Olympia Hills Golf Course takes duffers through 6,923 yards of exceedingly well-maintained fairways sculpted into picturesque, naturally undulating terrain. Begin an afternoon of friendly competition or rapidly escalating one-upmanship with a stint at the complex's full-length driving range (range balls only included with weekday option), where sculpted target greens soak up a steady rain of well-struck orbs. Masterful command of each club will be needed to bisect the Bermuda-grass fairways of Olympia Hills Course, which hosts a relatively challenging gauntlet of manmade mounds, scrupulously placed bunkers, and towering oak trees. Although the course is demanding, its inclusion of four tee layouts makes the round traversable for players of all abilities. Naturalists will enjoy the course's ubiquitous outgrowths of South Texas vegetation and wildlife, with seven holes featuring breathtaking elevation changes of 50 feet or more to challenge golfers' ability to properly select clubs based on both distance and altitude, adjust their stance for awkward slopes, and coax cowardly carts down steep precipices.
Laser Legend's black-lit arena surrounds players in a scene that seems straight out of a science-fiction movie. Glowing planets and stars backdrop the 5,000-square-foot space, where fog creeps out from behind neon-blue walls and 14 robots guard bases. Up to eight teams fire lasers across two levels, competing during match types such as capture the flag or tickle the flag until it says uncle. The phosphorescent ambience also extends to the Glo Golf course, where alien forests and caves surround golfers as they line up putts. The course employs a multi-hole system that allows Laser Legend?s intergalactic greenskeepers to change the cup locations each week. Elsewhere, more than 40 games, such as Sno Cross, Dirty Driving, Doodle Jump, and Juke-n-Box, create a symphony of electronic beeps in the arcade.
The aromas of fresh-baked breadsticks lure visitors into the onsite restaurant, Noble Roman's Pizza, where chefs fry chicken wings, assemble italian-beef subs, and slide pepperoni pizzas into the oven. This casual Italian cuisine also fuels stomachs within Laser Legend's party rooms, where guests can watch satellite TV and birthday kids eat a breadstick for every year they've had teeth.
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.
Named San Antonio's Best Museum in the 2010 Nickelodeon Parents' Choice Awards, San Antonio Children's Museum has ushered more than two million guests through its educational wonderland since opening in 1995. Tykes can explore permanent exhibits such as Science City, with hands-on exhibits covering physics, engineering, and how to extract highlighter ink from lightning bugs. In PowerBall Hall, children man simple machines to send orbs up to a lofty cage until the chamber fills and unleashes a spherical torrent down upon the delighted little ones. Other exhibits impart lessons of financial responsibility and proper nutrition in a make-believe bank and market. Membership is calibrated for any permutation of the family unit, and grants amenities including unlimited visits for a year, a subscription to the museum newsletter “Spark!,” and access to more than 40 classes where kids can submit theses on baking-soda volcanoes for peer review.
Smashburger isn't just the name?it's the way chefs, otherwise known as Burger Smashers, cook every burger. First, they form never-frozen, 100% Certified Angus Beef into a giant meatball. Then they season it, place it on a butter-glazed grill, and smash it into a patty. The process caramelizes the beef, locking in flavor while keeping the meat juicy and tender. Each slab is then sandwiched in an artisan bun and is turned into one of an array of standard burgers or locally inspired specialties unique to each market.
This handcrafting approach typifies everything else the restaurant does, from blending handspun shakes to hand painting Smashburger's logo onto every beverage cup. Letting its food stand for itself and relying mostly on word of mouth for advertising, the Smashburger franchise expanded from one restaurant in 2007 to 220 today, with its swift growth from zero to 100 stores making it one of the nation's fastest-growing restaurant companies. This rapid development even caught the attention of Forbes and Inc. along the way.
In 2006, New Orleans native Bernard McGraw stood in an airport with a decision to make—what city to call home. Then-Mayor Phil Hardberger professed on a nearby television that Hurricane Katrina victims were welcome in San Antonio. McGraw had lost virtually everything in the storm, but not his passion for Cajun cooking. So he boarded the plane in search of a new kitchen and a new path. McGraw’s story, originally run by the Southside Reporter, has a happy ending.
Bernard now runs his own restaurant out of Stinson Municipal Airport. His New Orleans–style Cajun and creole menu features homestyle sides of collard greens and mac ‘n’ cheese, spicy gumbo, golden fried catfish, and stuffed po’ boys. Diners can also enjoy a live jazz band (call ahead for schedule) and indulge in such housemade desserts as apple pie, sweet-potato pie, and pictures of pi cut from discarded textbooks.