Brian got the documentation to start his own business and has since thrown hundreds of parties on the waters of Lake Travis.
Brian customized his vessel with a gas grill and a sizeable dance floor to accommodate up to 100 revelers. The boat even has a tiki bar for more lax cruises, as well as festive lighting for nighttime rides and a future time where the sun has flown away.
Stretching across more than 6 miles, Lady Bird Lake's tranquil waters reflect the Austin skyline, the cliffs at Red Bud Isle, and the Congress Avenue Bridge, home to the largest urban bat population in the world. Throughout the year, Rowing Dock’s instructors take visitors into this manmade lake and teach them to paddle in kayaks or row within stand-up paddleboards. For customers who feel comfortable with their paddling prowess, the staffers rent everything from one-, two- and three-person kayaks, paddleboats and paddleboards, and canoes. As these human-powered vessels float across the lake, passengers can view the area's many native birds or canoodle with their oars at sunset.
Nestled along Lake Travis, Shore Club Volente Beach Waterpark features beach and water volleyball, a full-service fine-dining restaurant, daredevil slides, a swim-up tiki bar, and live music. A variety of pools encourage guests to swim and relax, while the Beach Bar & Grill serves burgers and sandwiches refuels guests on dry land. Shore Club is accessible by boat or by car, and The Shore Club Restaurant is open Wednesday through Sunday all year-round.
Sail & Ski Center's amiable staff of sports enthusiasts and shipwrights keep outdoor voyagers plying the waves and skimming down mountainsides with boat-maintenance services and an array of watersport and snow-sport accouterments. Like snagging an entire tray of cheese samples, the vast emporium of snowboards, skis, and wakeboards allows visitors to try out wares before they buy, sending thrill-seekers sailing over seas and snowdrifts atop such brand names as Hyperlite, Liquid Force, Saloman, and Mission 7. The talented servicefolk at Sail & Ski Center also sell, repair, and refurbish a broad spectrum of watercrafts, including yachts, jet skis, motorboats, and rocket-powered dinghies.
Perched on the bank of Lake Travis, Daybreak Miniature Golf Park blends 18 confoundingly contoured holes with scenic views and cool breezes off the water. Friends and families unsheathe putters and embark on pintsize rounds, knocking kaleidoscopic spheres over banks and swales and rolling past hole-in-one hindrances such as stones and ethereal psychological sand traps. The challenging course speckles water hazards and worrisome warbles along an array of par 2 and par 3 holes. Youngsters have fun clobbering balls along the imaginatively molded, brightly hued greens, while more experienced golfsmiths can challenge themselves to ace the park's lengthy 50-foot putt. Open as late at 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday evenings, the park's overhead lights team up with the moon and lighter-wielding constellations to illuminate the beautifully landscaped, flower-filled course.
Seasoned kayaker John Cline paddles with a local hotel concierge along the Colorado River, periodically explaining that kayaking is perfectly safe for beginners and an ideal way to savor the pleasant Texas weather. Suddenly, the sky erupts and an onslaught of rain drenches the waterborne duo. They rest their paddles on their laps, look at each other, and start laughing. Rising Phoenix Adventures' kayak and canoe trips create these unique memories so regularly that one Belgian businesswoman even makes annual trips to the area just to ride the class-1 river. Since establishing the outdoor-excursion company in 2004 with barely 10 kayaks and canoes, Cline has more than quadrupled his fleet to accommodate the ever-increasing demand. After alighting one of the trusty vessels, adventurers set off to navigate through the river's islands and beneath a scenic half-mile tree canopy, where the shores offer glimpses of wild pigs, great blue herons, and undomesticated beach umbrellas.