Beckendorf Gallery houses a gargantuan selection of storied prints by Texan artist Charles Beckendorf, whose dedication to detailing the flora and fauna of his native state continues to entice art enthusiasts after his passing in 1996. Bluebonnets and Gulley-Stone House ($25) depicts a humble abode against a backdrop of verdant hills, trees, and cobalt fields, and Bald Eagle ($35) illustrates the impact the iconic bird had on Telly Savalas.
The Heritage Museum of the Texas Hill Country connects visitors of all ages with the area's natural and cultural history through elaborate displays and well-preserved artifacts that live on as bridges to the past. Both self-guided and guided tours explore the museum's expansive collection, which includes a cache of Native American relics, as well as an expansive outdoor display of farming equipment used and autographed by celebrity pioneers. Museum-goers can also weave through the collage of native plants lining the heritage garden, or investigate dinosaur tracks that have endured roughly 100 million years of changing seasons. After their journeys through time, visitors can retire to the outdoor picnic area or stroll through the onsite gift shop.
In 2009, Linda and Greg Racino were reaping the benefits of more than two fast-paced decades in the tech industry. Something was missing, though—creativity. So in February of that year the couple left behind the cold digital world for a brightly colored studio warmed by a blazing kiln. Lining their shelves with finished and unfinished clay and glass pieces, the Racinos today deal solely in creation. They guide customers through pottery painting and glass fusing—from picking out a blank bisque piece to arranging a unique design of glass pieces. Guests can also check out the calendar of events to learn about upcoming discounts and special projects, or to find out what day it is.
For three days in November, the Weihnachtsmarkt Christmas Market brings Olde World Christmas spirit to New Braunfels. Vendors set up cheery red and green booths in the German-style holiday market, where they sell homemade wares such as aromatic roasted nuts, unique toys, vintage cameos, and homemade toffee. Nearby, authors sit ready to discuss their novels or sing their favorite Christmas carols at the on-site book fair and a jolly Santa eats breakfast with kids of all ages. To keep guests warm during the event, Sophie's Cafe serves up warm mugs of soup paired with sandwiches or tempting desserts.
Proceeds from the event benefit The Sophienburg Museum and Archives, which serves as the hub for immigration ship logs, photos, and documents of the first German Americans who found their way to Texas.
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.
When horror movies like the Paranormal Activity franchise need a supernatural adviser and The Atlantic Paranormal Society needs a recruiter, they turn to Robert. A former cast member on SyFy's Ghost Hunters International, he draws on his extensive paranormal know-how to lead 90-minute nighttime treks with Ghost Hunts of San Antonio Texas Tour.
Exploring the dusky streets of downtown San Antonio, the tour stops at more than 10 locations with verified ghost activity, including the Flannery House, the Crockett Hotel, and the Casino Club building, where apparitions can be spotted mulling over the same poker hand they've been holding for more than 100 years. Rob showcases modern ghost-hunting equipment while helping guests detect spirits by seeking out cold spots and snapping photographs. When he's not commanding the hunt, he regales visitors with factual accounts of the deaths of famous San Antonio spirits including Mae West, Davie Crockett, and Roy Rogers.