Greek immigrant Louis Santikos founded his first movie theater in San Antonio in 1911, when silent moving pictures of train robberies and slapstick comedy were an exciting novelty. Today, the thriving regional theater empire continues the family tradition of dazzling audiences with attractions such as IMAX sensory journeys.
Santikos's expansive theaters house up to 19 screens of first-run cinematic entertainment at some locations. Equipped with popcorn and sodas, moviegoers can nervously munch and sip their way through every pulse-pounding car chase, tragic missed connection, or gripping montage of drying paint. Screenings in 3-D of select films are brought to life by the gloriously immersive illuminations of Xpand 3-D projectors.
Just blocks from the 72-degree waters of the Comal River, Comal Tubes provides inflatable passports to the spring-fed waters that converge in downtown New Braunfels with the Guadalupe River's choppier rapids. Toes and fingers trail in the temperate waters throughout a two-hour float, alternately slipping past tree-lined shores and whipping down faster-moving tube chutes, while others seize their aquatic destinies by the oars with kayak rentals. Comal Tubes' free parking and shuttle service grant more time for the water, and the shop outfits river riders with refreshments, ice, sunscreen, and other gear to escape the mundanity of land-based life's preoccupation with shirts and shoes.
Texas Ski Ranch sends wakeboarders, kneeboarders, and water-skiers skimming across the placid surface of a cable lake—all without the use of a boat. Ropes connected to a circulating cable high above the water pull up to six athletes at a time around the lake, with kickers and sliders stationed throughout to provide opportunities for big air, and a Little Bro cable system is available for beginners. Aside from the cable park, the 70-acre action-filled sports wonderland also boasts a 15,000-square-foot city-style skate park, as well as an indoor trampoline park, beach area, portable rock wall, and Wahoo's Fish Taco restaurant. A staff of coaches and a fully stocked board shop help visitors explore other adrenaline sports, such as wake surfing and extreme sunburning.
John Newcombe Country Club's veranda looks out upon eight lit tennis courts with a sweeping backdrop of Texas Hill Country. While tennis students aged 3 and up scamper over the courts under the guidance of certified instructors, AFAA-certified personal trainers oversee the fitness program, while making sure to reapply bronzing oil every half-hour. They guide trainees through free-weight exercises, as well as classes in Zumba, Pilates, TRX training, and AquaFit conducted in an outdoor pool. While their parents sweat, children can make art and watch movies in the kids' club, or seek out their dream rackets in the pro shop.
For more than three decades, locally owned Spectrum Athletic Clubs have aimed to create a resort-like experience for patrons with upscale perks and personalized care. After workouts, gym-goers can avail themselves of unlimited towel service and change in comfortable locker rooms. Other amenities include saunas, steam rooms, healthy cafes, specialized workout areas, and complimentary Internet access.
In addition, racquetball courts let athletes improve their game independently, and patrons can sweat solo on cardiovascular equipment with individual viewing screens. Group classes, more than 1,200 of which are held daily, include Zumba, Pilates, Body Combat, and CXWorx sessions and enable trainees to draw motivation from each other or from each exercise studio's complimentary tank of moxie. The Spectrum Kids Club gives kids a place to play while adults work out and hosts such events as pool parties and pizza parties throughout the year.