Texas Sphere Ride brandishes a novel thrill with its massive inflatable spheres that send adrenaline junkies tumbling along a fenced-in track. The hollow, cushioned plastic balls safely cradle strapped-in pairs as they gather speed, rolling and bouncing along a dirt path. For added excitement, Texas Sphere Ride’s partnership with Helicopter Tours of Texas augments spherical jaunts with a short ride in a chopper for a more heart-pounding adventure than a hostage negotiation in a cardiologist’s office.
Texas Ski Ranch sends wakeboarders, kneeboarders, and water-skiers skimming across the placid surface of a cable lake—all without the use of a boat. Ropes connected to a circulating cable high above the water pull up to six athletes at a time around the lake, with kickers and sliders stationed throughout to provide opportunities for big air, and a Little Bro cable system is available for beginners. Aside from the cable park, the 70-acre action-filled sports wonderland also boasts a 15,000-square-foot city-style skate park, as well as an indoor trampoline park, beach area, portable rock wall, and Wahoo's Fish Taco restaurant. A staff of coaches and a fully stocked board shop help visitors explore other adrenaline sports, such as wake surfing and extreme sunburning.
The engine's howl steadily builds as the Robinson R44 helicopter's blades churn with increasing velocity. Passengers look out of bubble windows and see grass whipping beneath. In a moment, the turf disappears, fading from view as the chopper lifts higher into the sky. So begins an aerial adventure led by experienced pilots Steve Van Buren and John Holler, who venture into the airways above Austin, San Antonio, the hill country, and central Texas. The air-conditioned copters—equipped with four-way communication that allows guides to maintain contact with passengers—glide through the firmament, as pilots obey all stop-sign-shaped clouds on their way to eye-catching views of sites such as historic Gruene. Crews also bring helicopters to clients for party rentals and assist landowners with predator control and game surveys.
When Prince Carl of Solms-Braunfels arrived in central Texas in 1845 to build an opulent home for his new fiancée, the German colonist could hardly have imagined that he would instead establish a town whose vibrant history carries on to this day. The Sophienburg Museum & Archives—named after the Princess of Salm-Salm who would never see her castle in person—now overflows with photographs, maps, and documents that chronicle the early days of New Braunfels and Comal County. The area’s cultural heritage is on full display in museum exhibits that house artifacts ranging from an antique carriage to Price Carl’s extensive collection of pickled lederhosen.
After exploring the intimate museum galleries, visitors can head to the archives to peruse one of the world’s largest repositories of information about the wave of German migration that swept over central Texas in the 19th century. A veritable forest of family trees and county records take root in a 1,200-book reference library, where visitors can hack through the genealogical fauna to trace their ancestry back to famous explorers and exiled Prussian pop stars.
"It's like throwing a party every day," Byron Severance, who co-owns The Jumpy Place along with his wife, Cathy, told the Hays Free Press. "It's the most fun I've ever had in a job." Byron and Cathy's indoor playground—kept immaculate with a strict socks-only policy, daily disinfectant washes, and an unbudging ban on trashcan-dwelling Grouches—relieves the endemic of excess energy common to youths aged 10 and younger. As children bounce in and slide down air-filled fortresses, adults entertain themselves with complimentary coffee, WiFi, and cartoon-free television. Both locations are open every day except Tuesday, and each admission grants all-day access that allows families to come and go as they please.
Hogs. Feral hogs everywhere. That's the problem that faces agricultural landowners in Texas right now. Lonestar Helicopter Hunter blossomed from this problem, and its staff of active duty and ex-military personnel began hunting hogs from the passenger seats of their helicopter to help battle the destructive populations. In addition to helping farmers, the group realized how powerful the adrenaline rush was and started teaching other hunters and marksmen the challenging hunting style. Soon they came up with a paintball-based version, which equips adrenaline-seekers with markers, paintballs, and a field of stationary targets to aim at, providing the same kind of excitement as the real hunt. In addition to aerial target practice, Lonestar's expert pilots also license and certify burgeoning helicopter pilots with private, commercial, and certified instructor courses.