More than 500 animals inhabit the grounds at Capital of Texas Zoo, a haven for wildlife education and a breeding ground for more than 14 endangered species. The zoo's residents include zebras, ringtail lemurs, and a rare white tiger, not to be confused with a ghost tiger. Other appearances from the animal kingdom include peacocks, kangaroos, turtles, and lions.
Educational animal shows highlight a specific member of the zoo, such as the Wings show, which stars eurasian eagle owl Hedwig, who has made appearances on Late Show with David Letterman and in the movie Furry Vengeance. The zoo also takes to the road with traveling animal shows that involve a cast of six exotic reptiles, mammals, and birds, which makes appearances at birthday parties, schools, or events. With lessons catered to the age of the audience, the animals teach children to respect other living things and remind adults why they can’t keep falcons as pets.
Austin Zoo originated as Good Day Ranch in 1990 featuring pony rides and goat-milking demonstrations. Over the next four years, the founders began rescuing exotic animals and evolving into a rescue center, renaming the facility under its current moniker. After becoming a safe haven for more than 300 rescued animals of more than 100 different species, the Austin Zoo began the process of becoming a nonprofit organization, which it completed in 2000. Housed in native Texas Hill Country enclosures, the animals can enjoy real grass and landscaping instead of concrete exhibits or studio apartments. African lions and Bengal tigers stretch out in the big cat habitats while colobus monkeys and a marmoset swing from tree to tree in monkey areas. In addition to wild creatures, the zoo houses domesticated animals such as a miniature donkey, potbellied pigs, and llamas.
Sculpted onto 55 acres of sprawling plains, including 6 acres dedicated solely to paintball, Oil Ranch entertains visiting families with farm activities, play areas, miniature golf, and paintball areas. The working ranch's friendly staff curates a barnyard full of animals, allowing guests to run their hands through a sheep's soft wool or learn how to milk a chicken. The cheery red-and-blue engine of the OIL Express train chugs around Lake Buenas Noches with passengers in tow, while a green John Deere tractor carts around the hayride wagon. Other activities include a summertime swimming pool, catch-and-release fishing in Lake Buenas Noches, mini golf, and a maze.
Also nestled within the ranch's grounds is a full paintball facility, where varied fields pit groups against each other in friendly clashes of chromaticity. On each field, competitors dive behind mobile cover such as large wooden spools, barrels, and crates, enacting countless tactical situations. All participants must sign waivers don masks, and really, really promise to not stare into the barrels of their own markers before entering the field.
In the shade of rust-red barns and tall trees, groups of llamas, goats, and ponies trot around wooden-fenced corrals, nabbing bites of feed from youngsters’ extended palms. This idyllic scene is one of many that abound at 7 Acre Wood. An old-fashioned Western fort houses a jail cell for interrogating suspicious-looking cartons of milk. Nearby, tots soar on the playground’s zipline or weave through the mini-golf course. The property also hosts 7 Acre Wood's Concessions, where families can get snacks.
Dewberry Farm opens its gates to let the public browse its vast land in search of fall- and farm-themed attractions. The centerpiece of the farm fun is the four-acre corn maze, which challenges guests to navigate three miles of path before reaching freedom. The entrance of the walking-puzzle is manned by the Corn-cierge, who will provide game sheets to solve brainteasers peppered throughout the maze and tridents for defense against people left behind from last year's maze. Celebrate survival at the farm's 16-acre pumpkin patch, where both carving and cooking pumpkins can be purchased ($0.50 per pound, $1 minimum per pumpkin). For an additional $3, jack-o-lantern aficionados can take a stroll through Punkin' Hollar, featuring more than 500 lighted carved pumpkins in a nature setting with trees, animals, and night sounds.
In 1906 the Artesian Manufacturing and Bottling Company was created to distribute the smooth, bubbly taste known as Dr Pepper. Today, that building still stands and is dedicated to a similar mission: to teach the world about the history of the iconic soda, a vision realized by a few devoted enthusiasts. The building became the Dr Pepper Museum in 1989, then the Dr Pepper Museum and Free Enterprise Institute in 1997. Today, it is a tribute to the imagination and talent that fueled the soft drink's success throughout the years.