The low-hanging branches of southern live oak trees stretch out over the house and pavilion areas at Don Strange Ranch, dappling parties, weddings, and corporate team gatherings with splashes of sunlight. Since 1952, the 125-acre longhorn ranch in the Texas Hill Country has hosted myriad events, including scenes from the PBS music documentary series Live from the Artists Den and the wedding of country music stars Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton.
More than just a picturesque backdrop, the ranch’s rugged natural surroundings host outdoor activities such as ropes courses and kayak trips down the Guadalupe River. And the friendly staffers who man 350- to 400-foot ziplines work to ease guests out of their comfort zones, like a mother bird pushing her young out of the nest for their first extreme base-jumping lesson. :m]]
Since 1971, Guadalupe Canoe Livery has equipped powerful paddlers to explore the scenic upper Guadalupe River with kayaks, canoes, rafts, and inner tubes. Don a life jacket and climb into an Old Town canoe with a pal for a tour of the shoreline that should last 2–3 hours. Fun for navigation novices and seasoned stream skimmers alike, the tour departs from Nichols Landing on Spring Branch Road, a location reachable by a fee-free shuttle.
The watercraft experts of Go Paddle Down supply customers with bright orange single and tandem kayaks, slim standup paddleboards, and easy-cruising pedal boats. Staffers can help guests launch into the cool waters of Lady Bird Lake or Lake Marble Falls for hours of exploration. They'll also deliver up to four boards to the customer's location for a special event, enabling half or whole days of aqueous entertainment.
San Antonio’s bustling urban environs and picturesque natural surroundings both serve as the setting for Adventure Club San Antonio’s organized, jovial group outings for singles and married couples alike. Resident staffers heed suggestions from more than 300 members and 200 fortune cookies to devise a calendar of events that brims with an average of 60 activities every month, most of which are free of charge. After perusing the bevy of activities, participants congregate amid the verdant San Antonio–area wilderness for outdoor recreation such as hiking and canoeing, or within the lively city limits for dinners, sports matches, members-only shindigs, and frequent volunteer sessions for local charities.
Aside from the chance to mingle with new friends and explore the region, members receive discounts at dozens of local businesses, and can swiftly find a companion for unofficial events and shadow-puppet castings via a handy activity partners’ forum. Additionally, Adventure Club can connect members to a network of similar groups in Austin and Houston.
The brainchild of outdoor enthusiast Stacey Banta, Texas Pack & Paddle unlocks San Antonio’s local waterways for paddlers and fly fishers with kayaking classes, tours, and aquatic sports equipment. Their American Canoe Association–certified instructor explains how to slice the water with paddles and rev a kayak’s engine during introductory lessons that also review safety and rescue techniques. Those with a firm grip on their aquatic steeds can head out with a professionally licensed All-Water Guide, who calls upon wisdom gathered over 34 years of kayaking to lead expeditions through waterways such as the Guadalupe River. Regardless of their chosen pathway to adventure, visitors can rest assured that all staff members hold CPR and first-aid certifications. Further assurance can be found at the company’s store, which outfits explorers with Keen footwear, dry bags and boxes, and Stohlquist WaterWare, and whittles spears for kayakers set to embark on seasonal kraken hunts.
The paddling aficionados at Austin Canoe & Kayak maintain a stable of masterfully maintained vessels for outfitting all levels of aquatic explorers. Solitary river riders can transport single rental kayaks from the store's waterless location and drop into any body of water they choose, avoiding crowded routes and groups of largemouth bass that blab everyone's best-kept secrets. Adventurous couples can romantically float down Mother Nature's own tunnel of love in a spacious tandem kayak while fairytale marine life sings melodies to set the mood. Single-person boats such as the Wilderness Systems sit-inside Pungo 120 can best the currents of the Brazos River, and a Malibu 2XL from Ocean Kayak can ferry two-person teams seaward on salty jaunts in the Gulf of Mexico.