Canyon Lake Marina's fleet of group-ready pontoon- and ski-boats fosters memorable end-of-summer adventures. Up to 11 maritime merrymakers gather for lackadaisical meandering on a 24-foot-long pontoon boat, piloting around scenic Canyon Lake on three-hour voyages full of amiable rug-cutting and games of nautical Twister. Ski boats fulfill the need for seafaring speed, shooting away from shore with up to eight water-loving daredevils aboard. Waves crest away from the 19-foot-long ski-craft, and a choice of wakeboard, kneeboard, tube, or skis gives passengers a chance to deliver greeting cards to fish friends in person. Included water toys, lifejackets, and fuel keep boaters amused, buoyant, and bustling respectively, and the on-site Ship Store stands ready to provide snacks, libations, sun block, and boating accessories to lake-bound travelers for an additional fee.
For more than four decades, Sterling Pest Management has sent creepy-crawlies on the run. Its licensed techs specialize in wood-destroying insect reports (WDIRs), and they perform free termite inspections for homeowners. Confident in their work, they back it up with a 90-day retreatment warranty. And for those homes with no signs of infestation, they offer preventive-treatment services.
Action Photos sends its pro shutterbugs to capture events of every ilk, from sports events to award ceremonies, and dispatches photo booths so guests can record their own self-portraits. Solo subjects or groups of attendees pile into red-draped photo booths at weddings and other soirees, beaming genuine smiles or infusing shots with creativity by imitating famous pieces of architecture. All rentals include unlimited photos and high-quality prints for each guest, and Action Photos also emblazons the bottom of each photo strip with the event name or a corporate logo. A booth attendant ensures the line is moving along and supplies subjects with a variety of props. At the end of the night, booths are whisked away by staffers into the same cloud of purple smoke whence they arrived.
A crackling fire warms guests perched at white-draped tables in the candlelit wine cellar. Upstairs, diners marvel at the picturesque views of the vineyard and rose garden filling the glass-enclosed patio's windows or deeply inhale the aroma of wildflowers drifting onto the vine-covered porch. It's against these intimate backdrops that servers at The Vineyards Restaurant deliver steak, seafood, and other upscale dishes to tables, which come aglow with candlelight as dusk falls.
The chefs work hard to make each bite as special as the surroundings. They age beef-tenderloin fillets for 45 days before plating them atop garlic-and-mushroom sauce and slowly marinate chicken in a spicy chipotle-garlic oil before nestling it in a bed of pasta covered in cilantro cream sauce.
With such food in such a setting, a regular night out at The Vineyards is one to remember, but a special occasion there is truly magical. For marriage proposals, anniversaries, and the reunions of long-lost pairs of socks, staffers lead guests down a candle-strewn path to a private table set for dessert among the vineyard's rows of grapevines. The Vineyards has held more than 500 weddings in its open-air pavilion, and its on-staff wedding coordinator and floral designer help plan picture-perfect ceremonies.
Few can say they've walked among fairies and mermaids but Elma does it every day—and she has the pictures to prove it. As the shutterbug behind Enchanted Fairytale Portraits, she outfits children with iridescent wings, gossamer fins, and tri-corner caps so they can transform into fairies, mermaids, and pirates.
Elma also brings enchantment to those on the verge of adulthood. She does this by dressing young ladies with fairy wings and lavish gowns to celebrate their quinceaneras, creating elegant portraits that can be kept as mementos, sent as party invitations, or buried under the garage. During the Christmas season, Elma snaps family photos and she can enhance just about any image with digital stars, sparkles, and fairy dust after photo shoots.
"It's like throwing a party every day," Byron Severance, who co-owns The Jumpy Place along with his wife, Cathy, told the Hays Free Press. "It's the most fun I've ever had in a job." Byron and Cathy's indoor playground—kept immaculate with a strict socks-only policy, daily disinfectant washes, and an unbudging ban on trashcan-dwelling Grouches—relieves the endemic of excess energy common to youths aged 10 and younger. As children bounce in and slide down air-filled fortresses, adults entertain themselves with complimentary coffee, WiFi, and cartoon-free television. Both locations are open every day except Tuesday, and each admission grants all-day access that allows families to come and go as they please.