Surrounded by swaying trees and fresh air, the five ziplines of Zip Nac?s adrenaline-pumping course speed gliders through 90-minute trips across a towering forest canopy. Participants begin standing atop the first platform, then careen down lines ranging from a quick 225 feet to an invigorating 900-foot dual line that pairs riders side by side for races to the bottom or private auditions for the Miss Wind Tunnel competition. Seasoned guides help patrons strap into each line, where they can take solo trips. Little ones (weighing 60 pounds or less) can ride tandem with a guide, ensuring that every member of the family can zoom through the tree tops. In between lines two and three, visitors traverse the 60-foot sky bridge, which allows brief moments of repose amid the verdant outdoor setting. Gliders can rent GoPro cameras for a fee to capture their zipline experience on video. Nighttime zipline sessions grant heart-pumping adventures in the dark without the hassle of helping Edgar Allan Poe find the fuse box. Zip Nac also offers onsite overnight accommodations at their Zip Inn.
Longview Museum of Fine Arts seeks to expose the local community to art through its collection of more than 400 works including paintings, etchings, photographs, collages, and sculptures. The permanent collection primarily focuses on works from regional artists, and the museum's galleries also host traveling or temporary exhibits six times per year. Outside, visitors can tour a sculpture garden with rotating featured pieces.
When the sun shines on the inky black coat of 8-Ball, an Asian leopard, you can see the intricate pattern of spots on his fur. What you may not notice are the scars on his neck, remnants of having been chained up in a pool hall by a former owner. When the owner could no longer keep him, 8-Ball was sent to a drive-thru safari park that was later shut down by the USDA. But all of that must seem like a faraway nightmare to 8-Ball, as he now enjoys the security, ample food, and medical care at Tiger Creek Wildlife Refuge. He is among the more than 40 big cats that have been rescued and rehabilitated, trading lives of abuse, neglect, and misplacement for environs that executive director Brian Werner calls a "living resort."
The facility is owned and operated by Tiger Missing Link, a nonprofit organization that Werner chartered in 1995. After diligent research, Werner and friend Terri Block began creating a big-cat sanctuary on a 25-acre property that Werner owned. They lived in a small cabin with no running water, heat, or air conditioning, clearing the land themselves and going door to door to garner support for the project. It certainly wasn't easy, but through the hard work of volunteers and some big-time press—including features on Animal Planet's 2007 Tiger Week and Good Morning America—the shelter's reputation and facilities continue to grow.
The refuge aims to raise visitors' awareness of the plight of large cats in the wild, and it plans to expand to add more natural habitats and observatories. Landscapers have even built a waterfall habitat where the tigers can exercise while trying not to puncture their plastic inner tubes. This feature may have been the favorite amenity for two of Michael Jackson's tigers that, according to a KLTV 7 story, have called the space home.
The animal kingdom encompasses species from every continent on the planet. But Cherokee Trace Drive-Thru Safari cuts down on the need for excessive travel by bringing an eclectic array of exotic species to the heart of East Texas. The 300-acre preserve houses 36 exotic and endangered species in open areas similar to their native habitats. This allows visitors to see these majestic creatures firsthand while driving along the miles of roads that weave throughout the preserve's hills and savannahs. Over the course of the self-guided tour, visitors will have the opportunity to spot animals such as an alligator, Canadian wood bison, Arabian camel, red kangaroo, zebra, and holographic dodo, all from the safety of their vehicle. In addition to providing one-of-a-kind wildlife photo ops, the preserve also allows groups to feed some of the animals by dropping food pellets onto the ground.
Oil Bowl Lanes opens its 32 lanes of rolling glory to pin pushers every day of the week. A one-hour lane rental pits quartets of players against one another to see who can garner the highest score based on pins felled and the secret 11th frame, which is judged on the overall style of post-strike moonwalks. Eight rental shoes lend their aid to earthbound extremities, and a full pitcher of soda bubbles with between-frame refreshment or postgame head-dunk opportunities. Spheres rumble down Oil Bowl’s alleys between retro-futuristic murals and cheery checkered floors.
The ridges and swales of Outlaw Golf Club’s recently renovated bentgrass greens get balls spinning and players cursing. These difficult patches of grass await golfers at the end of the nine-hole course’s bluegrass fairways, which undulate through the craggy terrain overlooking Jordanelle Lake. The course's bite doesn’t just come from elevation changes, though: three lakes and two streams tempt balls to take a dip, and the par 3 and 4 fairways demand frequent club changes by vacillating in length from 65 to 465 yards. Despite these challenges, novices can enjoy the course by choosing a more forgiving tee from the six that cluster in front of each fairway, including all-weather surface tees.
The club’s outdoor short-game-refining center invites players to practice their putting and chipping as they aim their balls up to 100 yards away. The center also serves as PGA Professional Dave DeSantis’s classroom, where he teaches players how to break free from sand traps without digging a hole they will eventually fall in.