Wayne Standefer, the head pilot at Balloon Adventures, is well versed in Dallas-area scenery and topography, knowledge that helps him regale passengers with information during flights. The adventure begins as the aircraft is brought to life before your eyes. Once his balloon reaches its full height—more than 10 stories—Standefer invites you inside the tightly woven wicker basket to soar above rooftops and trees and dip low over fields and rivers. Total flight time is usually around an hour, though the whole experience can take three times as long from start to finish.
Balloon Adventures also charters its services for weddings, arranges surprise flights for special occasions, and offers instruction in specific tasks such as rigging the balloon, navigating in-flight, and shooing away flocks of paper airplanes. In addition, the company participates in hot-air-balloon festivals, where clouds of bright purple, orange, and yellow balloons fill the daytime sky or illuminate the festival grounds at night.
Fanny Kerwich, Lone Star Circus’s founder and current creative director, was born with the circus in her blood. An eighth-generation member of a renowned French circus family, she has been performing since age 6, delighting international audiences at Paris’s Lido and Moulin Rouge, Germany’s Circus Roncalli, and San Francisco’s Teatro ZinZanni.
Fanny’s performing experience and artistic vision now guide the nonprofit Lone Star Circus, which is a two-branched operation. Its performance troupe’s grace and athleticism shine during shows such as the upcoming winter spectacle, Cirque Banquisté. The circus’s school hosts classes for youngsters and adults, teaching them how to swing from trapezes, scale silks, and contort their frames so they can more accurately pantomime what Gumby would look like during a high-speed car chase.
One might assume that 40 acres of meadowland in Parker, Texas, carries a certain tranquility and peacefulness. That is, unless, that chunk of land has been transformed into a gigantic battleground for paintball wars. Fort Paintball has done just that, divvying up its real estate into nine fields, highlighted by 5- and 10-man Lego fields and a Big Game field. On the expansive fields, competitors duck behind oil barrels and massive spools, dodging shots and acorns launched by squirrels who want to get in on the action. Players can either strap on their own gear or utilize rental packages that include guns, rounds, and masks.
International Scuba's PADI-certified crew of submarine-impersonating instructors offer open-water diver-certification classes that get students sea legal within days. Before beginning class, students should pick up the educational materials and brush up on basic cephalopod-communication skills. After three or four small-group confined-water sessions—held on weekday evenings or weekends—students venture to natural bodies of water for four checkout dives in their adopted aquatic habitat. Depending on the season and the student's desires, the open-water excursions can take place as near as the Clear Springs Scuba Park in Terrell or as far away as the Caribbean, should divers opt to join any of the center's tropical dive trips. Scuba-park entrance fees ($10–$30) are not included and vary by location, as does the likelihood of encountering shipwrecks packed with pirate ghosts.
A comprehensive guide to attractions and things to do.