Runners embarking on the Honky Tonk Marathon, Half Marathon, and 5K won't need headphones to hear twangy country tunes. That’s because the hilly Wisconsin Dells course features live bands and DJs along the route to keep participants energized as they race toward the finish line. The party-like atmosphere doesn’t end with the race, as a full-blown celebration complete with food, beer, and line dancing awaits runners and their family and friends. Aside from age-group awards for the top three males and females in each race, finish-line gifts include a Honky Tonk cowboy hat and goodie bag for all participants, a finisher-medal buckle for marathoners and half marathoners, and an ice bath for those who decided to pogo stick the entire 26.2 miles. The Honky Tonk marathon and half-marathon course is USA Track & Field certified and is also a Boston Marathon qualifier.
Skydive Galveston connects wingless humans with their aerial ambitions, setting them aloft at up to 14,000 feet to swig freefall adrenaline and then sip on stunning ocean views while gliding softly toward the coastline. After a 30–60 minute safety session where jumpers suit up and get wise to the basics of parachuting, the free-falling party boards a Cessna 182 aircraft and sets course for the clouds. Twenty minutes and two vertical miles later, the pod bay door opens to release pairs of skydiving novices and instructors into a sea of air. Freefall lasts up to a full minute before your human backpack pulls the chute cord, releasing the canopy and slowing the 120-mph drop to a leisurely float.
Each spring, excitement starts to build along Galveston's coast like the crest of a giant wave. It can only mean one thing: Ohana Surf & Skate is hosting its annual Spring Surf Classic, during which some of the best boarders compete for aquatic glory. The surfers might even inspire others to pick up the sport. Aspiring riders won't have to look far for guidance.
The instructors at Ohana lead surf and skate lessons, as well as summer surf camps for kids 6?17 years old. Each morning, the waters of Galveston Island transform into classrooms where experienced surfers teach campers to balance atop boards, surf, and explore the Gulf of Mexico. Lessons go beyond riding waves; marine biologists often visit to teach students about aquatic life.
Besides these educational programs and special events, Ohana Surf & Skate's staff runs a retail store that looks straight out of Hawaii. A mural of palm trees and hula dancers covers one side of the exterior. Inside, patrons find surfboards, skateboard decks, clothing, and a wall of sandals big enough to replace an interior designer's supply of wallpaper.
The family that plays together stays together?an old adage that couldn?t be more true for owners Mike and Julie, now married more than 30 years. They took the courageous steps to change their unhealthy lifestyles by losing more than 20 pounds, a paradigm shift that inspired the couple to part ways with the corporate world and establish Beach Town Tours, their outdoor adventure company. Now the pair, known to their customers as Mimi and Pops, encourage people to stay active with six kayaking tours and three bicycling tours. Knowledgeable guides take kayakers around Galveston Island, paddling along wetlands, islands, and waterfront homes while pointing out unique wildlife such as redfish and those flounder that sing and dispense sage advice to young merfolk.
Guests also can jump on a bike and follow tour guides in small groups to the Bolivar Ferry or through sections of Hurricane Ike?damaged trees that were revived by local artists armed with carving knives.
Galveston residents have something in common with notorious French pirate Jean Lafitte: he also called the island his home. Today, they get to climb aboard the full-size deck of a pirate ship to get a glimpse of their dangerous former neighbor's life. While traversing the rest of the interactive exhibits, they may even meet Lafitte himself?as conjured by a skilled actor?along with his brother Pierre and their gritty pirate cronies who downloaded thousands of songs onto their steam-powered laptops. Professionally applied glitter tattoos and a well-stocked gift shop bring guests back to modern-day Texas. Pirate hosts emcee private events and guide birthday tours through the whole museum, and parties can even include a trip through the nearby Haunted Mayfield Manor.
A fish tugs on the line, and suddenly a flurry of activity ensues. The next few minutes fly by as the fisherman reels in the flounder and quickly poses for a photo, commemorating a successful trip with Extreme Island Adventures. Aboard a 25-foot Boston Whaler and 42-foot Twin Vee, the company's guides charter trips into nearby bays and the Gulf of Mexico's tartar-sauce-filled depths. As a cool breeze rolls off the water, fishing lines cast out in search of everything from trout to sharks. Alternatively, vessels journey up to 100 miles offshore toward the underwater apartment complexes that house grouper and marlin. Extreme Island Adventures works to make its trips accessible to everyone from families to corporations, and its guides can supply all bait and clean fish.