When students sign on for a Rock About climbing class, they don't just learn to rope their way up mountainsides and trade banter with goats. The company's certified guides also educate clients about the cultural history and complex geology of the climbing sites. On climbing treks to Reimers Ranch Park, owner Adam Mitchell and his team teach top-roping and belaying techniques while exploring the notion that climbing allows humankind to commune safely with the earth's natural wonders. For those uneasy about vertical exploration, the guides offer non-climbing adventures such as interpretive hikes.
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.
Rockbox Theater inflicts delight on crowds of all ages with family-friendly live music, theater, and comedy performed by a resident cast of talented entertainers, earning the title of Texas's No. 1 attraction from TripAdvisor. Groupon holders will receive tickets in rows H through Q, with specific seat assignments made available by phone reservation or listening for barely audible wind-whispers. Audiences behold an extravaganza featuring musical classics by artists such as The Beatles and Stevie Ray Vaughan, with the regular cast joined by a weekly special guest artist. Drop by July 23 to catch the cast performing with Merging Blue from Nashville, or witness The Moonlites on August 6, sure to cause a lunar eclipse in other parts of the world. Rockbox puts up a new show each weekend, replete with vivid costumes, choreography, and wholesome comedy.
Housed in a soft-yellow and wood-frame abode, YaYaBee teaches young minds to recognize their strengths and skills through art and other creative endeavors. In classes for kids ages 2–15, artistic apprentices go elbow deep into a hands-on creative carousal. Nonneatniks revel in the muddy melee of pottery classes, and penny-finding pipsqueaks learn to incorporate their found treasures into mantle-worthy material in recycled-art classes. Photography instruction teaches eaglets methods for sharing their mental polaroids, which can often jam in the ear canal. Other classes include learning sewing in textile art and embracing tiny inner Pollacks in messy art.
Like the small town of Albert in the Texas Hill Country, what the Albert Ice House & Dance Hall lacks in size it makes up for in heart and history. Originally built in 1922 as community dance hall featuring German brass bands, the dance hall is now a vibrant gathering place for friends where live Texas music reigns king. The slated wood walls feature classic roadhouse decor with road signs, beer paraphernalia, and a hodgepodge of framed vintage photos. The spacious dance floor is anchored by a raised wood stage that hosts country bands and cover artists. Guests can take a break from stomping their boots to lounge in the beer garden, throw some horseshoes or washers, or watch a game on the big screen TV. And for dancers that have worked up an appetite, The Albert Pig Pen now serves food including burgers, grilled ribeye, and pork belly.
Dan Gatlin is a bona fide pioneer in the field of Texas winemaking. His father owned a chain of convenience and wine and spirits stores, which meant Dan was closely attuned to the rise of winemaking in California in the 1970s. In 1981, Dan took a shot at spurring the same type of enterprise in Texas, opening a small vineyard that would one day grow into the successful Inwood Estates Vineyards. Today the winery produces red and white wines that take advantage of Texas's distinctive terroir, or soil, to produce complex flavors.