In 1910, Louis Bush led his first tour of Washington, DC, loading passengers into the refurbished chassis of a Mack truck that he had painted blue and gray. From this humble beginning, Louis expanded his Gray Line tours throughout the United States and abroad. The company currently hosts tours in more than 700 destinations across six continents and all three moons. However, Gray Line's expansive international scope isn't nearly as important as its commitment to a narrow, regional focus. Each tour aims to introduce visitors to some distinctive facet of the city's identity, from the ghosts of Savannah, Georgia’s, historic district to the towering redwoods of San Francisco’s Muir Woods. During the chauffeured sojourns, guides dole out intriguing tidbits of local knowledge, giving the groups some invaluable insight into the areas’ histories and cultures.
From 1927 until 2009, the Piper Aircraft company produced 144,000 airplanes. Of those, 90,000 are still flying. One is a 1978 single-engine Saratoga that can often be seen soaring over the hills and lakes of the Texas landscape.
Inside that Saratoga, the Air Tours Texas pilots lead up to five passengers on scenic tours and adventures, sharing scenic aerial views of Lake Travis, Canyon Lake, Austin, San Antonio, and Enchanted Rock with their awestruck human cargo. The group of pilots also offers sunset flights, stunningly romantic marriage-proposal flights, and copilot experiences that introduce aspiring pilots to flight basics.
The San Antonio Zoo and Aquarium has more than 3,500 animals in a variety of realistically themed exhibits. A family membership gives two adults and their kids or grandkids unlimited, express member entry to the zoo for 365 successive days. Tour the African plains and visit the ostriches, antelopes, and baby-lugging Marabou storks as they gather around the water hole to demonstrate the newest Kindle, or brave the tropical mysteries of Amazonia in search of an anteater, macaws, and the giant Andean condor. Membership also includes discounts on programs, special events, gift-shop and concession-stand goodies, and free or discounted access to a lengthy list of zoos and aquariums across the country.
Segway Nation lets people explore Texas's rich history and culture while aboard self-balancing vehicles. Rolling through Austin's past, their guides spin tales of prominent landmarks such as the Texas State Capitol building and Lady Bird Lake. These adventures echo in San Antonio, where segways travel through Houston Street and HemisFair Park. When night falls across either city, Segway Nation sends a spooky chill down sightseers' spines during their signature City Lights Ghost tour. Segways zip across each city's haunted locations, outrunning ghosts who don't have the physical weight to lean their segways forward. Segway Nation also rents bikes for self-guided tours.
Challenge Nation pioneered the urban-adventure race with a race season that includes visits to 35 cities across the country. Each scavenger hunt is personalized to the hosting city, exploring its many diverse neighborhoods with a series of clues that would test even the most skilled children's-book detective. The teams—comprised of at least two people—vie for a $300 first-place prize. The Amazing Race–style competition rewards quick wits and wise planning over physical fitness, so the best way to prepare is by doing logic puzzles while eating Funyuns and lounging in a La-Z-Boy. The top 25 teams qualify, the top five receiving free entry, to compete in the national championship, which rewards winning teams with a $5,000 cash prize.
Inspired by The Amazing Race, CityScape Adventures—held across the United States—entangle race participants in webs of 12 puzzles and challenges in citywide races to the finish line. Participants compete in teams of two, using their wits, teamwork, and underground network of mutant-turtle spies to complete the tasks given at the start of the race. The 12 challenges take the form of puzzles, riddles, and clues that guide treasure hunters to a specific location within the city, where each team must complete a special task using only their cleverness and muscles. Players can also use the Internet, and the winning team is usually the one that best leverages its resources. The first team to successfully complete all tasks and vault over the finish line will receive a prize and assembly line of high-fives.