There's rarely a dull moment at Rancho La Rosa. Sprawled across 50 acres, the half equine resort, half event center consistently stirs with activity. Many days, instructors are busy leading riders through lessons in three disciplines: beginners, trail, and competitive barrel racing . For especially young visitors, they scale lessons back into fundamental "love, hug, and groom" sessions?a similar mantra used by horses protesting the mistreatment of Mister Ed in the 1960s. Away from the practice areas, scenic picnic layouts and a clubhouse make an ideal backdrop to weddings, birthday parties, and more common gatherings such as family cookouts.
Rustic Creek Ranch outfits outdoor enthusiasts with roofless rooms. Campers can construct their nylon abodes during any two nights of their choice, or pop up campers and plug in to the many amenities, including electrical service, high-speed wireless Internet, cable television, and free cicada concerts each evening (an up-to-$55-per-night value for site rental). The activity package includes a cutthroat round of laser tag for up to four ($9.99 per person), played outdoors in a barrier-filled field, and a one-hour spin on the pedal carts ($10 per person), where up to four motorless motorists can take a pedal-powered self-guided tour in search of s’more-making secrets. The 33,000-gallon Guadalajara family pool fulfills chlorine dreams and offers a shallow swimming hole for water-winged wonders. The Ranch House pool comes complete with a hot tub for relaxing or cooking crab dinners. Rustic Creek Ranch also hosts a number of community-creating activities, such as hayrides and karaoke, and makes a point to encourage cleanliness with four laundry and private-bath facilities.
As a child, Kyle Mathis would try to play anything even remotely resembling a guitar—that is, until he was 10 years old. That year, his financially struggling parents bought him his first guitar, a black acoustic Harmony. He spent much of the following decade honing his skills on the fretboard. After his band won a fateful competition, he launched into the national touring circuit. Today, when he isn't busy touring as the guitarist of Parabelle, he straps on his guitar and passes on his knowledge to other budding musicians.
With gauged ears and tattooed arms, Kyle's look might skew more towards rock star than down-to-earth music teacher—yet he is accommodating, holding in customer's homes as well as his professional studio. During each one-hour class, he teaches students all the basics of guitar artistry that they must learn before they can shred, from basic chords and finger placement to the basic mid-solo kickflip.
When Birgit and Bruce Anderson first purchased their 2-acre property in Burleson, Texas, the new surroundings where they grew vegetables and raised farm animals reminded them of the then-popular television show Little House on the Prairie. The couple—who originally trained as a tax agent and sociology professor—and their daughters farmed the land for several years before a 1995 trip to Napa Valley seduced them into the vineyard lifestyle. After 10 years of studying grape-growing and winemaking, the Andersons opened Sunset Winery, which they've nicknamed and trademarked "The Best Little Wine House in Texas."
Since opening, the late-blooming winemakers have established themselves by winning multiple prizes for their wines and drawing a steady stream of visitors each year. Sunset's lauded bottles include Moon Glow merlot and Twilight Tango malbec, the latter of which won top accolades at the 2009 GrapeFest People's Choice Wine Tasting Classic, edging out other malbecs and a chagrined Susan Lucci.